gas spill in car trunk

How to Clean Gas Spill in a Car Trunk

Even a drop of gasoline can leave lingering odors in car upholstery. If an entire can spills in your trunk, it can seem like a very overwhelming cleaning job. The oily nature of gasoline makes it difficult to remove. Many people are at a loss trying to figure out how to clean a gas spill in their car trunk.

Some people don’t mind the smell of gas—in fact, some people like it. Even if you’re one of these people, though, breathing gas fumes can lead to dizziness, headaches, and even damage to your lungs. This makes it even more important to clean up gas spills promptly.

The good news is, there are a few methods you can use to get rid of that pesky stain and smell. Read on below for a step by step guide to cleaning gasoline spills.


Step 1: Take safety precautions.

To avoid the potential health risks mentioned above, you always want to clean gasoline spills in a well-ventilated area. Park your car in the driveway or on the side of the street rather than in your garage. If you’re sensitive to gas odors, find some way to cover your mouth and nose, like a bandana or a protective face mask.


Step 2: Soak up visible liquid.

If it’s a large, fresh spill, use old rags to soak up all the excess. Make sure you don’t use rags you plan to use around food—no dishrags, for example, unless you’re retiring them. If you don’t have rags, anything absorbent will do the trick, including paper towels, disposable wipes, and even newspapers.


Step 3: Draw out soaked-in gas.

Spray the area of the spill with clean water, until it’s damp to the touch. Gasoline and water don’t mix readily, so this will help to loosen the gasoline molecules from your carpet. Next, spread a thin layer of salt, cornmeal, or kitty litter over the stain. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes before you wipe it away.

Step 4: Attack the stain and odor.

There are several products you can use to do this, some of which you probably already have in your home. A few options are:

  • Dish soap. Dish soap is designed to remove greasy compounds. Mix a few drops of dish soap into some warm water and rub it into the stain with a damp sponge.
  • Baking soda. People have been using baking soda to fight odors for years. Wet the stain with a spray bottle, then sprinkle baking soda over the area and rub it in with a sponge or towel. For deep and dried stains, you can pour vinegar on the baking soda. The foam formed by the reaction will help root out deep-set odors.
  • Carpet shampoo. You don’t need to buy one designed for cars, though these may contain additional compounds designed to clean gasoline or motor oil. Many shampoos also have a pleasant fragrance that will cover up any lingering gas odors until they fade completely.

After you’ve applied the solution and allowed it to soak, rinse it with clean, warm water.

Step 5: Dry and assess.

Leave the trunk open and allow the spot to air dry. Directing a fan at the area can help to speed the process. Once it’s fully dried, return to the area. Inspect it with both your eyes and nose to determine if you’ve successfully removed all the gas.

If the spill wasn’t too extensive, one treatment may take care of it. More often, though, you’ll need to do some follow-up treatment. If there’s still a visible stain, repeat step 4 until it’s gone.

Lingering odors can sometimes take a long time to completely clear. You can continue to apply baking soda periodically until it clears. Coffee grounds and kitty litter can also be effective.

If the odor is limited to the trunk, you may decide to simply cover it up until it has a chance to dissipate on its own. Air freshener sprays or pods are one option. Alternatively, a few dryer sheets strategically placed throughout your trunk can also do the trick.

How to clean gas spill in a car trunk: The final word

Cleaning gasoline spills can take a bit of effort, but with the right products and a bit of elbow grease you can get your car’s trunk looking (and smelling) like new. Hopefully, one of the methods above does the trick for you! If you’ve found a different way to clean up gasoline, we’d love to hear about it in the comments.