Without a doubt, one of the worst liquids that can spill on the carpet is kerosene. This highly flammable fluid is not only toxic but also destructive on carpet fibers.
The sooner you act, the better as kerosene will destroy carpets and the padding underneath if no action is taken.
To get kerosene out of carpets, you’ll need a very absorbent ingredient that will absorb the oily residue and another to remove the stains.
Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a fortune to remove kerosene as everyday household items like baking soda and vinegar can handle the task. Still, immediate action is necessary to prevent costly repairs.
The tips you’ll see here will be applicable for carpets inside your home and vehicle.
Tools for cleaning kerosene from carpets
Here are the essential tools needed in the cleaning process.
- Cloth or towels (for drying and cleaning)
- Liquid dish soap
- Dry cleaning solvent
- Vacuum cleaner
- Baking soda (or cornstarch)
- Clean paper towel or rags
Steps to remove kerosene from carpets
Here are the steps to remove kerosene and its odor from the carpet. Make sure to wear a face mask so that you don’t inhale the toxic fumes.
Step 1. Open windows to ensure proper ventilation
Open all windows for the kerosene odor to dissipate as fast as possible. If you have any fans at home, turn them on facing the doors or windows to help speed up the process.
Step 2: Spread clean paper or cloth towels over the edges
This will create a wall to prevent kerosene from spreading further. Take note that you will dispose of these items afterward, so using paper towels would be more practical. Otherwise, use old rags that you can discard.
Step 3: Sprinkle absorbent over the spill
The next step is pouring a generous amount an absorbent like baking soda or cornstarch over the affected areas. Let it sit on the area for about 10 to 15 minutes for it to absorb the oily residue.
Step 4: Vacuum the residue
After the waiting period, vacuum the excess baking soda or cornstarch sediment using an upright or stick vacuum. A bagged vacuum would be ideal in this situation because the good brands have a fully sealed system that keeps all the contaminants inside a bag that you can quickly dispose of in a trash bin.
Step 5: Blot area with dry cleaning solvent
Add a quarter-inch size amount of dry cleaning solvent on a clean white cloth (don’t use colored rags when cleaning carpets as the dye can transfer onto the carpet) then blot the stained area to remove the spot.
Repeat this process until you’ve taken out all of the kerosene stains.
Step 6: Remove leftover stains with vinegar and liquid dish soap
The last step (at least with the stain removal process) is using a homemade cleaning solution. Mix one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and vinegar and two cups of water.
Dip a clean sponge into this mixture and use it to blot the leftover stains on the carpet. Rinse the sponge and repeat this process until you’ve covered the whole area.
Step 7: Dry the area
Place a clean white, absorbent towel over the area to dry. Place a heavy object like a book on top to shorten the drying time.
How to remove kerosene from cloth upholstery (inside cars)
The same principle applies when cleaning kerosene out of your vehicle’s carpets. If you can remove the carpet and wash it using liquid dish soap, vinegar, and water outside the car, that would be the best-case scenario. Then dry the carpet under the sun to remove any lingering smell.
As for the vehicle’s upholstery, that would require a different set of ingredients.
Tools you’ll need
- Pink All-Purpose Super Cleaner/Degreaser: Mechanics use this product for cleaning tough grease stains inside vehicles. This is a water-based, all-purpose solution so that it won’t emit toxic fumes.
- Clean, absorbent towels
Steps to take
Please note that the steps here will apply to vehicles that have fabric upholstery. Leather seats may require a different procedure.
- If possible, remove the upholstery from the car. This should not be a problem on most Japanese-made vehicles as four bolts usually hold the seats. Taking it out will provide more working room and reduce the drying time significantly.
- Dilute the pink all-purpose cleaner with water. Please read the label carefully for the correct ratio. Test the mixture in a small inconspicuous area to see if it causes any discoloration. If it does not, proceed to the next step.
- Apply the cleaning solution on a clean towel then scrub the stained area. Repeat the process until you’ve cleaned all the areas.
- Leave the seat to air dry.
How to remove kerosene odor
Another side effect of kerosene is its toxic odor. Here are some ingredients that will help absorb and remove the smell. Take note that all of the ingredients below are absorbent and can help dissipate kerosene fumes at a quicker rate.
Tools you’ll need
- Baking soda
- Coffee grounds – only use this if you have dark upholstery as it can stain light-colored fabric or carpet
- Kitty litter
- White vinegar
Steps to take
- Sprinkle generous amounts baking soda, coffee grounds, or kitty litter on the affected areas.
- Leave it overnight (12 to 24 hours) to absorb the odor.
- Vacuum the residue using a hand vacuum with a mini turbo brush to remove any residual absorbent.
- Repeat steps one to three until the odor is gone.
- Mist white vinegar on the affected areas and leave it air dry.
- Make sure to leave the windows open (if you have a garage) as circulating air will help with dissipating the odor.
Other alternatives that will absorb odor
- Oranges: Chop into quarters and place them on a bowl to help absorb odor.
- Vanilla: Works the same way as oranges. Place these on a bowl to absorb fumes.
- Cheap vodka: Has the same disinfecting and odor-fighting properties as vinegar. Pour into a spray bottle and mist to deodorize, then leave to dry.
Worst case scenario
The worst-case will be replacing the affected carpet if the kerosene has seeped through the subfloor.
As Matthew Davis (in his Quora post) points out, the issue is not the stain or the odor, but the area itself is a fire hazard since there will be kerosene residue left underneath the strands of the carpet.