I am not chemist, however I am interested in science and know some basics. So I have real life problem to solve and I hope there will be some people interested to help me or at least understand more how chemistry works. Anyway I would appreciate any answer.

So I have unfortunate spill of diesel addtive VIF (czech republic product). Composition is like this from the site(some translations maybe wrong):

Name - % in mixture

2-ethylhexyl nitrate - 50-100

solvent naphtha light - <5

solvent naphtha hard - <5

2,6-Di-tert-butylphenol - <5

1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene - <2.5

1,3,5-trimethylbenzen - <2.5

So I spilled this stuff in my car's trunk. Don't ask how it was, this is a fact and I cannot revert it back. It was a canister with it, so I spilled around 2 litres of it. I noticed it only after a day.

I took out the rug from the trunk and it was full of this liquid. The rug is textile. I tried to take it out with water and actually it was kind of eager to go out with water. It was lot of it, and I didn't want to do it manually. I cleaned my hands with soap and no smell was left on my hands after washing them, so I assumed I can clean the rug in the washing machine. Which was probably the worst mistake.

So instead of it being cleaned, I have

  1. Rug that smell like the worse mechanical/technical smell in the world, however with no stains.

  2. Washing machine which not only smells worse, but it gives this smell to anything that was washed in the machine and the smell is kind of concentrated.

So I have several questions on what can give this smell? Which component exactly? I wrote to the manufacturer with this questions, but they only told me I can try some solvent like technical petrol. But it was not an answer to the question "how to get rid of the smell"

So after reading some threads, everybody advising activated charcoal as best deodorizer. I bought a kilo of it, and put around 200 grams to the washing machine for like 20 hours, and after that I didn't notice any change in the smell.

So the questions is: what is the formula for absorption with activated carbon? How to calculate how much of it I need to deodorize well? Will it deodorize at all? Maybe activate carbon pores are too small for the molecules or etc?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ The compounds listed are all fairly 'greasy', that is, likely immiscible with water. The best way to remove them would be to wash them off with something also 'greasy' such as hexane/heptane/xylenes etc which you may/may not be able to to pick up in a DIY store depending on where you live. $\endgroup$
    – NotEvans.
    Jan 17, 2016 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, I can try it with a rug, but how about washing machine? It looks like it's already on the materials of the washing machine. I cannot see anywhere where I can wash it off. So is it possible to just remove the smell? Or it's impossible? $\endgroup$ Jan 17, 2016 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ The inside of a washing machine is often calcified, and lime soap hangs in every corner. I guess the smell might be in there. Clean stainless steel surfaces don't smell. Buy a packet of citric acid, put it in the machine, and let it run at 90dC. Afterwards perhaps try again the charcoal, also at 90dC. One more run with washing powder (with bleach), again at 90, and I'll bet you'll find the situation improved. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Jan 17, 2016 at 16:29
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Warning: Do not put any flammable organic solvents like technical petrol, hexane, heptane, xylenes into your washing machine. These substances form explosive mixtures with air and can quite easily lead to severe explosions in a washing machine. I would try go get rid of the smell by repeatedly running washing programmes with 90° C and ordinary washing powder (without clothes of course). If you do not notice any improvement between the rounds, the odour might come from substances dissolved in rubber or plastic parts of your washing machine and you might be lost. $\endgroup$
    – aventurin
    Mar 24, 2016 at 22:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @aventurin This was the case, the smell was "integrated" to the sealing rubber. After I changed it - the smell almost disappeared. $\endgroup$ Apr 21, 2016 at 7:59

1 Answer 1


To get the smell out of your washing machine and rug you have to do two things

1.) Get the source of the smell into the water and
2.) Keep it in the water for flushing.

To get it into the water I suggest using dish soap. Dish soap is far more design to handle the greasy materials you listed and will dissolve them better than regular laundry detergent. The draw back to this is that dish soap will form foam quite readily which laundry detergent is formulated not to do. If you have a top loading washer this can cause suds to over flow your washer. You may obfuscate this issue by monitoring and adding rubbing alcohol as needed to suppress the suds. If front loading washer you do not need to monitor but it will take a long time, as these machines can sense suds and will wait for the suds to die down before restarting. I also suggest using LA's Awesome as it is a very effective degreaser and uses limonene (orange oil) as an emulsifier.

To keep the smell in the water I suggest activated charcoal which can be bought for use in aquarium filters. This will absorb the petro-chemicals and carry them away. I suggest you use activated charcoal after a first attempt with the prior suggest method of soap and degreaser as charcoal can coat your drier affecting the next load or two, but washing a rag can help clean it out.

One of the comments mentions scaling as a possible issue. LA's awesome has chealating agents and this should be of no issue. If you choose to etch some scale I would suggest vinegar for this over citric acid.


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