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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

OxiClean to Remove Skunk Odor

By August 1, 2010

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Striped Skunk (PDImages.com)OxiClean™ (sometimes spelled OxyClean) is a great stain remover, but I recently learned it may also be a great odor remover. I was having dinner with an awesome veterinarian who mentioned her dog had been sprayed by a skunk. She saw that the dog was wet and bent down to touch its fur. The dampness was skunk spray, so she then had a handful of stinky nastiness, too. I said I had heard tomato juice was supposed to be decent at diminishing skunk-smell. Nope, doesn't work. What does work, she said, is spraying the pet with OxiClean and then very thoroughly rinsing, presumably with soap and water since that is how you are supposed to get OxiClean off your hands if you have skin contact.

This is not an official vet-recommended treatment for skunk spray for a couple of reasons. The active ingredients in OxiClean (and similar products, which would also work) are sodium carbonate (washing soda) and sodium percarbonate. They react to form peroxide, which is an effective bleach and disinfectant, plus is reactive enough to tackle most messes. It's also reactive enough to cause damage to certain tissues. If you read the MSDS for sodium percarbonate, for example, you will find the chemical is harmful if swallowed and may cause severe eye injury. If you spritz OxiClean in water on yourself or your pet to remove skunkiness, you need to be absolutely certain to avoid getting any in the eyes. Plus, you need to take extra care to rinse all of the OxiClean off. You might not lick your hands after washing them, but chances are your cat or dog will.

How does it work? OxiClean should work as an odor remover pretty much the same way as it works as a stain remover. The hydrogen peroxide that is released reacts with stain molecules and changes their structure. This makes them absorb light differently, rendering colored stains colorless. Note that this does mean the stains are actually gone; you just can't see them. Stink molecules are like stains. If you change their shape, the chemoreceptors in your nose may be unable to detect them.

So... if you have an encounter with the business end of a skunk, try reaching for the Oxiclean instead of the V-8. Avoid the eyes and rinse, rinse, rinse.


October 28, 2008 at 4:27 am
(1) RaheM says:

It has been my personal experience that OxiClean (which is a pretty good cleaner) is pretty poor as a skunk odor remover. You also might want to seriously consider the consequences of using it on your pet (where most people run into skunk spray odor. I have found some stuff on the internet that really does work but OxiClean and the the home made secret formula stuff are not amongst them.

November 3, 2008 at 6:32 am
(2) wendy says:

If the OxiClean is a form of peroxide..it stands to reason in my mind, that regular peroxide will do the trick as well….less harmfull I imagine.

November 3, 2008 at 10:29 am
(3) Catherine says:

If OxyClean as hydrogen peroxide works on skunk odors, how well does the less toxic 3% hydrogen peroxide work?

November 3, 2008 at 11:24 am
(4) Dave says:

Hydrogen peroxide even less than 3% will produce instant vomiting in dogs if licked or swallowed; our vet recommends it as a treatment for suspected poisoning if the substance ingested is safe to treat that way. So oxy-clean or hydrogen peroxide would not seem to be such a wise choice for application to a dogs fur where it can be licked off.

June 2, 2009 at 4:13 pm
(5) Don says:

Learned this from a co worker

Massengill douche

works wonderful

not just for the womens problem

September 11, 2009 at 11:21 pm
(6) Charles says:

The best skunk odor removal I found is the “secret internet formula of:
1 Quart of 3% Peroxide (Oxiclean could be used, but unsure of the ratio)
1/4 Cup Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Dish-soap

The baking soda activates the oxidation abilities of the Peroxide. Also Baking can further activate Oxiclean (Which forms Peroxide) for a smell removal including most pet stains, but may remove color from stain areas as well.

Baking soda itself has long been used for odor removal by speeding the oxidation process of foul smells, including rotten vegetables, bad milk, decayed meat, and other natural foul odors. The interaction of the baking soda and peroxide is what does the trick. The soda make sure it rinses clean off without leaving any behind to poison your pet.

Get your whites whiter without bleach and baking soda with the Oxiclean and wash on hot water.

P.S. Arm & Hammer Detergent + Oxiclean is cheaper than Tide and together works better.

July 31, 2010 at 6:57 pm
(7) Kat says:

We recently had a skunk incident where both of our dogs were sprayed at close range. OxiClean did a phenomenal job of cleaning them (and the odor!). I got some pretty awful 2nd-hand stink from the dogs, and I ended up using OxiClean on my own hair as well. I diluted it (about 1/2 cup to a pitcher of water), mixed it, and poured it on the dogs (and later on my own hair. Lathered it in, then washed it off quickly with plenty of soap and water. Don’t leave the stuff on long–it will burn (like peroxide). Good news is–unlike peroxide, it’s color safe! We have two clean and unbleached dogs! :)

October 13, 2010 at 9:07 am
(8) Steve says:

Sodium percarbonate is an oxidizing agent. Oxidation is the best way to “remove” odors(and stains)-it lends an oxygen molecule to the odor molecule, changing its structure and changing/eliminating the odor. Oxiclean is sodium percarbonate, you can also make it yourself like charles’ recipe. Works great. Hydrogen peroxide by itself or baking soda by itself will not do it, they react to form the sodium percarbonate in an aqueous solution which changes the odor molecule.

October 29, 2010 at 3:00 pm
(9) auntiekk says:

My cat was sprayed and I used a combination of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and a little dish detergent. I mixed it with a little water in a spray bottle, spritzed it on the affected area (I did not put it near her face, I let that wear off naturally). I mixed it in through the fur then rinsed and rinsed and rinsed with warm, clean water. I had to reapply a second time but it totally did the trick

October 16, 2011 at 2:13 pm
(10) bobby says:

Oxyclean in a spray bottle with warm water, rinse repeat, worked better then anything we have ever tried!!!

May 17, 2013 at 9:24 pm
(11) Randal says:

does oxi clean kill mold?

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