When your house smells like a skunk, it can be one of the most unpleasant things in the world. Skunks have a powerful spray that can be aimed at anything within a five-yard radius and can be smelled from a mile away at times.

This not only stinks horribly, but the particles of it can soak into things that are not even close to it, especially stuff like fur, fabric, and carpets. This smell can stick around for a long time.

If you live less than a mile from a skunk when it happens to spray, this smell can quickly get into your house. Depending on how close you live, this smell can be tough to get out of your home, especially if you had any doors or windows open when it happened.

What to do about skunk spray

Start with airing out your house for several hours by opening all the windows and having fans going is all that is needed. However, make sure that you turn off your central air as quickly as possible. If your central air turns on before the smell is gone, then the odor may get on the air filters and will cling to them. If this happens, you will definitely need to replace them.

If airing out your house and replacing the air conditioning filters does not work, then it is time to get out your vinegar. Close up your home again and boil some vinegar in an open pot on the stovetop for a few hours with fans still going. This will make your house smell like vinegar, but the vinegar smell will neutralize the skunk smell and then will gradually subside.

If this seems to help but is not quite enough to completely get rid of the smell then, using a mix that is three parts water to one part of vinegar, spray and wipe down all your walls and hard floors. Carpets can be sprayed with straight vinegar and then washed with a carpet cleaner once or twice.

The three most important things to consider when dealing with skunk spray are time, circulation, and sunlight. It is essential to catch the smell as soon as possible before it has had time to soak in.

You want air to be circulating as much as possible so that the particles of the odor do not settle in as quickly. And, lastly, you need to keep in mind that sunlight can also be useful when drying a pet or piece of clothing to help neutralize the smell.

Skunk spray on pets and other things

On the other hand, if it is your pet that has been sprayed by a skunk and brought the smell into your home then make a mix of 4 cups of peroxide, ½-1 cup of baking soda, and a couple of tablespoons of dish soap.

Wash your pet in this at least once or twice until the smell is mostly gone. Then change clothes – since odds are, when washing your pet, you got some of the scent on yourself – and wash your pet one last time along with the clothes that have the smell.

For when the odor gets on clothing, rugs, dog beds, or anything of that nature, spray it with vinegar and let it dry outside in the sun. You can also buy commercial skunk odor removers for anything home or pet related. These tend to be more expensive than home remedies, but they do tend to work faster and do a more thorough job on awful skunk smells.

Sometimes when your home is above the ground, a skunk can make its home underneath. When this happens, the result is often a strong skunk smell penetrating to the inside of your home. For this, you can either call animal control to catch the skunk or repel the skunks by putting mothballs under your home.

What smells like skunk but isn’t skunk

When dealing with a persistent smell, the first step should be to determine what is causing it so that you can know what it is best to do next.

When the smell seems to come from a dog bed, consider that the dog may have run into a skunk.

Another possibility is that a skunk-like smell can come from the dog themselves. All dogs have scent glands that identify them, which is why dogs sniff each other. Sometimes this gland can itch and to relieve this they will scoot their bottom on the floor. When they do this, it can result in a skunk-like smell on your carpet.

If you use propane gas in your home for heating or cooking, you should try to determine if that is what you smell. Propane itself does not have a smell so, for safety reasons, a scent is added to it to help alert you to it. This smell can sometimes smell like skunk.

Another option that might be the cause of a skunk-like smell can even be ants. Ants can get into your walls and even your floors and build their nests into them. Some kinds of ants grow a fungus as part of their food, and this can be strong enough to stink up that whole part of your house if there are enough of them in your walls.

Finally, one option that you probably don’t want to think about is a dead mouse or another animal. Sometimes after eating a poison, a rat or mouse will die in the walls or under the floor. As it starts to decay the smell will be very unpleasant.

Urine or animal droppings can sometimes also smell as though something is dead and rotting, so this might be a possibility as well.

How to determine where the skunk smell is coming from

The first step you need to do when figuring out what you are smelling is to figure out where the odor is coming from.

So, instead of asking yourself, “Why does my house smell like skunk ?” you should instead ask yourself, “Did this smell come all of a sudden where you just woke up and your house smells like skunk or did it happen more gradually over the course of a few days ?

Next, close every door in the house after spraying air freshener in each room and keep all the doors closed for several hours if possible. Then go into each room and see if it is only one room that smells foul or if it is an area with a few rooms.

If the smell seems to be something that gradually got worse, and it is mostly around a particular area of the floor or wall, it is most likely to be the dead rodent.

However, if it seems to be coming from a specific area of the carpet itself, and if you happen to catch your dog scooting across it, then this is the more likely explanation.

When the smell seems to come from the floor of more than one room, then the chances are that it is something underneath the house. Check underneath for any signs of dead animals, or a pile of their droppings that might be causing the smell.

One the other hand, if you can see signs of ants and the scent is mostly focused around a wall that is connected to the outside of your house, then you might have found your culprit.

Ways to get rid of that skunk smell

Sometimes your dog can come into contact with a skunk outside. When this happens to your dog, take it to the vet and clean the carpet and anything else that may smell using a commercial cleaner.

If it is your dog itself that is making the smell, take him to the vet to see if it is something that can be remedied.

If the smell is something that you did not notice before you left home and also smells a little like gas, you should immediately call your propane gas company. Turn off your gas, open your windows to allow air in, and wait outside your house if possible until they can verify if it is or is not the gas and can fix it for you.

What if it is a dead rat?

When you can pinpoint the skunky smell in your house to a particular wall or a floor, then you will need to open up that area to get at the spot. If you find that there is indeed a dead rodent there, put on a face mask and thick rubber gloves before touching anything near it.

Doing this will help keep you protected from any potential diseases that might have caused the rodent to die in the first place.

Place the dead animal in a thick plastic bag or two and tightly knot the top so that no air can escape and throw it away in a securely sealed trash can. Spray the area that the dead body was at with deodorizer and then scrub it thoroughly with after first sprinkling baking soda and spraying it with vinegar.

Lastly, set a fan to blow on the area until it is dry. You may need to scrub the area more than once if the smell persists. If you do not wish to remove the carcass yourself or if you cannot get to the area of floor or wall it is in; then you will need to pay someone to pull apart the wall in that spot to remove the dead rodent.

To prevent this from happening again, use traps instead of poison and check the traps regularly. If it is underneath the house, seal up all holes and have one access point where you set traps frequently.

Sarah Byrd

Sarah Byrd has written about gardening for both online and print publications. She completed two writing courses at Pierpont Community and Technical College.
Sarah Byrd
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