If you live in an area with raccoons, although they are generally not dangerous to humans, you can rest assured it is only a matter of time before they break into your garbage can, steal food from your animals, or cause other mischiefs.
While they might look cute and cuddly, raccoons are a nuisance and can spread disease to animals and people alike.
You’ll both be better off if you can keep them away from your property, but that is easier said than done.
Sometimes you will see bleach recommended as a raccoon repellent. Does it work? Can bleach keep raccoons away?
Yes, bleach can repel raccoons, but it usually only works temporarily. Raccoons will get used to the odor and eventually ignore it.
Now, you definitely shouldn’t go splashing bleach around all over the place without a good reason, but you can use it to get raccoons off of your back and out of your trash can for a time. This article will tell you everything you need to know.
Why Does the Bleach Repel Raccoons?
Bleach repels raccoons because of its strong, offensive odor. It is a caustic, grating smell that irritates the nose, that is for sure! When a raccoon smells bleach, it is sort of an assault on its senses.
Most animals, especially prey animals and intelligent animals like raccoons are highly wary of any unusual or novel changes in their environment, and the scent bleach definitely fits that bill.
Invariably, raccoons will avoid or retreat from it when they detect it.
Consider too that raccoons have an excellent sense of smell; though not as impressive as their sense of touch, raccoons do rely on their olfactory senses to locate food, choose mates, and mark their territories.
So, when you use bleach to repel raccoons, you are essentially bombarding their sensitive noses with an overwhelming, noxious odor that is highly unpleasant to them.
How Do You Keep Raccoons off Your Property With Bleach?
You can use bleach to keep raccoons away via spot treatment, or even in a limited perimeter fashion.
Simply place a small quantity of bleach directly in the areas where raccoons are causing problems, and they should quickly retreat from it next time they approach.
A shot of bleach in and near your trashcan will keep them off of and out of it, for instance.
For perimeter protection, mix up a very strong solution of bleach and water (about a 1:1 ratio) and spray down any likely places that the raccoons may approach or try to enter.
You can also soak some rags or towels in a bleach solution and place them around the perimeter of your property as an alternative method.
Be Cautious When Employing Bleach as a Repellent
Bleach, obviously, requires some care in this usage as it is definitely against the package instructions.
Bleach will destroy colored clothes, obviously, but you must also take care that an accidental and potentially dangerous reaction cannot occur.
You see, when you mix certain chemicals with bleach (namely ammonia), they can release chlorine gas, which is very harmful if inhaled.
To avoid this problem, think twice before pouring a shot of bleach into your trashcan or anywhere else it might be possible for chemicals to mix with it.
Also use caution to ensure that the bleach cannot enter any water sources or contaminate soil, as this would obviously be bad for the environment.
Sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient in most bleach formulations, does break down over time with exposure to air but that does not mean that it cannot cause unintended harm until that happens.
Will Bleach Hurt the Raccoons?
Bleach should not harm raccoons since they will likely flee from it when they smell it, but if they come into contact or are trapped in close confines with it it might hurt or even kill them.
Bleach is a caustic, corrosive substance and it will burn the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract if those tissues are exposed to it. Inhalation of bleach fumes, as mentioned before, is also very dangerous.
Raccoons are not immune to these effects, and might well come into contact with bleach if they overcome their initial aversion to the odor, particularly when it is placed in or near the trash can.
Is Bleach a Permanent Solution to Raccoon Intrusion?
That brings us to the other shortcoming of using bleach in this way: it is invariably a short-term solution.
Though it is not impossible that some skittish animals might be frightened away completely after encountering bleach, it is unlikely.
There are two reasons for this: the first is that bleach breaks down quickly when exposed to air.
Do you ever notice how the smell of bleach fades away once you have applied or used it for anything else? Same thing here.
Once the smell is gone its power over raccoons likewise disappears. You might have as little as a couple of hours of “coverage” from bleach once you apply it.
Then you will need another application to keep it going. Definitely not a “set and forget” option!
Second, raccoons are clever. Very clever. They are highly adaptable and have been known to figure out ways around all sorts of deterrents, including those placed there by people.
They also grow quite used to annoyances and even perceived threats once they learn they are of no consequence.
Bleach Is Best Used as a Temporary Measure
Because of this, bleach is best used to temporarily give you a brief respite against marauding raccoons until you can bring other resources to bear on the problem. It is not a long-term solution and should not be used as such.
Have a Plan When Your “Regular” Raccoons To Return in Time
If you have raccoons in and around your property that live on it, or nearby, you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be back soon after you try bleach. They might give you a day or two, maybe even a week, but they will be back.
Your tactic with the bleach might get lucky and send them looking for an easier, safer meal elsewhere but it is just as likely that they will circle around and come back to try their luck again, despite the bleach.
For clans of raccoons living close to home, you’ll need a more reliable and permanent solution.
All in all, bleach can work as a raccoon repellent, but it is not ideal and should be used with caution.
If you have persistent problems with raccoons, your best bet is to contact a local wildlife control company to help you take care of them once and for all.
Are There Other Repellent Alternatives to Bleach?
Not for nothing, some people are rightly unsettled by the idea of splashing bleach around all over the place.
If that describes you, or if you have children or pets that might come into contact with bleach, there are other, natural options available.
One of these is using concentrated natural oils. Peppermint oil is one example that is known to be effective at repelling raccoons and other animals.
It is not as caustic as bleach, does not break down as quickly, and can be used more liberally around the property without posing the same risks to people or pets. Plus it smells pretty good, at least in moderation!
You might also want to try using pepper, either black pepper or cayenne. Raccoons have extremely sensitive noses and these spices can be quite irritating, even painful, especially in the case of cayenne.
If they get in their eyes or up their nose you can expect them to give up whatever they are doing.
Scattering lots of pepper or cayenne powder around the perimeter or other trouble spots can help keep raccoons at bay.
Now, it can also harm pets and kids, but it does no lasting damage aside from watery eyes and some stinging pain.
Lastly, consider using vinegar. Though not a sure thing, some folks have reported success using vinegar to repel raccoons much in the same way that bleach does.
It is cheap, readily available, and will not harm people, pets, or the environment. You can give it a try and see if it works for you.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.