A bag of luggage sitting on top of a car

How to Eliminate Odor of Gasoline Spilled Inside Family Vehicle

A message showed up in my inbox that made my heart sink. I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to lend my car to someone, only to have it come back to me with a little something I’d not counted on—that noxious odor of gasoline! Worse, what if that condition were permanent?! Thankfully, I have good news for at least one desperate reader.

A bag of luggage sitting on top of a car


Dear Mary: I have a problem that I can’t solve and was wondering if you would be able to help. Someone borrowed my car recently and transported a small generator in it. Somehow, the gasoline spilled out inside my Explorer and left a very intense gasoline smell.

“I have tried everything I can think of and nothing has removed the smell. I steamed cleaned it with carpet shampoo, sprinkled it with baking soda and vacuum it up, saturated it with Nok-Out at least three times but to no avail. Can you help? Lisa

My first reaction to Lisa’s dilemma was to wonder if this “someone” was at one time on her list of friends (relatives?) but I won’t go there. Instead, I have a solution that does not involve pushing that SUV off a cliff. It’s long, so bear with me.

This is definitely a job for Nok-Out—an odor-eliminating product that is non-toxic, fragrance-free, and absolutely works wonders to eliminate the strong odor of gasoline, providing it is used specifically and scientifically. While Lisa used Nok-Out to alleviate this problem, if it did not work, she stopped short of using it thoroughly.

Stubborn odor

Gasoline presents a particular challenge even for Nok-Out because while Nok-Out requires direct contact with the odor source, gasoline and water don’t mix. They repel one another, making it a challenge for them to contact each other directly. Therefore it is difficult to achieve the direct contact required for Nok-Out to do its job.

However, there is something in Nok-Out called a “surfactant” (you could think of it as a kind of soap) that allows water and oil (gasoline is petroleum oil) to attract, which makes it possible for Nok-Out to eliminate this powerful odor.

Air it out

First, Lisa needs to air out the vehicle thoroughly. Then she needs to get into the car—back where the generator did the deed. Get your nose down into the area and try to pinpoint exactly where the odor is coming from, and then mark those areas with chalk or tape.

Neutralize acid

Next, if she has by chance previously treated this area with vinegar, she needs to re-treat it with a mixture of baking soda and water to neutralize the acidic nature of vinegar—very, very important!

Soak it well

Once dry, Spray Nok-Out heavily into those areas and the surrounding areas as well—enough so that it penetrates deeply into the surface material where the odor was detected to originate. This means it will be very wet. Wear rubber gloves and “massage” Nok-Out all the way down through the layers, should that area be covered with carpet or other material. Allow to air dry naturally with the windows open. Do not be deterred if more than one application is required to get it all. This is an extremely tough issue.

Lisa must remember that Nok-Out needs to come into direct contact with ALL the smelly stuff—all it takes is one missed spot to allow the odor to remain. There may be spots one wouldn’t think of that got a douse of that gasoline. It may have dripped a path on its way in and out!

Allow to dry fully

Last, wait for it to dry fully before giving it the smell test. During this time, the oxidation process will give off its own odor—much like a stinky swimming pool gives off the smell of chlorine. It will be super stinky so prepare for that. It’s Nok-Out doing its work! Open all of the windows and let fresh air fill the car.

Repeat performance

Do you still detect that awful odor? Do not give up—do not get discouraged. You will need to repeat starting with the sniff test, and perhaps in areas not treated the first time around.

Be sure to check by pulling back the floor cover (carpet or rubber) that was under the generator. There may be a space under this floor that got doused as well. Maybe there’s a spare tire or something else under there that’s hiding a bit of raw gas.

Think of this process as getting rid of a little bit more every time she does it. Each time, it’s as if she will have scraped away another thin layer and, with persistence,  eventually will eliminate every hint the problem ever happened.

Gasoline is highly volatile, and some of the loose molecules that evaporated into the air may have been re-absorbed by other materials in the car as well—the headliner and seat cushions, for example.


It may also be a good idea to use a household humidifier to get to those out-of-the-contaminated-zone areas: Pour 4 to 6 oz. Nok-Out full strength into the reservoir of the humidifier and turn it on. Allow the car to remain closed up overnight with the humidifier running, and all windows closed, then open the windows and allow it to air out thoroughly in the morning. You’ll should be able to close a door or window on the extension cord needed to power the humidifier.

The Best Inexpensive humidifier for this purpose is Honeywell Germ-Free Cool Mist Humidifier HCM-350, as Nok-Out should not be heated. And this particular humidifier has a large capacity that allows it to run for many hours between fill-ups.

Eliminating gasoline odor really is a tough assignment, even for Nok-Out. But don’t give up. I’m confident that if you are persistent you will eventually get it all. Need more help? You can call Ted, Nok-Out HQ 866-551-1927.

Amazing Nok-Out

For my readers not yet familiar with Nok-Out, it is a clear, odorless liquid; a safe and amazing odor destroyer for use in any area where odors occur. It is non-toxic, water-based, mild enough to wash your hands in; is non-allergenic, non-staining, and antimicrobial. As safe in the kitchen as it is around pets and kids.

Nok-Out destroys odors caused by pets, organic decay, tobacco smoke, fires, sweat, mold, bacteria, and fungi. Nok-Out leaves carpet, upholstery, cars, trucks, shoes, gym lockers, the air you breathe—you name it, smelling fresh!

Published originally: 6-17-16. Updated: 8-30-22

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  1. cbrady says:

    I take care of my elderly father, and I love that Nok-out is also a sanitizer as well as an odor eliminator!

  2. Betty says:

    Would love to win this product to share with my children who are in the throws of potty training their own.

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