Log in
Article search:

Q & A

How do I get rid of diesel smells?

I have a diesel heater in my saloon and there's always at least a faint smell of diesel hanging around my clothes & soft furnishings, and presumably on the floor and walls.
In addition there are always little spills of diesel around the boat, for example if you tread on a small splash of it when refuelling - then you can walk it through the boat without realising it.
Does anyone have any tips for getting rid of diesel and other fuel smells?

Asked by: Robert King  | 2.58pm, Wednesday 2 May

WW says:

Interesting question, and no easy answer really!
The first thing is to try and stop the source of the smell; most older boats are almost characterised by the smell of damp and diesel! Making sure that the engine bay is scrupiously clean, that all oil spills are absorbed (using oil-absorbent booms or socks) and that the engine and bay are cleaned at least once a year, are a good start.
When refueling, make sure that you use a clean cloth or kitchen roll, around the filler neck; this will both enable the cutout to work quicker on the nozzle of the pump, and prevent diesel foam going onto the deck (and in the water).
If you wash the deck, with a small amount of detergent, before filling the tank, this can help stop minor spills being trodden through the boat, as they can be washed away easier- though this is only for a few drops of fuel, not larger amounts of course.
Inside the boat, good ventilation helps disperse smells, but as you know, diesel is very pungent and long-lived! Ensuring fixed ventilation is more than adequate really does help.
Make sure that there are no drips or leaks from dieasel heater, and that the flue is cleaned properly, so there is no soot inside- this will help the stove draw better and combustion should increase, prevent diesel vapour leaking. It might be worth following the stove manufacturers guidelines on servicing, as diesel smells might be indicitve of poor combustion or issues- such as the catalytic gauze being damage, that are found in some stoves (or just carbonised with excess soot).
As for the furnishings and carpets- if you can wash them, that will remove it; otherwise using a dry absorber cleaner (like shake'n'vac or Vanish power foam) on the upholstery and carpets can help.
Orange oil based cleaners also seem to be veryeffective at removing diesel spills and well as the source of the smell. regular cleaning around the diesel stove will help, as will keeping clothes/shoes that you use in the engine room for engine servicing sepearte to other clothes!
Hope that helps- let us know how you get on, or if you come across other suggestions.

Mark Langley  | 10.33AM, Monday 7 May

You must log in to post an answer.