How to Get Rid of Raccoons: The Ultimate Homeowner’s Guide to Humane Removal

Mariel Loveland
Written by Mariel Loveland
Updated August 19, 2022
A raccoon sitting at a wooden deck
Photo: Anne Wright Dobbelsteyn / EyeEm / EyeEm / Getty Images


  • Raccoons can do a lot of damage to your home and yard.

  • They prefer hidden spots like attics, chimneys and sheds.

  • Racoons are most active in the spring during mating season.

  • Hiring a professional to remove raccoons will cost an average of $400–$600.

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Raccoons might look like cute masked bandits, but these little burglars can cause some serious damage to your home and property. They can even transmit ticks, fleas, and diseases that can sicken both you and your pets. You should remove raccoons from your house as soon as you notice them—but you should also do it humanely. This guide will show you how to get rid of raccoons without harming them.

Why Do I Have Raccoons in My Home?

Raccoons are opportunists, especially during mating season when they’re looking for hiding spots for their babies and easy access to food. Their ideal safe spaces are sheltered spots that are easy for them to navigate but difficult for bigger animals to access. In other words, they love places like your gardening shed, chimney, crawlspace, attic, and underneath your porch or deck. Since they can squeeze their bodies into very small spaces, they only need a tiny gap or hole to make their way inside.

How Much Does It Cost to Remove Raccoons?

The cost of professional animal removal and relocation varies, depending on a number of factors, including where you’re located, how much damage the raccoons did to your property, and the repairs or upgrades required to keep them out in the future. On average, you’ll pay anywhere from $400 to $600, but you can contact a local animal removal service for a more accurate quote.

How to Identify a Raccoon Problem

Let’s be honest: raccoons are a lot cuter in funny online videos than they are on your property. If you have a raccoon problem, there will be a few clear—and sometimes annoying—signs. It’s normal to see a raccoon in your backyard at night if you live in a wooded or suburban area, but you may have an issue near your home if you notice:

  • Scratching, rustling, and squeaking in your walls at night.

  • Tiny, hand-shaped prints around your property, especially near garbage bins.

  • Raccoon droppings (since raccoons set up latrines, you may notice droppings in a singular area).

  • Nesting materials (like twigs, insulation, and leaves) or random bits of garbage. 

  • Knocked over garbage bins.

  • Open holes in your foundation.

  • Scratches on wood surfaces.

  • A weird smell.

  • Raccoons on your roof.

  • Missing bird suet or seed.

If you’re still not sure about a raccoon problem but think you’ve found a potential point of entry, you can fill the area with wadded-up newspapers. Leave the newspapers in place for two to three days. Check back on it later, and if it’s out of place, some sort of pest is probably making its way inside.

How to Get Rid of Raccoons

Getting rid of raccoons requires two steps. First, you need to know how to remove them safely.  Second, you need to know how to keep the raccoons away for good. The most effective course of action combines multiple strategies that make your home or yard inhospitable and inaccessible. Here are some things you can do.

1. Find Where the Raccoons Are Nesting

To stop the problem, you need to find the problem. Search your home for the nest and latrine (which is typically near the nest). Raccoons tend to nest in sheltered spaces like crawlspaces, attics, sheds, and chimneys. If you know where they’re living, you can figure out how they’re getting inside.

2. Seal Off Ingress Points

Once you find the nest, check carefully for any open space that might seem particularly inviting to a raccoon as a way inside. Look for broken skirting or latticework around your deck or porch, any signs of dug-out burrows next to your home’s foundation, and any gaps or open areas in your attic or basement. 

A raccoon can wiggle into some pretty tight areas, so if you see any area that looks disturbed, make a note to check it out. If you find a potential ingress point, you’ll want to close it up once you’re sure the raccoons have left the premises. 

3. Remove What’s Attractive to Raccoons

Raccoons love attics, and they’ll use tree limbs and branches to help them slip in unnoticed. Keep trees near your home trimmed and cut back to remove those access paths. Also, make sure that you’ve adequately covered and protected any outside garbage receptacles and that bird feeders are either too high to reach or raccoon-proof. Finally, consider moving pet food containers and dishes inside to remove the raccoon’s access to a free 24-hour buffet.

4. Repel the Raccoons With Minor Annoyances

One of the most effective and least harmful techniques is multisensory harassment. The idea is to repel raccoons using light, noise, and smell. For example, try setting up a loud radio near their nest or point of entry. Install temporary floodlights in dark, cozy areas. Use smells raccoons hate like vinegar, hot pepper, or garlic juice.

5. Install a One-Way Door

Once you’ve closed off the points of ingress, you can install a one-way door. These let raccoons leave, but won’t let them come back inside. They’re available online and at most hardware stores for around $70 to $300.

6. Install a Motion-Activated Sprinkler

This is another way to annoy raccoons into leaving your property. If you notice a lot of raccoon activity in your yard, install a motion-activated lawn sprinkler that will go off when a raccoon is nearby. Nobody likes to get sprayed with cold water when they’re just trying to mind their own business.

7. Use a Raccoon Repellant

​​While many animal control experts question their effectiveness, there are commercially available products that promise to repel raccoons from your property safely. This includes raccoon-repellent trash bags, since raccoons love to dig through garbage for food, and products containing predator urine. Overall, a repellant might be worth a try, but just be aware that mother raccoons with recently born offspring might be a bit more determined—and thus less likely to be deterred by any repellent product. 

8. Try Home Remedies

There are a few home remedies that might repel raccoons, typically playing on their sense of taste and smell. You can try using:

  • Powdered cayenne pepper

  • Ground garlic

  • Ammonia

  • Vinegar

  • Epsom salt

  • Dirty cat litter

Sprinkle your DIY repellant around points of entry or areas that experience a lot of raccoon traffic.

9. Use an Ultrasonic Repeller

Ultrasonic repellers, which have indoor and outdoor options, emit sounds that are undetectable to humans. Raccoons, however, have a heightened sense of hearing. These devices disturb these pests and encourage them to hang out elsewhere.

Keep in mind that if you have pets, they may be able to hear the repeller too. It’s not harmful, but it may frighten or distress them depending on their temperament.

10. Set a Live Raccoon Trap

Live traps will catch raccoons without harming them, but if you’re going to go this route, contact your local fish and wildlife department first. They can supply the traps and help you safely relocate the animals you catch. 

Tips for Safely Dealing With Raccoons

A man trimming tree branches with a hand saw
Photo: redstallion / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

When you remove raccoons, you need to take certain considerations—both for your own safety and the safety of these little critters. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Work at Dusk

Most of the time you’ll only see raccoons in your backyard at night. That’s because this species is primarily nocturnal. If you disturb raccoons during the day, it can disorient them. Instead, work at dusk, especially if you’re going to blast loud music and flash bright lights.

Avoid Messing With Newborn Raccoons

Newborn raccoons cannot survive without their mother—so there's no way to remove her humanely. If newborns are involved, avoid using a trap or one-way door. Instead, hire a professional animal removal service that knows how to reunite adult raccoons with their offspring.

Mind the Raccoon Droppings

Raccoon droppings can contain roundworm eggs. If inhaled or ingested, these eggs can cause serious illness. It’s best to hire a professional to clean out raccoon latrines, but if you’re doing the job yourself, be sure to follow the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control. These include:

  • Avoid contaminating your hands, shoes, and clothes.

  • Wear disposable gloves.

  • Wear rubber boots with disposable booties.

  • Scrub your boots after you're done. 

  • Wear an N95-rated respirator.

DIY vs. Hiring a Pro

If you have a few raccoons around your yard, you may be able to deter them on your own. The real trouble starts when raccoons take up residence in your walls, crawlspace, or attic—and if there are newborns that cannot survive without their mother. These pests can be quite persistent, and nesting areas and latrines are a potential health hazard. 

A raccoon removal service near you will know how to deter raccoons and clean the area safely. Most of the time, they’ll send out an expert to trap adult animals and then remove any baby raccoons manually. Once the area is clear, the raccoons will be relocated into a more appropriate, less populated area. Finally, the expert will help you shore up your defenses and close up the potential pathways into your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What diseases can raccoons spread? 

Raccoons can spread viruses and bacteria to humans and pets, including rabies, canine and feline distemper, parvovirus, Salmonella, and leptospirosis. These can all cause a range of illnesses.

What smells will keep raccoons away?

Raccoons have a strong sense of smell, so they’re particularly irritated by hot pepper. To ward off raccoons, you can sprinkle cayenne pepper in high-traffic areas. Garlic, soiled kitty litter, peppermint oil, onion, and Epsom salt are also effective.

What are raccoons afraid of?

Raccoons are afraid of predators, which is why so many removal methods mimic the loud sounds and most pungent smells of a predator. For example, you can try a raccoon repellant made from predator urine or use ammonia. Foxes, coyotes, hawks, and owls prey on raccoons.

Do raccoons sleep in the same place every night?

Raccoons change dens frequently. The only exception is during the breeding season when they're preparing for birth and caring for the young. They also tend to stay put during the harsh weather conditions of winter. 

Will raccoons leave on their own?

Raccoons typically won’t leave on their own unless you intervene. The same way your home shelters your family, it also protects these pests from predators and the elements. They want to raise their young in a space where they’re not vulnerable. Luckily, they will go elsewhere if you use strategies to make your home inhospitable and uncomfortable.

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