How Do You Get Rid Of Skunk Smell? And Why Does It Smell So Bad?

How Do You Get Rid Of Skunk Smell? And Why Does It Smell So Bad?

You do not want to end up on the business end of a skunk. These black and white animals look incredibly cute on the surface, but with a flick of the tail, they can unleash an almighty stench that lingers for days if you don’t know how to get it off.

As a defense mechanism, it’s incredibly effective – but as a human who had no intention of eating the damn thing anyway, getting sprayed by a skunk can be a bit of a nightmare. If you’re currently staring teary-eyed at your screen wondering “how do you get rid of skunk smell?”, fear not. The American Chemical Society has come through with the answers.

How to get rid of skunk smell

There’s a common misconception that dousing yourself in tomato juice can tackle skunk spray, but the truth is that all this does is cover the smell. The real key to getting rid of skunk smell centers around oxidation, as that way you can transform the stinky compounds it contains into odorless sulfonic acids.

How to get rid of skunk smell:

  • Skunk spray on human skin is best tackled in the shower with some soap and vigorous scrubbing. We know it smells bad, just hang in there.
  • For dogs or fabrics you aren’t precious about changing color, you can create an oxidizing mixture made up of hydrogen peroxide (as the oxidizing agent), baking soda, and some baby shampoo. Watch the video to find out the best ratio.
  • Apply that mixture to the affected area and let it sit for five minutes.
  • You can repeat this step if needed, but the ACS warns it can lighten your dog’s fur so avoid unnecessary rounds.

What are skunks spraying?

Skunk spray contains a pungent mix of sulfur-based compounds known as thiols. They’re highly volatile, so you can smell them in the air almost instantly, but the smell then lingers thanks to thioacetates that continue releasing that awful rotten egg smell for days. That is, unless you can get the spray off.

All those smelly compounds are packed into an oily yellow liquid that the skunk stores in glands positioned around its anus. When it lands, it acts as a lachrymator, making your eyes water in a way similar to tear gas. Nature really did a number on us when it made something so cute smell so bad.

How to avoid getting sprayed by a skunk

The smell of skunk spray is so intense that some people throw up from it. Add to that the burning in your eyes and it’s an experience you’re better off avoiding altogether. The best way to do that? Keep out of the way of any skunks.

  • Look out for the warning signs – Cooking up that stinky cocktail takes work – and once they use it, they’ve got to make more. As such, skunks will avoid spraying threats if they can. First, they’ll raise their tails (sometimes do a handstand), stamp their, feet, hiss, and point their butt in your direction. If you ignore all of those warning signs, you’ve really got it coming to you.
  • Avoid going into skunk territory at night – Skunks are nocturnal, so you’re most likely to run into one when it’s dark. Unfortunately, that also means they may be harder to see. If you don’t spot the skunk until it’s too late, the bad news is they can hit you from a range of 3 meters (9.8 feet). The smell of their spray is so strong that we can detect it in 1 part per 10 billion, which the ACS says is like one pinch of salt on 100 tons of potato chips.
  • Keep an ear out for skunks – Skunks make lots of noises, from defensive hissing, screeching, and grumbling to more adorable stomps and squeaks. Their camouflaged bodies make them harder to spot when they’re active at night, but if you can hear a skunk coming, you just might make it out of their way before disaster strikes.

As for teaching this advice to your dog? Well, good luck with that.

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