How To Get Skunk Smell Out of Car – An In-depth Guide

Car odors can get out of hand quickly due to the vehicle’s closed design and heat buildup. Skunk smell in car is very punishing and calls for fast action. You should weigh the situation to know how to get skunk smell out of the vehicle.

Skunk spray on vehicle exterior is easier to handle than inside the car. Sit tight as we comprehensively look at this animal odor and how to address it effectively.

how to get skunk smell out of car vents

What Does Skunk Smell Like?

Skunks smell like most wild animals: their body scent is not overwhelming, which is a measure to keep predators off their track. The problem is the liquid it secretes and sprays from its anal glands to protect itself from danger.

The odor is offensive and can ward off large predators like bears. The pungency of the liquid comes from its sulfur compounds, also known as thiols, which emit a scent reminiscent of rotten eggs or cabbage.

Is Skunk Smell Harmful to Humans?

Typically, the major damage a skunk’s spray causes is the heavy odor, which may linger for 2-3 weeks if not well attended to. People react differently to the spray, depending on various factors, such as exposed body parts, existing illnesses, and how much liquid the skunk produces.

Exposure to the skunk’s defensive liquid may trigger a gag reflex, and you may throw up, especially if you ingested some of the liquid. Ingestion may also lead to diarrhea and tummy pains. You may also be nauseous after getting sprayed.

Contact with the eyes will result in tearing, pain, reddening and temporary blindness in some situations. If inhaled, the spray will cause coughing due to lung irritation.

Human allergic reaction to skunk spray is rare, though the secretions may trigger conditions like asthma if inhaled. Can skunk spray kill you? The spray is an irritant and not a toxin, meaning it can’t kill you, only cause discomfort.

How To Get Skunk Smell Out of Car Interior

A skunked car is hard to drive as the odor is too much and will make the interior uncomfortable. Read on to learn how to deal with skunk smell in car interior.

A Clothed Car Interior

  • Open the car windows to neutralize the scent.
  • Prepare a cleaner by mixing hydrogen peroxide, car shampoo, or any that is available, and water. Start by mixing water and hydrogen peroxide in a 5:1 ratio, then add a generous amount of the shampoo.
  • Thoroughly clean the interior with the cleaning solution, targeting spots that received much of the spray.
  • When cleaning, you not only focus on the seats. Attend to the windows, the windshield, and mats, as the odor may linger on these parts.
  • You may have to repeat the process if you still catch a whiff of the skunk odor. A skunk odor remover can do an excellent job in such a situation.
  • Dab excess cleaner from the upholstery. Do not rub the cleanser, as it may set the odor deeper into the upholstery.
  • Allow the interior to dry adequately.

A Leather or Vinyl Car Interior

  • The car windows should be open for aeration as you work.
  • Cleaning the leather car seats and upholstery to eliminate the skunk odor requires the right cleaner. Mix vinegar and linseed oil, or use a vinegar and baking soda solution. Pour the cleaning agent into a spray bottle.
  • Spray the solution on a towel or rag and work on the affected parts. Don’t spray directly into the leather, as you may damage it.
  • Dab the upholstery with a clean, dry cloth to remove excess cleaner.
  • You can use a deodorizer or skunk odor remover to neutralize the smell.
  • Roll down the windows and let the car dry under direct sunlight.

After cleaning, you can place a container of baking soda or charcoal in opportune spots inside the car to absorb the skunk scent.

How To Get Skunk Smell Out of Car Vents

You should also focus on the car vents when removing the skunk scent in the car interior. A skunk scent remover comes in handy when cleaning the car vents. Generously spray the product into the vents, where it will break down the liquid and help eliminate it.

Don’t be tempted to use air fresheners or scents for the vent, as they only mask the odor. You will notice the stench once the freshener fades. Nevertheless, essential oils for skunk smell in car can help neutralize the offending scent, particularly after cleaning the interior.

How To Get Skunk Smell Out of Car Exterior

The car exterior is the primary recipient of skunk sprays. Sometimes, the spray is mild, and you may not notice, like if you ran over a skunk. However, it may be excess in some situations that you notice the reek when you get closer to the vehicle.

Let us look at how to get skunk smell out of the vehicle’s exterior.

Step 1: Prepare A Cleaning Solution

Start by preparing a cleaner, as ordinary detergent is not a match for skunk secretions. Mix vinegar and liquid soap or shampoo and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Shake the bottle for the contents to mix well.

Alternatively, mix water and vinegar in a 1:1 ratio before adding enough dishwashing detergent.

Step 2: Spray the Affected Parts

Spray the affected parts, which you point out from the odor’s intensity. The tires and the undercarriage are usually the most affected parts. On how to get skunk smell off car tires, you should use a generous amount of the cleaner and scrub with a wheel brush. You may need to repeat the process if the scent still lingers.

Step 3: Rinse the Car and Let It Dry

Rinse the exterior with clean water, preferably using a pressure washer. Dry the surface with a microfiber car cloth. Inspect the car after an hour or two: redo the cleaning if the odor is still noticeable.

Will a car wash get rid of skunk smell? An ordinary wash won’t be effective as needed to eliminate the offensive smell. You need a strong cleaning agent, which you can prepare with vinegar and dish detergent. Optionally, you may invest in skunk odor removal products.

How Long Does Skunk Smell Last on A Car?

Skunk scent is potent and may linger long, depending on various factors. These variables include the affected parts and whether you attended to the smell. The scent may stick for 2-3 weeks if not acted upon. It might disappear in a few days if you address it promptly.

On affected parts, the offensive scent will disappear fast if the skunk sprayed the car exterior. This is due to exposure to various environmental agents that may neutralize the odor. It may take longer for the interior, owing to the concealed design and the porous nature of the upholstery.

car smells like skunk inside

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Q: Can The Smell of a Skunk Make You Sick?

Skunks secrete a pungent liquid from their anal glands to keep off potential predators. The smell is strong and can result in different reactions depending on the exposure. Typical reactions include nausea, teary eyes, coughing, and diarrhea. It may trigger an asthmatic episode in affected individuals if inhaled.

While the odor can’t make you sick, it may bring about a similar feeling. You will recover from the effects of the scent once you clean it off.

Q: Does Skunk Smell Go Away in Car?

Skunk smell on a car will eventually disappear, but it may last longer if not dealt with. It may disappear faster on the exterior, courtesy of environmental agents like sunshine, wind, and rain.

Cleaning the affected parts will hasten the smell’s dissipation. You can use household items like hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and liquid soap to make a robust cleaner to deal with the odor.

You may opt for commercial skunk odor removers for the best results, though they might be costly. You must open the windows for aeration when dealing with a skunked interior. Additionally, put containers of deodorizers, like charcoal and baking soda, to tone down the scent.

Q: Does Skunk Spray Smell Go Away on Its Own?

The skunk spray smell typically fades away on its own. You usually won’t catch a whiff of the odor after 2-3 weeks. Nonetheless, if sprayed on cloth surfaces, the scent may stick for ages, even years. The oil-based liquid can stick to clothing if not dealt with quickly.

Q: How Long Does Skunk Smell Last in The Air?

Skunk liquid is pungent and lasts for some time when sprayed onto surfaces. It may disappear fast in the air due to molecular motion. The surfaces the liquid gets on may reek for roughly a month.

A skunk deodorizer is effective in clearing the scent. You can use this product for a skunked car or house.

Q: Does Vinegar Get Rid of Skunk Smell?

Vinegar is an excellent deodorizer that will aid you with a skunk smell problem. The acetic acid in the vinegar will bond with the volatile thiols in the skunk liquid and neutralize them.

You can use distilled vinegar as a cleaner for skunked surfaces by mixing equal parts of vinegar and water and adding shampoo or liquid soap. Pour vinegar into a dish and leave it in the skunked area to neutralize the stench.

Q: How Many Miles Can You Smell a Skunk?

A skunk can accurately shoot its defensive secretions up to 15 feet away. The sulfur compounds are very intense, and on windy days, you may catch a whiff of the skunk spray roughly 1 mile away from the source. Some predators with a highly adapted olfactory sense can smell skunk for longer distances and will keep off their track to avoid the spray.

Final Words

A skunked car is a nightmare many people loathe due to the unbearable stench that makes driving or working on the car challenging. This piece guides you on how to get skunk smell out of car, which calls for fast action and potent cleaners.

Vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and detergent are your go-to household items for a skunk-sprayed car. Be gentle when working with upholstery to prevent damaging it or setting the skunk liquid deeper, making the reek last longer. Commercial skunk deodorizers will do justice if you want fast results.

Purity Wachira

Hi, I am Purity a researcher and technical writer since 2015. I hold a Masters in Supply Chain Management working in an automotive company. I am a resourceful lady with vast knowledge and interest in vehicles. My enthusiasm for cars drove me to more research, and the more information I got, the more I felt the need to share the knowledge through writing. My biggest win is to leave a positive impact on the automotive field and solve people's problems through articles, product descriptions, and product reviews.

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