One would think such a proclamation from my wife would shock me out of sleep, but ever since a few years ago, when we heard scratching in our attic that turned out to be a little mouse, rather than the gigantic killer raccoon we’d been imagining, I don’t get too concerned when Kendra decides we’re co-habitating with an animal.
“Uh huh… um, no there’s not. Go back to sleep.”
Displeased with my response, Kendra got up to inspect our basement. It wasn’t long before she was back in our bedroom.
“Jen, it’s a skunk scratching outside our basement window.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes I am sure. I know what a skunk looks like!”
“Well, I told you there wasn’t an animal inside the basement. Go back to sleep.”
Insisting that she couldn’t sleep listening to the loud scratching of a skunk trying to claw its way into our basement, Kendra picked up her pillow and moved to the couch for the night. I was back asleep before she could get through the bedroom door.
The next morning, the skunk was gone. Or so we thought. That evening, we again heard the scratching. This time, I went down to inspect the basement. Sure enough, there was a gigantic skunk in the alcove outside our basement window. Given that it was almost 6pm, and animal control was closed for the evening, I suggested we wait until the next day to have someone come remove the skunk. Kendra insisted she couldn’t wait that long – she could not sleep while it scratched at our house. So, I did what any good wife would do, and attempted to get the skunk away from our house.
Our basement window is the kind that is half above and half below the ground. The skunk seemed to have fallen into the cutout around the window, and we believed he was stuck. Being humane, I got a plank of wood and slid it down into the hole in hope that the skunk would crawl out. It didn’t. Not wanting to get sprayed, I called it the quits and headed off to my tutoring gig.
Less than an hour later, I got a frantic series of texts from Kendra.
“The skunk sprayed the house! It’s smell’s horrible. I don’t know what to do!”
Trying to get some laundry done, Kendra must have scared the skunk. In response, it sprayed our house. The smell immediately traveled from the basement throughout our spacious 950 square foot home. I told her to pack a bag for her and Addie and head to my mom’s place for the night.
When I finished tutoring, I went home to assess the damage. Never in my life have I ever ever ever smelled anything so horrible. I literally had to pinch my nose closed while I was in the house. I had looked up home remedies before heading home, so as soon as I arrived I got to work placing bowls of apple cider vinegar all through the house. I also lit candles, and then went outside to scrub the house with a mix of baking soda, dish soap, and water. After an hour, I called it quits and went to my mom’s.
The next day, Kendra and I returned to the house to see if the vinegar had helped. It hadn’t. Not even a bit. While I put chicken wire over the dugout of the basement window, Kendra put out more bowls of vinegar. We opened every window of the house, and left them open overnight even though it was freezing outside. The next day, the smell was still as bad as the first night.
In desperation, Kendra went online and ordered a product suggested by a colleague at school – Biocide Systems’ roomSHOCKER. It seemed suspect, but after a bit of research, we dropped $200 on eight shockers. Each shocker comes in what looks like a pint ice-cream container. There’s a pouch filled with what looks like sponges, and a plastic cup you fill with water and pour over the sponges. When you activate the room SHOCKER, it releases Chlorine Dioxide gas, which neutralizes odors, rather than masks them. It sounds scary, but amazingly is 100% biodegradable and eco-friendly.
We set off seven shockers. Three in the basement, one in our bedroom, one in the living room, one in the kitchen, and one in Addie’s room. Miraculously, they worked. We probably could have used one more in the front hallway, but otherwise, the smell was GONE! The roomSHOCKERS were worth every single penny. For the first time in four days, we were able to sleep in our own house.
There are a few caveats. Each roomSHOCKER is only good for 400 sq. feet, which is why we used three in the basement. Additionally, they work best at 50 degrees fahrenheit or above. Though the house was warm enough, our basement was not, so the smell did linger a bit downstairs. (Though three weeks later, it has dissipated.)
Though the shocker got the smell out of most of our clothing, we still did about 10 loads of laundry. Our usual go to – All Free and Clear – didn’t do the trick, so we tried Wisk with OXYclean, and it worked like a charm. Just one wash and the smell was gone. I finally was able to go to school and not have students sniffing the air and asking, “hey, what’s that smell?”
Though I would never recommend it, if your house DOES get skunked (or your car), scrap the home remedies and old wives tales and go straight to the roomSHOCKERS and Wisk.