Their smell filters through the air and has even the strongest running for cover. Skunk musk is a strong, foul-smelling odor that can seem impossible to remove and can hang around for a month or more when left untreated. Unlike in the cartoons, skunks don’t give off this smell just by being. Instead the musk is shot from glands as a self-defense measure. This oily liquid can shoot up to fifteen feet and can temporarily blind the unfortunate person or animal that gets sprayed in the face. Before learning how to get rid of skunk smell it’s important to know where the smell is coming from.
If a pet was sprayed try to keep them outside until the odor has been removed. If it was a human that was sprayed remove all clothing and quarantine them to the bathroom until all the bathing is finished. This will keep the smell from penetrating too far into the home.
Skunk Odor on Human Skin
Removing skunk odor from human skin may seem tricky, but it’s much simpler than removing it from pets or fabric. Begin by mixing 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, a half cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of dish soap. Use a washcloth to apply this mixture to the skin and allow it to sit for a few minutes and then rinse off with clean water for at least 5 minutes. The process may need repeating.
Skunk Smell on Pets
Pets seem to be the first ones to encounter a skunk. Whether because the skunk is trapped in an area with the pet or because the pet simply ran across the skunk, pets and skunks never mix well. The fur covering a pet makes it harder to remove skunk odor. The oily musk sticks to every strand of fur and can take a long time to wash away. The hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap method can work, but may take longer than it does for a human.
Begin by giving the pet a dry bath with a 1 part oak meal and 1 part baking soda mix. Simply cover the pet in the mix and then let it sit for a few minutes. Brush the oak meal/baking soda mix away and let the pet shake off any remaining powder. Not only will the odor be absorbed by this mix, but it will also draw oil away from fur. Once the dry bath is finished the pet should get a wet bath with a commercial skunk odor removing shampoo. Repeat the shampooing as many times as needed.
Skunk Smell on Clothing
Clothing, towels, bedding and any other fabric that can fit into a washing machine is salvageable after a skunk spraying. Wash all item at least twice with the strongest laundry detergent available. If able let the clothing air dry outside. This will help dissipate any remaining sent.
After the wash is complete the washer will need a good cleaning. This can be done with vinegar and baking soda. Set the washer for a large load and use hot water. Add 3 cups of vinegar and let it agitate for a moment before adding a half cup of baking soda. Let it run for another moment and then stop it. Let this sit for an hour or so before letting the washer complete the cycle.
Skunk Odor in the Home
Skunk musk can spread pretty far and will drift into even the most air tight spaces of a home or car. The homeowner should open all the windows and doors. Set up a few fans to cycle air throughout the house.
Use bleach to clean any surfaces that won’t be damaged by the harsh chemical. Other items can be washed with warm water and dish soap. The walls, floors and ceilings should be added to the list of areas to wipe down. If there is an air filter in the home change out or clean the filter. Odor eliminating sprays are also handy for clearing out skunk smell.
Carpet cleaners and shampoos can sometimes effectively remove the offensive smell, but they may have to be cleaned a few times before the odor is gone completely. Rugs should be hung outside to let them air out.
Getting Rid of Skunk Smell on Furniture
Sometimes pets and children run amok and spread the smell to furniture. If the piece isn’t too big to move outside, move it as soon as possible to let it begin airing out. However, larger piece will need cleaning indoors. Remove any covers, cushion cases and anything else removable that can be thrown into a washing machine and wash them. For the rest commercial shampooers can be rented at home and garden stores and they work the best at removing odors. Fabric fresheners, preferably ones that eliminate odor instead of masking it, can also be helpful.
Skunks come and go. They are typically very docile creatures and will only spray when they feel threatened. To avoid getting skunked remember to stay calm and let the skunk go on its way. Teaching children this can help reduce the risk of them getting sprayed. If all else fails and the odor refuses to leave there are professional cleaners can will come in and remove the odor.
Further Resources for Getting Rid of Skunk Smell:
Removing Skunk Odor – University of Nebraska