How to Wash a Skunked Dog

Dogs are curious creatures by nature. They like to chase squirrels and cats and foxes and birds… and skunks.

In order to get rid of skunk odor, and to avoid transferring it to yourself in the process, you will need the following:

  • One skunky dog
  • One quart hydrogen peroxide
  • One-fourth cup baking soda
  • One tablespoon of liquid dish soap, such as Dawn (make sure to use hand dish soap, not the kind you put in the dishwasher)
  • A bottle of the dog shampoo you typically use
  • Old clothing and gloves (for you to wear)

As soon as you realize your dog has been sprayed by a skunk, you want to wash him as soon as possible so that the oil doesn’t have a chance to dry.

If he’s outside, do not let him in the house if possible. Once you’ve finished deskunking the dog, you don’t want to have to repeat the procedure on your carpeting and furniture. If you must bring him inside, or it’s already too late, sprint to the bathtub as fast as humanly possible with your dog in tow.

Be certain to put on old clothing before handling your dog, as the skunk’s oil may be transferred to you and can be difficult if not impossible to remove from the fibers later. Also wear gloves to prevent any skin irritation.

Prepare the Wash

The old wives tale is that the best odor remover for skunk spray is tomato juice. But you can actually make a much more effective deodorant solution yourself. Take the peroxide, baking soda and dish soap and mix them together in a bowl or bucket. If your dog is large or has long hair, you can always double the recipe. Don’t be alarmed when the mixture bubbles up. That’s just the peroxide reacting with the baking soda, like the volcano kids always make at the science fair. It will actually help to neutralize the smell.

However, due to this reaction, you will have to use this mixture immediately after you mix it. Do not wait – and don’t seal it away in a container, for obvious reasons.

The Cleaning Process

Lather the dog

With your dog in the tub or a secure outdoor area, speak calmly and positively to him as you wet his fur and then lather him up with the soap mixture. Wash his entire coat, but if you know of the area on his body where he was sprayed, pay special attention to that area.

Use caution around your dog’s eyes, nose and mouth. Make sure none of the mixture makes its way in to these areas. If you’re worried, you can wash his face with a washcloth. Also, do not let your dog lick the solution off of his fur.

Rinse him off

Rinse your dog with water that is room temperature. Make sure that you get all of the soap mixture out of his fur, or it may irritate his skin in the future.

Repeat if needed

Does he smell better yet? If not, you’ll have to mix some more soap solution and wash him again. It may take a couple tries, especially if his coat had time to dry between now and the time he was sprayed. You can also try letting the solution sit on his coat for a couple minutes before you wash him. Be sure to mix a new batch of solution before each washing. It loses its effectiveness quickly if left to sit out.

Wash him with his regular shampoo

If you’ve been washing him outside, it’s okay to move to the bathroom if that’s easier for you and he no longer smells, but it’s important to wash him again with his regular shampoo so that his hair and skin are conditioned. Plus, then he won’t smell like dish detergent. Then, rinse and dry him as normal. See how to wash your dog for more information.

Other things to try

If you need to wash your dog right away and you don’t have all of the ingredients necessary to make the soap mixture, there are a couple other things you can try.

  • Oranges– Make a soap solution by mixing the dish soap with pureed oranges. (Put five to ten of the fruits in the blender with the peels still on and blend on high to make the puree.) This soap should sit on the dog’s coat for about ten minutes in order to work well.
  • Soda – Most likely you’ll have some sort of carbonated beverage in the house. The air bubbles in the soda can be used to mimic the reaction of the baking soda/peroxide mixture. Wash your dog with a bottle or two of any type, depending on his size. Make sure you wash him again with his normal shampoo or your next task may be removing the ants.
  • Store-bought skunk odor removers – Most pet supply stores sell shampoos specifically for the removal of skunk oil and odor. It may be wise to keep a bottle or two on hand, especially if your dog is particularly friendly with polecats.

There’s no way to really prevent your dog from getting sprayed by a skunk, besides keeping him cooped up in the house 24 hours a day. Since that would drive both you and your dog crazy, it’s better to just keep the cleaning and deodorizing products you’ll need handy.


  1. Walter says:

    The last time our St. Bernard found a skunk, we threw away the “skunk-off” stuff and went to Simple Green. It worked very well. Not knowing the length of “sudsy” time or skin issues, we dove in and washed and soaked for ~30 min. During the bath time, the topic of conversation was how long and what if she has a skin reaction… Well, it turned out fine. After drying, there was a slight smell of skunk, but I think that was from me making contact before the bath. Give it a try. We used it full strength.

  2. B.J. Fleming says:

    When my son was a little boy, he decided he wanted to play with a cute little skunk. Well, of course the critter sprayed him good and my son came running home to Momma. I stripped him down (outdoors, of course) and washed him all over with plain old tomato juice. That’s how you get rid of the skunk smell, folks! The clothes? Well, they were history.

  3. K.G. says:

    Our dog got skunked a while back, and we used the baking soda, peroxide, and dish detergent. The tomato juice just doesn’t cut it on the dog fur. Before washing her we also soaked her down in mint mouthwash, another tip we found online, and you let that sit for about 30 min., then do the mixture mentioned above and there was no more skunk smell!

  4. Mary says:

    We have had a skunk problem this year in our back yard. We live in a city subdivision, but there are some woods around in the area. Both of our dogs have been sprayed. The first time our rat terrier was sprayed, we didn’t realize it, but she smelled bad. She was just bathed with dog shampoo and that got rid of most of it. Then our neighbor told us about their beagle being sprayed and she found the peroxide remedy. I soon remembered to get a big bottle of peroxide to have on hand to use for cleaning, there are many uses for it as well. Soon, our mixed breed terrier got sprayed and I happened to see it happen so out came the peroxide, baking soda, shampoo/dish soap and we set to work on him. The only part of him that had a lingering skunk smell was his nose but it was not really bad. We did let him in the house and we got the skunk smell in the house for a few days. Again last night at 11:30, I let the rat terrier out as she kept letting me know she needed to go out. Well, she was running around the yard like she was in pursuit of something, but I did not realize what she saw. When She finally came in I realized she had been sprayed again. I got the peroxide remedy together and gave her a bath. It seemed to take care of the smell right away. The smell that we get in the air is not the same smell that is on the dogs when they are sprayed. I did read about another remedy, which is to bathe with apple cider vinegar. I have a bottle of that on hand as well.

  5. Suzanne says:

    One of our huskies in particular, often came home reeking of skunk. I always kept several large boxes of baking soda on hand for that reason. Outside, I’d literally dump the baking soda all over and would then leave him for about 1 hour before brushing out his fur. Most of the smell would have been absorbed and neutralized by the baking soda. Repeat if necessary; this time you can get close enough to rub some of the baking soda in his fur. Leave for awhile and then brush out again.

  6. John says:

    I’ve had two dogs sprayed by skunks. The first attempt was a disaster – multiple attempts at cleaning/deodorizing before the smell was removed. While I was doing this, my wife had to go to work and unfortunately brought along a bit of the odor with her. A co-worker has a spouse that was a veterinarian and it was suggested that we use feminine hygiene product – douche. Of course, the next time the dog “got it,” I went to the store and purchase a bottle of concentrated product (along with assorted snickers and stares). I mixed up enough to make approximately one gallon and sponged it on the dog, allowing it to soak for several minutes. Worked like a dream!! No smell whatsoever and a soft coat as well.

  7. Daniel says:

    I’ve used the baking-soda-peroxide solution several times; it’s not perfect because my dog gets sprayed right in the licker and I have to keep the stuff out of her eyes. Clean the stink up FAST, don’t let it cure.

  8. Margaret108 says:

    I used the hydrogen peroxide mixture on our dog when he got “skunked” and it worked very well. It was quick and easy to prepare and caused no skin problems.

  9. Cortni says:

    Last night my big dog got skunked in the face. All the hydrogen peroxide in my house had lost its bubbles (old) and so we wound up using about half as much cider vinegar with water, baking soda and some liquid hand soap. This seemed to work well enough.

  10. Jordan says:

    I have two small white dogs. I wash them often with white dog shampoo, but they are always stained from dirt/mud/and rolling in other dogs’ urine and poop. What can I use to get my dogs’ white fur clean and stain-free again?

  11. Holli says:

    Is it okay if a dog gets skunked in the face?

  12. Cindy says:

    I have worked as a professional dog groomer for years and have seen this forever; we use douche to rinse the dog in and it works like a charm.

  13. Martha says:

    I rescued a skunk that my two dogs had attacked. My beagle got the direct hit in the chest, but we all got “skunked.” Then, being me, I rushed the dogs inside the house before they could go after the skunk again-NOT a good idea. I have bathed all three of us in the peroxide, soda, soap recipe, vinegar, tomato juice and plain dish soap. I’ve also cleaned walls, floors, furniture, rugs, dog beds, my bed with the peroxide recipe, vinegar, Oxy-Clean, ammonia and Greased Lightning-not all at the same time. We all still smell like skunk and we’re all exhausted. HELP!

  14. Barbara says:

    Many years ago we would use tomato juice to cut the skunk smell on a dog, kid or clothes. It requires quite a bit of tomato juice but it works.

  15. JR says:

    Over the years I’ve tried many different home remedies and “bought” products, but have found that using Off Insect Repellent neutralizes the skunk smell better than anything else, including organic neutralizers used for kennel smells.

    P.S. Tomato juice does practically nothing.

  16. Bill says:

    My shepherd had a hatred for skunks. I have found that tomato juice works only if you leave it on for an hour or more, then follow up with a Herbal Essences type shampoo.

    In lieu of tomato juice, Real Lemon concentrate works great.

  17. Nancy says:

    My cairn terrier, Thatcher, was outside at 11:00 p.m. I went to bring him in and smelled skunk. He came flying in the door, ran all around the house, threw up in three places, then pooped in the bedroom. Then he hid under the bed. I hurried over to the computer to seek help. I mixed peroxide, baking soda and detergent. Down to the basement tub we went. My peroxide was very old and no foaming occurred. I’ll find out tomorrow if it works. My house still stinks. I went outside with a flashlight and found a skunk in the window well. Now I need to find out how to rid my yard of skunks.

  18. Cyn says:

    It was 3:30 a.m., I was up to study for a final. Let my vizsla hunting dog out for a morning run. Reached for my first cup of coffee … when I heard the barking yelp. GREAT.

    Opening the back door, there was no question what happened. Good thing he had his reflector coat on, which took most the brunt. But NO tomato juice! I am so not awake for this. I reached out for another solution. Thanks for the Dawn/baking soda/peroxide tip. This is tough because, of course, they always get skunk in the snout and eyes. I flushed those areas good. It is then doable to keep those areas protected from solution.

    I finished with a conditioning dog/horse shampoo and set him up by the wood stove to dry. Wish I could de-skunk the backyard with that solution! Now, back to my studies without too too much delay.

  19. She ski says:

    Gloves? Seriously? Shortly after midnight tonight, I let my dog out the front door on a tie to “go potty for nite nite”, and minutes later there is an odd odor. I didn’t recognize it as skunk at first, so when I went out to get my dog and found her lead tangled around the porch, I just started to untangle her then it hit me really hard.

    The smell was so bad my eyes watered and when I looked at her sitting there with a stupid corgi smile on her face, half that face was soaked in skunk. I happened to have two quart bottles of peroxide on hand, but the first one I mixed up did not foam with the baking soda, so my soda must have been too old, but I put it on her. The second mixture (out of desperation) I used baking powder, because it has baking soda in it, that one foamed up good, but a few minutes after I put it on her my hands started to sting and I rinsed her off then used her shampoo out there (still in yard). After that we came in and she got a real warm bath.

    At every step of the way, as soon as I put each mixture or bit of water on her , she shook it all over me. I recommend a wet suit or hazmat gear with full face shield. Gloves are worthless with a dog who shares her baths. And I think we both smell like clean skunks, but it was a long day and my nose is burned out, so I am off to bed.

  20. Mario says:

    My Lab just got sprayed. He took off in the dark after something and came back and laid down on the lawn. Then I got the smell; it was a strong smell, not like a skunk at first, but ammonia-type, very pungent, and then a milder skunk smell kicked in. I took him in the yard and soaked him with 1/2 gallon of vinegar and then oatmeal shampoo. Before he dried, I washed him again and the smell is almost gone. I used a towel with vinegar around his face, using caution around his eyes and nose. I am amazed the scent is almost all gone, having taken care of it right away and having a chemical like vinegar to help. What a way to end a long and stressful day. The dog is mellow now, thank God!

  21. Tamson says:

    This may already have been noted, but the chemist, Paul Krebaum, who came up with the peroxide/baking soda/detergent combination, dictates one teaspoon of detergent, not one tablespoon. May make no difference, but thought I’d comment. Thanks!

  22. Michele says:

    My dog got sprayed tonight and I used 1/4 cup Tide with Downy in a half gallon water jug and put it on him BEFORE I got him wet. He is a poodle, so he has hair and not fur, but I can barely smell anything now. YEA! He is going to the groomers to get all of it cut off on Monday for his summer cut so I hope that will be the end of it. What a disaster!

  23. Carol says:

    This is the first time EVER my dog got skunked–she is my fourth dog since I’ve lived in the country–22 years!!! I used the peroxide/dish detergent/baking soda solution and it seemed to work well. I did get her washed in it and bathed with shampoo within 15 minutes of being sprayed. We’ll see in the morning if I have to do it all again!!!

  24. Sarah says:

    A douche works. Only thing I ever found to work.

  25. Marcie says:

    I read all these comments and I am stymied. Our dog was skunked and got back into the house before we knew it. We washed him twice with the mixture mentioned here and it did not get rid of the smell. We also bought commercial skunk cleaner and shampooed the carpet with it and that didn’t get rid of the smell either. My brother stopped by to visit about six weeks later and I told him what had happened, he chuckled and said he knew because he could still smell it. The only thing that worked for us was time. My husband also went to work the next day and had to come home because even though he wasn’t sprayed, he still smelled of skunk as well. Nasty stuff, it’s an oil and just doesn’t come off.

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