Crude oil is a naturally occurring product of ancient plants and animals decaying under tremendous pressure deep in the earth. Crude oil is the basic product of gasoline and other fuels. It has a peculiar distinct heavy petroleum odor it may also have an odor of "rotten eggs".
Crude oil stains clothing as a result of oil drilling, refinery operations and unfortunately oil spills from ocean drilling and oil tankers. Tar balls and oil residue in the ocean is now a major problem throughout the world. Due to current BP disaster, staining of clothing at the beach and when boating in the Gulf of Mexico is a large problem.
In Texas we have a lot of people that work in the oil business. This means cleaning their work clothes of crude oil is a routine matter. I have listed some of their recommended methods of cleaning the oil from clothing and removing the odor.
Separate the crude oil stained garment from all others. Keep in mind that crude oil like all petroleum is highly flammable. Use a heavy duty liquid detergent and rube the detergent into the material, presoaking may help. . Using the longest wash cycle, wash on the hottest machine setting recommended for the soiled material. Inspect after washing, if you necessary, wash again. Air dry to ensure all fumes from the oil are dissipated.
A method used by oil workers uses the soft drink "Coca Cola". Pour a can of "Coca Cola" into a load of crude oil stained clothing. Large globs should be removed first and only clothing stained by the crude oil should be washed in the same load. Add the "Coke", and then add your detergent. Hang on a line outdoors after washing instead of using the dryer. This will ensure that any residual chemical fumes dissipate.
Some people soak the stain in "Dawn" dishwasher soap and presoak. Then watch in a standard detergent in hot water. "Dawn" dishwasher soap is used to clean crude oil covered animals and birds and cuts oil. It can also be used on rubber boots, overshoes, raincoats and flip flops. Rags, paper towels, tar or crude oil residue is highly flammable and should be disposed of in a lidded metal container.
Consider the need to discard contaminated leather shoes and gloves. Do not wear clothing contaminated with crude oil until it is cleaned.