10 Things to Do if You've Been Skunked

By: the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.  | 
Eastern Spotted Skunk taken in central MN under controlled conditions captive,
Avoid a spray -- stay away. Stan Tekiela Author / Naturalist / Getty Images
Key Takeaways
  • To avoid getting skunked, stay away from skunks, speak softly and stomp your feet to alert them of your presence.
  • If sprayed, immediately flush your face and eyes with water to prevent temporary blindness and neutralize the smell with a peroxide bath.
  • Avoid ineffective remedies like tomato juice and air fresheners, and use specially formulated deodorizing sprays to eliminate the skunk odor.

Skunks have it pretty rough. Their small size makes them prey for scores of large predators. They're scavengers, which means lunch is literally garbage, and many of them end up as roadkill. Read on to learn about how to avoid the path of a disgruntled skunk and what to do if you do tangle with one.


1. Stay Away

The best way to avoid getting skunked is to stay away from them. Skunks only spray when they're threatened, so don't threaten them and you shouldn't have a problem.


2. Speak Softly and Walk with a Big Stomp

If you must approach a skunk, do so with caution. Speak in a low voice and stomp your feet. Skunks have poor vision and often spray in defense because they simply don't know what's going on.


3. Freeze!

Another tactic for avoiding a skunking is to stand perfectly still and wait for the skunk to go away. Passive, but effective.


4. Run . . . or Shut Your Eyes and Hang on Tight

Right before a skunk lets loose its spray of stinkiness, it stomps its feet and turns around, as the spray glands are located near the anus. If you see a skunk doing this little dance, run away or hang on tight, because you're about to get skunked.


5. Flush It Out

If you get sprayed in the face, immediately flush your face and eyes with water. The sulfur-alcohol compound that skunks emit can cause temporary blindness, which could lead to bigger problems.


6. Take It Outside

Now that you've been skunked, anything you come into contact with is going to smell like you do. You smell like skunk, if you hadn't already noticed. So try to stay outside, if at all possible.


7. Skip the V8, Air Freshener, and Lemon Juice

No matter what Grandma said, tomato juice does not take the smell of skunk off of you, your dog, or your clothes. And unless you like "fresh morning dew" skunk, vanilla skunk, or lemony skunk, don't even bother with air fresheners or lemon juice. These products don't eliminate skunk smell, they only make it worse by coating it with another cloying scent.


8. Mix Up a Peroxide Bath

To get rid of the skunk smell, you must neutralize the chemicals in the spray. This home remedy seems to work well on animals or humans: Mix one quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, one teaspoon mild dishwashing detergent, and 1/4 cup baking soda in a bucket. Lather, rinse, repeat.


9. Buy Deodorizing Spray

These special sprays are available at pet stores and some home and garden stores, too. They work well because they're specially formulated to neutralize the intense odor of skunk.


10. Call the Public Health Department or Your Doctor . . .

. . . if you've been bitten. Skunks have been known to carry rabies, even though they rarely resort to biting. The same goes for your pet -- get it to the vet quickly if the skunk did more than spray. Also, notify the public health department within 24 hours.


Helen Davies, Marjorie Dorfman, Mary Fons, Deborah Hawkins, Martin Hintz, Linnea Lundgren, David Priess, Julia Clark Robinson, Paul Seaburn, Heidi Stevens, and Steve Theunissen

Frequently Asked Questions

What should you do if your pet gets sprayed by a skunk?
If your pet gets sprayed, keep it outside to avoid spreading the odor indoors and use a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dishwashing detergent to clean it.
How can you prevent skunks from entering your yard?
To prevent skunks from entering your yard, secure garbage bins, remove pet food and use fencing to block access points.