Forget the tomato juice! This is what you use to remove skunk spray. It’s a simple recipe you can make at home to remove skunk odor from humans, pets, and clothing.
How to Remove Skunk Odor
Let’s get to the most important part first.
If you or your pet have just been sprayed by a skunk, this is the recipe to neutralize the odor.
Skunk Spray Treatment Recipe
- 1000 ml (1 liter or quart) 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 1/4 cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
- 1-2 teaspoons liquid dish soap
Use rubber gloves.
Combine ingredients and use immediately.
Can be applied to people, pets, and fabric.
If treating a dog, you can wet his/her fur first and then apply the mixture, soaking for at least five minutes.
Avoid applying mixture near eyes.
- Apply as soon as possible after being skunked.
- It may take more than one application to completely remove the odor.
- Avoid getting mixture in eyes or cuts (it can sting or burn).
- Mixture cannot be stored – mix when needed and use immediately (it expands and can explode a container).
Need More Coverage?
You can dilute the mixture with 1 liter/quart of tepid water.
Clothing and other fabrics can also be treated with regular laundry detergent plus a half cup of baking soda or Oxi-clean (check product label–it can cause bleaching).
About the Skunk Spray Remedy
Skunk spray—and specifically the part of it that makes that unique and unpleasant odor—has not been well studied or understood over the years and for a good reason: who wants to earn a living smelling that?
The recipe (above) was developed by a chemist named Paul Krebaum in 1993 after studying the chemical compounds in skunk spray and identifying what we could use to neutralize them.
While I like to try everything I recommend on this site, this recipe is an exception. We’ve always had skunks in our gardens over the years, but so far no one (human or pets) has been sprayed.
Spraying is a last resort for a skunk when threatened, so it’s unlikely, but it’s good to know we know the right remedy should it happen (and can avoid the myths-below).
What is Skunk Spray and Why Does it Stink?
Skunk spray is highly toxic and can cause temporary blindness. Scroll down to see one crazy story from the 1800s.
It’s the thiol (sulphur compound) in skunk spray that gives it its stink. The chemicals in the recipe (above) combine with the thiol to neutralize it.
Beware: a skunk can accurately aim its spray up to 10-feet away and reach a total of twenty feet for good measure. Yowsa.
Skunk Odor Remedy Myths
These are commonly recommended remedies with little or no consistent results:
- Tomato juice or tomato paste
- Vanilla extract
- Dish soap
In most cases, the remedy may somewhat mask the odor but it is not countering it on a molecular level.
Can I buy skunk odor remover?
Products that contain neutroleum alpha are reported to successfully mask skunk odor, replacing it with a minty smell.
But, if you want to actually neutralize it (not just mask it), you’re better off getting some hydrogen peroxide and baking soda and making your own.
Skunk versus Raccoon
It can be hard to tell skunk tracks from raccoon tracks because they both have feet with five toes.
Both animals are also nocturnal but there are ways to narrow down who was in your garden:
1 Scat (poop) | If you find some google it—it’s different-looking for each animal.
2 Skunks dig paw-size holes in grass lawn to get (and eat) grubs.
3 Raccoons are excellent climbers and skunks rarely get up more than a foot or two.
The Perils of Skunk Spray
In this article, The History of Skunk Defensive Secretion Research, we found this story:
“Some time during the summer of 1879, two or three boys [these were students at Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College], secured a two-ounce bottle of the perfume from the skunk … and concluded to play a trick upon one of their school mates; entering his room, they held him, and administered the above nauseous fluid (in its most concentrated form), by inhalation. I could not ascertain what amount was administered. However, when I reached him I found the following symptoms: A total unconsciousness, relaxation of the muscular system, extremities cool … pulse 65, temperature 94; in which condition he remained for one hour.”
That’s serious stuff. And yet another reason to give skunks their space.
If you get sprayed and try the remedy, we want to hear how it worked.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛