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How to Get Rid of Skunk Odor

Barbara is familiar with skunks and their unfortunate odor and is here to share the best methods of removal and prevention.

Eliminating Skunk Odor From Pets, Humans, Clothing, and Your Home

There isn't anything that smells quite as bad as skunk odor. If you don’t get rid of the smell correctly, the odor can take as long as two weeks or more to subside. Below, I’ll fill you in on some secrets to getting rid of the smell.

Let your children know when they are young that skunks are something to stay away from. Explain to them that they spray. If the spray gets in their eyes, it hurts and can cause temporary blindness.

Bathe the dog as soon as possible.

Bathe the dog as soon as possible.

First, Get the Odor off Your Pet

Most skunk attacks begin with a dog barking at the skunk. Once they chase the skunk, the odor starts. Our Siamese cat would sit on top of our garbage can with the neighborhood skunk. They were the best of friends. It is usually a dog involved when a skunk sprays a pet.

The Pomeranian we had years ago was sprayed. At that time, everyone said to use a tomato juice bath. It only removed half of the odor. You can get a special shampoo from your veterinarian that will work, but you can make your own, which is less expensive.

Add 1/4 cup of baking soda to 2 cups of hydrogen peroxide (the type you use for medicinal purposes). While it is still foaming, add a couple of large squirts of dish soap or 2 tablespoons of laundry soap. This will cause a chemical reaction, and it would be a good idea to wear safety glasses to protect your eyes while you mix the solution.

Be sure to use an open container. The baking soda and hydrogen peroxide can actually explode if you store them in a closed container. Discard any leftovers when you are finished. This solution should not be stored.

Get the pet into a tub. Rub into every area of the pet’s fur. Afterward, be sure to totally rinse all of the mixture out of the fur. Dry the pet off well. This should take away the odor and works the first time in most cases. If it doesn’t work, repeat the process.

Removing Skunk Smell From People

An adult can accidentally startle a skunk. They like to eat pet food and can be on your deck at night or just leisurely walking through your yard. If a skunk does spray you, run for the shower. Lather well with soap and shampoo your hair. Use a vinegar rinse on your hair to get out the smell.

Removing Skunk Smell From Clothing

Launder the clothing as soon as possible. If you can't, place them on a garbage bag or newspaper because the odors can get onto other surfaces. These articles can be disposed of later.

After placing in the washing machine, add white vinegar to the load after adding the laundry soap. About 1/2 cup should be enough. If you don't have vinegar, use baking soda. The baking soda won't work as well, though. Both vinegar and baking soda will help absorb the odor.

If the odor is strong, you may need to wash the clothes a second time with the vinegar. Hang on a clothesline after washing if you have one. Otherwise, dry as usual.

Removing Skunk Odor From the Home

Unless your dog rubbed the skunk odor on the carpeting or a skunk sprayed through a door, the odor is just in the air. The best thing that you can do is air out your home by keeping windows open. Then spray an air freshener.

If the spray did get on any furniture or carpeting in the house, use the same mixture used for cleaning your dog. Be sure to spot-check the carpet first to be sure it doesn't remove any color. Add 1/4 cup of baking soda to 2 cups of hydrogen peroxide. While it is still foaming, add a couple of large squirts of dish soap or 2 tablespoons of laundry soap. Use this mixture and scrub the surface.

It may help to clean all surfaces in the home. Keeping the windows open and airing out the house is the best antidote. Professional services are also available.

How to Get Rid of Skunks

  • Don't leave pet food outdoors. This will attract everything from skunks, possums, and even rats. All of these are nocturnal animals.
  • Keep a lid on your garbage cans. If you don't and you take your garbage out at night, you may get an unpleasant surprise. Skunks love garbage. Never leave bags of garbage sitting around.
  • Get grubs out of your yard. The last couple of years, our neighborhood has had a problem with skunks digging up our yards. It almost looks like a rototiller has gone over it. They will eat earthworms, grubs, and other things in the ground. You really don't want to get rid of the earthworms. They keep the ground aerated, and their casings fertilize it. So, how do you get rid of the grubs? Check for eco-friendly sprays for your yard.
  • We kept our lights on since my son worked third shift. This attracted June bugs. The bugs then laid their eggs in the ground and those hatched into grubs. The skunk did a real job on the area where the light shined. It may be a good idea not to leave single lights on like we did. Floodlights will keep the skunks out because they don't like bright lights. Dim lights don't work.
  • At Garden Web, someone suggested that placing mothballs in a tight coffee can will work. You'll need to poke holes in the top of it. Do not touch the mothballs or breath in the vapors. Use rubber gloves and a mask to cover your nose and mouth. Don't breathe the scent. Mothballs can cause health problems. Place it in areas that the skunk might be interested in digging. Dogs and cats won't get into it because they won't like the smell. Just be sure the lid is good and tight. Using ammonia is also suggested and is safer than mothballs.
  • Others suggest human urine. The skunks here don't go where our dogs run, so dog urine might work too. It won't be good for your yard, but not as hard on it as the skunks digging it up or putting up with the odor they create.
  • I've also read that orange and lemon peels will discourage them. I'll have to try this myself. We haven't had any skunks since they ate all of the June Bug grubs. If they arrive in our yard again, I'll have to give it a try. It sounds like the safest fix.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Barbara Badder (author) from USA on January 29, 2018:

I don't envy you at all with all the work you have to look forward to doing. I hope this recipe works well for you and you don't have any skunks returning.

Lea on January 29, 2018:

Oh my what a night. 6 dogs and 1 skunk, NOT the way to wake up at 2:00 am. There is only one section of my dog yards that is not finished yet for critter proofing. ONE small section! This fall I have had 3 rattlesnakes find that section and now a skunk!

I have a doggie door, and have always had one and have never had problems. My dogs are snake trained because they are a huge issue where I live.

I never thought I would have a skunk in the yard because of the dog urine, and no food or garbage cans in the dog yard. I'm so wrong.

Last night after I tackled and isolated the 2 spray victims, I used white vinegar and Dawn dish soap to wash them. I'm going to use the recipe above and repeat the dog washing.

I also sprayed white vinegar in the entire house where the dogs were frantically rubbing before I could isolate them. I will also be using the recipes above to scrub furniture and carpet.

I will also be washing everything on the beds, not only my own, but the guest bedroom as well. I will be a very busy woman today

When I looked out my bedroom window last night I saw my German Shepherd face to face with the skunk. Both were calm, but I already knew it had sprayed, as I could smell it. I couldn't understand why my German Shepherd was so calmly looking eye to eye with the skunk when it had sprayed. Turns out he was smarter and didn't antagonize the skunk like my Jack Russell and my Rottweiler did. Those girls are relentless and it was on for them! I'm thinking my Jack Russell learned not to bother a skunk last night. She's older and miserable today. My Rottie however is relentless, and young, she's searching every room in the house where one of them rubbed, and is patrolling the yard. By her actions I know exactly where that skunk came in and left the yard. After everything is deodorized I will be finishing that small section of fence line. Lots of work ahead of me. What about the husband you might ask? Well he took a 12 foot fall off of a rock truck and broke his neck, among other things. Nope I'm not joking. He gets a free pass and doesn't get to help in any way. I'm blessed he's alive and not paralyzed. It's also the reason the fence is not finished. I will let everyone know how the recipes work as I have tons of cleaning ahead of me.

The skunk left the yard when I put the hi powered spot light flash light on it. It turned and waddled away. Because I live in the middle of nowhere I keep several of those handy in locations where they must always be returned to. I have been very pleased with that plan more than once!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on September 28, 2013:

moonlake, This made me smile. Yes, it is a good thing that you lived in the country. Thanks for reading and voting up. Have a great weekend.

moonlake from America on September 28, 2013:

We have had a few dogs get it by a skunk. My friend and I were coming home from ceramic class and hit a skunk. I couldn't even go in the house with my clothes on. Good thing we lived in the country with no one around. Great advice. Voted up.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on September 24, 2013:

Shryon, Thanks for pinning it. I don't have a special board for Hubpages. I should start one.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on September 24, 2013:

Shyron, You have quite the things going on in your house. Our cat had a skunk friend. The skunk never sprayed it and they seemed to enjoy each others company.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on September 23, 2013:

P.S. voted up, shared and pinned on my Amazing HubPages Board.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on September 23, 2013:

Barbara, this is great. I wrote about the little stinkers that were under the belly mower, it was really funny. Also my brother let his dog Lady out and Lady ran after a skunk, he yelled at her, 'You stupid dog,' and hearing this my sister-in-law opened the door and in ran the dog onto her brand spanking new carpet.

So I printed the Dennis the Menace funny for them when they told me about Lady.

Henry Mitchell (Dennis's dad) told Dennis to go snipe hunting and see if he could catch one. Dennis's mother, said to Henry. "you should be ashamed tricking Dennis." and he said "oh it is all in good fun."

Then Dennis is running up to his dad with a bag yelling, "I got one, I got one, I'm going to call him stripy, as he nears his dad and Henry says "Oh no, not a SKUNK"

Dennis's mother says "Oh Henry, it is all in good fun."

I wrote about our encounter with skunks in "The Best Way to get rid of groundhogs, skunks and mice"

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on May 07, 2013:

Au fait, I don't know that anything will work perfectly, but these ideas will go a long way towards making things bearable. In the house, it isn't as hard as dogs. Dogs have so much hair that it is hard to not be left with a very slight odor for awhile. I wish skunks just stayed away from yards. They have been digging the heck out of our neighborhood yards.

C E Clark from North Texas on May 07, 2013:

Lots of great advice here for anyone who has a run-in with a skunk -- or who has a pet that does. I would try that peroxide concoction if it ever happened to a pet of mine again.

I used to have a dog that seemed to think skunks were cats and he wanted to play with them. They sprayed him again and again and he just didn't get the message and kept on trying. No form of tomato every did any good. The stench just had to wear off.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 13, 2013:

Cris Sp, I hope the flood lights work for your problem. I don't feel so bad about seeing a skunk here and there and the damage they did to our yard after hearing you had a whole tribe. I didn't know they are called a surfeit. Thanks for reading.

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on April 13, 2013:

Goodness, this is a wonderful read! Very useful! We've had this problem last year when a tribe of skunk (a surfeit) would come in our backyard and gently play around. Geez, they are cute alright but no thanks for their visit.

It's springtime and they'll soon be out again. I like the idea of bright light, so I'll have a floodlight definitely fix.

Thank you. Now, passing it along plus the vote +++.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 13, 2013:

sholland10, I hope you don't have to use it either. Thanks for reading.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 13, 2013:

livingsta, We had problems with them even when we lived in town. They must be thick in Michigan. The trouble is that they carry rabies sometimes. Thanks for reading.

Susan Holland from Southwest Missouri on April 13, 2013:

Thanks, Barbara! I hope we don't have to use it. LOL If we do, I'll know where to look, though. :-)

livingsta from United Kingdom on April 13, 2013:

Wow, interesting information. I have never had a problem related to skunks, and in the place where we used to live when we had pets, we did not have any skunks there. Thank you for sharing this hub with us. Voting up and sharing. It will sure be of help for someone!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 13, 2013:

Lisa, I used vinegar years back as a rinse. It removed the shampoo and minerals from my hair. I'd be a little careful with that. I know you can use baking soda for shampoo. That might be safer to try since it absorbs odors too. Thanks for your comments.

Lisa Brown from Michigan on April 13, 2013:

Barbara Kay,

We have skunks all around the house. I have never been sprayed. I am glad you wrote this hub because I know it could happen any night. I have never heard of your solutions to the problem, but I feel I would use them if needed. Though I do wonder what the vinegar would do to colored hair.


Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 12, 2013:

sholland10, I've used the peroxide on quite a few things here and I am amazed at the results. No, since it isn't peroxide for hair, it shouldn't do anything to their fur. If it does dry it out, you could use something to moisturize it later. I would do a spot check on the carpet before I used it though.

Susan Holland from Southwest Missouri on April 12, 2013:

Hi Barbara! That is a stout concoction, but it would need to be to get rid of skunk smell on your pet. Does it irritate their skin? Does the peroxide dye their hair? LOL I would be afraid it might dye the carpet. Do you think the vinegar would work on the pets and carpet like it would on our hair?

I have never had a skunk problem, but I would take the risks to get rid of the smell. EEGADS!! We live in the country, so there is always a chance.

Great hub with great info!! Thanks! Votes and shares! :-)

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 12, 2013:

Thanks for reading Sheri. The tomato juice doesn't work as well as it could. The other recipe would be cheaper too. It is nice that new home remedies for everything is being shared everyday. I hope I don't need to use this one though.

Sheri Dusseault from Chemainus. BC, Canada on April 12, 2013:

I have never had the misfortune of smelling skunk, thank goodness. I had always heard tomato juice to. Great hub!

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 11, 2013:

Koralee, It must be cats want to be friends with everyone. That is what our cat to, just sat there and enjoyed the skunks company. Thanks for voting up.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 11, 2013:

Tamarajo, I think it depends on how badly the dog got sprayed. We had the problem for quite awhile. My sister's house took a couple of weeks before you couldn't smell it at all. She has a doggie door though and I wonder if the skunk didn't get in the house. We've had them spray near an open window though and yes the smell disappeared pretty quickly. Thanks for commenting.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 11, 2013:

Sharkye11, The smoke bombs are a good idea. Thanks for the idea.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on April 11, 2013:

billybuc, It lasted a half a year! That's bad. I never thought of including getting the smell out of a vehicle. Thanks for commenting.

Koralee Phillips from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on April 11, 2013:

This is great information, because its horrible when your dog gets sprayed by a skunk. Quite a few years ago my grandma had some skunk issues for awhile and her dog got sprayed twice. We used the tomoato recipe, but you're right, it doesn't get the smell totally out. Its funny how you said that your cat hangs out with a skunk. I had a cat that one time was hanging out beside a racoon. I was terrified, but nothing happened, they were just chilling. Your recipe definitely will help people in rural communities. Voted up and interesting.

Tamarajo on April 11, 2013:

The recipe you gave does really work much better than tomato juice. I have also discovered that after 3 days the smell just dissipates on its own. Informative and useful article

Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on April 11, 2013:

Very useful! Three years ago we had a family of skunks move under our house. It was awful. everything we owned smelled like skunk, and it was embarrassing to go out in public! My husband worked for the city and was able to obtain a few smoke bombs that they use for testing water lines. He threw those under the house and the skunks decided to relocate! It took weeks to get the smell out of all the clothes. Wish I had known to use vinegar and baking soda. I will definitely remember this for the future!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 11, 2013:

I have never had a skunk problem thank God, but I have smelled them. Hit one with a car once and I swear the smell on the tires lasted half a year. Great advice here and I'm bookmarking in case I ever need these suggestions.