How To Neutralize And Deodorize Skunk Odor Inside Your Home
I had an encounter with a skunk a few years back which ended very quickly. The reason?
That disgusting animal sprayed me with its inexplicably vile liquid and then ran off to who knows where...
If you have been the victim of a skunk - like myself - then you, too, know all too well how traumatic and unforgettable the experience is...so for those of you who have never been sprayed, consider yourself lucky.
I had no idea what to do after I got sprayed...so, like an idiot, I went inside and ran around in a tizzy for a few minutes. Then I threw my clothes on the ground and hopped in the shower. What I didn't realize is that I should have stripped down to my skivvies right at the front door, because the odor seemed to have been absorbed by everything I walked by in my home.
Well, the smell (eventually) dissipated from my body...but now I was left with a putrid skunk smell inside from everything I'd touched or passed by.
It took me forever to finally get the skunk smell out of my house. Believe me when I say that it was absolute agony and that I even had a few more tizzies because of it.
In fact, I am still terrified of these small mammals...but I can sleep better at night because I know the best methods for removing skunk odor from my home, so if I ever go head-to-head with one again, I'll be prepared- and now you will, too.
These are tried-and-true tips that worked wonders when I needed to remove skunk odor from my house, so rest assured, you'll smell the results!
Why Do Skunks Spray?
Skunks have a reputation for being the foulest smelling of all animals because they possess the most developed anal scent glands of all mammals.
Most mammals have anal scent glands or sacs. Dogs, cats, chimps and rats are just a few examples of animals that give off pungent aromas when they are stressed, fearful or trying to ward off predators.
Skunks have two glands inside the anus. Each gland contains small amounts of an oily, yellow liquid that is secreted through a nipple-like protrusion just outside the anus.
A skunk may send its musk flying into the air if it feels threatened in any way whatsoever, or if it is startled (a word of advice: skunks are startled VERY easily).
Why Does It Smell So Bad?
What all skunk species have in common is that their oily, yellow secretion contains sulfur compounds (namely, thiols and their acetate derivatives) which gives it the infamously repulsive odor.
Not all skunk spray is the same. The striped skunk, spotted skunk and hog nosed skunk all have different compounds present in their defensive secretion.
But, despite their varying chemical makeup, all of these furry fiends release a noxious odor that can clear the room faster than the most unhygienic person you know.
Neutralizing Skunk Odor:
The odor released by a skunk can cause a reaction that makes your nasal passages close, similar to the effects of getting pepper sprayed. With this in mind, it's no wonder why we try to rid ourselves and our possessions of the awful stink as soon as possible.
Some things to keep in mind when dealing with skunk spray:
- Avoid getting skunk spray in your eyes. Wash your hands as soon as you touch the musk with the strongest soap you have.
- Clean yourself and your belongings with the hottest water you can stand (that won't burn you or damage fabric).
- Skunk spray is a bit like glitter or poison oak; it gets on anything you touch. So don't touch furniture or other people because they will stink, too.
- It is extremely difficult to get skunk spray out of fabric, carpet and furniture because it is naturally oily.
In order to rid the skunk smell from your living quarters, you have to chemically change the thiols and their acetate derivatives into odorless compounds. This can be done effectively with either baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and hydrogen peroxide, or bleach.
Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) and Hydrogen Peroxide:
The cleaning solution below has been used on countless items in my home and it is a safe and effective method of skunk odor removal. It is my first choice for cleaning for myself or my belongings because it is less harsh than bleach.
Make the solution right before you need to use it and be aware that it will foam (a lot!) when the mixture is combined, so mix it in a large, open container to avoid having it spill everywhere:
- 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (from drug store)
- 1/4 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
- 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent
If a skunk has sprayed on any wood or concrete items in your home, you can use this bleach solution to clear the smell.
Keep in mind that bleach will more than likely discolor any object it comes in contact with, so if you are desperate (which I'm assuming you are) and don't mind a discolored surface, just mix together in a bucket:
- One cup of bleach.
- One gallon of water.
Put on some rubber gloves, dip a rag in the solution and begin cleaning. It may take a few applications to fully neutralize the odor.
If your rags reek of skunk afterwards, then then just mix together the same solution as stated above and throw it in the washer with your smelly laundry.
Make sure that if you are going to use bleach to neutralize, do so in a well ventilated area because the fumes can be harmful.
I'm going to add a note here, do not mix anything (specifically ammonia) with bleach because it will create a toxic gas that will damage your lungs.
Deodorizing Skunk Odor:
If you have items that you do not want discolored or you just plain don't want to use any chemicals to remove the skunk odor, then you're in luck!
You can effectively remove skunk odor from your home by following these easy tips:
- First, clean the source of the odor. If you don't choose to use bleach or baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, then simple soap and water are fine. The soap will work effectively when it comes to removing the oily skunk spray.
- Open all windows and doors. Turn on a fan. Fresh air is the most effective remedy when it comes to removing skunk odor from your home.
- Hang items (such as shoes and rugs) outside so they can air out.
- Change the air filters in your home or buy an air purifier.
- Wash all items twice using hot water and the strongest detergent possible.
- Bleach is perfectly fine to use...as long as you're fine with discolored clothes.
- Do NOT put any clothing in the dryer. Allow to air dry and if possible, hang outside to dry.
- Pay attention to the fabric care recommendations when laundering your clothes.
Still Can't Get Rid Of The Smell?
These methods worked to remove the skunk odor from my home and they should work for you, too.
But, despite this, sometimes the smell just won't dissipate.
If that is the case, you can purchase items to mask the smell. Incense, scented candles, air fresheners and potpourri have all been recommended, as well as baking soda.
I personally know how difficult it is to remove skunk odor from my home, so do not give up.
It will take a bit of time and some trial and error, but the smell will be removed with time.
Image Courtesy of gr8dness, CC BY-ND Flickr.