How to Remove Skunk Smell From Your Car Interior and Exterior

How to Remove Skunk Smell From Your Car

Skunks might look cute and cuddly, but they create a noxious smell that will knock you off of your feet. If you have the unfortunate luck to run one over on the road, you are looking at an unforgettable stench, both on the exterior and in the interior of your vehicle. If you act fast, you can remove the skunk smell from your car.

Follow these steps if you are dealing with a skunk smell on the exterior or to the undercarriage of your car. I also offer tips for removing the skunk smell from your car interior. 

How to Get Rid of Skunk Smell From Car Exterior

1. Create a Cleaning Solution

Your typical soap and water or usual car wash solution simply won’t cut it this time. When you are dealing with skunk smell, you need something high-powered.

Grab a spray bottle and fill it with distilled vinegar plus liquid dish detergent. Make sure you mix the solution well. 

2. Spray Affected Areas

clean car exterior

Start with the tires since these likely made direct contact with the skunk. Spray and wash the tires vigorously.

The more contact the skunk made with your vehicle, the more cleaning you will have to do. However, there’s no reason to use this solution anywhere that contact wasn’t made. You can wash those parts of the car normally. 

3. Rinse & Dry Car

Once all of the affected areas are covered, you are ready to rinse it off with your hose or pressure washer. Take a clean microfiber cloth and dry the vehicle to avoid water spots.

Wait about an hour to see how the smell is. If you continue to smell the skunk on the car, you will need to repeat the above steps until it smells better. 

How to Get Rid of Skunk Smell From Undercarriage

clean undercarriage car

1. Use Charcoal

When you run over a skunk, the tires are only one point of contact. Most likely, your car’s undercarriage also got a good dose of skunk smell on it. However, getting to the undercarriage can be difficult.

If you have time, place a tarp under the car and layer some charcoal on it. The charcoal should help absorb some of the smell from the car. 

2. Spray with Solution

If you don’t have time to wait, you can use the same cleaning solution you made for the car exterior. Spray the vinegar and dish soap on the undercarriage. 

Make sure it is coated well. You might need to repeat this step a couple of times to ensure you got every affected part. 

3. Rinse Clean

Rinse the area clean. This is going to take some extra effort, maybe even forcing you to get under the car a little. 

If the smell continues after the cleaning, you will have to try again. Skunk smell can remain a long time and isn’t going away on its own. 

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How to Get Rid of Skunk Smell From Car Interior

clean car interior

1. Create a Cleaning Solution

When the smell on the exterior of your car becomes too strong, it will infiltrate the cabin of your vehicle. However, cleaning the interior requires you to make a special solution designed to work with the upholstery.

If your vehicle contains cloth seats, use vinegar mixed with water in a spray bottle. If you have leather or vinyl seats, you want to mix together vinegar and linseed oil. Do not mix water with your concoction. 

2. Clean the Seats

With cloth seats, you can mist the material directly. Don’t forget to spray some on the carpet as well. Allow this solution to sit for a few minutes before you wipe it up with a clean microfiber cloth. Do not rub the solution dry, but dab it. Rubbing it can cause the smell to dive deeper into the fabric. 

If you have leather or vinyl seating, spray the solution on your towel, not directly onto the material. Again, you can dab the seats dry with another towel after it sits for a moment. 

You may have to repeat this process a few times before the smell starts to dissipate. In many cases, two times is enough to make the car interior bearable again. 

3. Use Carpet Deodorizer

If the smell has permeated the vehicle’s carpet, you can buy a commercial deodorizer to make it smell better. There are some that simply mask odors and won’t work for skunk odor. Instead, look for one that neutralizes the odors. 

The benefit of carpet deodorizer is that you can also use it on cloth upholstery. Use a little deodorizer on top of your other cleaning methods to get rid of the skunk smell fast.

How do I get the skunk smell out of my car?

The best way of getting the skunk smell out of the car is by cleaning it thoroughly and methodically. Start by washing the exterior with a purpose-made mixture of distilled vinegar, liquid dish detergent, and warm water. Once all affected areas have been soaked, rinse the whole with water and give it an ordinary wash. On the inside, wash the upholstery with a mild mixture of vinegar and water.

How long will skunk smell last on a car?

How long the skunk smell will last depends on whether anything has been done to eliminate it. If left untreated, it could take several weeks before this ghastly odor clears out of the car. Still, this period can be significantly shortened if appropriate steps are taken shortly after hitting the skunk. Its smell can be successfully eliminated or reduced with specialized odor-removal methods and products.

Will a car wash remove the skunk smell?

If done correctly, the car wash will help remove the skunk smell. However, an ordinary car shampoo just won’t be enough, as more powerful cleaning solutions are needed for this job. A method that proved effective involves mixing distilled vinegar and liquid dish detergent with warm water. This is then used to thoroughly spray all areas that may have come in contact with the skunk. After leaving this mixture to soak for a few minutes, clean it off with water, and then give your car a standard wash.

What neutralizes the skunk smell?

Several DIY recipes involving ordinary household ingredients will quickly neutralize the skunk smell. The simplest way is to create a cleaning solution by mixing distilled vinegar, liquid dish detergent, and warm water. As an alternative to vinegar, you could use baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Both these will break down the compounds that make up the skunk’s spray.

Hitting an animal while driving down the road is an unpleasant experience for you, your car, and the poor creature that ended up beneath its tires. But if you’ve run over a skunk, the sadness won’t be long-lived, as it will be quickly suppressed by its incredibly unpleasant odor. And that’s something you’ll want to get cleaned off your car quickly before it gets soaked up with that smell.

On the outside, use a mixture of distilled vinegar, liquid dish detergent, and warm water. Spray this on the areas that came in contact with the skunk and then wash it off. For the interior, you can use vinegar mixed with water for cloth upholstery or a mixture of vinegar and linseed oil for leather seats. Make sure to clean everything thoroughly and repeat the procedure if needed.


Categories: Cleaning & Detailing, General, Guides

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