NORMAN, Oklahoma - Researchers at the University of Oklahoma said they have discovered the first safe and effective remedy to combat skunk spray. 

Five years ago, researcher Lin Du and principal investigator Robert Cichewicz began looking into ways to harness fungus.

“Fungi love to use chemical warfare to fight against each other,” Cichewicz said. “They make molecules kill and fight for resources.”

Researchers said were able to turn the fungus against the smelly molecules, causing it to neutralize the skunk odor in about three minutes.

During the research, they took on other do it your self-solutions on the internet.

Chicewicz said one mixture involved hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap. They say it was effective in removing the smell, however, it proved to be highly oxidized. 

“It will damage skin, it will whiten hair, damage clothing. Not an ideal formulation,” he said.

And as for tomato juice, Chicewice said it does not work at all.

“You’ve got this strong skunk smell, now you introduce a second smell, and a person’s brain kind of gives up and you perceive the scent is reduced, when, in fact, it comes back when you wash it away,” Chichwicz said.

The group also tested commercially available options and found them to be little more than water-based soaps, that while the may help, are far from an odor eliminator. 

The OU researchers said they are working with other labs to test the effectiveness in a cosmetic application, which will require additional testing.

“Really the biggest impediment right now is that we are scientists, Chichewicz said. “Although we can see and envision and want to get this to the market, we need a partnership, someone who can come in and steer this project forward.”