DEODORIZE SKUNK SPRAY

Neutralize skunk odor.

William F. Wood, Department of Chemistry
Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA 95521
E-Mail wfw2@humboldt.edu
 

 

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Chemistry of Skunk Spray

 

To neutralize or deodorize skunk spray, the chemicals in the secretion must be changed to a different type of molecule. Tomato juice does not work (see below for an explanation).

For pets that have been sprayed, bathe the animal in a mixture of:

1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (from drug store)

1/4 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)

and a teaspoon of liquid detergent.

After 5 minutes rinse the animal with water. Repeat if necessary. The mixture must be used after mixing and will not work if it is stored for any length of time. DO NOT STORE IN A CLOSED CONTAINER - it releases oxygen gas so it could break the container. This mixture may bleach the pet's hair. I have heard of one black Labrador retriever that was chocolate colored after this treatment. (Paul Krebaum's Recipe from Chemical & E ngineering News , October 18, 1993, p. 90).

Some additional tips. Do this outside so the volatile skunk spray does not contaminate your house. To remove residual skunk odor from your clothes and any towels or rags used in this clean up procedure, wash them with one cup of liquid laundry bleach per gallon of water.

For buildings, decks, etc., a solution of liquid laundry (Chlorox®) bleach (1 cup per gallon) will work. CAUTION - THIS MAY BLEACH THE BUILDINGS, DECKS, ETC. Try it on a small area if bleaching may be a problem. The bleach must come in contact with the spot where the secretion was sprayed Repeated applications may be necessary for large amounts of the skunk spray. DO NOT USE THIS ON PETS. It will not work for skunk spray that has drifted over a large area or is trapped in a house. Only time and adequate ventilation will help in this case.

Why tomato juice is believed to eliminate skunk odor. Bathing an animal in tomato juice seems to work because at high doses of skunk spray the human nose quits smelling the odor (olfactory fatigue). When this happens, the odor of tomato juice can easily be detected. A person suffering olfactory fatigue to skunk spray will swear that the skunk odor is gone and was neutralized by the tomato juice. Another person coming on the scene at this point will readily confirm that the skunk spray has not been neutralized by the tomato juice.

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© William F. Wood, 1998, Updated on 21 June 2010

Skunk lifting tail as a warning before spraying.

Photograph by William Wood, © 1998 You are visitor #

Updated on 11 February 1998.