How to Clean a Fuel Tank? – A Comprehensive Guide

how to clean a fuel tank

Fuel tank cleaning is one of the most important tasks when you own a vehicle. It is because a dirty fuel tank can cause problems for the engine and, in addition, keep your fuel pump from performing at its best.

To ensure that you follow the proper cleaning steps on how to clean a fuel tank, read on to see how it’s done correctly.

Here Are the Things You Need Before You Proceed to Clean Out a Gas Tank

  • A fuel tank cleaner
  • A small towel or rag
  • A garden hose with a nozzle (preferably one that has a trigger lock)
  • A pair of gloves (optional)
  • Some water
  • Dish soap
  • Fuel tank brush (to brush off debris)
  • Empty container (for your used fuel)
  • Siphon hose pump (for transferring your fuel)

Step 1: Drain the fuel tank


To do this, you’ll need a siphon hose and a pump to handle the task. Ensure the hose is long enough to reach the bottom of your vehicle’s tank. You should prepare your empty container before doing this (to avoid fuel spills).

Once you’ve chosen your siphon hose, you’ll need to connect it to your pump. Make sure you’re using a sufficiently powerful pump for this job; you want to do it and avoid damaging your fuel system.

Step 2: Remove the fuel tank from the vehicle


It’s time to remove your fuel tank because you can’t effectively clean it without removing it.

  • First, ensure your vehicle has been turned off, and then remove the key from the ignition.
  • Next, open up your hood and locate the fuel-fill neck. You’ll see a small cap on it with a small hole in it—this is where you’ll fill up your fuel tank with gasoline or diesel.
  • Then, remove this cap and pour any remaining fuel into an empty container. Then close up your hood and get ready to clean the inside of the gas tank.

Step 3: Clean the fuel tank


Now that your tank is empty, it’s time to get rid of all the sediment in the bottom and dirt on all sides. You have three options for cleaning diesel tanks.

So, first things first: scrape off any loose dirt and debris from the sides of the tank. Then fill a gallon bucket with warm water and dish soap to clean out the gas tank.

  • Once you have a nice lather going, scrub the tank’s surface with your old rag and clean it off with a hose to clean a fuel tank of rust.
  • You can also try to clean the inside of the gas tank by brushing it to ensure all unwanted debris is caught off.
  • Then drain all the water, leaving only clear water in the bottom of the tank. (This will allow you to see any remaining sediment and remove it with a strainer or filter to thoroughly clean a car gas tank.)
  • Dry your tank with a cloth and let it rest for a while.

Second, you can use a non-abrasive gas tank cleaner, the same process, and you either use cloth or a brush to clean it. Then, let it dry completely before refilling it with fuel.

Third, one of the best ways to clean a tank is to use vinegar to clean the fuel tank for easy rust removal.

  • You can create a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, then let it sit in your tank for a moment.
  • Wait for the mixture to change color and form bubbles, then rinse it off and make sure the tank is empty from the mixture.

Once you’ve removed as much sediment as possible, you can fill your fuel tank with fresh fuel.

Note: Ensure all sides of your tank (interior/exterior) are dry and free from water to avoid future rust buildup.

Step 4: Safely put back the tank


The last step is to put back the fuel tank carefully. It can be a little tricky, so you must position yourself in a way that protects your body from any potential injury.

To do this, place one hand on the tank and lift it slightly to ensure it doesn’t get stuck.

Then, put your other hand on top of the tank and try to rotate it toward you as you lift with your first hand.

It may not be easy at first, but keep trying until you feel it starts to move into place. Once it’s in place, gently pull down on it until the cap clicks back into place.

Note: You may also want to clean the entire fuel system for much better engine performance.

Helpful Tips

When cleaning your fuel tank, make sure to remember the following information.

  • Always wear goggles, gloves, and a long-sleeved shirt when cleaning your fuel tank.
  • Always work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Always use the right tool for the job.
  • Bring a fire extinguisher near you.
  • Do not use strong detergents on your fuel tank, as they can damage it over time and cause rusting, making it more challenging to clean and leak later on down the line.
  • Do not use benzene, acetone, or other volatile solvents like paint thinner. These chemicals could leak into the gas line and cause a fire.


By knowing the right way how to clean a fuel tank and having routine maintenance, you can prevent your engine from being harmed by dirt, grime, or other harmful substances, and it helps your vehicle run better.

So, don’t you think it’s time to wear protective gear and clean your fuel tank if your vehicle has been resting for a while or is just performing rough?

Read next: Comprehensive Guide to Clean Fuel Injectors on Your Car.

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