Have a Stinky Situation? These Methods Will Keep Skunks Away From Your Home

Stephanie Shaykin
Updated December 10, 2021
white county farmhouse property
Photo: The Good Brigade / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Here are nine skunk-defying tips to help you take a breath of fresh air

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Sure, skunks are cute—but their reputation stinks. On the bright side, they help with pest and grub control on your property, but an obvious downside is their tell-tale stench. Skunk musk's powerful odor is far from dangerous, but a brief encounter could induce nausea, coughing, or eye irritation. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they’re also prone to rabies in the Midwest and parts of California, so it’s wise to keep them away from your home. 

These critters are a tricky problem to tackle. Not only do you need to get rid of the skunk smell should they spray near your home, but you also need to deter them from lingering around your property. Read on to learn how you can safely keep skunks away so you can open your windows and enjoy the fresh air.

1. Get Rid of Food Sources

Skunks mainly eat bugs, but if given the chance, they’ll chow down on pet food. They also enjoy feasting on roaches and other insects that pet food attracts. Feed your outdoor pets during the day and remove any leftovers before night, when skunks are most active. Skunks will move on if you eliminate their food source.

Note: Keep your pet’s food in sealed containers in difficult-to-reach locations. Otherwise, your not-so-welcome guests will help themselves to some pet food takeout.

2. Get Rid of Skunk Dens 

Skunks are the best at turning even the most well-designed porch into a den. Remove wood and rock piles from porches and patios, as well as debris around the house. Otherwise, skunks may find a place to call home. 

If you discover a skunk den, cover it with leaves or straw. The skunk may relocate as a result of your persistence.

3. Seal Trash Bins

sealed bins outside of home
Photo: Carolyn Franks / Adobe Stock

Make sure garbage cans have tight-fitting tops. Skunks aren't great climbers, so keeping trash can openings closed and off the ground is a good deterrent.

4. Use Ammonia or Mothballs as a Skunk Repellent

Put ammonia-soaked rags or naphthalene (mothballs) in a trash bin or container where skunks hang out. These pungent odors repel skunks. You'll need to reapply these chemicals as their aroma fades over time. Also, make sure to keep these chemicals safely away from children and pets.

5. Install a Motion Detection Sprinkler

It's not difficult to scare off skunks—a loud sound or movement is enough to send them scampering. So, if you have a skunk in your yard, a motion detection sprinkler may be your solution. 

The animal's shambling activates the sensor, causing a burst of water to erupt, along with a whirring noise. This type of alarm is a non-toxic, safe way to get rid of skunks.

6. Install Night Lights 

Bright lights will make skunks scatter. The abrupt shift in their typically dark environment is enough to startle them and send them running.

If skunks are under your deck or home, point a bright light toward their shady retreat. Nocturnal creatures in nature, skunks thrive on daytime sleep. The nightlight will disrupt their routines and force them to search for a more ideal place to call home.

Use Pathway Lights 

Solar outdoor yard pathway lights are bright, but have low voltage. If you want those skunks gone without any fuss, try putting some out. Drive the lights into the ground, then bury the wires with dirt.

7. Spread Soap on Your Yard

If skunks are frequenting your garden, install a soap or room deodorizer along the yard’s perimeter. Ironically, skunks detest strong odors—a good ol’ taste of their own medicine. 

8. Make DIY Skunk Repellent

Mix a ratio of 1/4 castor oil, 1/4 dish-washing detergent, and 1/2 water in the spray bottle. Spray the area at night when the skunk is away foraging. The smell should repel them. 

9. Seek Professional Skunk Removal

If you feel like you’re in over your head, an expert can help with this smelly situation. When you pay for the cost of professional skunk removal, you're paying for a pro's equipment and knowledge. So if DIY doesn’t work, call a skunk removal professional to help clear the air. 


What smells keep skunks away?

While mighty potent themselves, skunks have strong feelings about certain odors as well. Ammonia, citrus, mothballs, and predator urine from coyotes and dogs can repel skunks from your property. 

Be careful when using ammonia and mothballs around young children and pets. Wear personal protective equipment like chemical safety goggles, a face shield, and gloves when handling ammonia and follow the manufacturer’s safety recommendations. 

Do skunks come every night?

Skunks are nocturnal, so they will be more active at night. This is especially true if your yard is a bountiful source of food for them, including roaches, crickets, grasshoppers, and rodents. Skunks may visit every night if you have water available or open garbage cans too. 

What attracts skunks to your yard?

Skunks are looking for water, food, and safe shelter. If you have any or all of these available, they can be attracted to your yard. Close garbage cans, don’t leave pet food or water outside if possible, and treat for pests around your home to help deter these cute-but-stinky critters. 

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