Removing the Skunk Smell

Skunks have one of the most unusual and effective self defence techniques in the animal kingdom – spraying their victim with a highly unpleasant odour in order to keep them at bay.

While this may be ingenious however, and highly amusing when you see it happen in a cartoon sketch, the process is slightly less amusing and endearing when it’s you on the receiving end – particularly as the skunk smell can be so difficult to remove from your clothes. Furthermore, it’s not just people who get sprayed – and if you have a dog who enjoys chasing skunks then it might not be unusual to find your pup coming home wreaking of skunk.

Fortunately there are several ways you can remove the skunk smell despite it being so persistent, and these will all free you of the pungent pong relatively quickly and easily.

Understanding Skunk Spray

The first thing you need to do is to understand how skunk spray works. The first thing to understand is that the spray is made from oil – and as oil and water don’t mix this is why you can’t just wash the smell out. Just as you would when removing any oil, you need to make sure that you are breaking down and dissolving the oil.

The first thing to do then is to try and just wipe the spray off of your pet or clothes and to do this you can use just a dry cloth. You won’t most likely be able to get all of the spray off your pets this way, but what you will at least manage to reduce it and this will also mean it’s not as long lasting.

From here you want to use something that can break down the oil. Following are some suggestions for home remedies you can use:

Tomato Juice

Tomato juice is a well known remedy for neutralising skunk odour. It’s particularly useful as it’s not corrosive or bad smelling, and that means that you can use it on your pets’ fur or on your own hair or skin. Just soak your hair with the tomato juice for about an hour, and then rinse with water and shampoo. Do not use the tomato juice on clothes though as it will of course stain them.


If you have skunk odour on your clothes then you can use bleach to remove it. Use one part bleach with two parts water and soak in the sink. You should test the bleach solution on your clothes first though as you don’t want to damage the colouring on your clothes.

Dry Cleaning Fluid

If you don’t feel comfortable using bleach on your clothes, then you can try using dry cleaning fluid on them to gently remove the stench from textiles.


Another option is to bury your clothing in dirt. Here the dirt will absorb the oil particles. While this isn’t the cleanest way to clean clothing, it can be useful for if you are out and don’t have access to washing facilities.


Another alternative option is to use vinegar mixed with warm water. Use full strength for the best results.

Finally there are a range of specialist products for removing skunk smells that you can buy from your local pharmacist or health store and these are useful for if you are out and about. If this is a problem you are forced to deal with often, then it might be a good idea to keep a supply of these products in your home to use as and when you need them. The main key though is to act quickly, and the sooner you start trying to remove the smell the more luck you will have.

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