Skunk Problems

I would have anticipated skunk problems at the lake but not at our home. Towards the end of the week I stepped into my garage and thought I picked up the faint smell of skunk.  I soon discovered other signs that a skunk had taken up residence in the garage. I expected it was because I had left the garage door open late the night before.  Thus I hoped leaving it open the next day would encourage him to leave.

We left for the lake the next day assuming that the skunk problem was gone.

We arrived home Sunday finding the garage in shambles.  Almost everything soft enough to chew had bites out of it. Fluffy (the skunk) seemed to be especially fond of styrofoam. I did a quick scan of the garage and concluded Fluffy had made a run for it when we opened the garage. I started hauling stuff into the house while Gail started cleaning up the garage. Within a few minutes a panic scream came from the garage.  Gail had found Fluffy.  She quickly described where he was and ran off.  I didn’t think her eyes could get so big! With the garage door open I didn’t think it would take much of a probe to convince Fluffy that things would be better for him outside.  Within a few minutes I had the garage reeking of skunk and he had tested 6 or 7 hiding spots.  Fluffy was not interested in going outside  Now the smell was wafting into the house.; ahhhh!!!

It looks like I need a trap ($53.25 at the hardware store) & we were ready to go. Set the trap, closed the garage door & waited an hour – nothing.  We needed to go out & came back about dark and nothing. I was starting to think his diet of styrofoam and fibreglas had done him in and I would be dealing with a dead skunk in the garage.

The morning delivered me my garage again in a shambles but with an apparently healthy skunk in the trap.

I threw a blanket over the trap, drove a few miles away and released him

I thought a little internet research might help for the next time I meet a skunk.


Here is what I found.

To neutralize or deodorize skunk spray, the chemicals in the secretion must be changed to a different type of molecule. Tomato juice does not work (see below for an explanation).

For pets that have been sprayed, bathe the animal in a mixture of 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (from drug store), 1/4 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and a teaspoon of liquid detergent. After 5 minutes rinse the animal with water. Repeat if necessary. The mixture must be used after mixing and will not work if it is stored for any length of time. DO NOT STORE IN A CLOSED CONTAINER – it releases oxygen gas so it could break the container. This mixture may bleach the pet’s hair. I have heard of one black Labrador retriever that was chocolate colored after this treatment. (Paul Krebaum’s Recipe from Chemical & E ngineering News , October 18, 1993, p. 90).

Some additional tips. Do this outside so the volatile skunk spray does not contaminate your house. To remove residual skunk odor from your clothes and any towels or rags used in this clean up procedure, wash them with one cup of liquid laundry bleach per gallon of water.

For buildings, decks, etc., a solution of liquid laundry (Chlorox®) bleach (1 cup per gallon) will work. CAUTION – THIS MAY BLEACH THE BUILDINGS, DECKS, ETC. Try it on a small area if bleaching may be a problem. The bleach must come in contact with the spot where the secretion was sprayed Repeated applications may be necessary for large amounts of the skunk spray. DO NOT USE THIS ON PETS. It will not work for skunk spray that has drifted over a large area or is trapped in a house. Only time and adequate ventilation will help in this case.

Why tomato juice is believed to eliminate skunk odor. Bathing an animal in tomato juice seems to work because at high doses of skunk spray the human nose quits smelling the odor (olfactory fatigue). When this happens, the odor of tomato juice can easily be detected. A person suffering olfactory fatigue to skunk spray will swear that the skunk odor is gone and was neutralized by the tomato juice. Another person coming on the scene at this point will readily confirm that the skunk spray has not been neutralized by the tomato juice.