How To Get Rid Of Skunk Smell On Car Tires

Few odors are as revolting to the stomach as the foul smell of a skunk's spray. The intensity of this odor varies from mildly irritating to nauseating, and it is always a source of frustration. It can linger for days or weeks without fading, but when it gets on exterior surfaces like your tires, we've identified the ways to get the stench off.

Use a solution of hydrogen peroxide, liquid soap, and baking soda (also called sodium bicarbonate) to wash the skunk smell off your car tires. A regular soap and water wash are unlikely to eradicate the skunk smell.

Skunks may appear cute, but they emit a foul smell that can be uncomfortable. If you happen to run over one on the road, keep reading for tips on how to get them off your tire.

Baby Western spotted skunk hiding in an automobile wheel, How To Get Rid Of Skunk Smell On Car Tires


Skunks, sometimes confused to be polecats, are black and white mammals in the family Mephitidae. They have a  well-developed scent gland that releases an unpleasant smell as a defense mechanism.

Baby skunk

Skunks are primarily found in the western hemisphere and are roughly the size of a domestic cat, weighing between 6 to 14 pounds. Their distinct features are their pointed snout, triangular head, and white stripes that run through their back.

Why Skunks Smell So Badly

Skunk spray is produced by anal glands found inside the rectum. The two glands have a nipple from which the spray is ejected. The spray is made of sulfuric chemicals like molecules of thiols compound like (E)-2-butene-1-thiol, 2-quinolinemethanethiol, and others, which are responsible for its foul smell. Thiols also make skunk spray flammable. 

Man pinches nose with fingers looks with disgust

When Attacked by Predators

When a skunk is attacked by a predator, it exhibits a series of threatening behaviors like stamping its paws before it sprays.

The spray is strong enough to be detected by the human nose and can cause discomfort and even blurry vision. The spray is enough to go through five to six rounds and can produce another supply in up to ten days.

Skunk Diet & Habitat

Skunks are omnivorous animals. Their diet consists of plant and animal origin and varies according to season. Among their favorite foods are insects, frogs, larvae, grasshoppers, earthworms, bees, lizards, and snakes.

Berries, nuts, leaves, and grasses are also included. They spend a lot of time digging around for invertebrates with their strong, large claws. In residential areas, they tend to sneak into garbage cans for leftovers and are occasionally seen as scavengers.

They live in various habitats, including forested areas, mountains, grasslands, brushes, and developed areas. Skunks use underground dens to rest, hide, give birth and nurture their young.

You can spot a den under wood and rock piles, fallen hollow trees, and concrete slabs. Skunks can either dig their own dens or use burrows left by other animals.

Best Ways to Get Rid of Skunk Smell on Car Tires

Skunks are famous for their notorious smell, but when sprayed on your tire, you can quickly take it off before it spreads to other parts of your car. Here are the best ways you can do that. 

Use Hydrogen Peroxide Solution

This solution includes one-quarter of three percent hydrogen peroxide, one-quarter of baking soda, and a tablespoon of liquid soap. This solution neutralizes the smell of skunk spray instead of masking it.

Ensure that the solution is mixed in an open container, as oxygen released from the mixture can cause a closed container to explode. While the solution is still bubbling, apply it to the car tires immediately after it has been combined.

When applying the solution, wear gloves and avoid making eye contact. The amount of mixture used is determined by the amount of stunk spray on the tires, and if the smell still persists after an hour of washing, repeat the wash again. Allow the tire to sit for a few minutes before rinsing with water and drying with a towel.

Wash With Vinegar Solution 

Use a mixture of vinegar and a liquid detergent in a sprayer to wash the skunk smell off your car tires. If the smell persists, repeat at least twice for a better result.

Use Laundry Bleach

A mixture of laundry bleach in a gallon of water can neutralize the skunk smell on your tires. 

Use Chemical Products

There are some products formulated to effectively get rid of skunk smell, for example, products that contain petroleum alpha such as freshwave and  Epoleon N-100.

How Long Does Skunk Smell Last on Car Tires? 

Skunk smell can last two to three weeks on your tires, sometimes even longer if left untreated. For cars that are frequently driven, the wind and rain can easily disperse the smell within two weeks. 

How Do You Get Skunk Smell Out of Car Interiors? 

If the skunk smell from the exterior of your car is too strong, it can seep into its interior. Cleaning your car's interior is a tasking activity and requires you to make special solutions that can take the skunk smell off your seat and carpet. Here are ways to do it: 

Cleaning the Seat

If your car seats are made of cloth, use a solution of vinegar and water. Spray the mixture on the seat and allow it to sit for a few minutes before wiping it up with a clean microfiber towel.

Dab the solution instead of rubbing it dry to prevent the skunk smell from penetrating deeper into the seat. For leather or vinyl seats, use a solution of vinegar and linseed oil.

Spray the solution on a microfiber towel and not directly on the seat. You may need to repeat the cleaning process several times before the smell begins to fade.

Cleaning the Car Carpet

Clean by using a brush and cleaning solution on the car carpet

It is possible for the smell to penetrate the carpet in your car. If this happens, buy a deodorizer in a nearby store to make the interior of your car smell better. Look for one that can neutralize the smell because some can only mask the smell for some time.

Does Vinegar Get Rid of Skunk Smell? 

Yes, vinegar can be used to get rid of the skunk smell. Simply combine two parts of water with one part of vinegar. Apply on the affected area and allow to sit for at least five minutes before rinsing.

What Oils Should I Diffuse to Get Rid of Skunk Smell? 

Essential oils are natural scents that help eliminate the skunk smell from your car, home, clothing, and even pets. They help neutralize the offensive skunk smell and produce better results when combined with white vinegar. Some essential oils you can use are:


Basket full of lemons on kitchen

Lemon is one of the most commonly used essential oils removing foul smells from a room. Its scent can spread throughout your car or home with a few drops into a diffuser. Lemon oil can also be diffused with white vinegar to remove the skunk smell.


Lime oil is known to be a purifier and can control protein breakdown, which is a major factor in sulfur-based smells like skunk smell. Apply a few drops of this citrus oil to get a refreshing scent that can rid the air of bad smells.


Orange garden in mediterranean climate

Because it contains limonene and other compounds with deodorizing properties, the orange essential oil is excellent for masking unpleasant smells such as skunk spray. Put a few drops in your diffuser and let them spread throughout your car.

Clove and Cinnamon

Clove and cinnamon are spicy scents strong enough to mask skunk smells. When diffused into the air, the essential oil forms a film around the odor molecules, therefore, neutralizing them.

Other refreshing essential oils are:

  • Tangerine
  • Lemongrass
  • Mandarin
  • Grapefruit 

Does Tomato Juice Remove Skunk Smell? 

Tomato juice in glass

Tomato juice does not remove skunk smell. It simply masks the smell because it has a strong smell of its own. Any strong smell, such as perfume or scented candles, performs the same function as tomato juice.  As soon as the juice smell wears off, the skunk smell returns again.

To remove the smell, you need a substance that can react chemically with the skunk spray, which is not present in tomato juice.

Why Does it Smell Like Skunk in my Car?

If your car smells like skunk, you may have run over one on the road, or it took a spray on the exterior. The smell can sometimes diffuse into the interior of your car, making driving unbearable. If the smell is not treated, it will go away on its own, but this can take up to three weeks.

In Summary

There is a reason why people run when they come across a skunk. Its spray is so strong it can be compared to that of tear gas. As a defense mechanism, skunks emit a foul smell that can irritate the nose and eyes of their victims. If your car tires have been stunk, take necessary actions to it the smell off. 

For related articles on getting rid of smells in a car, read these recommended posts: 

RV Grey Water Tank Smells - What To Do? 

Sewage Smell in RV - What to Do? 

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