Skunk spray is a potent defense mechanism. The smell comes from an oily, yellowish liquid stored in two sacks near the anus. Skunks can spray a mist or stream up to 20 feet. Lots of home remedies exist for neutralizing skunk spray odor. Tomato juice is a popular one, but not only is it generally inadvisable to pour it on your clothes, it doesn't work; vinegar is another, and it may help neutralize the odor as a preliminary step, but then you have to address the equally overpowering vinegar smell. Mostly, getting rid of skunk odor is just a matter of time and perseverance.
Open as many doors and windows as you can if the skunk sprayed in a vehicle or your home to maximize fresh air circulation. Leave them open as long as possible, and reopen them when you can after you have to close them.
Wash all machine-washable clothing and other fabrics with warm water and laundry detergent. Use multiple cycles as needed to remove all odor. A borax laundry product is usually effective.
Shower, using shampoo and soap. Take your time and lather well. For once, take the bottle's advice and rinse and repeat. Bathe your pet if she was sprayed, using an appropriate pet shampoo product. Follow the manufacturer's directions for use.
Mix 1 quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap in an open container. Do not use any liquid soap that contains bleach or ammonia. Do not mix the solution until you're ready to use it, and never store it in a closed container, as gas pressure will build, possibly causing an explosion.
Rub the solution onto skin and hair affected by the skunk's spray. This is safe for use on pets, too. Avoid contact with the eyes. Let the solution soak in for five minutes, then rinse it off. Don't use this mixture on clothing or other fabrics, as it may discolor them.
Apply an enzyme-based pet odor control and stain remover product to furniture and areas of your home that smell from the skunk's spray. Many of these can be used on shoes and other items you can't launder -- be sure to read the label directions and warnings.
- Numerous products are commercially available to neutralize skunk spray odor. Many merely mask the odor; if you want to try one, opt for a product that specifies the ability to neutralize the source of the problem.
- The smell of skunk spray may re-emerge as an unwelcome surprise if it wasn't completely cleaned and humidity spikes.
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Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.