Just looking at a Skunk gives me the chills because I am all too aware of the incredible stench that this animal is capable of producing.
You may have thought a walk in the woods would be relaxing and fun – then you came across a skunk and suddenly your entire day became a terrible, stinky nightmare.
Anyone who has ever startled a skunk knows the result: burning watering eyes, a brain penetrating stench and difficulty breathing- even if it doesn’t get on you.
Facts about Skunk Spray
The stink of skunk spray is caused by thiols which are made from sulfur. These sulfur compounds stink to high heaven. Other components in the spray cause the smell to stick to skin, clothing, fur, basically anything and everything it comes into contact with.
The sticky, stinky smell can remain for weeks if not properly washed off. Victims of the spray suffer eye irritation, difficulty breathing due to the strong stench and even vomiting. A very tough experience for everyone, for sure.
Why Is Skunk Odor So Hard To Get Rid Of?
Why is a skunk’s pungent spray so hard to get rid of? First of all, it’s meant as a protective measure. Mother Nature gives the skunk that smell for a reason; to keep predators away.
You can smell skunk spray from miles away if the wind conditions are right. When another animal gets a whiff they scram (As they should!), but if you are from 10 to 18 feet away, you could have a big stinky problem.
Secondly, a skunk’s spray is oily and difficult to remove completely. It permeates clothes, skin and fur, making it last for weeks. Research shows that a skunk’s odor will last 14-21 days if left untreated. And the longer you wait to wash it off, the harder it will to be free of that nasty odor.
Of course, the way you handle skunk odor removal is different depending on what has been sprayed. Here are a few tips on making your own homemade skunk odor cleaning solutions to remedy almost any situation.
Removing the Stink from You
So, what should you do when you come in contact with a skunk? Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Take a bath or shower immediately. The spray easily soaks into your skin, giving you a body odor no deodorant can tackle.
- Use liberal amounts of soap. If you can, use dawn dish washing soap (or equivalent) which is the best grease cutter available. It might be a little harsh on your skin, but then again, so is skunk spray.
- Sulfur is neutralized by chlorine bleach. Chlorine is used in small quantities in swimming pools and hot tubs. If you have access to the powder or chlorine tablets that are used in pools or hot tub, get your bathtub set up with the proper (adjusted to the small amount of water in the tub) and have a nice bath for a good 15 minutes or so.
- Shower thoroughly to rinse after your bath.
- I have to mention: Please don’t think of using the chlorine bleach we use in the laundry. It’s super concentrated, highly alkaline, not to mention NOT SAFE to bath in, or get on your skin. It will completely dissolve hair. Chlorine bleach is caustic and toxic.
- The next best thing is baking soda. It is also alkaline, but not caustic or toxic. Baking soda is also a great deodorizer because it is alkaline. Run your bath and toss in a good 4 cups of baking soda. Make sure the baking soda has dissolved completely.
- Have a good soak for 15 minutes. It won’t hurt NOT to rinse after the baking soda bath. As long as you don’t feel itchy or uncomfortable, the baking soda will still be deodorizing.
- You should be feeling and smelling better. There may be some slight lingering odor, but take it easy for the rest of the day because this has likely been a traumatizing experience.
- You can repeat this process if needed tomorrow.
Removing the Stink from Your Clothes
Skunk spray has the tendency to soak into the fibers of clothing, lasting for a very long time. Unless the clothing is a cherished piece- toss it, because the smell is hard to get rid of. If the oily part of the skunk spray is not removed from the clothing, the stink will remain.
If you want to try to clean it, washing with your regular detergent may not get the smell completely. Hot water, liberal amounts of detergent and 4 cups of vinegar in the wash water are in order. Otherwise the scent will soak into the fabric permanently.
You can try adding some baking soda alternating with vinegar is the wash on alternate loads to get all of that stink out.
One note here: be sure to smell your clothes before putting them in the dryer. If the odor remains, try washing them again. If you put them in the dryer before all of the odor is gone, you will actually seal it into the fabric.
Removing the Stink from Your Pets
If you live in the country, the odds are good your dogs have regular run-ins with skunks. Taking them to a professional groomer can cost $50 or more, making it necessary to learn how to make your own odor removers.
Baking soda is an alkaline deodorizer. The detergent is the grease cutter and the hydrogen peroxide is the chlorine bleach alternative.
Make sure you rinse the dog thoroughly. Hydrogen peroxide will lighten the dog’s hair if it is left on, so make sure it is rinsed off completely.
Simple, Cheap and Effective Skunk Smell Remover
Get yourself and the pooch outside before bathing it. The poor dog is going to want to shake the cleaner off and it’s going to go flying everywhere, including on you.
- 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (from drug store)
- 1/4 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
- 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent
- Mix thoroughly
Rub this solution into your pet’s dry coat, being careful not to get the cleaning solution in the dog’s eyes. Let the cleaner/deodorizer sit on the poor thing for 20 minutes.
Rinse thoroughly with water and then shampoo as normal. Repeat all steps if necessary.
Extra Heavy Duty Deodorizing For Your Pets
If your pooch been sprayed hard and the skunk smell is lingering, As long as the pooch does not have any open sores, you can try this after you have given it a baking soda bath.
Vinegar stings on sensitive spots so avoid getting this into the dog’s eyes:
- Use a 1:4 ratio of vinegar and water, so 1 quart vinegar to 1 gallon of water
- Rub into the fur
- Let sit on the fur for 5 minutes and rinse thoroughly.
Removing Skunk Spray Odor from Your Outdoor Furniture
Not every skunk attacks a person or animal, sometimes your outdoor furniture becomes the victim of a spooked skunk.
When this is the case, try mixing 10 percent Clorox Bleach with 90 percent water for a refreshing and safe odor removing cleanser.
Simply spraying your outdoor furniture with the mixture may be enough to relive those noxious fumes, or in more severe cases, you may need to actually scrub the furniture down with it.
Anyone who has ever come in contact with a skunk knows how hard it can be to get rid of that smell once and for all. By using some of the tips above, you should be able to free yourself and your pets from the stinky remains of your country encounter.