Getting rid of Diesel Smell

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Senior Member
Sep 2, 2014
Vessel Name
Agnus Dei
Vessel Make
36' Shin Shing
Hi All,

Had a buddy come to the boat last night and as he steps in he says "what are you going to do about the diesel smell"? As you may know from my "The Adventure Begins" post, we took delivery Saturday, went to the fuel dock, then back at the guest slip I lifted the covers and there was fuel everywhere. The #1 injector was loose (maybe from the recent service?), I tightened it up, no problem, leak gone, runs good. I spent 2 hours wiping and soaking, got it all cleaned up. Then the 3.5 hour trip home burned a lot of the residual off, still giving off "whisps" after we docked. 2 days later everything is dry and I and my wife don't smell diesel.

That all being said... is there a "trick" to removing left over diesel smell?

1 Wash what/where you can. 2 Ventilation. 3 Time.

Diesel evaporates.

(My readers here know about our diesel adventures.)
Learned about this from a sail boater. They used Calgon and warm water to wash down their interior and wash their sheets, towels and curtains.
Pure Ayre? Isn't that the favorite of some including Peggie?
Yup...'cuz PureAyre PureAyre is[FONT=&quot] not an air freshener...It's the only product I've found that eliminates ANY odor when used correctly. Not only will it get of diesel and residual odor left behind by stinking sanitation hoses, but PureAyre is also rated for use around food...which means you can even use it to get rid of the odor left in your fridge or freezer by the steaks or fish that spoiled when a natural disaster took out shore power for 3 days. Also does a great job on musty PFDs and foulies.[/FONT]
How to use it:
You can never eliminate any odor unless you first eliminate the source...'cuz as long as the source continues to exist, it'll continue to generate new odor. So first you have to find and fix any leak or replace the stinky hoses, then thoroughly clean the site, including every nook and cranny ...a good scrubbing with detergent and water. Mop up an excess water and let the air dry till it's at least only standing puddles. Now you're ready to eliminate the residual odor. Use PureAyre full strength...I'd use pump garden spray jug set to a fine mist. Spray every surface, nook and cranny...just a light spray. Do NOT rinse...just let it dry with hatches open so that plenty of fresh air can circulate. If the soft goods in the cabin have picked up the odor, just spraying it on the surface won't do need to spray enough on carpets and rugs to penetrate to the backing...enough to penetrate cushions to the middle from both sides..not enough to make 'em drippy, just enough to get into the'll prob'ly have to remove the covers and send 'em to be cleaned. Again, just let everything dry. If you still have any odor, you missed a spot.

Also good for musty foulies and a spray bottle won't go very, it's cheaper in the long run to buy it by the has an indefinite shelf life, so just keep it on hand. Amazon has it.
[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't completely understand it yourself." --Albert Einstein[/FONT]
After cleaning up the spilled fuel, spray the area with Formula 409. Use the spray liberally. A fuel polishing tech told me about 409 and diesel smell. It works.
In a slow diesel boat, with a following wind, diesel smell is like what one should expect.
In a slow diesel boat, with a following wind, diesel smell is like what one should expect.

The smell is from the diesel spill, not the exhaust, I know we're stuck with that during a following wind.
Also wash the clothes you were wearing in a separate bucket before putting them in the washing machine.
Years ago, when we first got the current boat, it stank of diesel. Part of my efforts was to clean the wood shelving and drawers that the diesel stove sat on. Diesel had leaked and soaked the raw wood.

Washed it as best I could and then after a few weeks acetone wiped it thoroughly. I then varnished it heavily. The sealing helped. Couldn't get all of it of course but at least the smell had been reduced to a dull roar.

For many years untill my last fiasco there was no odour other than minor ones around filter changes. Wasn't just my nose but others coming aboard who were used to diesel smelling boats that noticed, no smell.

Of course the ULSD has a far weaker odour than the old stuff of many years ago.

Clean it thoroughly washing everything that you can. But time and ventilation is also your friend. Use a couple of fans if you can to force air interchange.
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I used to keep a couple of open dishes of white vinegar in my 1983 41 ft trawler. Did a great job---and cheap!
A little sniff of diesel ins't bad. Since 50 years , I associate it with the pleasure of boating.
Our cleaning lady uses Fabuloso and half a cup of it the bilges does a good job. I often spill a bit when changing filters.
Get a gasoline engine.
Much quieter and lighter is good.

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