how to clean a gas container

Have the gas cans that you use acquired a filthy, sludgy, and unpleasant layer of blackness? The following is a straightforward method for cleaning them up so that they can be transported in your vehicle without getting muck or grime on your vehicle, your clothing, or your hands. This makes it a lot easier and much less messy if you decide to keep an empty gas can in your car for emergencies (maybe you’re using a container that you used to store gas at home for yard equipment), or if you recently bought some used gas cans that need a refill, or if you have a container that you used to store gas at home for yard equipment, this makes it a lot easier and much less messy.

A Dirty Gas Can

What You’ll Need To Clean A Gas Can


  • Dish Detergent (Dawn or other)
  • An Old Toothbrush
  • Sink with optional sprayer

How To Clean The Outside Of A Gas Can

Before we get started, it is important to point out that you should only try this on canisters that are empty; otherwise, you could end up leaking fuel all over the place. In the first step, the gas can should be placed in the sink. Take the toothbrush, place one or two drops of dish soap on the bristles, and then run it under the running water to wet it. Scrub the gas can beginning at the top and working your way down to the bottom, beginning with the area closest to the handle. While you work, make sure to periodically run the brush under the running water and add another drop of detergent if you notice that you are producing less suds as you work. When you have reached the bottom of the can, tilt it backwards or turn it on its side and scrub any grime or dirt that may be there. When you are finished, rinse the can under the running water in the sink, or if you have a sprayer, use it to clean it.

How To Clean The Inside Of A Gas Can

If you are cleaning out an old gas can that may have previously contained stale or contaminated gas (gas deteriorates over time when it is exposed to air), you may also want to clean out the interior of the can to ensure that no pollutants make their way into the engine of your vehicle, lawn mower, or generator. You should get rid of any harmful gas in accordance with any state or local rules, such as by taking it to a facility that deals with hazardous waste. If the can is empty, or as soon as it is, remove the cap and/or the spout. The gas can should have some detergent placed inside of it, and then it should be partially filled with hot water. The next step is to shake the can while keeping your hand or a cloth over the opening. This will help remove any deposits or dirt that may be on the inside of the can. After emptying the contents of the can down the sink, refill it with water and give it a good shake to remove all of the detergent and any other debris that may have been left behind. Repeat this process several times until you can confirm that there is no detergent left and then drain out as much water as possible.

After you have finished, put the cans in a warm, dry place where there is a lot of circulation of air so that any water that may still be inside the cans can evaporate and dry out. You don’t want there to be any water left in the can by the time you actually put gas in it because any water in the can could produce something that is known as phase separation. If there is water in the can, it could cause an explosion. This happens when gasoline that contains ethanol, also known as alcohol, absorbs water, which results in the alcohol mixing with any water present and the two substances separate away from the gasoline and sinking to the container’s bottom. Because of the water and alcohol content, the mixture will not burn very well, if at all, and may cause damage to your vehicle’s engine. This is not a good idea for any type of engine.

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Finishing Up With Your Gas Can Cleaning

As soon as the gas can has completed the drying process, you can either replace the spout and/or the cap on it and then either dry store it in the trunk of your vehicle or have it with you at all times in case you run out of fuel. You may also put a generator or fuel for yard equipment in there to use in case there is a power outage. I just recently purchased three used gas cans off of Craigslist, and I intend to store the one that is the lowest in capacity in the trunk of my vehicle, just in case I run out of petrol and have to walk to a gas station to buy more. The container with a capacity of five gallons that is shown in this hub will be put to use to store and retrieve fuel for usage in the event of an emergency with a backup generator.

How to Clean The Inside of a Gas Can

The interior of a gas can may appear to be tough to clean, but this is not necessarily the case. We have compiled a list of the most effective ways to clean the interior of a gas can.

It is estimated that there are more than “100 million plastic gas cans in circulation in the United States.” It is not necessary for the cleaning of plastic gas cans to be a mystery.

All Methods: Preparation

First, ensure that the gas can and the nozzle of the gas pump have been emptied of any unused fuel in accordance with the rules that apply in your area. The vast majority of the time, this will take place in a location designated for the disposal of hazardous material.

Take off the cap from the gasoline container. It’s possible that this is a cap or a spout. That can be cleaned using any of the methods, but in order for us to clean, we need a container that is open.

While you are cleaning, make sure that you are not in close proximity to an open flame or any sparks. We are sure that you are already aware of this crucial safety precaution, but we wanted to remind you just in case.

Method 1: Dish Soap

Dish soap’s ability to clean the outside does not exclude it from also being effective on the inside. This method works well for cans on the inside of which there is not a significant amount of dirt. You’ll only need a few supplies to pull this out, including:

  • Dish soap
  • Access to hot water
  • Agitators such as screws (optional)

In order to clean a gas can with dish soap, the following steps might be followed:

  • Put a few drops of dishwashing liquid into the gas can.
  • Warm water should be added to the gas can only in part.
  • Put your hand over the can’s opening, or the cap, and cover it.
  • Vigorously shake the can before use.
  • Drain the pool of water.
  • When necessary, repeat.
  • If the mess that’s been created on the inside isn’t cleared up, then you should add your agitators.
  • Mix in some dishwashing liquid with the hot water.
  • Shake again
  • When necessary, repeat.
  • Only use water to thoroughly rinse.
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The agitators in this area will be of assistance with any sludge that is extremely tenacious. You don’t have to do any physical scrubbing because they also work as a cleaning agent and a gas-stabilizing agent for you.

When you are finished, check to be sure that all of the dish soap has been thoroughly washed away. Remove the screw that secures the aspiration system and thoroughly clean the inlet filter. Before using it for gasoline, let it dry in an area that has plenty of airflows, such as open and clean concrete, and make sure that it is entirely dry first.

Method 2: Pine-Sol

For gunk that is a little bit tougher to remove, you can clean your metal gas cans with the ever-famous Pine-Sol. The procedure is rather comparable to making dish soap, but there is a ratio that must be adhered to in order to achieve the best possible outcomes. You will require the following items for this method:

  • Pine-Sol
  • Access to warm water
  • Agitators such as screws (optional)

If you are interested in learning how to clean metal gas cans using Pine-Sol, the instructions that follow are what you should do:

A mixture of Pine-Sol and water with a ratio of 2:1 should be prepared.

Pour into the storage container for the gas.

  • Allow it soak for some time (the amount of sludge will determine how long this should be; it might be anywhere from one to twenty-four hours).
  • You can now add your agitators (this step is optional).
  • Vigorously shake the bottle.
  • Take the mixture out the door.
  • If necessary, repeat.
  • Ensure a thorough rinsing with water.

The agitators, similar to the dish soap procedure, assist in the removal of any particularly sticky sludge. Be sure to give it a thorough washing using only water. When you are finished, place the gas can that you just cleaned somewhere that has adequate airflow to dry, such as outside, on your recently cleaned Azek decking, or another similar location.

Before putting it to use, check that it has been totally dried off and that there is no trace of water remaining in it. Only then should you put gas in it. The combination of water and gas does not work very well.

Method 3: Official Fuel Tank Cleaner

If you have tried various ways, but they have not been successful in removing the sludge or varnish from your metal gas cans, you can go to a store that sells automobile parts and ask for a diesel fuel tank cleaning. There are a variety of brands available on the market that can assist you in cleaning your gas can.

Before you get started, you need to be sure that you have done your research and that you have read all of the directions. Before you use your gas can for gas, you will still need to make sure that it is completely dry, as this is a requirement for the majority of gas brands.

When Do I Need to Clean My Gas Cans?

You might be curious about the motivation behind my urge to learn how to clean my cans. After all, they are designed to be used with gas. If I’m merely burning gas, shouldn’t I be able to reuse the container after I empty it?

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Yes, but only in some respects. No, in other respects. Let’s talk about how often you should clean them and why you should.

1. When You Store Gasoline in the Can

Even if you store gasoline, there is still a chance that it will go stale. In general, if you have stored gas cans for a longer period of time than you can remember (and you don’t remember putting fuel stabilizer in them before you stored gas cans), you may wish to dispose of them in accordance with the requirements of your city or state and begin the process all over again. Why?

  • Gas can evaporate: To improve the functionality of mechanisms that rely on gas, certain chemical components contribute to the process of vaporization. When the gas begins to evaporate, these compounds are the first to leave the system. This may result in a slower turnover, decreased power, potential damage to the engine of your vehicle, and increased fuel consumption.
  • Gas can become contaminated: When gas cans are kept in storage for an extended period of time, various problems can arise, including condensation, rust, bacteria, and others. This is more likely to occur if the container is not adequately sealed or if the gas is not stored correctly.

2. When You See Black Coatings

In most cases, the presence of black coatings in your plastic gas cans is a warning that they need to be cleaned. In most cases, this is sludge or varnish that has accumulated as a result of the gas.

Even low-octane gas and high-octane gas that has been held in the can may let out hydrocarbon deposits that will generate black coatings. This is because hydrocarbon deposits are a byproduct of the combustion of hydrocarbons. If you notice any black coatings on the gas can, you should immediately begin making preparations to clean it so that you can minimize the risk of contamination.

3. When You’re Not Sure What’s In It

Do you have any doubts about whether or not the contents of your gas can genuinely contain gas? Do you get the impression that it’s gas, but you’re not entirely sure what it is?

It is better to err on the side of caution here. The most prudent thing to do is to bring the unidentified substance to a gas station that deals with hazardous waste (just in case), and then use one of the ways described above to clean out your gas can.

4. When You Get a Used Gas Can

Did you just acquire a used gas can from a friend or neighbor or buy some online? If you’re not positive that it was recently used for gas, it’s probably a good idea to clean a used gas before using it again.

The problem you can face here is having some old, build-up sludge or varnish that could contaminate your new gas. If acquiring a new-to-you gas can, it’s always best to examine it and make sure it looks clean. If unsure, it’s better to quickly clean it using one of the methods above than to risk contamination.

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