Summer Encounters with Skunks, or Love Stinks

Don’t spend another dime on store-bought skunk washes for your dogs. Here’s a homemade recipe we’ve been using for years.


Ask Professor Boo is our recurring, positive reinforcement dog training and behavior question and answer column. If you have a question that you would like to ask Professor Boo, please feel free to contact him.

[dropcap]Q[/dropcap]: Professor Boo, being small and black with a white stripe do you find yourself having to deal with unwanted attention from female skunks?

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]: Being the intellectual, female skunks are generally more attracted to my wit and outgoing personality than they are to the in-your-face physicality of my brother, Dante. While I’ll regale them with stories about studying in Paris, Dante will sprint toward them to say “Hi!” and more often than not ends up with a mouth full of skunk spray.

When that happens, we happen to have a homemade Skunk Wash formula that works just as well as any store-bought solution and is made out of ingredients nearly everyone has in their pantry:

Skunk Wash Formula

1 quart of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide

1/2 cup of Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)

1 teaspoon of liquid soap

Mix together to make a shampoo for your furry pal.

Rinse well to remove the shampoo from the fur after vigorously shampooing.

You may need to double or triple this recipe depending on the weight of your dog.

Because I enjoyed answering this question, just for fun I’ll pass along a Professor Boo Fun Fact: In French, the word for shampoo is “shampooing” and is pronounced sham-PWAN.

56 thoughts on “Summer Encounters with Skunks, or Love Stinks”

  1. Absolutely amazing recipe. The abatement is immediate and complete.

    Since dogs get sprayed in the face usually it’s hard to keep out of their eyes. I used 7th Generation fragrance free dish soap and that seems to have mitigated much of the eye irritation.

    My dogs were GRATEFUL to be washed in this stuff and nuzzled the washcloth with their face and seemed to deliberately get it in their eyes.

    I rinsed them both thoroughly in any case but whatever magic it’s doing to neutralize the skunk spray must also neutralize the irritant it is to their eyes and nose.

  2. My beagle had a 4 AM encounter with a skunk when I left her out this morning. Thank God I had the ingredients on hand. It worked great! We are fine now.

  3. The solution worked for me but I read not to get it near eyes and mouth. I used a cloth wetted with apple cider vinegar under his mouth where I was gingerly with the solution & where it seems he got hit hardest then wiped with a cloth wetted with water several times after. Figured anything acidic would cut the oil but know most citruses are really bad for dogs. They shouldn’t even eat tomatoes. However some websites say diluted AC vinegar can be given for digestion. Seems to have helped tremendously. Is there any danger in this method? I didn’t dilute. Wanted full effect. Vets closed. Emergency vet didn’t seem to know anything. Desperate times, desperate measures. Read the noxious smell of skunk can hurt their lungs or make them anemic, have neurological effects in some isolated instances. Wouldn’t have risked it for stink alone, but…

  4. this works absolutely great and I like the addition of coconut oil finish especially for his skin. I will also try the tea tree oil included

  5. STINK SLAYER uses tea tree oil in their product works awesome. doesn’t dry out my pit’s skin. I don’t have to wash the dog just spray him and let him dry. smells like spa smell, a little strong at first but works!!! all the other stuff is a pain in the neck and smells too bad. I hate washing him everytime he is sprayed. which unfortunately is a lot hope this helps

    I got it on amazon

    1. Hi Maya,

      You can use this right away. Some people actually combine the products on the dog, and I think it has a lot to do with the fur texture of the dog. Please let us know how it goes.

  6. Anyone who regales you with stories about how this recipe foams has not used it. Hydrogen peroxide plus baking soda does not foam. Vinegar plus baking soda foams and people are using this memory of childhood volcanos to fabricate their responses. I have used this recipe about 5 times and it works great, sans foam. The only tips I would add is the baking soda tends to settle out so putting the whole mixture into a larger container that you can shake and pour would be handy. Also, I found that I had to get more aggressive in washing my dogs face than I would during a normal bath. Normally I don’t wash my dogs face to keep away from eyes and ears. If your dog still smells after using this mixture, you missed some spots. Finally, this mixture is very unimpressive looking. It’s thin and does not lather. Trust the recipe, work it everywhere there is skunk spray and you will be in good shape.

    1. Did you add the dish soap? That’s what foams (people are not imagining it or lying to you) – the soap is necessary to cut through the greasy skunk spray.

    2. I just did this, used dawn. No foam. Not even many bubbles after stirring. Unless you were to shake it up super vigorously maybe, but people seem to be talking about foam foam, like an exothermic reaction which does not happen here at all. My dog is so relieved by the way, first bath she has ever enjoyed and appreciated. She’s now sleeping soundly, it’s adorable.

  7. We have four Border Collies of various ages and levels of prey drive, and we have many skunks in our rural area. When we pick blackberries in the summertime, we can hear litters of skunk kittens wrestling and mewing at each other deep in the blackberry thickets, only 3 feet away as we pick berries. But we might as well be separated by barbed wire. We keep generous supplies of the three main ingredients — bottles of peroxide, Dawn, and boxes of baking soda — in a special cupboard in the laundry room. We have a dedicated tie-out rope hung in a special spot in the garage, and we have hot water hook up in the garage for a hose that extends into the yard. Some years, the bottles may sit on the shelf for a year or two, and other years we’ll need to re-supply several times in a summer. In addition to suggestions here, I have read about rinsing with white vinegar after you’re done. And, no one has mentioned that soaking in the mixture for about five minutes is good, whereas six or seven minutes is NOT better. Our dogs just got sprayed on Christmas Eve, in between dinner and dessert for the humans, 35 degree weather outside. Grateful for a powerful canine blow dryer!

    1. Hi Mary,

      Sounds like an eventful holiday. Very happy the solution works time and time again for you guys. And, great extra suggestions of having the special cupboard already set up and the outside hot water tap set up for “skunkins.”

      Yes, some folks have reported soaking a little bit helps, but it seems to depend on the fur length of the dog, good to know that even more is not better.

      Hoping the new year does not bring another skunkin’!

    2. Oh no!!! Its days before Thanksgiving n both of my large dogs got a face full last night! Researching what will work best as we type!

    3. Our little Sophie Border Collie just won’t learn. Sprayed with direct hits time after time.
      Day after day.
      I love seeing the little baby skunks skittering around with Mama, so am hoping to live peaceably with them.
      I’m off this very moment to try out this concoction. Wish me luck!

    4. The dosages of ingredients looks like not enough. I have Berenice Mountian dog 70 LBS, should I tripple this dosageand soaking time, also if dog stayed with this smell for a little bit , 3 times will be enough or I have to repeat it couple more times? Please help with advice. Thank you

      1. Hi Mary,
        Try the dosage first time and see how it goes. It’s unlikely that your dog will ingest any of this, but just in case, because of the hydrogen peroxide, I’d do one round, then increase the ingredients if the first didn’t work well enough and you know he wasn’t drinking or licking the wash. Good luck!

      2. I just used this recipe on our 35-lb. No-Idea-What-He-Is pup who rolled in who-knows-what (something dead, I suspect 🙁 ), and he has mostly wiry fur (think Wirehaired Doxie) on the top half, with a smooth coat on his bottom half. I used a full quart of peroxide, and honestly, I could have gotten away with half as much for his size.

  8. My one year lab/retriever mix just got sprayed 6am this morning. Took a trip to Walmart,got supplies. Started with 2 washes with tomato sauce then did the mixture her face still smells a little bit and now I’m going to rub coconut oil on her face. She should be good as new. We also must have a family of skunks because our yard is full full of holes from them digging. My husband just put ammonia rags up around our yard perimeter. Good luck everyone

  9. This is the best remedy I’ve ever used. (Tomato juice is almost useless.) It may be necessary to repeat the bath a time or two. Unless the spray was very light I think it’s usual for a diminishing skunk odor to linger for a couple of weeks, but this remedy seems to hasten the process.

    1. Use the formula as directed. The hydrogen peroxide and baking soda will neutralize the smell, even hours after your dog gets sprayed. Be sure to rub in the formula well. Rinse well and then shampoo with regular dog shampoo.

  10. Why is this working for every dog but my dog it seems. On our second bath in a week and we still
    Smell like a skunk here ? Can someone help me my dog still smells

    1. Probably your dog got the super close-up dose of skunk spray. Sometimes dogs don’t get directly hit and sometimes skunks hold back on dishing out the full stench attack. The hydrogen peroxide and baking soda work together to neutralize the skunk “thiols,” the chemicals responsible for the stink odor.

      All I can suggest is that you put the formula together and give your dog another good rub down with it. Rinse well. Then shampoo afterwards with your regular dog shampoo.

    2. Hi Erica, It may be that the skunk spray got into facial folds around the eyes, in the mouth, in the nose and even in the ears. My dog Dante would always get a face-full. And, although we could get the stink off of his body and head, he continued to have some skunky order in his ears and around his eyes. He was the skunk proctologist referred to above. And, if you find you need to repeat the process, I did like Greg’s addition of the coconut oil both to reduce the smell and to condition the skin. Good luck!

    3. Mine too I’ve done this 3 times I don’t know what else to do it’s worked on my dogs before but this was the worst case I’ve ever had I even had to take him to the vet he was so sick from it.

      1. Hi Tiffany,

        So sorry to hear this. Hope you and your dog are recovering. Sometimes if they get sprayed in eyes, nostrils, or mouth dogs can have a bigger reaction to the skunk spray. And, of course the wash won’t help when the skunk spray gets into these parts. Hope the vet was able to help.

      2. Hi ! My frenchie just got sprayed in the face so bad . We washed him a few times with the hydrogen, baking and dawn. We ran out tho. Also very careful about getting it in his face . He has been throwing up and could barely open his eyes from it, he’s doing better now. Still smells horrible. I called my vet they said bring him if his breathing is off. How did you know your dog had to see vet ?

    4. Here’s one idea that might make a difference — Make sure your hydrogen peroxide is 3% (not 2%), and make sure it is fresh.

      Also, be aware that you may need to do the rinse/repeat routine if you still smell a lot of eau de Pepe le Pew after the first application.

    5. We did three washes the first and second day and three more over a week because it seems to reoccur when she got wet but after the six baths we have had no problem until she found the skunk last night again.

      1. Yep our dog did the same thing. The house was starting to smell better and our dog was almost back to a normal odor, when she found the spot where the skunk sprayed and went back for more…

    6. check their collar. I kept thinking it was on my dog but it was on his collar which i didnt wash just removed when I bathed him and put back on.

  11. Yes again, a 2:30am skunk spray right into the eyes and ear. Found all these ingredients at the Walmart but needed to find the correct one that was open all night. First, this is a large dog, 75 pds so made a quadruplet amount. It lathered up really well and took away most of the smell. After we finished combing out the shepherds fur we doused his face with a peppermint Biotene for dry mouth,(no eyes touched) wallah!! Now we are going back to bed for a long nap!

    1. Hi Cathy,

      Glad everything worked out. I was worried about the ingredients in Biotin – and it is not something to use with dogs. the ingredients are Purified Water, Glycerin, Xylitol, Sorbitol, Propylene Glycol, Poloxamer 407, Sodium Benzoate,Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Flavor, Sodium Phosphate, Disodium Phosphate.

      The Xylitol is fatal for dogs. Be very careful when giving dogs any human prepared foods, xylitol is now even showing up in some peanut butters.

      Hope all is good!

  12. Here I was at 2:30 de-skunking puppy. . .and it worked. I had quickly grabbed him, snapped on his leash, and tethered him to the back porch while I filled his bath. CARRIED him to the tub. Put in the Dawn, soda and peroxide(and I only had less than a cup of the latter). Took a pitcher and started pouring the mixture over and over him, head and all. After about 5 minutes, rinsed thoroughly. Then, made a new tub of soapy water with an orange oil flea shampoo I have, soaped him up again, head and all, then rinsed thoroughly and used a conditioner (Knotty Dog) and rinsed again. He smells sweet and totally clean! And there’s no skunk smell in my house! Thank you!

  13. Used this right away, removed most of the smell. Next day I did it a second time and substituted coconut oil for the soap. Much better, the coconut oil seems to break down the skunk oil. After rinsing I rubbed pure coconut oil into the fur where he was sprayed in the face and muzzle and around the eyes and left it in. The aroma is still slightly skunk but mostly coconut, big improvement, highly reccomend this.

    1. @Lucie – a quart is a quarter of a gallon, or 2 pints, or 4 cups, or 32 (liquid) ounces, or 946 ml.

    1. You cannot store it. The reaction between hydrogen peroxide and baking soda creates gas which expands and creates pressure. There is a reason it’s not available ready made commercially. So DO NOT STORE THIS MIXTURE, because bad things will happen.

      1. Thanks Kathy,

        Good point – I would not have thought about storing it. It makes complete sense that the HP and BKsoda would react if contained. Isn’t that how kids make volcanos for science class?

  14. This works better than anything I’ve ever used. The combination of Dawn (which dissipates the oil in the skunk spray) and baking soda was wonderful. I tripled the recipe for my German Shepherd and she did really well with the mix. Thank you, will pass along this recipe.

  15. wow.. it worked. I didnt have baking soda and it still worked! Amazing. I will try to get some baking soda for next time. lol

  16. Just a thought. I’m going to use your recipe, also suggested by the Humane society, though they said dish soap, and a shampoo after, but have it ready before the skunking. How? The balloon blow up method. Put the hydrogen peroxide in a bottle with the soap. Attach a ballon containing the baking soda to the top of the bottle. Leave the balloon hanging at the side of the bottle. When you need it, lift the ballon to dump the baking soda into the liquid in the bottle. The chemical reaction will start immediately, so pull off the balloon and pour the soap concoction on your dog. I THINK this might work and allow us to be ready without running around looking for the items we need at the last moment.

  17. This is, also, the recipe for kids to use when making “volcanoes.” Add in dye for color. You can also blow up a balloon, make a mini fire extinguisher, etc. But, I would like to have something on hand when I need it. My GSD’s would always rub themselves on my walls and furniture while waiting for me to get things ready for their bath. I’d like a ready to use variety, if possible. But, thank you.

    1. Hi Susan, hopefully you won’t need to do this again, but if you do – remember some Vaseline over your dog’s closed eyes will help keep out any soap, etc. It will wipe right off after the de-skunking. that said, even with the Vaseline, I keep my hand over their eyes. And, if your dog was like mine, (skunk proctologist) there will be some remaining scent in the face area that washing just can’t get to easily.

    1. Just finished up, one more option is to immediatly cut the fir off in the area they were hit. especially if yo are lucky enough to have a breed with longer hair, get their off before because of the risk migrating the oils even worse. going into spring a good hair cut was in order anyway.

      1. My dog got skunked this morning!! I’ve been through this before, this recipe does work, but I am trying to get him into the groomer!

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