Colt is a longtime freelance writer who's always been interested in examining businesses to help inform others.
The raccoon is an intelligent and dexterous animal that can be a major nuisance for your household. Many compare them to cockroaches since they are just as difficult to get rid of. Raccoons are persistent, bold nocturnal creatures that perform their banditry at night. Scare tactics don't work on them. To make things worse, they can even carry deadly diseases such as rabies or Leptospirosis, which make them dangerous to both humans and pets. This is why it is important to get rid of these pests before they do damage.
How to Get Rid of Raccoons
Like the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure, and the best way to get rid of raccoons is to stop them from even coming in the first place. In fact, the only way to permanently get rid of raccoons is to bar their access to food and water near your home.
- Remove Garbage. It is important to clear and remove all garbage and food waste from the house and garden not only to prevent access but to teach the raccoons to stop coming. Before going to bed at night, take out the trash and shut the bin lid tight. Remember to bring in your pet's food dishes, as well!
- Secure Garbage Bins. It is important to use a locking garbage bin or one with a close-fitting or heavy metal lid. A raccoon can easily bypass a lid that is made of a lighter material such as plastic. If necessary, you can even use a rope or bungee cord to seal it tight.
- Secure Bird Feeders and Pet Food Dishes. If you leave food out for birds or pets, you will need to make sure the raccoons can't touch it. Consider bringing these things in at night or find other ways to make them inaccessible.
- Prevent Access to Water. Raccoons need water to survive, so it is a must to restrict any source of water as well. This includes pet dishes, ponds, pools, puddles, and fountains.
- Restrict Entry Points. Sealing and covering all entry points can help deter these pesky creatures. Stuff smaller holes with newspaper and consider investing in electric fences if the going gets tough. Raccoons are excellent climbers, so make sure you take every entry to your home into consideration.
- Use Bright Lights and Loud Noises. Motion-detecting lights or noise-making devices (even an old radio) can help drive these pests away.
- Use Repellants. Below, you'll find a list of natural ingredients and store-bought devices that raccoons don't like that will help you make your yard less attractive to them.
Homemade Raccoon Repellents
There are many great homemade raccoon repellent ideas.
Hot Stuff. A common DIY method is to make a mixture of spicy hot peppers (e.g. jalapeños) which can then be used as a spray around the house, around garbage bins, and near all possible points of entry. (See recipe below.)
Ammonia. Ammonia can be soaked into rags and applied to entry points or food sources. It can also be kept in small, open jars or bottles placed near food sources or around the bins. You can use a liquid cleaner such as Pine Sol as a replacement.
Vinegar. Apple cider vinegar can be used similarly to ammonia. Raccoons will be turned off by the taste of vinegar and may never make a return trip again.
Moth Balls or Moth Crystals. Moth balls are toxic to small mammals, and raccoons hate their smell with a passion. Note: If you have pets, babies, or small children, the chemicals naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene found in moth repellents can be dangerous.
Epsom Salts. Epsom salts not only serve as an excellent raccoon deterrent, they also make excellent fertilizers for your plants and garden. Scatter them around your bins and in your garden.
Homemade Raccoon Repellent Recipe
- Mix a bottle of hot sauce or cayenne pepper powder with a gallon of water.
- Mix in a teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap to help the mixture adhere.
- Spray this stuff all around the perimeter of your property, garbage bins, entry points, or any other areas of interest.
Commercial Raccoon Deterrents
There are many expensive commercial raccoon deterrents on the market.
Electric Fencing. One common recommendation is the deployment of electric fencing (think Jurassic Park). Though it has some risks, especially if you have young children or pets, it is an excellent tool against raccoons.
Ultrasonic Devices. Another fancy gadget that might work is an ultrasonic sound generator. These devices emit harmless low frequency sound waves which are highly irritating to pests.
Motion Detection. Motion-detecting devices can be installed in the garden or areas where raccoons are likely to enter. Raccoons are nocturnal, dislike light, and will turn tail at the sight of sudden, bright, flashing light. Check your neighborhood hardware or security store to see your options.
What Scent Will Help Keep Raccoons Away?
Raccoons dislike the smell of both ammonia and vinegar, so either of these ingredients can help you repel them from your property.
Can You Use Pets as a Raccoon Deterrent?
Some homeowners suggest using a pet to scare off raccoons. However, raccoons are seldom intimidated by other animals and will most likely return. Raccoons will often stand their ground against other animals, especially when cornered.
But this might not be the smartest method. As mentioned, raccoons can carry diseases which can be extremely dangerous to pets. There have been reports of groups of raccoons actually snatching house cats. A group of raccoons could even seriously injure a dog.
If All Else Fails...
If none of these repellents or deterrents work for you, your last resort is trapping the animal and moving them do a different location. Read How to Keep Raccoons out of Your Garden for more information about live traps, what bait to use, and what to do with a trapped raccoon.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Geronimo Colt
Geri on June 22, 2020:
I have these darn things under my new deck - what the heck do I do ??
The Examiner-1 on November 21, 2013:
I do not use bug killers inside the house.
Thank you for your suggestion, I do try to find natural deterrents but I do not think that would like to use borax on my stove and counter tops and then place food on them.
At the moment I am using 'lemon & pepper spice' and keeping my thermostat below 68 degrees to keep them at a minimum. When I do see one, I spray their underside with 'lemon juice & dish soap'. Then I scoop them with a paper towel, crush them and throw them away.
sallieannluvslife from Eastern Shore on November 21, 2013:
The Examiner-1 - FYI - My Nana swore that sprinkling 20 Mule Team Borax around the areas in your home that have cockroaches would get rid of them as the roaches walk through the borax, it gets stuck to their legs and they carry it back to the nest and the borax will kill all those in the nest, as well...and if you have animals, borax is a natural product and is not supposed to have any effect on them, as other bug sprays and such would.
The Examiner-1 on November 20, 2013:
At the moment my home - luckily rented - is infested inside with cockroaches, and practically every other insect. I have not seen any raccoons here or anyplace else I have lived.
P.S. - It is only a few but I would re-read the Hub carefully for errors. Otherwise I voted this up, useful and interesting.
sallieannluvslife from Eastern Shore on November 20, 2013:
We had a raccoon climb up onto our hen house and chew through the screen of the window. Luckily we have noisy ducks that notified us before he could kill any of our chickens.