How can I get the gasoline smell out of a car?
September 11, 2014 9:09 PM   Subscribe

I spilled some gasoline in a rental car. How can I clean it and get rid of the smell before I return it in a few days?

I drove a generator and a gas can to a location on a windy mountain road, and the gas can fell over in the trunk and spilled (maybe a few ounces, not a few gallons). The car REEKED to the point of being nauseating, I had to drive with the windows down for a few days. I left the car in the hot sun with the windows down and that seems to have solved most of the problem... except for the carpet liner in the trunk still reeks after hand washing in a sink with dishcleaning soap.

What can I clean this with to neutralize the smell? I have to drive it for a few more days and it's making me feel sick, and I'd rather clean it myself than paying a (I'm sure large) cleaning fee when I return it. I can't repeat the leave-in-hot-sun thing because I live in an urban area where that would not end well.
posted by bradbane to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
You mentioned washing the carpet liner in a sink. Can you remove it again and leave it to air out under the hot sun?
posted by d. z. wang at 9:33 PM on September 11, 2014

Best answer: By the way, the washing was probably unnecessary. Gasoline is very volatile, and heat makes it even more volatile. You just need to air it out somehow.
posted by d. z. wang at 9:34 PM on September 11, 2014

Gasoline isn't water-soluble, and even a wash with dish soap wouldn't make much difference. A rinse with alcohol (the rubbing kind, not drink) would definitely help, but leaving the carpet liner in the sun is what I'd do.
posted by anadem at 7:46 AM on September 12, 2014

I don't think the rental company will care. You didn't smoke in it. They'll have stuff that'll get the stink out.

For peace of mind, call the customer service toll-free number and ask them if you'll be penalized. They'll probably laugh because compared to other horrifying smells people leave in cars, this is nothing.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:49 AM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would go to a hardware store and get an odor-absorbent packet -- you can get them "basement sized" if need be, which is up to the size of a small box of cereal. Baking soda might work, too. Air out what you can, and put one of these into any smelly interior spaces for the duration.

Another option that might help is running a stand fan constantly into the trunk area, but it sounds like you might be parking on the street.
posted by dhartung at 3:44 PM on September 12, 2014

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