How To Get Rid Of Skunk Smell: Off Humans, Pets, & Clothes

Useful tips to get rid of the nasty stink that has attached itself to you.

Medically reviewed by Jennifer Roelands, MD Jennifer Roelands Jennifer RoelandsMD facebook_iconyoutube_iconinsta_icon
Written by , Health & Wellness Writer Sanchari Bhattacharya Health & Wellness Writer Experience: 10 years
Edited by , Senior Editor Arshiya Syeda Senior Editor Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , Health & Wellness Writer Himanshi Mahajan Health & Wellness Writer Experience: 2 years
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Picture this, it’s a beautiful sunny day and the weather is just perfect. You decide to take a hike through the evergladesi  XA swampy land found in southern Florida, that is grass-covered and submerged in water during most of the year. and connect with nature. On your hike, you accidentally run into a skunk and before you know it, you’ve been hit with its spray and you’re stinking to the high heavens. Now you must be wondering, how to get rid of the skunk smell? If you or someone you know is a victim of a skunk attack, this article is just for you!

What Is Skunk Smell?

Skunk spray otherwise referred to as skunk musk is a defense mechanism of the striped skunk to ward off predators. It stores this secretion in its anal glands and sprays a yellow oily discharge at predators when it is surprised or feels threatened. A skunk spray can travel up to a distance of 3 meters! (1). Unless you’re really far away from a skunk, escaping its spray is quite difficult.

One of the reasons that make skunk spray so noxious is due to the presence of thiols and thioacetates, which are sulfur-based organic compounds (1). Thioacetates when exposed to humidity or water morphi  XSignificant and dramatic change in character or form that makes the substance completely different from its original state. into thiols that produce the smell.

What Are The Effects Of Skunk Smell?

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Getting sprayed by a skunk and suffering the stench is one half of your misery, the other half is nausea and teary eyes caused by the spray. Studies suggest that skunk spray has a similar effect as that of tear gas. The spray causes you to tear up when it comes in contact with your eyes as it’s a natural tear inducer. At high concentrations, it may also cause nausea and might also be fatally toxic to humans (1). Anecdotal reports also suggest that skunk smell may give you a headache and make it difficult to breathe. Thus, it is important to remove skunk scent as soon as possible.

Skunk attacks are not limited to people alone. Your pets, property, and personal belongings may also be affected. In that case, what can you do to remove the stench from them? Read through the next section and find out how to get rid of the skunk smell.

How To Get Rid Of Skunk Smell

Acting quickly and using the right products is the most critical step in tackling skunk odor. The quicker you act, the better are your chances of completely getting rid of that nasty stench. Here are a few ways that may help you with skunk smell removal.

  • How To Get Skunk Smell Off People
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The first thing you need to do if you’ve got “skunked” is to take a bath. Use a strong dish wash detergent or fragrant soap on your body. For your hair, use a shampoo that is specially formulated for oily hair to eliminate skunk stench.

You could also try taking a bath with baking soda as it is known to be an odor absorbent (2). For this, you will need to do the following.

  1. Put 3-4 cups of baking soda in a bucket and add hot water
  2. Rinse yourself and repeat the process until you’ve got rid of the odor
  3. Rinse with water to remove any residue

You can also try using a deodorizer. It is one of the most effective methods to eliminate odor, whether it be a skunk scent or any other type of odor removal.

  • How To Get Skunk Smell Off Pets
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You could also try this formula developed by a chemist named Paul Kerbaum, which supposedly neutralizes skunk odor. To prepare this formula you will need the following.

  • 1 quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
  • ¼ cup of baking soda
  • 1-2 teaspoons liquid dishwashing detergent

Instruction For Use

  • Combine all ingredients in an open container and lather them on your pet and let it stay for 5 minutes to deodorize skunk spray.
  • Repeat the process till you achieve the desired result.

protip_icon Quick Tip
If you don’t have hydrogen peroxide, you can use white vinegar to eliminate the skunk smell.

Here are a few precautions to follow when using hydrogen peroxide (3):
  • It is important to note that hydrogen peroxide has the tendency to lighten your pet’s fur.
  • Hence, do not leave it on for more than 5 minutes.
  • Ensure you do not let this lather enter the eyes of your pet, as it may harm them.
  • Also do not combine these ingredients or store the leftovers in a closed container as oxygen released from hydrogen peroxide may cause them to explode.

Note: Many folk remedies suggest using tomato juice to remove skunk smell from your pets, clothes, or other objects. However, this is not a scientifically proven method. Tomato juice just has an overpowering smell of its own that temporarily masks other smells. However, it will not solve or neutralize the skunk odor problem completely.

Bryan and Paula, both Youtubers, showed how they removed the skunk smell off their pet. They used hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to scrub their dog and were satisfied with the results. Concluding their experience, they state in one of their vlogs: “We use this remedy on our dog to get rid of skunk smell, and it works excellently (i).”

  • How To Remove Skunk Smell From Clothes
  • Soaking the clothes in hot water to remove the skunk smell
    Image: Shutterstock

For clothes like suits, dresses, and shoes that cannot be machine washed, air-drying under shade is the best option. Once they are dry, check with your local dry cleaners if they can further help clean them and get rid of the smell.

  • For clothes that you can wash, soak them in a bucket of hot water, add laundry detergent, and ½ cup of baking soda.
  • Soak for 30 minutes and air dry them.
  • Repeat this process till the smell is completely gone.

You could try using products like Skunk-Off®, Odormute, and Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover, which can be purchased from online retailers or major supermarket chains to neutralize skunk aroma.

If a piece of clothing has been heavily sprayed, consider getting rid of it as the fabric can hold the stench for a long time.

  • How To Remove Skunk Smell In Your Car
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  • If your car has been attacked by skunks, the first thing to do is open up all the windows and let the upholsteryi  XFixed soft, padded cloth covering for couches and other furniture pieces that could be found on their sides or on the headboards. air out.
  • Use a mixture of water, hydrogen peroxide, and baby shampoo to wash the interiors thoroughly.
  • You can also mix water and bleach in a 1:9 ratio (1 part bleach, 9 parts water) and wash the interiors. Since bleach can lighten the fabric of your seats, it is better to do a patch test before you proceed.
  • Wash the exteriors and tires with water and car-wash liquid.
  • If the smell persists, use odor removers like Skunk-Off® or Odormute.
  • You may also use essential oils to control the skunk smell in your car. They are widely known for their strong fragrance and antimicrobial properties and are proven to cancel out odors related to infections and diseases (4). Tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, and pine oils are a few options. Simply make a solution with a cup of water and a few drops of essential oil of your choice, and spray it all over the interiors of your car.
  • How To Remove Skunk Smell From Your Home

If a skunk has sprayed inside your house or your pet has been skunked and it enters the house, here are a few tips that may help you.

  • Open all doors and windows and set all the fans on high speed to let the stenchi  XA stinky, strong, unpleasant smell that is unbearable, making breathing tough. The smell of burning rubber can be considered a stench. out.
  • You can use bamboo vinegar or white vinegar to remove the odor as they have deodorizing properties (5).
  • In a pot or pan, boil vinegar for an hour and let the smell of vinegar permeate through your house. Your house will smell like vinegar, but it may help get rid of the skunk stench.
  • Alternatively, you can place bowls of vinegar in every room of your house for 24-48 hours or till you get rid of the smell.
  • Make sure these bowls are kept away from the reach of pets and children.
  • If you have wooden floors or decks, use bleach and water in a 1:9 ratio and wipe these areas. Patch test this first to avoid discoloration.

Other home remedies such as using a pet shampoo specifically designed to neutralize the skunk scent, bathing them in tomato juice, or applying an air freshener, using lemon juice, activated charcoal, or an enzyme cleaner can act as neutralizers and help get rid of the smell.

Getting attacked by skunks may not happen very often, as they are nocturnal creatures and attack only when provoked. However, if you become an unfortunate victim of its attack, you are now prepared to deal with the aftermath. In the next section, find out how you can keep yourself safe from skunk sprays.

Safety Precautions To Consider

  • If you find yourself face-to-face with a skunk, speak in a low tone and stomp your foot to shoo it away. Avoid any sudden movements as it may perceive you as a threat and unleash its spray.
  • Since they are nocturnal pests and forage for food at night, ensure you do not leave garbage or pet food on your porch or driveway at night.
  • Check your yard and under your house for holes that are 3-4 inches wide. This is a sign that skunks are nesting. If you find such holes, seal them off with cement.
  • Try and walk your pet before it gets dark.
protip_icon Quick Tip
Skunks are sensitive to light. Therefore, having a motion-detecting light outside your home may deter them.

Infographic: Skunk Odor: What You Can Do To Get Relief From The Stench

Skunks attack with a yellowish oily discharge known as skunk musk, and the odor is unbearable. This spray usually travels about 3 kilometers and can last for hours or even days. It may trigger nausea and teary eyes and even be toxic in higher concentrations. The good news is you can get rid of the stench through some effective methods. Check out the infographic below for more information.

skunk odor what you can do to get relief from the stench (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Skunk smell can make you feel teary eyed and nauseated. While it is quite strong and not easy to remove, the above tips and tricks can help get rid of skunk smell to considerable extent. Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, bleach, soaps, and detergent, can all come in handy for removing skunk smell from your clothes, car, pets, and home. However, it is advisable to do a patch test before using any of these for the first time. Keeping your surroundings clean and garbage-free, avoiding late night walks, and checking for their nesting holes can help avoid skunk attacks and save you from the skunk spray stench altogether.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Febreze work on skunk odor?

Febreze may help remove skunk odor from furniture, clothes, curtains, etc.

Do candles help with skunk smell?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that burning strongly scented candles for long hours may help eliminate skunk odor to a certain extent.

Does coffee remove skunk smell?

Unused ground coffee may help remove skunk smell to some extent.

Does tea tree oil get rid of skunk smell?

Tea tree oil may help to cut through skunk smell from pets when combined with shampoos. However, evidence regarding this is only anecdotal.

Does orange juice help skunk smell?

Orange juice may not help with skunk smell. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that citrus scents from rinds, candles or essential oils may help with skunk smell.

Does milk help with skunk smell?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that milk may help mask skunk odor, but there is no certainty that it will remove the odor permanently.

Key Takeaways

  • Studies have shown that skunk spray has comparable effects to tear gas, so it may make you may feel teary and nauseated.
  • You may be able to get rid of the smell by using strongly scented soaps and detergents or by bathing with baking soda.
  • It is best to open all the windows in your home or car in order to remove the skunk odor.

Explore the chemistry behind skunk spray. Check out this video to learn why skunks unleash this defense mechanism, how far they can spray, and what to do if you or your dog encounters this stinking situation.

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. The History of Skunk Defensive Secretion Research
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226187051_The_History_of_Skunk_Defensive_Secretion_Research
  2. Preliminary Observation On The Effect Of Baking Soda Volume On Controlling Odour From Discarded Organic Waste
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269176646_Preliminary_observation_on_the_effect_of_baking_soda_volume_on_controlling_odour_from_discarded_organic_waste
  3. Removing Skunk Odor
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228490089_NF05-646_Removing_Skunk_Odor
  4. A Comprehensive Review of Topical Odor-Controlling Treatment Options for Chronic Wounds
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5098468/
  5. Volatile Organic Compounds with Characteristic Odor in Bamboo Vinegar
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6706206_Volatile_Organic_Compounds_with_Characteristic_Odor_in_Bamboo_Vinegar
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