One of the most dreadful encounters a person can have with an animal that can be found milling around in the country, in the city, in the suburbs is getting sprayed by a skunk. Skunk spray can impact a person, a pet, and the interior of a building. There are some strategies to be utilized to eliminate skunk odor from the skin, from a pet’s fur, and from a building and the property in it. This includes professional skunk smell removal from house specialists. In order to undertake the odor eradication process effectively, it helps to have a bit of a basic understanding about skunks and their primary defense mechanism.
About the Skunk
If you were to ask almost anyone about a skunk, they would make a couple of points. First, the would remark that a skunk emits a horrific odor. Second, they would say that skunks have black fur with a white stripe running down the back. In the end, that would be the sum total of what people know about skunks. (As a quick aside, most skunks are black and white, but there are some that are gray and white, some are brown and white, and others that are cream-colored and white.
Different species of skunks vary quite significantly in size. Depending on the specific species of skunk, they can be as small as just over 1-pound to as a large as 18-pounds.
Skunks have keen senses of smell and hearing. However, a skunk has terrible vision and can’t see beyond 10 feet.
Skunks are relatively nocturnal animals, usually out and about at night. They live in dens that they oftentimes dig for themselves. They also seek shelter under decks and in buildings that are not heavily trafficked by people. In the spring, a female skunk will have an average litter of between four to eight kits (or babies).
Despite their powerful defensive odor, skunks live short lives in the wild. The average skunk will live for a year in the wild. In captivity, a skunk may live up to 10 years.
There are people that keep skunks as pets. About a third of U.S. states permit skunks to be kept as pets. In the U.S., people who do take in pet skunks typically have their odor glands removed. In the United Kingdom, people are permitted to have skunks as pets. In the U.K., when taking a skunk as a pet, removing odor glands is illegal. Noting that some people do keep skunks with their odor glands intact points to the fact that skunks spray only when they feel threatened.
Skunks oftentimes can be found in suburban areas in the United States, in addition to “out in the country.” This reality underscores the need to understand how to content with skunk odor. Due to the proximity between suburban skunk habitats and humans, the likelihood that you might face the need to eliminate skunk odor is very real if you live in a suburban or rural area.
Skunk Odor Glands
The odor glands of a skunk are located on each side of the animal’s anus. When a skunk is frightened or threatened, the animal will shoot or spray the liquid from the glands at the source of the perceived threat or danger. A skunk is able to target the spray to a significant degree. In addition, a skunk can shoot the malodorous spray up to 15 feet.
Skunk Odor on a Human
If you or someone else is sprayed by a skunk, do not enter a residence or other building. If you do, you bring the atrocious skunk odor along with you and it will infiltrate the interior of a home or other structure.
If you or someone else us sprayed by a skunk, you may not have the opportunity to purchase a commercially available product to eliminate skunk odor. These products are discussed later in this article. Consequently, you may need to rely on items already available in your home to assist in eliminating skunk odor on a person.
A persistent myth surrounding the removal of skunk odor on a person is that a tomato juice bath will resolve the problem. In fact, a tomato juice bath will only mask the odor on a temporary basis.
A proven formula exists to eliminate skunk odor from a person’s skin and body that can be concocted from items you likely already have in your home. The odor elimination remedy consists of 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, ½ cup of baking soda, and a teaspoon of dishwashing soap or laundry detergent. You mix all of this together in a large container.
The combination of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda converts the skunk stench into an odorless chemical. The soap breaks down the oily substance that attaches to items and skin sprayed by a skunk. The breakdown of the oily substance that is part of the skunk spray allows the other chemicals in the concoction to work.
Wearing a pair of rubber gloves, and using a sponge or washcloth, use the mixture to vigorously scrub the skin. Scrum until it foams. Allow the solution to remain on the skin until it stops bubbling, or at least five minutes. By this juncture, the odor will have been remediated. You can enter a building, including your home, without contaminating the air. You need to thoroughly shower off the solution.
You can attempt to wash clothing contaminated with skunk spray. Adding a cup of white vinegar to the laundry detergent normally used in washing your clothes may address the skunk odor. You may need to repeat the process.
Skunk Odor on a Pet
The Human Society of the United States recommends using essentially the same formula to eliminate skunk odor from a pet. You can utilize the same proportions of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to clean a pet. You will want to up the amount of dishwashing detergent or laundry soap contained in the mixture. This is necessary because rather than bare skin, the oily substance emitted by a skunk will permeate a pet’s fur rather than just bare skin. You need to adjust upward the amount of detergent or soap used based on the amount or length of fur of a particular animal.
Make sure that you don rubber gloves and a disposable apron, smock, or other covering to protect yourself and your clothing from the skunk spray chemicals on your pet. These items will need to be thrown away when you finish the job of cleaning up the contaminated pet.
Make certain you rub the solution through a pet’s fur down to the skin. You may also need to leave the solution on a pet for a bit longer than is the care with a human sprayed by a skunk. Again, because of the fur, extra time can be needed for the solution to remediate the odor in the fur.
Skunk Odor in a Building or on Personal Belongings
According to chemists from the University of Nebraska, the same peroxide and baking soda solution can be utilized to remediate skunk odor that has got into a residence or other building and on personal property as well. Immediately after a skunk odor has somehow infiltrated the interior of a building, open all windows and doors and ventilate the space as quickly and as much as possible.
If skunk odor has contaminated hard surfaces in a property, the first step is to wipe off any remaining skunk spray with paper towels or disposable rags. Using either the peroxide and baking soda solution described for humans and pets, or an enzyme-based skunk odor remediation product, saturate the affected area. Allow the solution to dry. If you can still detect skunk odor, repeat the process.
You use the same process to eliminate skunk odor from other types of surfaces as well. This includes furniture items and other personal property. You saturate the contaminated item, let it dry, and then repeat if necessary. Once you believe you’re eradicated the skunk odor, you wipe away any remaining residue, using fresh water as necessary.
Commercial Skunk Odor Removal Products
As mentioned previously, there are skunk odor eliminator spray products that are designed to eradicate skunk odor from people, pets, and property. As was noted earlier in this article, if a person or pet is hit with skunk spray, time really is of the essence and you may not have time to spare to run out and purchase a commercially available skunk odor elimination product. You may have a bit more “breathing room” (no pun intended) to run to the store to obtain a skunk odor remediation product if a building or items in it are contaminated by skunk spray.
You can find skunk odor eradication products for people, pets, buildings, and things are big box stores and similar types or retail outlets. You can also find products designed to remediate skunk odor on pets and pet supply shops.
Professional Skunk Odor Removal Service
If your residence or place of business has been subjected to a skunk “attack,” you should give serious consideration to retaining the services of a professional skunk odor removal specialist. You certainly want to take a course that ensures skunk odor will be thoroughly and quickly eliminated. The last thing you want to have happen is attempting to eliminate skunk odor on your own and end up with a malingering stench. A professional skunk odor removal service has the experience, equipment, materials, and products necessary to eliminate skunk odor in your home or business.
Photo Courtesy of Tambako The Jaguar.