De-Skunking: Best Ways to Get Rid of Skunk Odor

Some dog owners say a tomato juice bath neutralizes skunk smell, but others say that they don't work at all.
Some dog owners say a tomato juice bath neutralizes skunk smell, but others say that they don't work at all. | Source

If your dog was sprayed by a skunk, you'll readily agree that it's one of the most painful and smelly experiences a dog owner can endure. I have a friend who just went through this within the last few days which brought back vivid memories of the time my two Malamutes ran off unleashed and, while coming home, got on the wrong side of a skunk.

They were gone overnight, which was worrisome enough. To say that the experience was devastating would be putting it mildly. Kodi seemed to have taken the brunt of the spray, in the face and chest, whereas Denaya got a mild dosing on her back. Kodi was sick for three solid days while Denaya bounced back immediately.

Aside from the mess it created on the dogs, the smell also permeated our home, their crates, the garage, and even their collars and dog tags.

Let's take a look at some sure-fire methods of dealing with skunk odor and how to get rid of it both on your dog and in your home.

Why Does Skunk Smell So Bad?

Skunk spray a form of sulfur. When the skunk sprays, it comes out in an oily form. That's why it sticks to surfaces so well and permeates everything it touches. However, it doesn't have to hit a surface to give off skunk odor. It can do that just by being within a certain radius.

Once released, the skunk smell seems to travel everywhere and into everything. Closing doors can help but it can still permeate through the doors. It can even permeate your skin and your body. Is it any wonder that, if not treated properly, a dog can carry the smell for up to two years?

Common locations where skunks feel cornered and spray:

  • Bird feeders. They come for the seeds that are dropped beneath the feeder.
  • Garbage cans that are not secured.
  • Fruit trees with fruit left on the ground.
  • Wherever pet food is left out.

Did you know?

  • Skunks rarely travel outside a two-mile radius from their homes.
  • Skunks can only spray five or six times in a 10-day period.
  • Skunks only spray to warn or when they have no other way to defend themselves.

Formula to Remove Skunk Odor

Use this mixture as needed on your dog, but discard when done. It is combustible!


  • 1 quart or liter of 3% hydrogen peroxide (fresh/unopened only).
  • 1/4 cup baking soda (no substitutes).
  • 1-2 teaspoons of liquid dishwashing soap such as Dawn.
  • Pair of plastic or latex gloves, if desired.

Preparation and Use

Combine ingredients in an open container such as a large bucket. Use on dry dog. Leave on for five to ten minutes, rinse, and repeat if necessary. Depending on the size of the dog, or if you have multiple dogs, you may need several batches. The trick is to put the formula on the dog when it is foaming. Do not use a covered container or attempt to store this formula or you risk combustion. Lather the foaming formula wherever the dog was sprayed and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Wash off with lukewarm water. Repeat the process if necessary until the odor has begun to dissipate.

Other Common Methods (or Myths) for Removing Skunk Odor

  • Tomato juice: People swear by straight tomato juice baths, followed by shampoo-bathing, but I've read that this method it doesn't work and that it can stain fur on white or light-colored dogs.
  • Mouthwash: Some people douse their dog in mouthwash, such as Listerine, and claim that this cuts the smell. Other people claim that this method doesn't hold much water, so to speak, and is ineffective.
  • White vinegar: Again, there is some doubt that this treatment truly works to get rid of skunk odor on the dog itself.
  • Coca Cola: This is the only soft drink that reportedly works—not Pepsi or any other cola product, but straight Coca Cola.
  • Paul Krebaum's formula of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dishwashing liquid. This came out in the late 1990s and seems to be the treatment of choice among people trying to get rid of skunk odor on their dogs. Note the formula above.

    WARNING: It's important to note that this formula is extremely dangerous, if covered. It can result in an explosion. It should only be made up for the circumstance at hand, then discarded. The combination of the ingredients causes a foaming action that actually loosens the skunk oil from the dog's coat. This is the formula that we used on our dogs, bathing them outside several times with it and it truly did work, instantly!


There are some things you should do immediately if you suspect your dog's been hit by skunk spray.

  • Check for bites or scratches as skunks can be rabid. A rabies vaccine should protect your dog, but it won't protect you!
  • Check the dog's eyes for redness or watering. If the dog has been sprayed in the eyes, contact your vet and ask for advice. A dog can actually be blinded for several days if the spraying is extreme.
  • If the dog's face was sprayed, do not use the chemical formula solution above unless you use it carefully and cautiously with a washcloth and then rinse well. Otherwise, use a product like Tricotine Liquid Douche Concentration or an over-the-counter feminine douche product to clean the dog's face.
  • Do not get the solution in your dog's eyes, ears, or mouth!
  • We used a shea butter body cream with vanilla scent on Kodi's facial fur because he had received such a strong dose to the face.
  • Plan on throwing out your dog's collars and tags, as they are pretty well ruined by skunk spray. You can try the formula on them but most likely they will be saturated with the smell.
  • It's recommended that you get rid of any rags or towels you use for drying because it's next to impossible to get the skunk odor out of them. Simply put them in trash bags, seal, and throw away.
  • Clean other surfaces or destroy if they have skunk odor, such as dog crates or dog beds.

Getting Rid of the Odor in Your Home

In my case, when the dogs came running up onto the deck at the back door, I knew instantly that they were sprayed. However, since there was a gaping hole in the fence, I couldn't leave them in the backyard and without thinking, I brought them into the house so I could summon help.

I put them into their dog crates and closed the door but that didn't stop the inevitable. The skunk smell permeated the room, their crates, the entire downstairs, the upstairs, and even the garage as I had opened the door to assess the possibility of putting them in there!

In short, skunk odor will go everywhere in your house. You may find yourself even having to dump food from your cupboards and refrigerator or freezer. It is that powerful. In our case, we were able to get the dogs out into the backyard and begin removing the smell right away, so the household damage was relatively minor. However, we could smell it for a good 2-3 weeks afterward, even employing some of the methods listed below:

  • It's a given that any clothes you are wearing will need to be thrown out, so wear old clothes if you need to wash your pet or handle anything that has been hit with skunk spray
  • Try Fabreze or a similar spray to spray down crates or surfaces, although this didn't work particularly well on our dogs' crates. Cleaning with the formula finally got the smell out.
  • Spray white vinegar liberally, in the air and on surfaces.
  • Potpourri pots with cinnamon and cloves or candles with the same spice scent can minimize skunk odor.
  • Boiling cinnamon or cloves on the stove in a pan of water can also help reduce skunk smell.
  • Fabric softener or dryer sheets have proven useful to some people in reducing odor on clothing, towels, and bedding
  • Oxy-Clean products or adding Coca Cola to the wash can help.
  • Only use cold water for washing anything tainted by skunk odor.
  • Throw out any porous foods in cupboards, fridge, and freezer if they pick up the odor. This means things like food in boxes if they smell and includes anything that is not canned or in a tight lidded jar.
  • Get rid of the ice in the freezer and start over.
  • Use dishes of white vinegar, coal, or baking soda to draw the odor away.
  • Wipe down surfaces as appropriate with bleach and water solution. Add a little white vinegar or lemon juice.
  • For severe skunk odor damage, call your insurance company as you may qualify for homeowner's help from a professional cleaning company.
  • Ozone machines run about $500 but are well worth the investment if needed.
  • Ozone attachments to your central heating and air conditioning system can also work.
  • Vick's Vapo-Rub in your nostrils can help reduce the smell for you.
  • Store-bought products to have on hand for your dog: Nature's Miracle Skunk Odor Remover or Earth Friendly Skunk Odor Remover
  • The chemical formula above can be tried on fabrics and other surfaces, but some bleach-out may occur.
  • Heating apple cider vinegar on the stove is said to help rid the air of skunk smell.
  • Prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Preventing a Skunk Spray

  • Bird feeders attract skunks to your yard.
  • Fallen tree fruit left on the ground attracts skunks to your yard.
  • Garbage cans can be an invitation for a skunk to have dinner at your house.
  • No way out of your yard for a skunk means trouble.
  • Some people swear that by placing moth balls or ammonia-soaked rags at the edges of property deters skunks from visiting.
  • Keeping your dog where you can see him or her will prevent skunk spray attacks. Dogs running free are more apt to be sprayed than dogs kept in the yard under the owner's watchful eye.
  • Motion detection sprinklers such as Scarecrow Sprinklers can be a great deterrent for keeping skunks away from your yard.

Obviously, the best way to not have to deal with skunk smell and skunk odor is to avoid exposure! However, these encounters do happen. Once the spraying has occurred, there are some effective treatments as noted above for both your home and your dog.

Since our episode of the dogs versus the skunk, we always have the ingredients for the de-skunking formula on hand. It's important to note as well that the hydrogen peroxide should be unopened and fresh. Once opened, hydrogen peroxide begins to deteriorate and becomes the equivalent of plain old water. You need fresh peroxide to do the job of bubbling when mixed with the baking soda.

Lastly, consider some of the deterrents listed above to keep skunks at bay and away from your home. As much as I loved bird feeders, after this incident we took ours down. Most likely, the skunk that sprayed our dogs was behind the fence eating seeds.

Deskunking the Dog

What method for deskunking your dog have you used and found to work?

  • White vinegar
  • Coca Cola
  • Store bought skunk odor removal product
  • Listerine or other mouthwash
  • Chemical formula with H2O2, baking soda and dishwashing liquid
  • Tomato juice
  • Other
See results without voting

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Comments 38 comments

Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I read on the net that J&J Baby Powder works and sure enough, when our dog got sprayed, it worked! It works instantly and there is no water involved. Just put the powder directly on the sprayed area of the dog. I think there is baking soda in it and that is what does the trick.

jasper420 4 years ago

geat work very well put together and very informative great tips my sister works as a dog groomer we have been lucky we live in the country and none of our dogs have been sunked yet.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Wasn't it though??? I don't know what we'd have done without it either...especially x2 dogs.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Ha - sounds like quite the show - but hopefully without the SMELL in the future. I think dogs are just naturally inquisitive and don't think twice about going after something that moves! Good luck and glad you got the smell is one you never forget!

antmarcher profile image

antmarcher 4 years ago from Michigan

This happened last summer to one of our dogs- no tomato juice in the house, and no stores open (it was late at night), so I checked the internet and used the baking soda/peroxide/dish soap recipe, as I had all the ingredients. To my amazement, it worked! What a life saver!!

capecod 4 years ago

We had a skunk scoping out a new home under our shed, and our dog decided that she would be a great playmate. Didn't work out very well, Lilly got sprayed but good.

We first rinsed her with the garden hose, then brought her into the bathtub and used the commercial skunk deodorizer on her. She is a lab with short fur, so we were able to get the scent mostly out,, then a nice shampoo with Pert finished off.

The skunk decided that this yard was not the best place to pick a new home, and we are certainly glad. We have an electric fence for our pup, so we know that she wont go out into the woods, where the skunk decided to live and have her babies.

Our neighbour's two Goldens sit on their porch and watch the baby skunks play, but our Lab wants to get into the act. So she is always on the leash when we are near their house.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Nothing quite like the experience~~ It's not one you forget for a while.

Clucy profile image

Clucy 4 years ago from Frederick, MD

My lab was sprayed for the first time this year. I used the baking soda receipe, had to use if a few times, but it worked!! The house stunk for a few days, had to air it out. Thank you to Fabreeze!!

Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 5 years ago from Mississauga, ON

This is a very useful article indeed.

Those skunk pups / kittens (?) are adorable, but then they grow to be the devils we know. When I am walking our dogs late at night, we always run into skunks raiding garbage cans in the neighbourhood. Luckily, dogs don't go after them like they do for after seeing squirrels. But who knows when we are going to run into the mess. Till last year, two skunks used to hibernate under our deck in the backyard. We have not seen them this year, probably because they might have noticed two dogs occupying the backyard now. Your tips to keep skunks away will come out handy.

Just one question: If a dog is skunked, what is the first best thing in an average household that you would recommend to put on the dog to reduce order and its pain?

TheEpicJourney profile image

TheEpicJourney 5 years ago from Fairfield, Ohio

This is a very helpful article akirchner. I plan on doing a ton of camping with my malamute, Zoe, and I know that I'll need this info at some point. Your article is really concise and easy to read with a ton of information, complete with formula! haha just really well done. I'm bookmarking this for easy reference should the dreaded day come when i need it.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Hanna - No - I can't help with the 2-legged skunks that skunk around amongst us~ Wish I could...wouldn't it be nice to have a spray for that???

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Thank goodness, England, hasn't got them but what abou the two-legged ones? Any avice on that? lol

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Cool~!! Glad to know when something works - I didn't know that when it happened to us - but if it ever does again, gonna try it!

kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

"Heating apple cider vinegar on the stove is said to help rid the air of skunk smell" - I tried this and it worked wonders. But I have to say that the use of baking soda is also very good, and cheap! :)

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thank you for the read, enomakos~

enomakos profile image

enomakos 5 years ago

thanks for sharing

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks Dr. Griz for the read - it pays to know this just in case it ever happens to you - or your!

Dr. Griz 5 years ago

Great hub with lots of useful information. Thanks.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

KM - What an idiot I am~ Fixed the poll~!!! Glad to know that the tomato juice works - I've never tried it and never have that on hand but maybe (if there ever is a need, hoping NOT), will have to give that a whirl~! Thanks for pointing out my mistake~

KMattox profile image

KMattox 5 years ago from USA


Always love your hubs. I had a dog that liked to chase skunks. He would come back smelling like skunk from head to toe. In those days I lived on a farm in a very rural community and had 5 heavily wooded acres for the dog to run on. I had a doggie door and the Dog came and went as he pleased. Anyway the best thing I found at the time was tomato juice. It's acid and the heaviness of the tomato would wash the smell out for the most part. There was of course a small residual amount of faint skunk smell left. But tomato worked great and was fairly inexpensive and obviously safe for the dog and me too. :)

By the way I couldn't take your poll because there is not tomato juice option.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Tinknfelix - Stops for coming by and glad to help~!

MT - Definitely not something I had ever anticipated but when the dogs were gone overnight, I feared definitely THE WORST anyhow. That probably came in pretty tame considering all the other things that could have befallen them out in the wetlands and amongst the cattle, coyotes, mountain lions here~! BUT it was HORRIBLE - I'm glad we got the remedy really quick and were able to get rid of most of the smell. The 2 weeks we had to endure it was bad enough~! Thanks so much for the read~

Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota

Excellent information akrichner. I can't imagine having that smell in my home for two years. I'm glad you were able to take care of the smells pretty quickly. Luckily I havn't had to deal with skunks spraying my dogs. I'll keep my fingers crossed that it Never happens. :-0

tinknfelix 5 years ago

I'll definitely keep this home remedy in my files along with how to get out dog urine or wine in carpet!

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Writer20 - I actually almost put my dogs INTO the garage where we had a fairly new car - I'm SO glad I did not. It was bad enough having to get it out of the house let alone the garage and the cars!

Sharyn's Slant - oy vey and I'm not even Jewish! You didn't find one method particularly better than another? I did find that the chemical formula worked wonders. It was the house that reeked for about 2 weeks though and poor Kodi's face! But the shea butter did help with his face...couldn't smear it on everything in the house though~ Thanks so much for the read!

Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Been there, done that - at least three times :)

I've used the "concoction" you mention above which does work the best, but still . . . it takes a long time to stop getting reminders about these experiences. Great informative article!


writer20 profile image

writer20 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

Great hub. I remember driving though a skunk pong, it took so long to get it out of the car. I guess the skunk had just sprayed and pasted when we drove through, Yuck.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

I know Suzie - Looks my mom's lab and was thinking the same thing...poor baby - my mals looked sorry enough to be sure~ Thanks for the read and glad you found it useful!

suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

Audrey - The photo of that dog - poor baby. It's been awhile since any of my dogs have been sprayed (thank God) but I'll bookmark this Hub just in case. Rated up and useful.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Moonlake - I totally agree - our humane society said much the same thing - far better a skunking than a quilling~

Prasetio - If you see this animal in person, carefully walk away and then RUN~ You do not want to know this animal - they are adorable but they do be wicked when it comes to that smell! Thanks for the vote up as always and thanks for the read~

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

This was valuable information. I had never knew about this before, but I knew this animal from television. I don't have to see this animal in person. Actually I'll stay away when this animal close to me, because of the smell, right. Hahaha..... Thank you very much for writing and share with us. Vote it up!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 5 years ago from America

It's bad when a dog gets sprayed and we have had that problem in the past but it's money and lots of it if a porcupine gets them. Sometimes that smell from a skunk can make you sick.

Great hub good information.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

BJ - I hear ya - skunks come in all sizes and some wear suits~ Coca Cola probably works because it bubbles up - I guess it'd be worth a try but now that I know the other works...I'm sticking with it!

Love Pepe LePew - tried to find a public domain photo but alas....I was stuck with the 'real deal'....thanks for the read!

drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

Audrey, if you want to get rid of a skunk, do not give him your phone number. Oh, wait a minute, we're not talking about that kind of skunk.

I'm not surprised that Coca Cola is effective. After all, it is strong enough to remove rust from the chrome bumpers of cars. Trust me.

The only skunk I have ever admired is Pepe Le Pew from the filmed cartoons. Thanks for the tips; hope I never have to use them.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Pamela - would suit me just fine too~! We have a TON of them here so always a worry - even had one close to the street once that was sick - that was an awful thing!

Esmeowl12 - I knew the moment I smelled the skunk smell and the fact that my dogs were missing overnight (has never happened before or since) that I was in big trouble. I would not want to go through that again - ever! Thanks for the read!

Esmeowl12 profile image

Esmeowl12 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

Thankfully I've never had to deal with this. Friends have had great luck using vinegar (and it has so many other uses!). There are tons of skunks in the area where I live and they obviously aren't very bright as we encounter one or more flattened ones a day on the road. The smell lingers in the air for days. Voted up and useful.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

Great advice if your dog gets sprayed. We don't have any skunks around here which suits me just find. Rated up.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Susan - It is by far the worst thing I've ever endured with one of my dogs and cleaning up~! Yikes - hoping, knocking on wood and all that - it never happens to us again but I swear by that formula! Did the trick - getting the smell out of the house on the other hand...not so easy!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Oh your hub has brought back smelly memories for me. We had a skunk that used to live in the neighbors shed I think. Anyway my dog got sprayed one day after she chased the skunk. Fortunately she didn't get sprayed that bad and I used Nature's Skunk Odor Remover and it worked well but I have bookmarked your hub for your formula that you have listed above. Luckily Magz stayed outside the whole time and I was able to get rid of the smell treating her in the backyard.

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