How to get rid of skunk smell off of people, dogs, and clothes

how to get rid of skunk smell
You can get rid of skunk smell by using a combination of dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. Also, vinegar mixed with either coffee or lemon juice will also work to treat skunk odor.

Skunk spray is compared to tear gas for a reason! Skunk spray or skunk musk, like the teargas, contains chemicals called lachrymators that irritate the nose and eyes, causing tears, mucus production, and redness. In high concentrations, the reek can also cause nausea.

However, unlike tear gas, skunk musk is a yellowish oil liquid stored in the double sacks, thiols, beneath a skunk’s anus. It’s the oil contained in the musk that makes the pungent smell linger for long. Human noses are very sensitive to spray and can detect it in parts as minute as one part per billion.

Fortunately, skunks are nocturnal animals that try to avoid humans and other animals as much as possible. They’ll only release the skunk musk as a defense mechanism when they feel cornered with the spray reaching a distance of more than three feet.

The musk vaporizes fast, permeating virtually everything it comes into contact with. Getting rid of skunk musk off people, dogs, and clothes requires quick action and the correct products.

Now you must likely be wondering how to get rid of skunk smell. If you, your loved ones, or your pets have been victims of a skunk’s rotten egg reek, this guide is just for you!

How long does it actually take for skunk smell to go away?

Now that you know the misery it can bring you or your pets, how long does skunk smell last? Skunk spray is one of the most easily recognizable and pungent smells to eliminate pets, homes, and outdoor areas.

Once you identify skunk smell in your yard, home, or on your pets or loved ones, you should take action instantly, ideally within an hour or two. If ignored, the unpleasant odor can linger for months or even years if not completely removed from your pet’s coat or skin.

If treated promptly and correctly, mild skunk smells can be removed with normal ventilation, usually within two to three weeks. However, the more pungent smells, such as those seeped into pet fur, furniture, and clothing, cannot be eradicated.

The lengthier you delay, the more challenging it is to neutralize.

hooded skunk sniffing the ground

What neutralizes the smell of skunk?

There are many theories and other successful methods of neutralizing skunk musk. However, the scientifically proven method was discovered by a chemist named Paul Krebaum. He developed a solution that transforms the odorous thiols into odorless acids.

This method neutralizes skunk smell chemically. The technique is simple:

  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, also known as a fresh bottle
  • 1 quarter cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap

However, there are other DIY methods that you can use with materials that are readily available at home. These home remedies include regular laundry detergent, white vinegar, dishwashing soap, pet shampoo, and other cleaning products. Let’s look at a few that have been proven to work.


Boil a pot of white vinegar for an hour or so and replace the vinegar as it evaporates. For a moment, your home will smell like vinegar and eventually eliminate the skunk smell. Repeat the process for two or three more days until all the lingering odors have been eliminated.


Use strong coffee or espresso grounds. Strong coffee smells mixed with vinegar will eliminate the skunk smell in your house.

Tomato Sauce

This has been a popular myth and one of the most popular online myths about tomato juice or sauce and skunk smell. These products do not eliminate the odor but might only mask it.


Apply lemon juice. Lemon juice mixed with white vinegar in the right proportion will immediately mask the skunk odor on your pet.

skunk holding baby skunk in its mouth in a field of grass and orange flowers

How do I de-skunk my house?

The smell can stay behind for weeks or months depending on the intensity. However, you can de-skunk your house by following the steps below:

  • Aerate the house by opening all the windows and letting sunlight oxidize the smell. You can also run your AC system to help circulate fresh air
  • Boil a pot of vinegar for an hour and refill it as it evaporates
  • Place several bowls of vinegar in your home for two or three days
  • Place any affected bedding, clothing, and other fabrics in the washer and set it to the hottest setting. Add one half cup of baking soda and your usual laundry detergent.
  • For carpets, curtains, mattresses, couches, and other non-launderable soft surfaces, go for thorough steam cleaning.
  • Mix bleach and hot water for hard surfaces to eliminate the smell.

What about my clothes?

Hydrogen peroxide is the best solution against skunk reek on your clothes. However, it can damage the fibers on your clothing, so it must be diluted before application. For application, you’ll need the following supplies:

  • A large bucket
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
  • Baking soda
  • Laundry detergent
  • Cleaning gloves

Follow the steps below:

How to get skunk smell out of clothes

  1. Mix the solution in the bucket and soak the clothes for an hour.
  2. Run the clothes through a wash cycle and add baking soda
  3. Hang your clothes outside to dry to remove all the lingering odors that may be left in the dryer

Another common question homeowners ask is,” will Febreze remove skunk odor?” These commercial sprays are designed to neutralize and deodorize smells. These household cleaning sprays, such as Febreze, can effectively remove the skunk smell on furniture and fabrics.

baby skunk with baby bobcat
Baby Skunk and Baby Bobcat

What to do with a dog that got sprayed by a skunk?

Let’s look at how to get rid of skunk smell on a dog. Dogs usually get sprayed in the face, and the first thing is to check your pet’s eyes. Skunk spray irritates dogs, so if you notice their eyes watering or red, rinse them with some eyewash such as dog shampoo or cool water.

Once you’ve solved the eye issue, you can then handle the rest of their smelly body by the following method:


  • Dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide


  1. Wash your dog with the mixture as soon as possible using rubber gloves to rub the mixture into the fur.
  2. Allow twenty minutes before rinsing the mixture from your pet’s fur
  3. Bath your pet with dog shampoo and rinse it properly
  4. Repeat the process again 2 or 3 times until the smell is entirely off

How long does it really take for skunk smell to wear off dog?

Skunk smell can linger on your dog for up to three weeks. It’s therefore essential to use the method above immediately after your dog has been sprayed.


Joseph Wales is a professional SEO content writer specializing in pest control, varmint removal, pets, and everything in nature. When not publishing, he’s busy teaching college and university students how to write admission essays and structure their academic papers. Writing has always been his passion, and he spends most of his time outdoors with his two lovely daughters in his spare time. He is also a skilled farmer, always traveling to his rural home to check on the livestock and corn field when he has the time. Armed with hands-on experience, Joseph uses his SEO writing skills to communicate accurate and engaging information that will also be valuable and educational, adding to the value of his readers.

Recent Posts