How to Remove Skunk Smell From Your House & Clothes

Reader advisory: The subject of this story stinks worse than 5-year-old garbage coated in vinegar and dirty diaper frosting.

Reader guarantee: Reading this story can greatly improve your ability to prevent your home from being skunked.

As a homeowner, we must always be on guard against unruly and unsanitary intruders: From mice to termites to birds to raccoons, devious home invaders come in all shapes and sizes and from all directions

And no matter how unlikely the squatter, homeowners need to be prepared and have a game plan when unexpected trouble comes wandering in, like say, a skunk.

However rare, skunk home invasions can leave home air quality toxic and force the unthinkable: Homeowners forced to gut their homes.

In an alarming recent story reported by NBCPhiladelphia.com, a skunk entered a Pennsylvania family’s home through a pet door, became startled by the family dog and sprayed inside the house with a smelly vengeance. The disastrous fallout of the encounter: The homeowners were forced to throw away toys, appliances and furniture and gut their house and strip it down to its wood framing to eliminate the odor.

The horrid-smelling price tag: A devastating $30,000. For homeowner Scott Gray the worst news was still to come. When he checked with his insurance company, he found a skunk indoor home spray wasn’t covered by his homeowner’s insurance policy, leaving him on the hook for all the damage.

Take it from the Gray family, it pays to have a home skunk invasion plan.

The Stink That Won’t Quit Without A Fight

People who have come into unfortunate contact with skunk sprays can tell you firsthand: Washing away the stench isn’t as easy as taking a vigorous 10-minute shower.

Once a skunk sprays inside a house or someone sprayed by a skunk enters a home, the putrid odor engulfs everything it passes. It can take weeks and months to fumigate a house clean of skunk stink, and the process can be absolute agony.

Why are skunks the Pig Pens of the animal world? While most animals like dogs, cats and rats have anal scent glands that give off pungent aromas when they are stressed, fearful and trying to ward off predators, skunks have two anal scent glands that contains small amounts of an oily, yellow secretion that contains sulfur compounds like thiols. This gives skunks their infamously repulsive odor.

When faced with the horrid prospect of freeing your home of the stink of an in-house skunk spray, it pays to have a ready and right response plan. As BobVila.com advises, “You’ve got to act fast, ideally within an hour or two of the spray. If neglected, that foul odor could linger for months on household textiles, everything from bed linens to furniture upholstery. It can even wind up on your skin.”

How to Neutralize Skunk Odor

Remember, skunk odor infiltrates and odorizes everything it touches. Some things to remember in the unfortunate event you or your family is sprayed by a skunk:

  • Avoid getting skunk spray in your eyes. Wash your hands as soon as you touch the musk with the strongest soap you have.
  • Clean yourself and your belongings with the hottest water you can stand (that won’t burn you or damage fabric).
  • Skunk spray is a bit like glitter or poison oak; it gets on anything you touch. So, don’t touch furniture or other people because they will stink, too.
  • It is extremely difficult to get skunk spray out of fabric, carpet and furniture because it is naturally oily.

Homemade Remedies

To remove skunk smell from living quarters, you must change the thiols and their acetate derivatives the skunk released into odorless compounds. The best cleaning instruments are baking soda and bleach (especially for skunk sprays on wood or concrete). Use rubber gloves, dip a rag in the solution and begin cleaning. Remember, it will most likely take several applications to fully neutralize the order. A warning: Bleach will likely discolor any object it comes in contact with.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Eliminating Skunk Odor

  1. First, clean the source of the odor. If you don’t choose to use bleach or baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, then simple soap and water are fine. The soap will work effectively when it comes to removing the oily skunk spray.
  2. Open all windows and doors. Turn on a fan. Fresh air is the most effective remedy to remove skunk odor from a home.
  3. Hang items (such as shoes and rugs) outside so they can air out.
  4. Change the air filters in your home or buy an air purifier.

For intense, lingering cases, utilize incense, scented candles, air fresheners and potpourri.

Tips to Remove Skunk Odor from Clothes

  • Wash all items twice using hot water and the strongest detergent possible.
  • Bleach is perfectly fine to use … as long as you’re fine with discoloured clothes.
  • Do NOT put any clothing in the dryer. Allow to air dry and if possible, hang outside to dry.
  • Pay attention to the fabric care recommendations when laundering your clothes.

Coming into close contact with skunk sprays in your home can feel like you’re living your own Stephen King story, but a fast, quick and smart response plan can free your family and home of the putrid, lingering remnants of nature’s smelliest home invader.

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