Some people call them trash pandas and think they’re irresistible. Others see them as urban burglars due to their bandit eyes, sneaky ways, and uncanny intelligence. But whether you love them or loathe them, it helps to know their scent preferences. So what smell do raccoons hate? Let’s find out what aromas will send their little noses into an anxious state of existence.
What Smell Do Raccoons Hate?
Ammonia is an extremely useful chemical because it has a lot of nitrogen and hydrogen. It occurs naturally in animal waste, but it’s often synthesized for commercial fertilizers and cleaning products. The nitrogen content helps plants grow faster while the corrosive factor is ideal for dissolving dirt, grime, and stubborn stains. Ammonia is usually a bright yellow hue.
The most recognizable part of ammonia is its smell. Humans hate it, and pests do too. That’s why it’s such a good repellent for rats, mice, squirrels, and rodents. You can spray it in areas where these creatures hang out or you can soak rags in it and make a border around their hotspots. But remember to wear a gas mask while you do it because the scent can be noxious.
You may have heard Ceylon Cinnamon described as ‘True Cinnamon’. It was first discovered in a place called Ceylon, which we now call Sri Lanka. The other type – Cassia Cinnamon – is known as Chinese Cinnamon since that’s where it originated. But when you’re using the spice to get rid of raccoons, its scent and freshness are more important than its variety or its label.
To humans, cinnamon tastes sweet and warm, with a bit of a peppery kick at the back. That’s why it can irritate your throat and lungs if you try to swallow a spoonful. But to raccoons, the overpowering scent makes them stay away. Luckily, cinnamon is an easy repellent to apply. Mix some powder or oil with water in a spray bottle, or just scatter cinnamon sticks around.
3. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is the middle-ground when it comes to hot spices. Black pepper is milder and Tabasco is harsher. But all these pepper plants and chili shrubs contain capsaicin. This chemical gives mammals a burning sensation on their tongues, and it can be just as hot on the way out of their digestive systems. It can make you sweat and your eyes will get watery.
The ‘heat’ can also make your nose runny, and if you accidentally eat some, dairy is a quick way to counteract it. That’s why chili dishes are often served with yogurt or milk curds. The chemical is the plant’s natural way of preventing wild mammals from eating it, though birds and reptiles can handle it. So a little chili powder or colorful pepper plants deter raccoons.
Onions can be a bit puzzling because white onions are yellow and red onions are purple. But to be fair, red bananas, cabbage, and grapes are purple as well, so it’s relative. Color wheels aside, all onions have allyl sulfide aka allicin. It’s the stinging chemical that makes you cry when you’re cutting them in the kitchen. It also clears up your nasal passage as a side effect.
This chemical comprises the plant’s natural defense against aphids and other bugs. They’ll bite the onion once, feel the burn, and never approach it again. And it works on rodents as well, so their previous experience warns them to stay away from onions and anything that shares the scent. To send raccoons scampering, use onion plants, onion oil, or even soup.
In the garden, both onions and garlic grow as bulbs. Other herbs within this family include shallots, chives, leeks, and scallions, as well as allium flowers. For reference, allium is Latin for garlic. All these plants have allicin. And what smell do raccoons hate? Well, allicin is high on that list. The logical way to keep them away is to plant garlic and all those related bulbs.
But you may not be good at gardening, so you can use oils derived from the plants to make a repellent tonic. Garlic and onion sprays are especially potent if you mix them with pepper. Just add a few spoonfuls of garlic, onion, and pepper powder to a spray bottle and top it up with water. You can also soak or boil chili, garlic, and onion in hot water and use it as a base.
Mothballs contain dichlorobenzene as well as naphthalene. Most of us use them by locking them in closets where moths have chewed through clothes. But as you’ve probably noticed, the smell lasts a long time and can be toxic to humans. So if you’re putting them in a cabinet, keep the doors closed to stop the poisonous scent from spreading to the rest of the house.
It’s safer to put infested clothes in a garment bag or an airtight plastic bin together with the mothballs. That way, the smell is contained. Raccoons equally hate the smell, so you can use them in a shed or crevice that they use to access the house, but only if humans don’t go into that area. Or you could dilute the smell by putting it in a sock or stocking instead of open air.
Mint plants have bright, pretty leaves that add an aesthetic touch to your garden. They smell amazing – to humans. And it’s nice to have a steady supply of fresh leaves for your cocktails, desserts, or mint tea. It’s a versatile herb with over 20 varieties, and it even has cousins like wintergreen. Some mint types have flavors and aromas leaning toward chocolate or pepper.
But while humans love a minty palate, raccoons don’t, so planting mint on your window sills and ledges can stop them from sneaking in that way. You can also place cotton balls dipped in mint oil or minty teabags along gaps in the fence. These holes are convenient entry points for rodents so they’re a smart place to put your repellent scents. You can spritz your hedges too.
8. Epsom Salt
Epsom Salt is a popular remedy for stress and sore muscles. Despite its name, it’s not the usual salt (sodium chloride). Instead, it’s magnesium sulfate and it’s the mix of oxygen, sulfur, and magnesium that makes it medicinal. It’s often infused with aromatherapy oils like lavender or eucalyptus. The combined smell of these elements is unpleasant to raccoons.
It’s one of the easiest raccoon repellents to use because you can just sprinkle the salt directly on trash cans and entryways around the perimeter. The toughest part is finding all the spots these critters use to get into your house or backyard. Once you’ve confirmed that, make a salt circle to keep them out. But Epsom Salt dissolves in rain and dew so replenish it regularly.
9. Male Hormones
In agricultural spaces, breeders, farmers, and vets might use male hormones as part of their reproductive process. Especially if they’re targeting special traits or scheduling the birth of offspring. But male raccoon hormones can be a clever way to keep these rodent families out of your backyard. A male raccoon will recognize it as someone else’s territory and stay away.
And if a female gets attracted by the scent, she’ll soon realize there’s no mate nearby and go hunting elsewhere. Meanwhile, if a nursing mum is raising her babies in your household, the male pheromones will suggest a guy around who may threaten her cubs or kits, so she’ll pack up her family and leave. Plus, it helps that the male raccoon scent doesn’t annoy us humans.
10. Predator Pee
Along the same lines, the presence of predator urine can scare raccoons because they think one of their enemies is around. Options include cats, dogs, coyotes, wolves, and mongooses. Skunk spray can work too, because no creature can stand that smell! If you have pets, you can try spreading used cat litter, since wild raccoons don’t get along with unfamiliar felines.
You can also use cat fur clumps or shredded pet blankets. This won’t work with ferals that previously lived indoors though, since they’re friendly with pets. Another idea is to use snake pheromones, or even the feathers of owls, hawks, eagles, falcons, and other predatory birds that hunt raccoons. Be careful when spraying predator scents – you don’t want them on you!
Most households have vinegar. And even if you don’t, you can do a quick store run. The most common kinds are white vinegar, brown balsamic vinegar, and apple cider vinegar. They’re used as a DIY cleaning agent when you mix them with baking soda. They’re also used in lots of recipes, including the higher-end types like rice vinegar and wine vinegar – red and white.
All these condiments have a sharp tangy taste and a sour scent thanks to their mild acidic content. It’s one of the smells that raccoons hate and has the double benefit of killing germs and dissolving dirt. You can mix vinegar with water in a spray bottle and spritz it onto the areas where raccoons love to play. You can also douse window sills, screens, and doorknobs.
Humans love roses for their pretty petals and colorful scents. But these flowery fragrances are less attractive to raccoons and other rodents. So planting strategic rose bushes could chase your unwanted guests into a less aesthetic neighborhood. Growing roses takes work though, and many varieties are seasonal. You can take a shortcut with rosewater or rose oil.
You probably don’t want to waste your pricy perfume, but you can buy concentrated rose oil or heated rose water. Use them to make a spray that you can point at raccoon hotspots. Or you can saturate cotton balls in it and place them outside windows, doors, crawlspaces, and other parts of the house that raccoons can access. Rose-flavored incense can work as well.
13. Liquid Fence
Liquid Fence is a commercial product that targets pests like mice, squirrels, raccoons, deer, geese, turkeys, snakes, and moles. They even have variants that work against cats and dogs, whether they’re strays or your nosy neighbor’s pets. It’s made from natural ingredients and repellent oils like castor, cinnamon, cornmint, cedar garlic, citronella, geraniol, and eugenol.
These products keep away unwanted visitors without harming them. You can buy it in liquid or granular form, and the aroma is strong enough to mask raccoon scent trails and attractive food smells. Liquid Fence has specific formulations that target various wildlife, and their All-Purpose Animal Repellent is especially effective against rats, mice, raccoons, and squirrels.
Do you know other smells that raccoons hate? Help us lengthen this list in the comments!