“Our dog got sprayed by a skunk? Should we wash him with tomato sauce? Thanks, Jerry”
So you had a run-in with old Pepe le Pew (he was always my favorite looney tunes character — so determined, so stinky!), and now you can’t get his eau de parfum out of your nostrils, your clothes, your dog, your car, your porch, your life. Oh, the horror! Skunk odor is notoriously difficult to get rid of, and for good reason — skunk spray is a lethal combination of sulfurous chemical oils meant to protect the skunk from pedators like bears . . . and people. For more information on what, exactly, skunk spray is, look to the left. For help getting rid of skunk odor, read on below.
Wash all sprayed clothes, fabrics, people, and animals as soon as possible. The faster you get those smelly things in the wash, the better the chance that the skunk odor will actually wash off. Using your regular laundry detergent is fine, although treating the fabrics with an additional cleaner beforehand may help as well. Shower as soon as you can, and bathe any sprayed animals as quickly as possible, too. Use extra soap and shampoo, and any person- and animal-friendly skunk-specific cleansers (see below).
White Vinegar or hydrogen peroxide counteracts the natural oil in skunk spray. You will probably need something stronger than soapy water to get rid of skunk oils — a solution of vinegar or peroxide will dissolve and remove the odor-causing oils instead of just spreading them around. Try this mixture:
1 liter (or quart) white vinegar OR 3% hydrogen peroxide (peroxide may cause bleaching)
1/4 c. Baking soda.
1 tsp. dish detergent
Use commercial sprays designed to deodorize and neutralize smells to eliminate skunk odor. Household cleaning sprays and products such as Febreeze or Simple Green (a good organic alternative) can be effective against skunk smell on fabrics and furniture. “Skunk Off” is a highly effective spray designed specifically for treating skunk-sprayed pets.
Use bleach to clean skunk spray and odor from outdoor structures. Use a mixture of 10% bleach and 90% water (or detergent and water) to clean sprayed areas (such as a porch) that aren’t in danger in staining from the bleach. Because chlorine bleach is highly toxic, don’t use it to clean people, animals, furniture, or colored clothing.
To tomato juice or not to tomato juice? Everyone’s heard of the old foolproof skunk standby: tomato juice. And of course, eveyone has a different opinion about how well it does, or doesn’t, work to get rid of skunk odor. The basic premise, of course, is that the acids in the tomato juice will dissolve and counteract the oils in the skunk spray. We can’t guarantee that it will work, but if you want to try it, add a can (or two or three) or tomato paste to the dog’s bath, or your own. Using tomato juice on any fabrics is probably a bad idea, unless you don’t mind the inevitable stains.
© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.