How to Remove Kerosene from Cloth Upholstery


Danny asked: How do I clean kerosene from a truck seat? An employee set a kerosene heater on the truck seat, and kerosene leaked on the fabric. The odor is terrible. Please help. We have tried everything.

Cleaning kerosene or gasoline spills from the car can be a smelly task, and one that takes time and patience. There are several things that can be used to help evaporate the oils and remove the smells. While carpet can usually be removed and cleaned easily, the upholstery is more of a challenge. If the kerosene/gasoline has soaked into the seat cushion, it will be much more difficult to remove the smell. Here are several methods that have been used by others with similar problems. Work through the list to find a solution for your particular spill.

Cleaning with Commercial Products

You Will Need:

  • Pink Stuff All Purpose Cleaner (available at auto supply stores) or ProSolve
  • Soft cloths
  • Water

Steps to Remove the Kerosene/Gasoline:

  1. Both of the cleaning products above are designed to remove tough grease and oil stains as well as the odors. They can be purchased from auto supply stores or online.
  2. Test a small area first to ensure there are no unwanted effects to the color or fibers of the upholstery.
  3. Once the test spot goes well, you are ready to start treating the spill.
  4. Apply a small amount of the cleaning product with a soft cloth.
  5. Scrub gently to work it into the fibers.
  6. Rinse with clean water.
  7. Allow the seat to dry completely.

Cleaning with Household Products

You Will Need:

  • Rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer
  • Degreasing dish soap
  • Bucket
  • Soft cloths
  • Water

Steps to Remove the Kerosene/Gasoline:

  1. Fill a bucket with hot water.
  2. Add a good amount of grease-dissolving dish soap and mix well.
  3. Moisten a soft cloth with the sudsy water.
  4. Scrub the surface until the oily residue is removed.
  5. Rinse with clean water.
  6. Allow the surface to dry.
  7. If the smell or oil still remains, spray the surface with rubbing alcohol until completely wet.
  8. Allow the area to remain exposed to fresh air while it dries.

Removing the Lingering Odor

You Will Need:

  • Coffee grounds
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Kitty litter

Steps to Remove the Smell:

  1. Even when the spill is cleaned up, an odor will often remain. There are several ways to treat this.
  2. Sprinkle the area with baking soda liberally. If the spill occurred on the seat, rub the seat to work the baking soda down into the padding as well.
  3. Allow the baking soda to set on the area overnight.
  4. Vacuum it away the following day.
  5. Repeat as necessary.
  6. Coffee grounds (unused) are great for absorbing odors. Follow steps #2-4 replacing the baking soda with coffee grounds.
  7. Kitty litter can be used to absorb the spill and remove the odors.
  8. Sprinkle the area either initially or after the spill has been cleaned up.
  9. After allowing it to set overnight, vacuum the remaining litter away.
  10. Vinegar can be sprayed on the surface as well to remove odors. Spray the surface until the upholstery is moist. Allow it to set and air dry completely.
  11. Repeat as necessary until the odor is removed.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If all else fails, leave the windows open and allow the interior to air out completely. With time, the gasoline/kerosene will evaporate and the smell will go away.
  • Cut up oranges or bowls of vanilla can also be placed in the area to help absorb odors.
  • Keep in mind that while the stain may be removed, the odors will be absorbed into all areas of the vehicle, so be sure to air out the entire vehicle to completely remove the smell.


  1. Peter says:

    Please help; I spilled kerosene all over good waterproofs. How do I remove the stain from a light colored jacket?

  2. Melanie says:

    This is the article that you need: How to Remove Kerosene from Fabric.
    If you would like to try a dry method first, you could lay the jacket flat and cover the stain with a thick layer of baking soda. Allow the baking soda to sit on the stain overnight, remove (vacuum or brush away) the powder and repeat until the oil has been absorbed from the fabric (this could take several repeats). If the kerosene is dry, moisten the stain slightly (if possible) with water or WD-40 before putting the baking soda on top. You could also use cornstarch or talcum powder if you don’t have baking soda.
    Source: – How to Remove Oil Stains from Suede
    Source: – How to Clean Oil Stains from Polyester

  3. Miserable Old Fart says:

    I would thank my lucky stars it was kerosene and not diesel or gasoline. Kerosene odor is pleasant compared to those. Steam cleaning with an upholstery nozzle might get rid of the biggest part of the stuff in the cover, but you would have to air out the vehicle very well, preferably in the sun, to keep mold from becoming an issue. I have a similar issue now as I have been filling my home tank with the much cheaper kerosene from the gas station rather than having it delivered. Of course, it’s far too late to help the original poster. In my case, I’m just airing the vehicle out in the dry autumn sun. That should do ‘er in a day or two. Plus, the kerosene odor reminds me of my youth when we had a kerosene kitchen stove…

  4. Linda says:

    Does the odor contain carbon monoxide? I can’t seem to get rid of it completely, but have to use my car. Are these fumes dangerous?

  5. Melanie says:

    Kerosene fumes can make you very sick, including making it dangerous for you to drive a car. To answer your question specifically though, a fuel source must be burned in order for carbon monoxide to be present.
    Source: MedlinePlus – Kersene Poisioning
    Source: eMedicineHealth – Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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