Monday, May 11, 2015

Cleaning Secrets - Gas Smell in Carpet


You aren't supposed to carry cans of gasoline in the cabin of your car. The fumes can make you sick and even more dangerous, the fumes are what blow up if there's a spark happening anywhere about. That said, how many of us have propped a gallon on the passenger seat floorboard for the trip home to mow the grass.
Slosh a bit on the carpet and you could be driving with the window open for the next two or three months. Fortunately, there's a way yo can get the smell and the explosive potential out of your carpet in short order. Just follow these steps carefully and in order and this easy to make solution should help pull the smell out of the carpet right handily. If any smell lingers, just repeat until it doesn't. It shouldn't take more than a few repetition. 
  • Baking soda or kitty litter
  • Dry cleaning solvent
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Warm water
  • Measuring cup
  • Paper towels
  • Sponge
  • Shop vacuum
  • Rubber gloves
  1. Immediately after any gasoline spill, blot up the liquid with paper towels. Keep blotting until the spill is as dry as possible. Be careful how you dispose of the used towels. Don't just throw them in the trash. They could spontaneously combust. If you have an outside burn pile you might be able to burn them safely. You might want to contact your waste management company and ask them how they want you to store and dispose of flammable paper towels. Whatever you do, don't scrub the wet gasoline. Blot gently or you will force gasoline into the carpet pad.
  1. Cover the gasoline spot with baking soda or kitty litter as soon as you can. Let the soda or litter absorb as much gasoline as possible. Let the soda or litter sit on the spot for an hour to fully absorb any remaining gasoline.  Leave all your car doors and windows open to keep the fumes from building up in the cabin and possibly blowing up your car. 
  2. Scrape up all of the material and remove it from the car. Don't use a shop vac or other electrical device to remove the saturated litter or soda. It could spark and catch fire. 
  3. Next you're going to use dry cleaning solvent (Naptha) to rinse our the stained area. Test it first on an inconspicuous place to make sure it doesn't damage the fibers of the carpet. Some carpets with polyester in them can be damaged. If you can't use Naptha, try using vinegar. It won't work as well and may mean you have to resoak and blot the spot several more times, but it also won't explode. 
  4. Now, blot the solvent into the gasoline spot with paper towels or a sponge. Fix up a little tub with hot soapy water and do a final soapy and then a clear rinse afterward.
  5. Blot the solvent into the spot with paper towels till the carpet is well saturated, then blot it up with a sponge. Repeat till the gasoline smell is noticeably reduced. If you add a little lemon juice or lemon scented cleaner to the final rinse, it can help cover any lingering smell of gasoline a bit better.  
Safety Tip:

Be sure and wear gloves when you're working to keep fuel from soaking into your skin. If you spill more than a cup or two of gas, you may be better off pulling up and replacing the carpet as gasoline may have soaked into the carpet pad. It may be much better to call up a professional hazardous chemical removal specialist in this case rather than attempting the job yourself. Being immolated in your own driveway is not a particularly pleasant way to meet one's maker.


If a large amount of gasoline was spilled, it may have saturated the padding. In this case, the carpet will need to be replaced and the danger of fire is very high and a professional hazardous chemical removal specialist should be called. 


How to Clean Carpet: Gasoline

Illinois Dept. Of Public Health: Gasoline Fact Sheet

Berkeley Lab: Hazardous Waste

Fantomworks: How to Remove a Gasoline Smell

Auto Evolution: How to Get Rid Of Gasoline Odor in Your Car

(c) 2015 by Tom King

*Graphic:  License: CC0 Public Domain / FAQ Free for commercial use / No attribution required