DIY Skunk smell removal: you’ve been doing it wrong

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There is no amount of vinegar rinses or baths in tomato juice that is going to save your dog (or your house) from smelling like the putrid death smell of skunk. You need something stronger that packs the punch of chemical reaction potent enough to cut through the nasty of eau de skunk.

When a skunk is threatened it raises its tail as a natural defense warning that tells a potential predator (or my curious and stupid dog) that its hindquarters are about to unload a stink so bad that it commonly causes vomiting. It caused me to want to curse every salty sailor epithet at my dog.

Old wives tales will tell you that a bath in tomato juice or vinegar is all you need to cut the funk that is skunk smell. Science tells us differently. Skunks emit a spray that is comprised of oils called thiols and which contain sulfur. The resulting odor is so obnoxious and offensive that it can ward off creatures as aggressive as coyotes and as fierce as bears. Skunk spray can be detected for nearly a mile by humans and can cause temporary blindness, dizziness, and vomiting in people.

It is gross.

The only way to thoroughly remove skunk smell is to create a concoction that can chemically neutralize the impressively defensive (and disgusting) effectiveness of the oils secreted from the anal glands.

After trying a vinegar rinse, a tomato rinse, and even a desperate attempt with girly smelling shampoo, my poor dog was beginning to get very wary of the kiddie pool in the backyard. I scoured the Internet, asked some friends with dogs (and skunk problems) what to do and viola! I found a recipe that works on the first try.


1 Quart hydrogen peroxide
¼ cup Baking soda
2 TBSP Blue Dawn Dish Soap
2 Quarts warm water

Gently shake the gallon until the contents are thoroughly mixed. Use this concoction to wash floors, pets, and hard surfaces. If you have fabric in need of cleaning wash in cold water with 1 cup of baking soda with your regular laundry detergent. Hang outside to dry in warm sunny spot to completely kill any lingering smell. It is important to note that this recipe can create gas, which can cause the container to explode if capped tightly and stored so use this right away.

Good luck!
photo credit: Zoo Sauvage de Saint-Félicien via photopin (license) This photo was altered by the use of text.

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.