Since some of you may have reached this article in a desperate internet search after an unfriendly encounter with a skunk, I’m going to start off with the Number 1 way to quickly get rid of the skunk stink. You can read the rest later!
Mix together the following ingredients in a bowl:
- 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (an entire bottle, usually)
- ¼ cup baking soda
- 1-2 teaspoons dish soap (such as Dawn)
Rinse with fresh water, then shampoo with the hydrogen peroxide mixture, concentrating on the area of the direct hit. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, but not longer, as hydrogen peroxide can lighten hair and clothing. Rinse with clean water.
You can follow the hydrogen peroxide bath with regular dog shampoo or a shampoo specially formulated to eliminate skunk odor (or if it’s you or a human counterpart that got sprayed, use your regular hygiene products!).
Great! Now that you’ve eliminated the worst of the stink, continue reading to find out how to stay prepared for future skunk encounters and remove the odor from your house, your clothes, and anything else that may have been hit (and also look at some cute dog pictures)!
If you enjoy hiking in wilderness areas or you live in a rural setting, chances are you’ve encountered a skunk, or have at least smelled them a time or two! If you’re lucky, you’ve both gone your separate ways without incident. If you’re not so lucky… or you have a curious dog… that may not be the case.
After nearly a year and a half on our little rural property, myself and my dog, Ralphie, managed to avoid skunks, fortunately. Luck runs out, however, and Ralphie decided to try to make friends with a skunk that he discovered napping beneath an evergreen tree on a walk at my parents’ farm. My poor mother and I happened to be in the general vicinity of the spray, so we got misted, as well! We spent the next three hours bathing the dog, desperately trying to decrease the stench, and hosing ourselves down!
Then, not three days later after we’d returned home, Ralphie found another skunk friend on his morning potty break and took a second full assault. Bleary after recently waking, I didn’t notice the smear of greenish yellow covering Ralphie’s white chest and let the dog back inside. He ran through the house and jumped on our bed (where my husband was still sleeping…oops), skunk stink and all, before I realized what had happened and corralled him in the bathroom!
Those two incidents have led me to quite rapidly discover the best way to eliminate skunk stink from both my dog and myself, as well as remove the lingering odor from my house!
If you’ve already had one stinky encounter with a skunk, chances are you’ll have another at some point in time! If you haven’t…good for you, but take my advice and have the ingredients on hand instead of having to deal with lingering skunk odor while you wait for stores to open or your Amazon order to arrive.
First, make sure you have a full quart bottle of hydrogen peroxide, at least ¼ cup baking soda, and dish soap for the recipe above on hand. I purchased a small plastic container and labeled it “Skunk Emergency Supplies”. Inside, I placed the bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a plastic sandwich bag with ¼ cup baking soda pre-measured out, and a small bottle of Dawn dish soap. I added an old towel I wouldn’t mind throwing away, as well. I included a small instruction card just in case it’s someone other than myself who has to deal with the skunky aftermath!
Having the hydrogen peroxide mixture ingredients on hand is an incredible advantage that will eliminate 95% of the skunk odor immediately. After using the hydrogen peroxide mixture, you should shampoo your dog again using their regular shampoo, or a shampoo specifically manufactured to eliminate skunk odor. After our first encounter, I purchased the special skunk odor eliminating shampoo and keep it in my Skunk Emergency Supplies box.
What to do When Your Pet Gets Skunked
After a stinky encounter, first wipe off any excessive skunk spray. It is greasy and a greenish yellow color. You might mistake it for a grass stain until you get a whiff! If you’ve been sprayed, remove your clothing before going inside your home. If your dog has been sprayed, keep them outside while you grab the ingredients for the hydrogen peroxide mixture, as well as a bucket of clean, warm water.
Saturate the affected individual with the clean water, then shampoo with the hydrogen peroxide mixture, focusing on the area of direct hit. Let sit for 5 minutes, then rinse as much off as you can. You should notice a marked improvement in odor, or perhaps it’s gone entirely! At this point you should be able to go inside to finish cleaning up without bringing much of the stench into your home. Bathe your dog or yourself with your regular hygiene products or, better yet, skunk odor eliminating products.
If any of your clothing received a direct hit, you can rinse them with the hydrogen peroxide mixture before bringing them inside and running them through your washer, but remember hydrogen peroxide has lightening properties so might ruin clothes. Bleach can eliminate skunk smell, as well, but might also cause splotches to appear on your clothes. Don’t forget to wash your dog’s collar, either! Dogs are usually sprayed in the chest, neck, and face area, so the skunk spray can cling to anything your dog was wearing, including collars, harnesses, or leashes.
Dealing with the Aftermath
First, open some windows if you can! If the smell seems to have invaded your house, try boiling some vinegar. It is a strong smell, but it will help reduce the skunk stink! When the vinegar smell fades, the skunk smell should fade with it.
If the spray has accidentally been tracked onto your floors or furniture, you can clean them with a 10% bleach, 90% water mixture. You will want to patch test the bleach mixture to make sure it doesn’t discolor your floors or fabric. You can try to use vinegar instead of bleach, if need be.
I found that a homemade fabric refresher I make from 50% vinegar, 50% water, and a few drops of essential oils helped to clear the air in my home. I sprayed it on my furniture, rugs, and carpets even where I knew the dog had not touched after being sprayed. Anything that I knew the dog had walked across after being sprayed I washed as soon as possible.
Burning scented candles and running an essential oil diffuser helped, as well. They probably do little to truly eliminate the smell, but they were enough to cover it up so I didn’t have to smell it all day as I went about cleaning my house!
My Dog Still Stinks. What Now?!
As I said, skunk stink is powerful stuff, especially on a pet that doesn’t shower every day! It often resurfaces after days of a fresh smelling dog even though he hasn’t been re-sprayed. You might notice the skunk smell resurfacing on wet, rainy days when your dog walks through wet grass, or perhaps on hot, humid days.
For a quick fix, try a pet deodorizing spray. Bathe again with a skunk odor eliminator. Dogs tend to bark at skunks, so consider some of the spray may have entered their mouth and be on their breath! Try brushing their teeth. Skunk odor may linger on parts of your dog that are difficult to wash, such as their face, especially around their eyes, mouth, and ears, between their toes, their bellies, and delicate areas like their butts and genital regions. If your pet is…ahem…cleaning themselves and the skunk smell suddenly reappears, you know what their next bath needs to focus on!
If you feel their face might be the lingering culprit, you can try a tearless baby shampoo, but if your dog is quite opposed to baths and generally does not tolerate much washing around the face, it may be necessary to give up and deal with the stink until it fades naturally instead of creating hard feelings between yourself and your dog.
How to Avoid Getting Skunked in the First Place
If you spend any time in nature, skunk happens. You can mitigate your chances of encountering a skunk while out and about, though!
Skunks are nocturnal, which means their primarily active in the evening and nighttime hours when it’s dark. During the day they like to nap in their dens, which are usually burrows in the ground, or sometimes tangles of vegetation in warmer weather. They like to make their homes near water such as streams or rivers, and they enjoy brush piles and dense vegetation. They try to avoid humans, and they will only spray if they feel highly threatened and can’t escape. After spraying their stink it can take many days for their stores to replenish, leaving them nearly defenseless, so they won’t spray you unless they feel their life is in danger and you’ve ignored their other warnings!
Humans and their canine companions are generally safely tucked in their beds when skunks are at their most active, but if you happen to make a nighttime excursion try to avoid tall grass, brush piles, or other places a skunk may be lurking. Consider keeping your dog on leash if they tend to wander into the underbrush so they don’t accidentally encounter a skunk! Don’t be afraid to make noise if you go outside past dark. This alerts animals like skunks to your presence so they can move away from you and you don’t surprise each other!
If you have a rural property, make sure pet food is inaccessible to skunks. Everything likes free food! Remove brush piles and seal space beneath buildings which skunks might feel is a good home. Make your yard as uninviting as possible by using motion activated flood lights, wind chimes, and other noise makers.
I hope this information was helpful to any of you who have recently been sprayed by a skunk and are desperate for relief, and encouraged any who haven’t to stay prepared!