How to Get Rid of a Skunk Odor Outside
To avoid attracting skunks, don't leave pet food outside, and remove brush piles and stacks of lumber that may provide hiding places. Damp, fresh coffee grounds placed in a garden might help alleviate skunk odor, and will also serve as an organic compost, particularly appreciated by acid-loving plants such as roses and azaleas.
Never try to trap or chase away a skunk yourself; call a qualified animal control expert.
Skunks, furry black-and-white mammals that are members of the weasel family, perform a valuable function in the environment by eating mice, rats, roaches, grubs, beetles and other pests. However, you should never approach these handsome and beneficial animals because it's a possibility that the skunk could be carrying rabies. Skunks also create problems when their visits become so frequent that they leave their lingering scent behind, or when they spray patio, greenery and sides of houses in the process of defending against a predator or fighting a rival for a mate. According to William F. Wood of the Department of Chemistry at Humboldt State University, tomato juice is ineffective against skunk odor. In order for the odor to be neutralized, the chemicals in the fluid must be changed to a different type of molecule. With the proper ingredients, you can neutralize the distinctive skunk-y scent.
Wash colorfast objects such as patios, decks, building walls and fences with a solution made of 1 cup of liquid laundry bleach to every gallon of warm water. Test the surface in an inconspicuous area to make sure the bleach doesn't discolor it. Spray or douse every surface that has been in contact with the skunk's secretions. It can take several applications to dispel the scent entirely.
Mix 1 gallon of clear vinegar with 1 cup of liquid dishwashing soap in a backpack-type garden sprayer, and spray down the grass to nullify the lingering skunk scent on your lawn.
Place 25 lbs. of charcoal on a plastic tarpaulin and put it in the crawl space to neutralize the scent from a skunk that has sprayed under a house. If too much of the odor has come inside the house, only time and ventilation will effect an ultimate cure.
Light scented candles--particularly citronella--and burn incense on a deck or patio to impart a more pleasant scent to the air. It will not neutralize the skunk odor, but can help to temporarily mask it.
Carol Sarao is an entertainment and lifestyle writer whose articles have appeared in Atlantic City Weekly, The Women's Newspaper of Princeton, and New Millennium Writings. She has interviewed and reviewed many national recording acts, among them Everclear, Live, and Alice Cooper, and received her Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Warren Wilson College.