Have a Plan in Place, Because the Skunk Always Wins
There are certain things in life that may never happen to you… but if they did, you’d be glad to have a $3 action plan in place. Two weeks ago, I’d have said “Hmm, I should do that someday.” Now that I’m a “veteran,” LET ME ASSURE YOU:
Skunks don’t ask if you’re ready for them. They shoot first, ask questions later.
If this is your first visit, our pom was at the receiving end of a skunk encounter. The last several days have been focused on remediation… house and dog.
HAVE A PLAN IN PLACE
Turns out: not very.
After this experience, I will forever keep a $3 “skunk emergency kit” in the garage.
Here are some of our new Skunk Rules (our old rule was “cross your fingers.”)
Rule 1: If at all possible, keep the spray victim OUTSIDE…even if it’s you and not the dog.
We had no idea poor Jack had just been blasted. He was anxious to come in and we opened our door to oblige …and when we did we were likewise blasted with an aroma so potent and intense, it took a minute to realize what had happened.
Why the confusion? At first sniff, it wasn’t what we think of as a skunk smell.
It was more like an overwhelming acidy-smelling electrical fire…in fact, my son ran upstairs from the basement because he thought something was burning.
Yeah, like precious time to get Jack out of the house.
Instead, we broke rule number one and made it worse, because we took him downstairs to the laundry tubs while we determined what to do with him.
Yep, took him underneath all. the. rooms. of our house, so every room could eventually have its share of the experience.
I sent Mr. D&D to the pantry to retrieve any canned good with the word “tomato” on the label, and sent our kids to the internet to verify we were using the right approach.
(Tick, tick, tick….)
Rule 2: Save the tomatoes for cooking.
- 1 quart of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
- 1/4 cup of baking soda
- 1 to 2 teaspoons liquid soap
This recipe is all over the internet (not that you have much research time when a loved one is sprayed).
The fizzy reaction between the peroxide and the baking soda is what neutralizes the odor, while the liquid soap binds it to the subject. I used Dawn…because, heck, it was there. (Some also theorize that Dawn helps break down the oil that’s a base ingredient to Pepe’s le Pew, but Dawn also breaks down the fizzy. Krebaum suggests Ivory or Softsoap.)
Rule 3 (and this is IMPORTANT…): DON’T MIX UNTIL YOU NEED IT!
Why? You want the mixture fresh for the fizzy effect noted above.
There’s also another reason: have you ever made a water bottle/baking soda bomb? A premixed concoction in a closed container would have that effect, too.
Which brings us to Rule 4: KEEP THESE ITEMS HANDY IN YOUR GARAGE because skunks don’t announce their visits in advance.
- Fresh Bottle of 3% Hydrogen-Peroxide (a new one every summer)
2. Baking Soda
3. Liquid soap of choice
4. Mixing bowl with the recipe written on it
5. Measuring cup
Hand mix the ingredients in the bowl and apply. Lather and leave the mixture on the victim for five to ten minutes.
Unless you have utility tubs in the garage, rinse off using a garden hose. (Rinsing in warm water would be more pleasant, but do you WANT to avoid transferring that smell into the house where it will dissipate and hang for your olfactory enjoyment? Yes… yes, you do.)
After the first treatment, we gave poor Jack another three hits with the stuff: once per day. He let me use a toothbrush to apply the mixture to the small areas of his face, which was ground zero… I think that sealed the deal.
I also purchased and applied Nature’s Miracle skunk wash. I wasn’t too impressed. I’m not saying it didn’t help, but it had the consistency of water and did not lather. It did leave a pleasant smell over the smell, but I don’t think it would be effective as a standalone treatment. (That’s why it isn’t a “rule” for me.)
Jack’s hair became pretty dry (not to mention brighter…thanks to the peroxide), so we finished with a nice moisturizing shampoo and conditioning rinse.
When I get right in his face, I can ever-so-slightly smell the residue of what he’s been through this week, but he passed Mr. D&D SuperSensitiveSnifferSmellTest…not to mention our lab’s, so his garage exile ended the evening of Day 3.
(This post is getting long, and the rest of the info is provided to guide anyone who may be interested or finds themselves in our shoes.)
AS FOR THE HOUSE…
While I was administering bath #1, Mr. D&D quickly grabbed every available blanket and comforter and covered our upholstered furniture. This is not a rule, but it may have helped protect the new furniture from absorbing the odor.
We set open bowls of white vinegar in the kitchen, in the laundry area, and in the upstairs hallway. Then we went to bed. By now, the aroma d’electrical fire had morphed into traditional skunk smell…and we smelled that smell all night…and woke up to it the next morning. Gotta say, we were pretty dejected!
Day two: internet tips noted sunlight and fresh air were key. So, we turned off the air conditioning; found all the screens in the basement; installed them; opened every curtain, shade and window; and ran every room fan and exhaust fan we have.
I bought a jar of Kanberra Gel for the laundry tub area, placed a few more containers of vinegar in several rooms, and vacuumed the house with a little essential oil sprinkled on the roller.
By the time Mr. D&D came home from
hiding in his office working late, the house smelled good again…as tested by leaving for a while and opening the door.
We closed the windows and turned the air conditioning back on (although we took out the skunked air filter and ran the air without it for the night.)
Day 3: Our noses were a little desensitized so we hadn’t noticed at first, but after leaving and reentering the house, daughter and I discovered that the smell was definitely back. Not as bad as Day 2, but definitely present.
On the second hottest day this summer, we repeated the open window/fan/airing until nine that evening, when Mr. again returned home late from the office. Then, we put a new filter in the furnace/AC unit, crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.
By the next morning, we smelled…vinegar, not skunk. We left, came back and upon opening the door smelled…vinegar. Left again, used a different door…vinegar.
We’re on Day 4 and I think it’s safe to say the house survived this battle.
The skunk DOES always win, but we were grateful to have emerged with minimal scarring.
We will likely never go outside at night again…but that’s another story.
FINAL NOTE: Thanks to Nancy for suggesting a mail-order product called SCOE 10x. It hadn’t arrived until I had completed this post. I mixed it up and toothbrushed it to “residually odoriferoused” Jack’s face. NO HINT OF SMELL!!! I did notice it again ever-so-slightly the next dewey morning, and a little more so days later…but I think it definitely helped. I’ll just have to reapply until it he gets it out of his system. Jack is doing a lot of hiding lately…I pretty sure every time he sees me, he thinks he’s going to get another bath:)