How To Deter Skunks With These 7 Reliable Steps

Feature | Skunks | How To Deter Skunks With These 7 Reliable Steps

Learn how to deter skunks from your home with seven simple but reliable steps and tricks!

Deter Skunks Effectively with These 7 Steps

1. Remove Skunks' Food Sources and Shelter

How do you deter skunks naturally? Get to the bottom of their food source and some of the foods skunks like are are nuts and berries.

Skunks are scavengers, so they'll eat anything nutritious they can find in your area.

  • If you have trees that produce nuts, berries, crabapples, or other fruits, clean them up by raking your yard as often as necessary
  • Other vegetation, like piles of grass clippings, should go since it may contain seeds or other sources of food for skunks
  • If you have a garden, harvest ripe fruit, and vegetables as soon as you can so you can prevent a hungry skunk from feasting on them.
  • Use a tray under your bird feeder to catch most of the seeds, and clean up stray seeds dropped by birds often.

2. Protect Your Waste to Deter Skunks

We all know that dreaded skunk smells, but how can you deter Shunks? Chances are if you live in a rural area, you know the scent of a skunk – and they are stinky!

The scent of their spray can linger for days, so don't fall victim to skunk activity. If you want home remedies to keep skunks away, start with your garbage disposal.

Like raccoons and other stray animals, skunks can survive on garbage alone. So it's important to keep your trash cans properly sealed.

  • If possible, store your trash bins in a shed or in your garage at night to deter skunks
  • Use an enclosed compost bin, since skunks like to eat old fruit and vegetable peels, egg shells, and other items that you may be composting.

3. Close Off Hiding Places

Skunks like to make their homes under decks, porches, and in other sheltered areas. With that in mind, put these skunk removal tips into action.

  • Close off spaces that may be appealing to skunks using rocks, fencing, or plywood.
  • Log piles and piles of lumber or building materials can serve as shelters for skunks.
  • Store the materials in a shed or bin to prevent skunks from moving in.
  • Large bushes are also good shelters for skunks so if you see skunks hanging out in bushes or low vegetation, you might want to trim back the branches.

4. Install Skunk Deterrent Lights in Your Yard

Skunks shy away from bright lights because they are nocturnal. If you light your yard at night, it will be a lot less appealing to skunks.

Skunk on a wood at night | How To Deter Skunks With These 7 Reliable Steps | Food Sources
  • Since the lights will be shining all night long, consider using solar lighting or energy-saving lighting to avoid paying high electrical bills.
  • You can also install a motion sensor that gets tripped when a skunk or another creature comes close.
  • In this case, the skunk will have to enter your property for the light to work as a deterrent.

5. Use Different Scents to Deter Skunks

There are a few different scents known to be offensive to skunks. If you place them around the edges of your yard and in areas where you suspect skunks like to spend time, the skunks will start avoiding those areas.

  • Fox and dog urine deter skunks since foxes and dogs are skunks' natural predators. If you can figure out how to collect dog urine, that's fine to use.
  • You can also buy products containing fox or dog urine at hardware stores. Spray it around the perimeter of your yard.
  • Pepper sprays, also sold to repel squirrels and other wild creatures, are effective skunk deterrents. Spray them on trees and other areas where you've seen skunks.
  • Ammonia also deters skunks. Soak old rags in ammonia and place them under your deck or porch to keep skunks from coming in.
  • Citrus peels have natural skunk repellent qualities. Scatter orange or lemon peels around your property and under your deck or porch.

6. Install Motion-Activated Sprinklers

These automatically turn on when an animal wanders too close and are a safe and natural way to keep the skunks away from your property. Place them strategically close to areas where you suspect skunks might want to shelter.

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7. Set a Trap

Spring-loaded skunk traps lure the skunk inside with bait, then close the door behind them so they can't escape. The skunk is then carried away from your property and set free in the woods or another open, wild area.

  • Bait the skunk trap with peanut butter, canned sardines, cat food, or other strong-smelling foods. Set it near the skunk's den or its route of access to your property.
  • Traps designed for raccoons, feral cats, and other wild animals also work well for skunks.
  • When you release the skunk in the woods, wear heavy clothes and gloves, and make sure your face is positioned well away from the door where the skunk will exit the trap. Most of the time, skunks leave traps calmly, but you should take precautions just in case you get sprayed.

How to Make a Garbage Can and Ramp Trap

What you’ll need:

  • 30-gallon (113.6 L) metal garbage can
  • A long, sturdy piece of wood (preferably a 2×4)


  1. Just before dark, place the garbage can upright where you want to trap the skunk. Have it against something strong, such as a wall, so the skunk cannot tip it over.
  2. Bait it with cat food.
  3. Get long, sturdy pieces of wood (it must be thick and heavy enough to hold a skunk, maybe a 2 x 4). Use it as a ramp to allow the skunk to get from the ground to inside the garbage can.
  4. The skunk will not be able to get out of the garbage can. If handled carefully, it will hopefully not spray.
  5. After the skunk is inside, put the lid on the garbage can. Put it in your truck and carry the skunk away to a wooded area.
  6. Release by tying (or clamping) a twenty-foot or longer cord to the lid handle. This will allow you to take off the lid and let the skunk make its own way back into nature without danger of getting sprayed.

To learn more about how to deter skunks, watch this video from Helpful DIY's channel:

While skunks are generally harmless creatures, it’s best not to get too close to them. You risk getting a dose of their noxious spray, or worse, a bite from a skunk carrying rabies.

Be sure to follow the abovementioned steps to successfully deter skunks from your home.

Do you have a deterrent method not listed here that you would like to share? Please tell us your ways to deter skunks in the comment section below. 

Up Next: How to Deal With Stray Dogs

Products to help you maintain a skunk-free yard:

  • In need of an animal trap? Check out this Large Collapsable Humane Live Animal Trap.
  • A Predator Guard Solar-Powered Predator Deterrent could be just the thing you need to effectively keep skunks out of your yard.

For awesome survival gear, you can’t make at home, check out the Survival Life Store!

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How To Deter Skunks With These 7 Reliable Steps | ‎

Editor’s Note: This post was first published on June 6, 2018, and has been updated for accuracy and relevancy. 

20 Responses to :
How To Deter Skunks With These 7 Reliable Steps

  1. Anonymous says:

    Moth balls will keep skunks out of nesting places
    A few in burrows and under structures will make them move on. Paradichlorobenzene in moth balls takes a while to evaporate so it lasts for several weeks.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Mothballs work very fell for skunks as well as Rattlesnakes!

  2. dave says:

    I would prefer to have skunks around, except for the potential rabies thing. Other than that I like them, and they will eat small vermin too. They can get used to you and your dogs or cats, and still spray at strangers.

    I have a cat that used to play with skunks at our last home. He often came home ‘musky’, but never reeking, so I know he wasn’t being sprayed. Being a shiny black color may have helped him make friends.

    1. Mimi says:

      ALL warm blooded animals are susceptible to RABIES….EVEN HUMANS. I’m not so worried about the rabies thing as I am my house smelling like skunk! One died under my house a while back and it was the most horrible experience I’ve ever had!

  3. Anonymous says:

    My family owned a skunk when I was a teenager. His name was Oreo. A family had found a nest of abandoned babies. We took one and had the scent glands removed. When my family took him on excursions someone would invariably ask “Is that what I think it is?!” A few years later my husband and I were camping and a skunk wandered into our campsite. My husband asked what should we do and I told him “feed it some marshmallows and it will go away” We gave it a few pieces of marshmallows and it waddled off, content. Best advice – stay calm, leave it alone, and it will go away. If camping, keep your foodstuffs sealed and put away. Common sense.

    1. Jim Whelan says:

      a simple solution that works everytime is to clap your hands together. smell one in the neighboorhood it will move on with a few claps. works in camp ground everytime.

      1. Mimi says:

        FUNNY. the only way to call one of our dogs (she’s very old and nearly deaf) is to clap our hands making a loud clap. Yet, I still have a skunk living under my house….

  4. Reed says:

    The best way I have found to catch a skunk in a live trap is to use apples for bait . I tried cat food but only got cats , apples work best for me , between me and my neighbor we trapped 18 skunks one summer

  5. Skip Beal says:

    Please take me off your mailing list.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Skunks can smell grubs in your yard from great Distances. My Neighborhood was overrun with very large skunks and the only thing that seems to work was to get rid of the grubs in our yards and lawns.
    The above advice came from an animal control officer. The skunks are gone!

  7. Glenn Williams says:

    I also use mothballs under decks and sheds as well. You must be aware of local laws as far as relocating a live caught animal. In some states, like R.I. it is against the law to relocate ANY animal to another area. It might seem humane but it sometimes puts it in conflict with other similar animals that are very terratorial.

  8. Natascha Birovljev says:

    The skunk in my yard is not scared of the bright yard light, doesn’t care about ammonia rags or citrus peels and a wildly barking hound five meter away behind the fence. I will try spray repellent and a motion sensor sprinkler as my last resort … fingers crossed!

  9. Anonymous says:

    My girlfriend is going nuts with the skunk infestation in her neighbourhood. I told her that nature abhors a vacuum; oust one skunk, and another will move right in. It’s an uphill battle, against the wind. Give up. Skunks are smarter than humans, because they follow nature’s laws.

  10. Deborah Lauthers says:

    Well with all the developers taking over these poor animals habitats, it’s going to be a continual problem! They are running out of room! Very sad!

  11. Angst says:

    Live trapping and relocation doesn’t work for skunks. They will return even if removed to a distant location. I removed two skunks that were nesting under our house–took them about 5 miles away and they were back within a week. Then retrapped them and drove over 60 miles away and released them. They were both back in a bit over a month. I spoke with a wildlife expert at the San Diego Zoo and she said that, yeah, skunks will always try to return to their home territory.

  12. at says:

    so nothing seems to help with the skunks: We know we have 2 of them visiting.
    – not bright lights, not motion detecting lights
    – not peppers or pepper oils. THey loved hot sauce and licked the dirt to get all of it.
    – we don’t have open garbage
    – we don’t have bird feeders
    – we don’t feed anyone outside, so there is no food source
    – they loved moth balls. They just ate them up!!!

  13. Katie says:

    S KUNKS made a home last year i under our shed in small yard…it was the very worst ordeal we’ve had…..getting rid of mom and babies…dog next door killed two….But the worst was yet to come….I had over 40 flea bites that tormented me day and night…for over2 weeks…took long baths and my dogs tortured too…..had to have someone come in and spray fleas twice…fortunately they did it for nothing as they spray for spiders around the outside of house…..they used our yard as a test with some products…..iHate skunk s….I still have a few scars… so my husband put mothballs and solar lights on fence ….hope this works..

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