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Most of us are (unpleasantly) familiar with the scent of skunk. The human nose can detect the odor at 10 parts per BILLION. Forget being sprayed directly, no one likes even a whiff of it! What do you do though if one gets under the house or sprays ‘ol Spot and he runs through the house before you can stop him?
There are several things that can be done to help you get rid of it. First of all, remember that the spray is mainly oil, so you need to use something to cut that oil, thus ridding yourself of the smell. Below we have listed several steps you will need to take for your “project:”
Wash all sprayed clothes, fabrics, people, and animals as soon as possible. The faster you get those smelly things in the wash, the better the chance that the skunk odor will actually wash off. Using your regular laundry detergent a lot of times isn’t enough so treating fabrics with an additional cleaner beforehand may help as well. Shower as soon as you can, and bathe any sprayed animals as quickly as possible, too. Use extra soap and shampoo, and any person- and animal-friendly skunk-specific cleansers (see below).
White Vinegar or hydrogen peroxide counteracts the natural oil in skunk spray. You will probably need something stronger than soapy water to get rid of skunk oils — a solution of vinegar or peroxide will dissolve and remove the odor-causing oils instead of just spreading them around. Try this mixture:
1 liter (or quart) white vinegar OR 3% hydrogen peroxide (peroxide may cause bleaching)
1/4 c. Baking soda.
1 tsp. dish detergent
I’ve used this hydrogen peroxide combination twice on my Boxer and it works very well. Just be sure YOU wear gloves as it can sting your skin. Also, you need to leave the sudsy mixture on the animal for a minute or two to break down the oils. Rinse well several times to be sure it doesn’t get in their eyes or other mucos membranes.
Use commercial sprays designed to deodorize and neutralize smells to eliminate skunk odor. Household cleaning sprays and products such as Febreeze or Simple Green (a good organic alternative) can be effective against skunk smell on fabrics and furniture. “Skunk Off” is a highly effective spray designed specifically for treating skunk-sprayed pets.
Use bleach to clean skunk spray and odor from outdoor structures. Use a mixture of 10% bleach and 90% water (or detergent and water) to clean sprayed areas (such as a porch) that aren’t in danger in staining from the bleach. Because chlorine bleach is highly toxic, don’t use it to clean people, animals, furniture, or colored clothing.
To tomato juice or not to tomato juice? Everyone’s heard of the old foolproof skunk standby: tomato juice. And of course, eveyone has a different opinion about how well it does, or doesn’t, work to get rid of skunk odor. The basic premise, of course, is that the acids in the tomato juice will dissolve and counteract the oils in the skunk spray. We can’t guarantee that it will work, but if you want to try it, add a can (or two or three) or tomato paste to the dog’s bath, or your own. Using tomato juice on any fabrics is probably a bad idea, unless you don’t mind the inevitable stains.
If home remedies aren’t working to get rid of your skunk odor problem, then find a professional treatment for your specific smelly problem.
Take your pet to the vet for a prescription-strength bath. Take your fabrics to a dry cleaner or upholstery professional. Rent a steam cleaner for carpets, a power washer for outside structures like your porch or house siding. Take yourself . . . well, add some vodka to that tomato juice and take yourself out for a well-earned drink.