How to Remove Skunk Smell From Your Car (Exterior & Interior)

remove skunk smell from 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 to both the exterior and interior of your vehicle. If you act fast, you can learn how to remove the skunk smell from your car.

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

How to Remove 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 Remove 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. 

How to Remove 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.

Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of MechanicBase. He has been working as a mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced diagnostics and troubleshooting. He has also been a motorsport (drifting) driver for over 5 years.