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Written By Ellie BrooksPublished 08/15/22
Skunks are virtually everywhere in the continental United States. Unless you live in Hawaii, Alaska, or some exceptionally hot and dry locations in the Southwest, you are bound to encounter a skunk at some point.
Skunks want as little to do with us as we want with them, and the pungent defense mechanism that they are known for is usually a last resort to protect themselves. Some of us, though, will have to deal with the smell of a skunk inside the house at some point. Maybe a skunk family takes up residence beneath your front porch, or your dog or a wild animal gets into a tussle with the poor creature outside an unfortunately opened window. Whatever the circumstance, rest assured that there are tried-and-true methods of getting rid of skunk smell in your home. We’ll walk you through it.
There are many chemically formulated deodorizers on the market that are specifically designed to neutralize the stench of a skunk. Not everyone has these products on hand, however, and if you or your pet has been sprayed by a skunk, time is of the essence. A combination of common household products can be just as effective in eliminating unwanted odors. Here’s what you will want to have on hand:
Successfully deodorizing your home after an unfortunate encounter with a skunk is a multistep process. But remember: The best way to get rid of skunk smell is to act quickly! The longer you wait, the harder it will be to remove the foul-smelling oils from surfaces and fabrics.
If your pet is sprayed by a skunk, don’t allow it to roam your house. This will only transfer the odor to otherwise unaffected rooms. The same logic applies if you or family members are sprayed. Stay outside and wash off as much of the odor as possible.
Use a store-bought shampoo or a create your own by mixing one quart of hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda, and two teaspoons of dish soap. This mixture is safe for people and pets, but avoid contact with your or your pet’s eyes.
Allow the mixture to stand in hair or fur for five minutes before rinsing with clean water. This can be done outside with a garden hose to avoid bringing the skunk’s odor into your bathroom.
Note that the old remedy of tomato juice is a myth. It won’t work and it will make a mess.
It is difficult to get rid of skunk smell from fabrics, especially if the oils have been allowed to set. If you’re comfortable parting with affected clothing or pet collars, throwing them away is the best way of containing the smell. If you want to try washing your clothes, soak them in a solution of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, laundry detergent, and warm water. Bleach is also appropriate for white clothing.
Allow your damp clothing to airdry outside. Do not use your dryer—the heat will cause the odor to permeate through the machine, and you’ll ruin the rest of your wardrobe.
Airflow will eliminate virtually any unwanted odor in time. Open all the windows and doors to facilitate cross-ventilation. Also turn on your central air system and set any fans to their highest setting.
If possible, remove from your home any furniture, rugs, and other items that came in contact with skunk oils. You can use the mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, dish soap, and water to scrub upholstery, but test the mixture on a small patch first to ensure it won’t discolor or ruin the fabric.
Skunk-afflicted carpets will make your house smell for years to come. Use a specialized cleaner or homemade deodorizing solution to clean your carpets as thoroughly as possible. A carpet cleaning machine is imperative. Fortunately, affordable machine rentals are available at many hardware stores.
Vinegar is an effective neutralizer of airborne odors. Pour white vinegar is bowls or other receptacles and set them throughout the home where they won’t be knocked over. Replace the vinegar every 24 hours until the smell of skunk dissipates.
Clean countertops, tile, flooring, walls, and other hard surfaces with appropriate cleaners. Bleach diluted in water is particularly effective, but be sure to test the solution on a small patch of material to ensure that the bleach won’t cause any damage.
Lingering odors outside can continue to make your home smell of skunk. Dilute one cup of bleach in one gallon of water and spray down wood and concrete surfaces outside. Spray down windows, siding, outdoor furniture—anything that may have been hit by the skunk’s spray.
Bleach will kill plants and grass. If your trees or bushes smell, spray them down with water from a garden hose. Diluted hydrogen peroxide is safe for most plants too.
The smell of a skunk can be stubbornly persistent, and the human nose is very sensitive to the pungent molecules in a skunk’s spray. You may detect a lingering odor even after a thorough cleaning. Maintain airflow in your home and be prepared to continue cleaning affected areas over the following days and even weeks.
Finally, be aware that the skunky smell can become trapped in the air filters of your air conditioners and HVAC system. As you continue to run your central air or air conditioning, you’ll recirculate the unwanted odor. You can resolve this problem by simply replacing the filters after 24 or 48 hours. Filters are inexpensive, readily available, and almost always easy to change.
A few preventive measures can prevent you from dealing with the stink of a skunk in your home. Monitor your pets to ensure they don’t antagonize a nearby skunk. Assess and seal up spaces under your porch and deck where skunks and other creatures could make a den. If you do encounter a skunk, don’t try to frighten it away. Back away slowly and steadily.
Encounters with skunks are fortunately infrequent, but we’re not always so lucky when it comes to other creatures. Pests of all kinds can become unwanted houseguests, and they can be awfully difficult to evict.
Pest removal may be costly, but you can minimize the potential expense with a home warranty. While warranty coverage traditionally covers home appliances and systems, Liberty Home Guard offers a suite of home services—pest control included. Reach out to our team to learn more about our pest control services and other popular offerings. You can use our website for a free quote or call (866)-572-2262.