The gasoline odor inside my van was so strong it gave me an instant headache. I thought for sure I was going to be paying close to $200 to have my van detailed to get the smell out. Unfortunately, they didn’t guarantee that they’d be able to get the smell out of my van, the result of a nearly empty gas container tipping over on my way to the gas station in preparation to mow my lawn. Luckily the internet came to the rescue and gave me some tips that helped me save the cost of vehicle detail service that may not have worked anyway, and get the smell of gasoline out of my van.
First, let’s talk about the things I tried that did NOT work as I tried to get the smell of gasoline out of my van:
- Paper Towels : I immediately grabbed paper towels from the gas station pumps and soaked up as much of the gas as I could. But it had already soaked into the carpet. Even after it dried the odor was extremely strong.
- Air Freshener: I tried air fresheners of all kinds. I sprayed the interior of the van, and hung those tree shaped ones from the rear view mirror. It masked the odor a little, but ultimately didn’t help that much.
- Soap and Water : This didn’t help at all. Not even a little bit.
- Baking Soda : Many people put an open container of baking soda in their refrigerators to absorb foul smells, so I figured it was worth a shot. I dumped a load of baking soda right over the spot where the spill occurred, but even after two days there was no improvement.
- Vehicle Interior Cleaner : I purchased a vehicle carpet cleaning and stain removal product from the automotive section of Walmart. I used the whole can and scrubbed until my arms hurt. No luck.
- Carpet Cleaner : I even got out my carpet cleaner to shampoo and rinse the carpet the best I could. Initially I thought it helped, but after letting my van sit all day with the windows up, getting into the driver’s seat slapped me in the face with that familiar odor.
After putting in a lot of effort with the above methods, I found something different by searching the internet. Something that finally worked.
- Step 1: Pour baking soda over the affected area.
- Step 2: Pour vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) over the baking soda
- Step 3: Let it fizz and bubble for a few minutes
- Step 4: Use a brush of some sort (I used a brush from the auto interior cleaning product I purchased) to scrub the area.
- Step 5: Use paper towels to soak up as much liquid as possible
- Step 6: Using a rag and hot water, rinse the affected area
- Step 7: Dry as much as possible with paper towels
- Step 8: Point a small fan at the area to help it dry
- Step 9: Leave the vehicle open for ventilation
- Step 10: Repeat if necessary
It took several rounds of this, but eventually the gasoline odor finally surrendered. It was replaced by a vinegar smell for a short time, but that quickly dissipated on it’s own.
Gasoline spills inside your vehicle happen. Usually it’s just a drop or two, and the smell subsides quickly. But if you have a larger spill, try the above method before spending the money on a car detail that isn’t guaranteed to work anyway.
Have you ever had a large gasoline smell in your vehicle? How did you get the odor out?