How to Get Rid of the Skunk Smell Inside Your House Instantly

A skunk peers over a piece of wood
Yasmins world/Shutterstock.com

Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Updated: October 25, 2023

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Have you ever been sprayed by a skunk? It’s not a great feeling or smell. Skunks know how to defend themselves against predators, but this can leave an awful odor behind for days or even weeks. So, how do you get rid of a skunk’s notoriously bad smell? Follow along to learn how to get rid of the skunk smell inside your house instantly. A hint: it’s not as easy as it seems.

Why do Skunks Smell So Bad?

Skunks spray an awful scent that can linger for a long time. The scent is so strong that sometimes it can be smelled as far as a mile from the spraying zone! But why? Skunks produce a pungent liquid in their anal glands slowly. It can sometimes take up to 10 days for the liquid to replenish when a skunk sprays. The liquid is an organic compound with sulfur, which smells like rotten eggs. Although this stinky oily liquid leaves an awful taste in your mouth, it’s not dangerous. The most it causes is a headache and watery eyes.

Back side of classic brown with white striped young skunk aka Mephitis mephitis, laying down showing butt. Looking away from camera with tail high up ready to spray. Isolated on a white background

Skunks produce an oily liquid with sulfur in their anal glands that produce a powerful stench.

What to do if You are Sprayed by a Skunk

No one wants to get sprayed by a skunk, but it can still happen. If you’ve been sprayed by a skunk, you’ll need to take a shower immediately. It only takes a few minutes for the skunk smell to absorb into your skin and clothes. Although you can bathe in tomato juice, it doesn’t immediately get rid of the skunk smell. Instead, mix peroxide and baking soda with dish soap and scrub your skin. It’s important to note that baking soda and peroxide can cause rashes and redness if you have sensitive skin. Sadly though, no matter how many DIY odor-removers you use, the scent is likely to stay.

How to Get Rid of Skunk Smell Inside Your Home Quickly

It’s a lot easier to take care of the skunk spray smell outside, but if you’ve been sprayed inside, you’ll need to get rid of the scent lingering in your home. The oils can absorb and remain in the fabric, making this process harder. Although there are some methods you can use to take away the skunk spray smell quickly, it’s not immediate and may require trial and error.

Apple Cider Vinegar Spray

One way to get rid of the skunk smell inside your home is by creating and using a vinegar spray solution. Vinegar is such a great household ingredient to have. Not only can you use it for cleaning and cooking, but it’s a wonderful odor-eliminator. Mix 2 parts water with 1 part apple cider vinegar in a spray. Use this to clean the initial mess if the skunk sprays in your home. You can also add apple cider vinegar to a mop bucket with hot water and bleach. Chlorine bleach is very effective at neutralizing the smell of sulfur. However, this can cause damage to fabrics and hard surfaces.

white vinegar on the wooden table top

Apple cider vinegar can eliminate or lessen the scent of skunk spray.

Open Windows and Increase Airflow

Another way to quickly get rid of the skunk smell in your house is to open all windows and doors. You’ll need to get air circulation in your home to waft out the smell. This, however, won’t get rid of the scent alone. Instead, it helps to follow other methods, while allowing air inside. It also helps to turn on fans as this can air out the scent faster.

Steam-clean Fabric Furniture, Rugs, and Carpets

Cleaning is very important! As soon as you’ve noticed the smell of skunk spray in your home, clean all fabrics quickly with hot water and bleach. Put all of your sheets, blankets, and pillows in the washer with an odor-neutralizing laundry detergent. If you have carpet or fabric furniture, you may need to invest in a steam cleaner and carpet washer. These machines can clean and pick up the oily liquid from the skunk’s spray.

Signs of Skunks in Your Home or Yard

Sadly, there are no foolproof ways to get rid of the skunk smell from your home. Instead, you’ll need to tackle the problem with multiple methods. Most importantly, if you’ve been sprayed outside, don’t step inside! You can transfer the scent indoors by sitting on the furniture and spreading the oil.

Thankfully, skunks don’t spray unless it’s their last resort. Listed below are some signs you have skunks living in your yard!

  • A faint musky scent in your yard.
  • Skunk digging claw marks in the soil.
  • Skunk droppings in your yard.
  • Small holes in your garden.
Baby Skunk - Two Skunks

One of the best ways to get rid of skunk smells in your home is to prevent it.

What Does Skunk Scat Look Like?

A view of skunk scat.

If you’re catching a scent in the air around your house and fear you may have a skunk traversing your property, one surefire way to tell is by identifying its scat. Skunk scat can generally be found in mounds near their nesting areas and appears tubular in shape with smooth surfaces and blunt ends.

The scat is prone to fall apart if prodded with a stick and contains pieces of undigested material the skunk fed on–insect parts like beetles, berries, seeds, grass, etc. Spotted skunk scat measures 1-2 inches long with 1/2 -1 inch diameter, while hooded skunk scat is half the size. The feces can be either crumbly, mushy, or hard and range in color from black to dark brown to pale brown. Fresh scat will be moist, brighter, and darker, while older will be more crumbly and discolored.

Armed with these facts, hopefully, you can do your detective work and figure out if that is indeed a skunk roaming about in your vicinity.


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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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