A Quick Guide To Skunk Odor
It is unmistakable and unforgettable, and unbelievably unpleasant: it is skunk odor. If a skunk has ever sprayed you, you know how unpleasant and hard to remove the skunk’s pungent perfume can be.
The smell comes from an oily spray emitted from the skunk’s anal glands, and is composed of strong-smelling chemicals methyl and butyl thiols. This spraying is a defense mechanism.
Avoid Getting Sprayed
Watch out if you spot a skunk ahead on the trail, since they can spray accurately up to fifteen feet. However, they will only spray if they feel truly threatened, since they have a limited supply of their smelly solution. It takes a week or two for the skunk to replenish their signature blend of oils.
If you encounter a skunk, conduct yourself calmly and maintain an unassuming demeanor. If the skunk thinks you are a predator, he will spray. Skunks are more common in neighborhoods than many people realize, so the likelihood of your coming across a skunk, even in a suburban area, is surprisingly high.
There are many species of skunk, but all of them have some sort of striping down their backs. Some are as small as one pound, while others weigh in at nearly twenty. If you don’t know what a skunk looks like, familiarize yourself with them so that you know when you’ve come across one.
Skunks will happily forage through trashcans, so be aware when taking out the garbage – especially after dark. If you startle a skunk that is dining on your dinner scraps, you’re a prime candidate for a serious spraying.
The worst place you can possibly be if you want to avoid being sprayed is a skunk burrow. Skunks are normally quite solitary creatures unless it’s breeding season. However, when the weather is chilly, skunks will sometimes huddle together inside communal burrows for warmth. You don’t want to stumble across one of these skunk dens inadvertently. If you do come upon a skunk burrow, quietly back away. Skunks have incredible senses of hearing and smell, but can barely see so if you don’t draw attention to yourself and try to gain some distance between yourself and the den before you are discovered, you’ll have a good chance of escaping unscathed.
So, You Got Sprayed Anyway
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself victim of a skunk spraying. Act immediately to rid yourself of the smell.
Get out of your clothes and wash them as soon as possible. If skunk odor is left on fabric for too long, it will set in and become impossible to remove. It’s a good idea to use a pretreatment and to soak the garment right away. You can use regular laundry soap, and add an oxygen cleaner or enzyme cleaner if you have one.
Shower immediately and use lots of soap and shampoo. Vinegar and peroxide on the skin can help to dissolve skunk oils, and bathing in baking soda seems to help neutralize the foul-smelling compounds.
For fabric and upholstery, you can use some household cleaners but you may need to seek out a product made specifically for skunk odor.
To clean hard surfaces sprayed by a skunk, mix ten percent bleach with 90 percent water to remove the smell. Just don’t use this mixture on colored fabrics, pets, or skin.
Sometimes skunk odor so effectively permeates something, you have to call in the experts. You might need to take your clothing to a cleaner, or call the carpet-cleaning professionals to treat the floors and fabrics in your home. Your veterinarian can give you a prescription for a de-skunking pet bath if your dog or cat was sprayed.