My heart goes out to anyone who has had the misfortune of finding themselves at the wrong end of a threatened skunk – literally. Or whose dog has run doughnuts around their house after being sprayed, thus rendering any piece of clothing or, in my case, backpack, skunked. (That was a tough day as a high school junior.)
But we all know the age-old solution for ridding ourselves of a skunk’s wrath, right? Tomato juice. As in, hopping in a bathtub and rinsing your body, head to toe, in tomato products. But why is this option, inconvenient at best and repulsive at most, the only way?!
I’m glad to report that…it’s not.
Turns out, tomato juice or tomato-based products don’t remove the smell – they just mask it. What you want to do is oxidize the musk, neutralizing the odors found in its compounds, called thiols.
Skunk spray can reach a distance of up to three feet and dissipates quickly, meaning that it covers some decent ground, and fast. What’s worse is that the spray contains thioacetates, which are organosulfur compounds whose smell can be “activated” with contact with water or humidity even days after the spray lands. In order to rid yourself of this unfortunate event, you have to act fast, too.
Though it might sound counterproductive, given the thioacetates, a shower is actually your best first move. Suds up with a deodorant soap or even dish detergent (made to cut grease), and use a shampoo designed for oily hair. You can also soak in a baking soda bath (two to four cups’ worth) for 20 minutes. The same goes for your pets: A combination of dish soap, baking soda and hot water, plus a healthy dose of hydrogen peroxide, will yield the best results. Follow with their regular shampoo.
The baking soda will be your friend when washing skunk spray out of clothes or furniture, too.
So, drop the Bloody Mary mix. It won’t do you no good.