Although stories about baths of beer or tomato juice still might abound, the truth is that most home remedies, and even some professional skunk smell-removal products, just can't stand up to the cocktail that is a skunk's spray. The odorous fluid is strong and oily, and the only way to eradicate its smell is to deconstruct the spray on a molecular level.
Waiting It Out
Because oxygen exposure breaks down the molecules that make skunk spray so stinky, perhaps the least labor-intensive means to rid yourself of skunk smell is to simply go on about your business. As the chemicals that create the skunk odor react with oxygen in the air, they will deteriorate and the associated aroma will fade. However, this sort of solution might be best for those unperturbed by the scent in the first place and, in turn, those who live reclusive lifestyles. Waiting out the stink can take some time.
Hydrogen Peroxide Solution
Many experts endorse a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap as the best detergent for humans and animals sprayed by skunks. Almost all recipes call for hydrogen peroxide as a first ingredient (about four cups), baking soda second (about half a cup) and, finally, dishwashing soap or detergent (about a teaspoon). If you like, after mixing the ingredients, transfer some of the solution to a spray bottle.
Keep in mind this solution is relatively unstable, so the sooner you use it, the better.
Washing Your Body
After you've been exposed to a skunk's spray, avoid rubbing against or touching items to which you might transfer the odor. Once you're ready to wash, stand in a tub or outdoor shower. Do not wet your body down first, as the hydrogen peroxide solution works best in its most concentrated form. Massage the mixture onto affected areas as you would a liquid soap. Allow it to set for five to 10 minutes, rinse, and then shower or bathe with your usual products (shampoo, conditioner, bath gel, and so forth). Repeat if desired.
Washing Your Clothes
Because hydrogen peroxide occasionally can lighten fabric, it might be risky to use the same solution you slather onto your body on your clothes. As such, items that might not withstand a hydrogen peroxide mixture instead can be bathed in a 2% solution of white vinegar. (For some, vinegar also might be a safer, if slightly less foolproof, option for washing hair that has been doused with skunk spray.) Be warned, however, that some synthetic textiles cannot weather this option.
Ruth Nix began her career teaching a variety of writing classes at the University of Florida. She also worked as a columnist and editorial fellow for "Esquire" magazine. In 2012, Nix was featured in the annual "Best New Poets" anthology and received the Calvin A. VanderWerf Award for excellence in teaching from the University of Florida.