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How to Get Rid of that Nasty Skunk Smell

Skunk in a meadow

Skunks are typically non-aggressive animals, but if threatened, they may spray their famously putrid perfume in your direction. The “skunky” smell can linger for two or three weeks, and the longer you wait to treat it, the harder it is to neutralize. If you, your pet, or your home has been skunked, follow these tips to eliminate the odor.

Why Does Skunk Spray Smell So Bad?

Skunk spray is an oily secretion comprised of sulfur compounds called thiols, the same substances that cause garlic and onion breath. Skunk spray also contains thioacetates. These compounds are what make the smell so hard to get rid of. Instead of washing away, they activate and become more potent when exposed to water. This is why bathing can make you smell even worse after being sprayed by a skunk.

How to Eliminate Skunk Smell

Everyone has heard the urban legend, tomato juice treats skunk smell. However, this really is just a legend—tomatoes do nothing more than temporarily mask the stench. Try these other more effective methods instead.

Getting Rid of Skunk Smell on Pets

If your dog gets skunked, keep them outside to prevent the smell from tracking into your house. Make sure your pet is safe and unharmed. If their eyes are irritated or red, flush them with cool water. Then, focus on getting rid of that stench:

  • Mix a quart of three percent hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and a teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap. (If you don’t have these ingredients, vinegar diluted with water is a good alternative.)
  • While wearing rubber gloves, rub your homemade solution into your pet’s fur. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Wash your pet with regular pet shampoo, rinse with water, and towel-dry.
  • If the odor lingers, repeat these steps.

Getting Rid of Skunk Smell on Your Clothes

If some of the skunk odor rubs onto your clothes while bathing your pet, clean them up with these tips:

  • Soak clothing in a solution of one part vinegar and four parts water. Leave it for several hours or overnight.
  • Rinse the clothing with water.
  • Wash in hot water using your regular detergent and 1/2 cup baking soda. Set the washing machine to the “extra rinse” setting.
  • Do not use your clothes dryer. Instead, line-dry your clothing outside.
  • If the odor lingers, repeat these steps.

Getting Rid of Skunk Smell in the House

Did your skunked pet bring the putrid odor inside? Here’s how to neutralize it:

  • Open the windows and run the attic fan if your house has one.
  • Place dishes of vinegar in every room to absorb the odor molecules in the air. (Make sure the dishes are out of reach of children and pets.)
  • Call a home restoration company for help with your odor removal efforts.

If you have trouble eliminating that skunk smell or other unpleasant odors, contact DKI Services. We can deep clean and deodorize your home so it smells fresh once more.