How to Get Skunk Smell Out of Clothes

When coming into contact with the offensive odor of a skunk’s oily spray, we are often caught in disbelief by it’s intensity and ability to travel from one possession to the next.  Clothing can quickly absorb this stench within it’s fabric fiber and is one of the most challenging items to deodorize.



Fortunately, there are steps to remove a skunks repugnant odor from clothing and help to freshen the fabric.  By following the household remedies outlined below, you can be sure to eliminate any residual skunk spray oil and return your clothing to normal.


Skunked Clothing Principles


1 Wash Skunked Clothing ASAP!

The sooner that you take action to wash and deodorize your clothing the better chance you will have to remove the residual effects of skunk spray.  As a general rule of thumb, try to place the clothing within a deodorizing wash within 1-2 hours from the initial contact.



2 Wash Skunked Clothing with Hot Water

It is always good idea to wash skunked clothing within hot water.  The warm water will work to open and expand the stitching to allow for detergent to make it’s way in to eliminate the odorous skunk oil.  However, always remember to check the maximum water temperature that your clothing will allow before placing through a wash cycle.


Household Solutions for Skunked Clothing


1 Soak in White Vinegar

This household acid works to break apart the skunk spray oil within clothing.   Mix one part white vinegar with five parts warm water and dunk the affected clothing within the formula.  Be sure to work the formula within the clothing fiber for several minutes before leaving it to soak for 2-3 hours.  Once 2-3 hours have passed, place the clothing within a warm wash cycle.  For an added boost, you can add a half cup of baking soda during the beginning of the rinse.


2 Deodorize with Hydrogen Peroxide

This household compound works equally well at breaking down skunk spray oil within clothing, however it is only recommended for white clothing due to bleaching properties within the substance.  Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with six part warm water and dunk the affected clothing within the formula.  After the clothing has soaked for 1-2 hours, remove and place within a washing cycle.  Similarly, you can place a half cup of baking soda within the beginning of wash cycle to provide additional freshness.


3 Tomato Juice – Red & Black Color Exception

The acids within tomato juice work well in breaking down the oils within skunk spray.  However, this solution can have harmful staining effects on all colors of clothing except for red and black.  If the affected clothing is of a black or red color, consider soaking it within a bowl of hot water and tomato juice in equal parts and a teaspoon of dish detergent.


4 Open Windows

Use Solar PowerHanging your clothing outside in direct sunlight will do much remove any residual smell of skunk spray.  The ultraviolet rays, fresh air and open space will all go to work in neutralizing and lifting off any smell of skunk that is left within the clothing fiber.  This solution does much than drying within a conventional dryer, and also works well in combination with some of the home remedies listed above.



Product & Professional Solutions for Skunked Clothing


1 Febreze  Detergent

This is a relatively new detergent developed by Frebreze to directly combat odors within clothing and linens.  In comparison to other detergents, many have found this product to be much more effective at tacklign difficult odors to return freshness within the rinse cycle.  If the above solutions have not been effective at removing skunk spray odor from your clothing, you may want to give this product a go.


2 Enzymes Product Solutions

The active enzymes within the Nature’s Miracle product line work well at eating through difficult animal odors and to freshness. While the majority of their product are aid at tackling dog and cat related odors, the have developed a skunk shampoo for dogs that can be used on clothing fiber.  Draw a large bowl of hot water and mix in 5-6 teaspoons of skunk shampoo.  Repeatedly dunk clothing within the mixture and work the solution within the fiber of the clothing.  Allow for the clothing to soak for 3-4 hours within the solution before place the clothing within a normal detergent wash.


3 Spray Product  Solutions

There are several spray products that work well to mask and eliminate unpleasant odors.  Using Febreze or a stronger spray related product like “Skunk Off” can be helpful to quickly freshen clothing.  This comes in great use for lightly affected clothing that has caught the residual skunk odor from a recently sprayed dog coming into the house.  Simply spray down that clothing and provide 30-45b minute for the clothing fiber to dry before use.


4 Get Professional Help

When the above solutions are not enough to remove the residual effects of skunk spray, consider getting professional help from your dry cleaners.  Though this is a pricey solution, many professional dry cleaners will only make you pay if they can get the smell out of the clothing.  Additionally, this solution works well with clothing items like leather jackets that cannot be placed through a wash cycle.


Skunked Clothing Prevention


1 Keep Your Distance from Skunk

If you happen to spot a skunk, be sure to keep a healthy distance of at least 30 feet (10 yards) and do not do anything to agitate them.  Skunks can spray with accuracy at 10 feet and can still mist your clothing at a distance of 15 feet.  As long as they do not feel threatened they will not resort to using this line of defense.


2 Wash Spray Dog with Old Clothing

Be sure to change into old clothing before approaching your dog to wash and deodorize it’s fur.  Dogs are often covered head to tail in skunk spray, and you should anticipate some of this rubbing off on your clothing.  Although some of your clothing may still get smelly during this process, you can rest easy that it is not an outfit that you care about.


Published by

Joe Fresh

Joe is an odor combatant, chemistry extraordinaire and all around good guy. He has an over-productive olfactory system with absolutely zero tolerance for unpleasant aromas.

2 thoughts on “How to Get Skunk Smell Out of Clothes”

  1. Thank you for your time and expertise. After my dog got sprayed by a skunk he chased down, his blankets in his dog house became affected by this God-forsaken smell. I didn’t want to just toss them in the wash and hope for the best just to find in the end I wasted an hour, a cup of detergent and my brain cells that will surely be consumed by the smell once I do the sniff test after the wash cycle. So again, thank you for your time and post. I surely hope Jake’s blankets can be restored. If I remember, I may update you on my success (I hope). I hope you have a wonderful day! Happy sniffing!!!

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