Both gasoline and diesel fuel have an unmistakable when spilled and absorbed on carpet that are difficult to remediate. The floor mats and carpeting in a car are most likely to have spilled gasoline or diesel fuel; however, removing the floor mats and cleaning them is easier than attacking the stain and odor on fixed flooring. Also note that gasoline is flammable -- it goes up in flames, while diesel is combustible, which means it has a flash point, but it's higher than that of gas. What this means to you is that your car engine should be turned off and the cigarettes put away when cleaning gasoline and diesel from carpeting.
Find the Source
The first step in getting rid of odors is to find the source. There's no point in using an air freshener or driving with the windows down if the gas spill is still present and has been absorbed into the carpet. Feel for moisture on the removable floor pads, the carpeting underneath and the carpet in your trunk. Once you've found the source, you can go to work getting rid of the stain and smell.
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If the stain has originated with diesel fuel, know that diesel is more dense than gasoline and requires a liquid solution that deeply penetrates oil-based stains. Gasoline vaporizes quicker than diesel, which is why its odor lingers, while un-burnt diesel leaves behind an oily smell.
Get the Gas Out
Things You'll Need
Clay-based cat litter
Conventional carpet cleaner
Scatter the cat litter over the spill to absorb the gas; leave it for several hours or overnight. If the carpet is removable, take it out and shake off the litter. If it's permanent, vacuum off the litter or scoop it up. Mix a small amount of the dishwashing liquid with water in the spray bottle and soak the stain on both sides, if possible. Scrub with the brush and hose clean. Dry in the sun. If the carpet is fixed, treat it with conventional carpet cleaner after removing the kitty litter.
Next, the Smell
Things You'll Need
Once the stain of the gasoline is gone, it may leave a lingering odor. Start by sprinkling some inexpensive coffee grounds over the smelly area. Leave it there for at least a day, if not several days. The coffee is oil based and absorbs the leftover odors. Another tactic is to sprinkle dry baking soda over the spot and work it in with a hard bristle brush. Baking soda is an odor neutralizer and absorbs the smell. Let it sit for at least an hour, but preferably overnight, before vacuuming it. Put white distilled vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz it over the spot that smells. While the vinegar leaves an odor of its own, it'll dissipate in a short time.
Jann Seal is published in magazines throughout the country and is noted for her design and decor articles and celebrity *in-home* interviews. An English degree from the University of Maryland and extensive travels and relocations to other countries have added to her decorating insight.