What Does A Skunk Smell Like When It Sprays? SEE HERE!

A skunk smells like really good weed/pot (not so much the smoke, but the unburnt buds themselves), but skunk spray is an unholy combination of burned rubber and rotten onions.

Sadly, I’m quite familiar with the smell since my dog; Ronald has an affinity for skunks. She’s been sprayed three times in the past five years.

The smell does not make you gag or throw up. It’s much more of a chemically offensive smell.

The smell of skunk juice after the animal has been run over by a car and left to ferment for some time, can be described as a rotten “cabbagy” sulpherous odor. I don’t necessarily find it offensive, but certainly not pleasant, either.

ALSO SEE: Do Skunks Burrow in the Ground?

What Does A Skunk Smell Like When It Sprays?

It smells like someone peed on some really good weed. The difference is that weed smells, but not in the disgusting manner that skunk spray does.

Skunk smell will stick to your whole body, furniture, pets, and even clothes for weeks. The smell is absolutely horrible.

My friend, Jenna, describes getting sprayed by a skunk as a cross between something rotting and ammonia. It’s hard to describe, but you’ll know it when you smell it.

What Does A Skunk Smell Like When It Sprays

3 Skunk Spray Types

There are three skunk spray types. Yes, all skunk sprays are not the same.

  • Type 1

Type 1 is the most common of all skunk sprays and is mostly recognized by people, especially during the late spring and summer months.

The type 1 skunk’s smell is not actually bad and is far better than the smell of rotting fish or animals.

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Some people actually like this smell and find it better than type 2 and 3.

  • Type 2

Type 2 skunk spray typically happens during mating months. I have found this to be right after the first January warm; warm days to early February.

This smell is quite offensive and objectionable too. Type 2 Skunk Spray possesses a concentrated smell reminiscent of rotting garlic and rotting cabbage or sauerkraut.

It is much more concentrated, nastier, and can induce nausea and vomiting in people with weak stomachs.

When a pet that has been sprayed by a Type 2 skunk spray enters a house, the odor at first is delayed and not recognized. Slowly, it begins to decompress and become more aerated. The odor is thick, pervasive, and will spread through your home and everything it touches pervasively.

It is our opinion that Type 2 skunk Spray happens because the animal is coming out of dormancy and its oils have started to anaerobically ferment in their bodies. This fermentation seems to concentrate the chemical components of the skunk oil and the odors are much more pronounced.

  • Type 3

This is the last and final skunk spray type. The type 3 skunk spray builds upon Type 2.

This is vastly more concentrated than Type 2 and when sprayed upon a dog or against the foundation of a house, as it frequently is during mating season, the homeowners at first cannot identify this odor.

Once they do, they pick up their phone and call the local gas company or the fire department because the stench is like a natural gas leak, an electrical fire or a burning tire/rubber.

This is the worst smell experience homeowners can have. Some have had to abandon their homes for weeks and many months.

Others attempt to cover it up in vain. These skunk spray attacks do not respond to traditional deodorizers or air fresheners.

Sadly, deodorizers and odor masks only prolong the skunk odor.

What Is Skunk Spray Made Of?

A skunk spray is made from a family of compounds known as thiols, which, along with being some of the smelliest compounds on earth, are what give skunk smell their pungent flavor.

Thiols are used to give natural gas its pungent odor since they can be added to the gas in trace amounts without affecting how it burns.

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Skunk spray smells like natural gas, just 100 times more potent. It’s somewhere along the over potent garlic, rotten egg, and has a strange metallic component too.

If you ever used “stink bombs”, you’ll notice that these little glass vials smell terrible and are mostly ethelyene-thiol, also known as Ethanethiol and ethyl mercaptan. Mercaptan(s) is what a petroleum engineer would tell you is the odorant for natural gas, but it’s a ye olde term for thiols–not unlike muriatic acid being ye olde term for hydrochloric acid.

TL;DR: Thiols. There’s nothing that smells quite like them, so it’s difficult to describe. Natural gas x 1000.

How To Get Rid Of Skunk Smell On Humans

  • Run into the showers and take a bath. This helps to oxidize the thiols into sulfonic acids, which have little-to-no skunk smell left in them.
  • Wash your whole body with deodorant soap or a grease-cutting dish detergent.
  • Wash your hair with a shampoo made for oily hair.
  • You can also soak in a baking soda bath for 15 to 20 minutes:
  • Next, pour 2 to 4 cups of baking soda into hot water.
  • Rinse to remove the residue from your skin.

How To Remove Skunk Smell From Dog

A mixture of peroxide, shampoo, and baking soda is the most effective at ridding your dog of its smell.

This combo works better than the store-bought stuff. Tomato juice doesn’t work (at least it didn’t in our case). Petco or Petsmart offers a service to de-skunk your dog too.

The peroxide solution worked wonders for us as well when our dog first got sprayed. However, you just have to watch out for the pooch’s eyes and wear old clothes.

Skunk Odor Recipe


  • 1 cup Baking Soda
  • 1-quart Hydrogen Peroxide 3%
  • 1-2 tsp. Dawn dish soap


  • Mix the ingredients listed above in an open container, such as a plastic bucket. The mixture should be fizzy.
  • Next, apply the mixture to your pet’s fur from the ears to the tail and massage in well. Take care not to get it into its eye.
  • Allow the solution to sit on the fur for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Rinse with lukewarm water.
  • Repeat as necessary; if your pet has a dense coat, multiple treatments may be necessary.
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List of Plants that smell like skunk

There are certain plants that have similar, though less potent, smells so you could get a rough idea of what skunk spray smells like from a distance:

  • Ailanthus

This is an invasive tree species that you would find to smell somehow like a skunk. I had to weed out seedlings from a plant bed one summer and the stink got all over my hands and I can attest to the fact that they are generally unpleasant.

  • Helleborus foetidus

This garden plant definitely has a skunky whiff to it if you brush against it (aware or unaware).

In fact, I have observed that most of the plants with the species name foetidus tend to have a skunky odor. When it’s super faint I think it smells a bit like lemon oil.

However, none of them truly smell like skunk. They are like smelling skunk from a couple of feet away – up close so it’s very like rotting garbage.

Does Skunk Spray Smell Like Chemicals?

Yes, it does smell like industrial chemicals, to an extent.

Is skunk spray toxic?

No, it is not. It just has a really strong odor.

Does Skunk Spray Smell Like Burnt Rubber?

Yes, it does. I can attest to that.

How Long Does Skunk Smell Last?

Skunk spray smell can last several weeks to months.

Can A Skunk Smell Its Own Spray?

Yes, it can, and trust me, it does not like it and will rub affected areas on properties or plants to get rid of the stench.

Is It Bad to Smell Skunk Spray?

No, it is not. Although you might not find it pleasant.

What Does A Skunk Sound Like When It Sprays?

A skunk spray is silent when it emits it. However, they will hiss and growl at you to back off before turning around and spraying in your direction.

Do Skunks Smell Before They Spray?

They smell and confirm their intruder before raising their tail and doing their thang!

How Far Away Can the Skunk Spray Be Smelled?

the odor can be smelled up to 1.5 miles away. As humans, we might not be able to detect it that far but animals with a keen sense of smell should.

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