Discover 6 Smells That Raccoons Absolutely Hate and Keep Them Away

Written by Kayeleen Parsons
Updated: October 16, 2023
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Have you ever wondered why your garbage cans are being toppled over and rummaged through in the middle of the night? Well, there can only be one explanation for this occurrence. You’ve probably been visited by one of the most mischievous species in the animal kingdom, known as the raccoon. These creatures of the night are notorious for their cheeky behavior and their ability to wreak absolute havoc on people’s home environments.

Raccoons are famous for their scavenging habits and have been observed by wildlife biologists to be exceptionally intelligent. Because they are omnivores, they eat both plants and animals. In addition, they may eat fruits, nuts, and insects as part of their varied diet. However, raccoons can adapt quickly to various ecosystems, including cities and residential areas. In these environments, they may frequently find a quick meal in the trash.

Raccoons are not only a nuisance, but they may also spread diseases such as rabies which are dangerous for both people and animals. Hence the reason why it’s best to keep them away from your home environment and your family pets.

Utilizing particular smells raccoons dislike can be a successful strategy for keeping them out of your yard and preventing any destruction caused by them. Because they have an acute sense of smell, overwhelming scents such as black pepper, peppermint oil, garlic, vinegar, and ammonia are a few odors that will keep them at bay.

This blog post will provide answers as to why raccoons may dislike certain odors and techniques to keep them away from your invading your space.

By using smells raccoons dislike you can keep them out of your yard

By using smells raccoons dislike you can keep them out of your yard.


Smells Raccoons Dislike

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil is a powerful natural repellent because of its sharp aroma. Furthermore, since peppermint oil has a high concentration of menthol properties, when raccoons come across this scent, they will experience a burning sensation, which will cause their smell receptors to become highly irritated.

To use peppermint oil as a natural repellant, start by locating the animal’s hotspots. These areas can include gardens, open fence gates or windows, and trash cans. After discovering these locations, grab some cotton balls, soak them in peppermint oil, and scatter them across your property.

Another alternative is to combine a few drops of peppermint oil with water and mist the mixture outside your house.

Peppermint oil is a powerful natural repellent and a smell raccoons dislike

Peppermint oil is a powerful natural repellent deterring raccoons with its sharp aroma.

©Madeleine Steinbach/

Black Pepper and Cayenne Pepper

Due to their powerful, spicy scents, cayenne and black pepper are successful home remedies for repelling raccoons. In addition, the component that gives peppers their heat, called capsaicin, can induce a burning sensation in the raccoon’s eyes and nose, discouraging them from entering an area where these spices have been utilized.

If you want to use cayenne and black pepper to distance them away, scatter the spices around your property or in areas where they congregate. Although cayenne and black pepper can be powerful and natural raccoon remedies, they may not be effective in all circumstances.

Don’t forget, when working with these spices, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly, as you just might experience a burning sensation yourself.

Cayenne pepper can cause irritation to a raccoon's eyes deterring them

Cayenne pepper can cause irritation to a raccoon’s eyes so sprinkling it in key places can help to keep them away.

©Thanatip S./


So, what makes garlic such an effective raccoon repellent? For starters, garlic works well because it contains a sulfur enzyme molecule called allicin. When you crush or chop garlic, it releases allicin which produces a strong aroma of garlic. A pungent smell that raccoons will definitely not appreciate.

You can use this vegetable in a variety of ways. One is to plant garlic around the perimeter of your garden, especially close to access points such as your flower beds, below porches, and around trash cans. Of course, if you are not much of a gardener, you can always use garlic powder or garlic oil around these entry points.

Another way to utilize garlic as a deterrent is to make a garlic spray. To make this spray, juice a few garlic cloves and combine them with water. Spray the mixture in areas where these raccoons have visited. Raccoons will be repelled by this barrier, keeping them away from your property.

However, while garlic can be an excellent repellent, it should be noted that it may not work in all instances. Raccoons are intelligent and adaptive animals, and if they are extremely hungry or desperate, they may be willing to accept risks in order to obtain food.

Raccoons dislike the smell of garlic

Raccoons dislike the smell of garlic so planting garlic around your perimeter can help to deter unwanted visitors.



Don’t have time? You can make a quick, eco-friendly alternative. All you need is to mix white vinegar and water and add them to a spray bottle. This acidic smell interferes with their ability to locate food sources, making them lose interest and might make them disappear from your property for good.

Spray the mixture laterally onto areas of your property, or you can soak cloth material in vinegar and place them around garbage cans. Just be mindful that if it’s a hot sunny day, your rag will dry up, and the vinegar will evaporate, making it a useless repellent for raccoons.

To keep the vinegar solution working, spray it every few days or after a rainstorm. This method prevents the aroma from being washed away by rain, and the solution won’t become too weak.

The smell of vinegar will interfere with a raccoon's sense of smell

Spray a mixture of vinegar and water around your yard so its smell can interfere with a raccoon’s ability to locate food sources.

©Sergio Rojo/


Ammonia is a colorless gas that comes with an extremely strong, choke-inducing smell. In fact, ammonia is a hazardous chemical that needs to be handled carefully. Large inhalation doses can cause respiratory issues, and contact with the skin or eyes can result in burns and irritant reactions.

However, because ammonia has a similar odor to urine, it’s recommended to use this beneficial solution in scaring raccoons away, as this can mimic predators marking their territory in specific areas around your home.

Preventative Measures

If you disagree with using strong smells raccoons dislike and prefer a more humane way to keep raccoons away, there are a few solutions that are efficient while remaining risk-free for both you, your pets, and the raccoons.

Secure your trash cans

Make sure the lids on your trash cans are fastened firmly and securely. For them to remain closed, you can incorporate the use of bungee cords.

Before the day of bin collection, keep your garbage cans inside your garage and frequently wipe them down to eliminate any odors.

Remove food sources outdoors

Raccoons are opportunistic eaters, which means they will use any available food sources to their advantage. Eliminate leftover spilled birdseed around your garden area, and avoid keeping pet food outside overnight.

Fencing barriers

Raccoons can be kept out of your garden or other areas of your home with the help of fencing. Purchase a strong and durable material that reaches at least a foot underground, as this will prevent them from digging underneath your fence.

Set noise traps

Raccoons are sensitive to loud noises, which can be an effective way to scare them away from your property. Install motion active alarms or windchimes, as this will create a loud noise that will scare them away.

Bright lights

Raccoons at night

Raccoons have vision that allows them to see well at night, so using well-placed motion lights may scare them away.


Raccoons are nocturnal creatures and have developed low-light vision at night. Therefore, place a few bright lights around your house perimeter, as raccoons are susceptible to bright lights.

Also, install motion-censored lights, which will cause them to become confused, and the bright light will scare them away when approaching your home.  

In addition, using these approaches of stinky smells or humane techniques will prevent raccoons from popping in to say hi. Some of these solutions may not be suited for every case, and some might require various techniques to be effective.

Suppose all else fails, and your persistent raccoon problem does not subside. In that case, you should seek the assistance of a professional wildlife removal agency to ensure that the animals are relocated safely and humanely.

What Other Animals Hate These Smells?

Black Rat Snake

Animals like snakes find certain smells like peppermint oil, vinegar, and ammonia to be repugnant.

©John Callahan/iStock via Getty Images

Raccoons aren’t the only critters out there that hate smells like vinegar, peppermint oil, garlic, ammonia, or cayenne pepper. These scents are often suggested to keep other unwanted animals away, either indoors or out. Below are some other animals that despise one or more of these smells.

Animals That Dislike Peppermint Oil

  • Spiders
  • Ants
  • Mosquitoes
  • Mice
  • Moles
  • Rats
  • Snakes

Animals That Dislike Garlic

  • Rabbits
  • Mice
  • Moles
  • Deer
  • Aphids
  • Beetles
  • Armyworms
  • Caterpillars
  • Mites
  • Mosquitos
  • Flies

Animals That Dislike Vinegar

  • Rabbits
  • Weevils
  • Snails & Slugs
  • Moths
  • Mice
  • Cockroaches
  • Spiders
  • Mosquitoes
  • Ants
  • Snakes
  • Fruit Flies

Animals That Dislike Cayenne Pepper

  • Cats
  • Rabbits
  • Dogs
  • Squirrels
  • Chipmunks
  • Aphids
  • Spider Mites
  • Whiteflies
  • Snakes

Animals That Dislike Ammonia

  • Snakes
  • Rats
  • Bats
  • Mice
  • Bears

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Kayeleen Parsons is a writer at A-Z Animals that thoroughly enjoys writing about animals of all types. She has a love for many animals, but her Cocker Spaniel dog holds a special place in her heart. In addition to being a writer, she's also an English teacher, sharing her knowledge to help her students become excellent in the language and literature. When she's not busy writing, Kayeleen enjoys reading and spending quality time with her family in her homeland of Cape Town.

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