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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: Anti-skunk-spray Reek-remover! (for the Week of March 25, 2007)

March 15, 2007

Q. Dear Twig: So tomato juice doesn't get rid of skunk stink. What does? My dog really smells!

A. Here's what works: Mix 1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide, a quarter cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent. Take it and dowse it all over your dog. (Works on cats, too.) Give him or her a good soak with the stuff. Wait 5 minutes then rinse it off. Do it again if you need to.

How does it work? By oxidation("OKS-ih-DAY-shun"). Oxidation, a chemical process, changes the chemicals that make skunk spray stinky — called thiols ("Thi-awls") — into chemicals that don't stink at all. Pfew!

Make sure you use the mix right when you make it. It won't work later if you save it and store it. You can't keep it closed in a container, besides. The mix gives off oxygen and might blow the lid off!

Thanks to Bill Wood, Humboldt State University, California, for the info! Check out


P.S. Appropriate adjectives for skunk-stink occasions: Smellsome. Effluvious. Reekalicious!

Notes: Also check out scientist Wood's paper "The History of Skunk Defensive Secretion Research" in the journal The Chemical Educator (1999). In that paper he credits the mix to Paul Krebaum, Lisle, Ill. Also mentioned is a cheaper yet still effective mix to use on non-living skunk-sprayed objects (armor, drive-through window speakers, boomerangs): 1 cup of liquid laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water.

About this column: "Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," a free public service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences - specifically, of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, both part of the College - is a weekly column for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. The reading level typically rates at grades 3.5-4.5. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691,, (330) 263-3776. Online at


Kurt Knebusch