Skunk spray smells like sulfur and is very strong. Some people report a garlic or onion smell as well. Once sprayed, the scent of a skunk lingers for a long time.

The spray comes from the anal scent glands located on either side of the skunk's anus. The scent is meant to ward off predators. The organic compounds that make skunk spray are called thiols, which consist of one sulfur atom and one hydrogen atom and are also found in garlic and onions. If a person or pet is sprayed, washing with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide eliminates the smell by oxidizing the thiols. Once oxidized, the thiols lose their ability to produce the sulfuric scent.