If a skunk has sprayed you, your pet, your car, or your house, you will undoubtedly be asking yourself, "How do I get rid of that skunk smell?" It isn't an easy task, but skunk smell can be removed. Skunk odor removal may take a few trials and you may have to work to get rid of it, but you can indeed remove skunk odor once and for all. Whether you need to get rid of the skunk smell in your house, on your clothes or your pets, these steps will help you remove skunk smell.
Where does a skunk's odor come from?
Skunk smell is actually oil in the skunk's scented release or musk. Remedies for getting rid of skunk smell are attempts to break down or dissolve this oil. These skunk odor removal tips will help you learn how to get rid of skunk smell.
Remove the source of the smell. If you or your pet has been sprayed with skunk scent, then don't enter or let your pet enter the house until you have gotten rid of the skunk smell. If you do let him or her in the house, you will have to work hard to get the skunk smell out of the house, too.
To remove the smell, start by removing all of the clothing you had on that may have been sprayed, leaving them outside to hang in fresh air to hopefully remove a bit of the skunk scent. Carefully go in the house without touching a bunch of things and make your way to a tub or shower to bathe and remove that skunk smell. See step 2.
If your house itself has been sprayed by a skunk, then try and get any items that smell or have been damaged out of the house and into lots of open and fresh air. It is also a good idea to open the windows in the house to allow fresh air to circulate freely and remove the skunk scent.
Clean the source of the skunk smell: pets, clothing or humans. The first remedy for skunk smell is to treat the source. This part gets a little difficult. The best course of action is to work on neutralizing and cleaning the skunk smell. A standard remedy for skunk odor removal is to bathe in tomato juice. However, tomato juice actually does nothing chemically to neutralize the skunk smell.
For Pets or Humans. If the source of the skunk smell is you or your pet, start by putting on a pair of rubber gloves and mixing together a home remedy to get rid of the skunk smell consisting of:
- 1 quart or 3% hydrogen peroxide (new bottle, if possible)
- 1/4 cup of baking soda
- 2 teaspoons of liquid laundry or dish soap (the degreaser).
This remedy was first reported by a chemist named Paul Krebaum of Lisle, Illinois for use on pets and is safe to use to remove the skunk smell on yourself as well. It can help clean the skunk scent out of your pet’s fur. Never use this skunk smell removal solution on clothing as it may discolor fabrics in addition to getting rid of the smell. If you have a large pet, make a larger batch by doubling or tripling the solution ingredients in order to get rid of the smell.
Safety Note: Never mix these ingredients in advance and store this solution in your house or elsewhere. Mix them in an open container (no lid) and use right away to get rid of the smell. Mixing these ingredients in advance may allow oxygen in the hydrogen peroxide to be released, potentially causing the container to explode.
To remove the skunk scent, wet down yourself or your pet, washing the body first and then the head. Try to keep your pet from shaking the mixture off. Scrub the solution as deeply as you can into the pet's fur (avoiding their eyes, nose and mouth). Use this cleanser while it is bubbling. Let it sit on your pet for about five minutes or longer until the bubbling stops. Rinse clean with lots of water and repeat two of three times if necessary to fully get rid of the smell. Follow this up with a regular shampoo. Never use a hair dryer as this might cause any remaining skunk oil to set into the hair, fur or skin. Taking a shower in between treatments may help to remove any lasting smell. An
alternative solution to remove skunk smell might be a mixture of 50/50 mix of distilled white vinegar and water to bathe in.
Fabrics and Clothing. For skunk odor removal in fabrics, mix together:
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1 cup vinegar, and
- the standard measurement of laundry detergent.
Soak clothing with skunk smell in a tub or use a washer but don’t use very warm or hot water; warmer water temperatures can release the skunk oil even more in the steam created. You can also clean your car with this solution and open all of the car’s windows to try and get rid of the skunk smell there. Another way to remove skunk scent from clothing is a combination of 10% chlorine bleach, a little ammonia or vinegar and then add a heavy-duty laundry detergent or borax. This combination may stain or discolor clothing so be sure to test on the garment in one
small area before using it for skunk odor removal.
Air it all out. Another remedy to get rid of skunk smell is to let it all breathe and air out. After laundering, line-drying clothes can help as the sun will aid in getting rid of smells and fresh air is always good. You may find that you still smell skunk odors every now and again. This is because we can smell even the smallest amount of it.
If you need to get rid of the smell in your house, it is always a good idea to air your home out a while and let a lot of fresh air come in. It may take a while for the skunk smell to leave your house, but it will work.
Change the air filter on the furnace and/or the air conditioner. Do this if you find that you still smell skunk odors in your house. If the skunk smell is lingering in your house, it's usually due to small amounts of the odor stuck in the air filter of your furnace or air conditioner. Changing the filter should stop the filter from re-circulating the same smell back into the house.
High humidity days can re-activate a skunk smell. Air fresheners can be used to temporarily mask residual odors in the house but be aware that some people can have an allergic reaction to certain deodorizers used on clothing, in the house or the car. Plus, they don’t always get rid of the smell—they mask it.
Skunk Odor Removers
Often times a skunk will crawl under your deck or into a crawl space below the house, making odor removal more of a challenge. To get rid of the skunk smell from hard surfaces, you can try commercial products such as Skunk-Off® and Odor-Mute®. Other skunk odor removing products such as Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover® and Earth Friendly Products Skunk Odor Remover® tout their effectiveness in removing the stale smell of skunk by using natural ingredients including plant based ingredients and natural enzymes and say they can be used on upholstery, fabrics, carpeting as well as animals. Always read the labels carefully and follow manufacturer’s directions before using the products to remove the smell of skunk.
There are commercial deodorizers that might help remove or mask lingering skunk odors including Neutroleum Alpha®, Freshwave® or Epoleon N100® to name a few. Neutroleum Alpha® masks odors with a minty smell while Freshwave® (also called Ecosorb®) chemically neutralizes odors. Epoleon N100® is water based and claims to get rid of the skunk smell as well. Always be sure to use proper ventilation, read and follow directions carefully when using such chemicals.
A simple way to keep skunks and their smell away from your home is to use bright lights or a light hooked to a motion sensor. Another way is to use motion, such as an oscillating sprinkler that turns on with a motion sensor. There are a few products that you can spray in and around your home as well. Ro-Pel® is a bitter spray that might repel skunks should they taste it and Get-Away® is another. The latter works by repelling skunks with ingredients including chili extract (hot) and oil of mustard (bitter). Be careful not to spray any of your own edible plants with these products.
Stop Inviting Skunks Into Your Yard
The best way to avoid the hassles associated with skunk odor removal is to get rid of the skunks in the first place! Stop providing food or shelter for skunks. Make sure you:
- Secure all trash barrels with a lid and a bungy cord.
- Close all garage and shed doors to keep animals from entering.
- Seal off small openings around or underneath wood and rock piles in the yard.
- Put up lattice or something to keep skunks from getting below any crawl spaces, porches or patios.
- Secure and/or cover open compost piles and bins.
- Remove all pet food and water bowls from outside areas. Keep pets inside at night so they don’t get sprayed.
- Skunks eat rodents, insects and grubs. Find a way to deal with your grub problems and fence off gardens (skunks do not jump fences). Make sure to add a little extra chicken wire fencing down into the ground below the fence since skunks can dig underneath.
Now you know how to remove skunk smell. With time and effort, you should be able to be free of skunk odor within a week or two. With larger pets, removing the smell may be a little harder, but it can be