How to Clean a Gas Spill Out of the Car

by Marie Mulrooney
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If you accidentally spill a few drops of fuel while filling your tank at the gas station, the fluid evaporates quickly and usually doesn't create a problem. Spilling a bit of fuel inside your car, however, is a much different matter. A spill from a gas can or fuel-soaked rags in your trunk will have you driving in a miasma of odor. With some common household products and a little bit of elbow grease, you can make your car less pungent. The process, however, may take some time.

Step 1

Use paper towels to soak up any remaining damp gasoline. Discard the towels.

Step 2

Dip a rag in a mixture of warm water and liquid dish detergent, and wipe down any hard, non-carpeted surfaces. Rinse with a clean rag and repeat as necessary.

Step 3

Remove any carpeting that was exposed to the gasoline, if possible.

Step 4

Sprinkle baby powder, baking soda or fresh coffee grounds onto carpeted areas that have been exposed to gasoline, and leave it in place overnight. Vacuum the carpet, and repeat as necessary. It may take several applications to eliminate the gas smell.

Dip a carpet brush in a mixture of warm water and liquid dish detergent. Scrub the carpeted areas to help remove any last traces of gasoline odor.


  • Leave the windows and doors of your car open as much as possible to let air circulate and to accelerate the evaporation process.
  • Some people have reported success at absorbing gas odors by leaving a shallow tray of vanilla extract inside their vehicle.

Items you will need

  • Paper towels
  • Rags
  • Petroleum-based liquid dishwashing detergent
  • Baby powder, baking soda or fresh coffee grounds
  • Vacuum
  • Carpet brush
  • Wide, shallow tray or baking pan (optional)
  • Vanilla extract (optional)

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