Home Remedies for Skunk Odor

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Sure, Pepe LePew was pretty cute on the Warner Brothers cartoons, but you’re rarely amused when you come across this black and white critter in the middle of the night. Skunks are infamous for their defensive spray, which sends a rather distinct scent into the air. When they feel threatened or become alarmed, a skunk will spray humans, pets, and even cars. The end result is a smell that lingers long after the skunk has sauntered off into the thick of darkness.


The Mechanics Behind the Skunk Spray

A skunk sprays a yellow-colored oily liquid called musk and the creature is packed with enough to produce more than one spray in a single sitting. The two sacks responsible for housing the musk are located on opposing sides of the anus. While a teaspoon of musk in each sack doesn’t sound like much, a skunk can spray multiple times with this amount. Musk is released in the form of a mist or stream of liquid that is usually aimed at a specific target. A skunk can shoot their spray up to 20 feet.

When a skunk starts spraying, the odor is not the only thing to watch out. The musk can temporarily blind and stun victims when contact is made with the face. Other symptoms include watery eyes, nasal irritation, and nausea. If you have asthma, skunk odor can cause breathing difficulties.

Skunk Odor Home Remedies

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to burn your clothes if a skunk sprays you. The terrible-smelling chemicals contained in skunk musk can be neutralized. With simple home ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and plain ol’ dish detergent, you can remedy skunk odor. A few suggestions are found below:

a) Vinegar:

Getting the smell out of clothes sprayed by a skunk is usually a top concern for someone who has recently experienced this unfortunate encounter. Soak offensive garments in undiluted vinegar overnight [1].

b) Camping Bucket:

Prepare a plastic bucket of skunk odor treatment for an upcoming camping trip by packing one pint of hydrogen peroxide, one box of baking soda, and any dish washing liquid. Combine the hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and a couple drops of dish detergent in one gallon of water to create a quick remedy. Keep in mind that the ingredients will lose their effectiveness without an hour. They will also explode if you keep the mixture in a closed container for too long.

c) Chlorine Bleach:

When skunk odor has compromised your wood deck, car, and brick siding – use chlorine bleach to oxidize and neutralize the problem.

d) Dawn Dish Soap and Distilled Vinegar:

When a skunk has attacked your dog, use distilled vinegar to neutralize the smell and Dawn dish detergent to combat the oily composition of skunk spray. Follow up with a fresh wash with his or her usual shampoo.

e) Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda [2]:

Combine one quart of hydrogen peroxide and one box of baking soda with two tablespoon of Dawn dish detergent. Use a sponge or spray bottle to apply the remedy. Allow it to sit for 20 minute before rinsing. Shampoo and wash as usual.

f) Change Air Filter:

If skunk odor has infiltrated the inside of your home, change the air filter to the furnace or air conditioner, as excess odor can become trapped within.

g) Apple Cider Vinegar:

To treat cat and dog fur plagued with stubborn skunk odor, create a home remedy comprised of one gallon apple cider vinegar, one quart 3% hydrogen peroxide, ½ cup baking soda, and two teaspoons of liquid dish soap. First, pour the remedy onto your pet’s fur and massage it into the skin for ten minutes. This will help to neutralize and eliminate the skunk odor. With a garden hose or in a bathtub with cool running water, thoroughly rinse the fur. Follow up with a routine wash of the fur using a gentle pet shampoo.


[1] Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things by Reader’s Digest; pg 369.
[2] http://www.rutherfordcounty.org/pets/pdfs/Home%20Remedies%20for%20Skunk%20Odors.pdf