Skunk odor is a common occurrence that, for many people, makes it virtually impossible to stay indoors when the smell finds it way to the house. This smell is known to get into the house through an array of methods. Sometimes your pet will get sprayed by a skunk, or the skunk may opt to come closer home and spray right outside your doorstep.
Whatever the case, this is one of those irksome smells that you need to get rid of as soon as possible. Mild skunk odor can be eliminated with ease, but stronger more concentrated smells can prove a little harder to eliminate. This is especially so if the smell has been absorbed by clothing, fur or indoor carpeting. If no measures are taken, it is easy for the smell to linger for months on end.
But, what exactly causes the skunk odor to have such a pungent smell? Research shows that the skunk spray is packed with chemical compounds known as thiols. Thiols are the same sulfur-based compounds that are released by rotting flesh, and this explains why the smell is so pungent. In addition to the bad smell, the noxious odor may cause breathing problems especially for those suffering from asthma and/or respiratory conditions, skin disorders as well as hair problems.
In extreme cases, skunk spray my cause blindness. For this reason, depending on the severity of the condition, it may be necessary to see a medical doctor for check up. In the absence of any adverse effects, there are a number of home remedies that may be used to completely eliminate skunk smell. Remember, in case clothing needs to be washed with any of the remedies, it is important that you check the washing instructions recommended for each piece.
1. Hydrogen Peroxide + Baking Soda:
Time Required: 20 Min to 2 Hrs
What You Need: 1 Quart Hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 teaspoon dish washing soap, a sponge and gloves. 1 part of hydrogen peroxide to 6 parts of warm water (Alternative method).
The use of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda has long been recommended for the elimination of skunk odor. As one of the most popular options, the remedy works thanks to the chemical compounds present in the respective ingredients. The structural makeup of hydrogen peroxide contains oxygen molecules, and the are responsible for binding to the terrible thiols present in the odor. Once bound, the hydrogen peroxide changes the structure of the thiols, in effect fighting the odor and helping the smell disappear.
Baking soda is added to the remedy because it has excellent deodorizing properties that help get rid of the skunk smell. Dish washing soap on the other hand is added to bind the remedy’s ingredients and make them easy to use. These remedies are great for topical application on rugs and pets, but may not be ideal for cleaning clothes which have been sprayed on owing to the risk of fabric destruction. This is why there is a second option for cleaning skunk-sprayed clothes. It involves using both the hydrogen peroxide and the warm water for dilution purposes. Follow the directions listed below to get rid of skunk spray.
Using Hydrogen Peroxide + Baking Soda:
- Mix all three ingredients and stir until you have a paste-like substance. This is what you will need to apply on the pet or the affected surfaces. You may wear a pair of gloves for this preparation process to prevent skin irritation.
- Use a sponge to apply the remedy on the surfaces, making sure you dab well. If doing this on the pet, sponge repeatedly for a few minutes.
- Let the remedy dry on the surface or pet coat.
- Do not use this remedy on clothes to prevent damaging the fabric.
NOTE: This remedy cannot be prepared in bulk as it loses its potency when the hydrogen peroxide comes into contact with the air. As such, it must also be used immediately after preparation.
Using Hydrogen Peroxide + Warm Water:
This diluted remedy is ideal for clothing items, but avoid letting the cloth come into direct contact with the hydrogen peroxide.
- Use 1 part of hydrogen peroxide to 6 parts of warm water for dilution purposes, which is a ratio of 1:6 for the hydrogen peroxide: water respectively. This ratio is provided because the amount of solution to be prepared is largely dependent on the laundry load to be soaked.
- Proceed to soak the stinky clothes in the dilute hydrogen peroxide solution for about two hours and then proceed to wash as usual.
- Use this remedy on sprayed on clothes, but be extra careful with those that are indicated ‘dry clean only’.
2. Bleach Solution:
Time Required: Varies depending on the contaminated surfaces.
What You Need: 1 Cup of bleach, 4 liters of warm water in a basin, a scrubbing brush and hand gloves.
Bleach is another ideal remedy recommended for the elimination of skunk odor. This is because bleaching solution not only cleans and whitens contaminated surfaces, its pungent smell also allows for the removal of the odor. There are a few things to note when working with bleach. The first is that it is best to avoid using the bleach alongside other chemical cleaners as these may result in a chemical reaction. Often, such reactions produce noxious gases which may have adverse effects on the body. Secondly, the use of bleach may destroy certain fabrics, so it is best to use this remedy on surfaces as opposed to clothes (unless the clothes can be bleached). You will need a pair of gloves to avoid skin irritation.
- Add the bleaching solution to the warm water and mix well before use.
- Remember to wear a pair of gloves to prevent skin irritation.
- Using the scrubbing brush, transfer some of the solution to the contaminated surfaces and scrub well to eliminate the skunk odor. In the absence of a scrubbing brush, you may use.
- Keep the rooms well ventilated during this process.
- Once complete, rinse off the bleach using warm water.
- Repeat this remedy as often as you need to until you have completely eliminated the skunk odor.
Time Required: 2 – 3 Hrs
What You Need: 1 Part of vinegar, 5 parts of warm water and 1/2 cup of baking soda (optional).
Vinegar is another handy home remedy for the natural elimination of skunk odor. The acidity present in the vinegar is what counters the smell characterized by the skunk spray. This is an effective choice for both contaminated surfaces and clothes, but it must be noted that some fabrics do not respond well to the presence of acetic acid in the vinegar. What’s more, the exact amounts of solution to be prepared will depend on how much cleanup you need to do. Below are the simple steps that you need to follow when using vinegar.
- Mix the vinegar and the warm water in the ratio 1:5, and proceed to transfer the mixture to a large basin.
- Place the contaminated clothing in the solution and allow soaking in the dilute vinegar.
- After a few minutes, proceed to scrub the fabric for a few minutes. This is recommended because it allows the remedy to penetrate the fabric and improves the process of deodorization.
- Leave the clothes on for between 2 hours and 3 hours.
- Rinse the clothes and proceed to wash as usual. You may add baking soda at the beginning of the wash to further improve the remedy’s efficiency.
- Whenever possible, air dry the rinsed clothes in fresh air instead of using a dryer as this helps to get rid of any traces of the skunk spray.
- It also helps to place bowls of vinegar in the home in order to deodorize.
- Do not do this if you have small kids to prevent the risk of poisoning.
Other simple home remedies that you can use to get rid of skunk spray include mustard powder solution which gets rid of the smell, spraying with freshly squeezed citrus juice as well as the use of commercially made skunk scent removers. In case of temporary blindness, first flush the eyes with water to rinse and eliminate the noxious gases before seeking medical attention if the condition persists.