Skunk Odor Removal

By Dawna Theo

Getting sprayed by a skunk can be a traumatic experience. The odor is incredibly disagreeable, long-lasting and difficult to get rid of. Skunk odor is composed of sulfurous chemical oils designed to protect the animal from larger predators. Luckily, skunk spray does not last forever, and there are a few ways to quicken its elimination.

Removing Odor From Skin and Fur

Most people believe that skunk spray can be remedied by applying tomato juice, citrus, perfume or antibacterial sprays. But these solutions are not the most effective. For people or pets, a mixture of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and liquid dish detergent will eliminate the skunk odor. Mix the three ingredients in this ratio: one quart of hydrogen peroxide, a quarter cup of baking soda and a teaspoon of liquid dish detergent. This mixture will be enough to clean a small child or dog. If you need to wash a larger person or animal, make multiple batches. Dip a sponge or rag into the mixture and wipe down the afflicted individual. Let it soak into the skin or pet fur for five minutes. Rinse well in a bath or shower. Use this mixture immediately and with caution, as it will bleach the hair and clothing. This mixture cannot be stored in a closed container, because it produces gases and may burst open the container. Anyone with sensitive skin or an open wound should not use this remedy, as it may irritate. As an alternative, bathe in mild soap and water several times a day until the smell is gone. Another option is wiping down the skin in a solution of just liquid dish soap and baking soda, making sure to rinse. Vinegar is also a good odor neutralizer but can also sting sensitive skin.

Clothing, Walls and Furniture

If the skunk has sprayed in your home or on your clothing, the smell will permeate the air, furniture, draperies and clothes. Household bleach in a washing machine will take the smell out of clothing that is bleach-safe. Use two cups of vinegar or ammonia in your wash for clothing that is not bleach safe. Do not use the hydrogen peroxide mixture in your washing machine because it is unstable and may cause damage. To remove the odor from upholstery, apply the hydrogen peroxide, baking soda dish liquid mixture. Dip a clean cloth into the solution, wet the surface thoroughly, and scrub gently. Do a test patch, first, though. If the skunk odor has soaked into walls and paint, use the hydrogen peroxide or bleach to rinse it off. Test an inconspicuous area first to make sure it does ruin your paint or walls. Another way to get rid of the skunk odor is to open the doors and windows every day to air out the area until the odor is gone. This will take a much longer, but it will not damage your clothing, furniture or paint.

Outdoors

There are three ways to remove skunk odor from a large outdoor area that cannot be directly washed. Use a garden-hose sprayer or water-spray gun filled with a gallon of clear 95 percent diluted vinegar and a cup of nonfoaming dishwasher detergent. Spray the entire area. If the smell is in an outbuilding or or under a building, use charcoal. Place 25 pounds of charcoal on a tarp and ventilate the area. The charcoal will absorb the smell. If neither of these methods is available, completely ventilate the area. Remember, over time, the skunk smell will fade away.