Onions: Here’s How to Use Them to Repel Raccoons

Raccoon (Procyon lotor), also known as the North American raccoon.

Raccoons are a common menace in human spaces such as cities and suburbs due to their high adaptability and undying persistence in the search for food. These roly-poly critters can damage properties, make unwanted dens near our house, and cause general damage that can be expensive. Thankfully you can keep them out using onions. How?

A raccoon’s strong sense of smell is its number one survival trait. This is why they can easily fall victim to an onion-based repellent. Onions possess sulfoxides and disulfides that are strong enough to trigger a raccoon’s olfactory nerves to the point it will evade an area due to irritation.

There are several ways you can use this vegetable to successfully repel the critters out of your premises in no time. Read on as we take a comprehensive look at how onions can repel raccoons.

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How to Scare Raccoons Away from your House (With Onions)

There are various ways you can use onions to keep raccoons away from your vicinity. Here are three methods:

Grow Onions 

If your garden has been ravaged by raccoons, it might be time to grow some onions. This strategy will deter raccoons from invading, as the mere stench is enough to trigger their olfactory nerve aggressively.

Spray Onion Scent Repellent 

Spray affected areas of your garden, den sites, and any hotspot with your onion-based scent repellent via a spray bottle. We’ll talk more about how to make this spray later.

Spray a Piece of Clothing

This method involves spraying a rag or an absorbent piece of clothing with an onion repellent. This reduces the chances of staining your environment while you deter raccoons from invading again. It also reduces excess use of the spray.

How Do You Make Homemade Raccoon Repellent (With Onions) 

What type of repellent? – As said earlier, raccoons have a great sense of smell. It would be best to take advantage of this fact by cooking up a scent repellent strong enough to scramble their olfactory nerves. So a repellent with onions as the main ingredient is a suitable option. 

What you’ll need:

  • A Pot
  • Spray bottle (2 quarts) 
  • One Onion 
  • Water
  • Two chili peppers 


  • Boil a sensible amount of water. 
  • Dice up one onion bulb and pour it into the pot of water.  
  • Dice the peppers and then pour onto the onion mixture. 
  • Mix thoroughly and let cool.
  • Fill the spray bottle with the mixture and voila! You’re set! 
A view looking down on a group of onions on a worn butcher block cutting board.

Is Onion a Good Raccoon Repellent? 

Like most pungent vegetable repellents, onions are great at keeping pests such as raccoons at bay. But still, they have their disadvantages as well. 

They’re Pungent Enough

Onions make a great repellent because it contains sulfoxides and disulfides which are pervasive enough to make your nose tickle sharply. 

A raccoon’s sense of smell is far greater than us humans, so you can imagine how devastating it would be for a raccoon to smell such a strong odor.

Less Toxic to the Environment 

It’s a fact that synthetic repellents are more likely to harm the environment. The materials and chemicals they are made from just weren’t meant to be in nature.

For instance, if raccoons are ruining your garden, spraying an artificial repellent could lead to severe damage to any nearby plant or even just the soil composition. Also, the smell could be hard to get rid of, so you most likely have to make do with it.

Natural Use

Artificial raccoon repellents can irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction if you don’t put on the appropriate protective gear or apply the chemical safely. 

But when you make use of a natural homemade onion repellent, you’re not using toxic chemicals!

Doesn’t Last Long 

Sadly, the efficacy of a homemade onion-based repellent won’t last that long given all the ingredients are natural. Especially when compared to synthetic repellents which claim to last for up to 30 days such as the Havahart Critter Ridder

A natural repellent would have you spraying at least twice a week.

Not Weatherproof 

The onion repellent is made strictly from natural ingredients, so its efficacy will be wiped out in probably one or two washes of rainwater. 

What Vegetables do Raccoons Hate?

Apart from onions, several other vegetables/herbs will keep our masked bandits at bay (scent-wise). Any of them would be a great addition to your garden as a deterrent plant or perfect ingredients to your natural repellent mixture. 

Here are a few suggestions, and their effect on the raccoon:


This mini bulb vegetable gives off allicin which is the plant’s natural defensive mechanism to fight pests. It also serves as a good deterrent for critters like raccoons because the allicin it produces is too strong for its sense of smell. 

The garlic overwhelms their senses to the point it is too stressed or too distracted to detect food. In the end, the raccoon will evade the area out of irritation, and trundle off to find food elsewhere.


Peppermint possesses a strong odor that’ll desensitize the raccoon’s sense of smell just like onions. But the major difference is that peppermint offers a pleasant smell which would go better with your home or environment than the onion scent.

Cayenne & Black Pepper 

Both contain a volatile oil called capsaicin which irritates the olfactory nerve of the raccoon. The effect is similar to what we humans experience when we perceive their musty odor, but it’s 10 times worse for the raccoon’s advanced olfactory system.

The tasty spiciness that we humans associate with hot sauce is far more intense for a raccoon. If ingested or smelled, capsaicin will cause a burning sensation and alert the raccoon to spit out whatever it has tried to eat.

If you’re interested, you can read our full list of scents that raccoons hate here.

How to Get Rid of Raccoons for Good 

You can’t keep spraying potential visiting spots forever. Spraying a scent repellent is more of a quick fix. If you want to get rid of the critters for good, you have to create an environment that does not welcome their presence. 

A pair of wild raccoons

Here are some ways to encourage a raccoon-free environment:

Handle your Garbage 

Unmonitored, loosely open garbage bags around unsecured garbage bins is a gold mine to raccoons. They’ll rip and tear through nylons for your waste while littering your whole garbage area. 

The best way to prevent such atrocities from occurring is by securing your garbage bags in a tight-fitted bin with preferably a metal lid. This will avoid laying out a buffet for our rotund pals.

Always Keep your Environment Clean 

To prevent constant raccoon invasions, you need to ensure your environment is free of litter. Especially if wasted food is involved. After a picnic or grilling session, be sure to pick up any dropped food.

An invasion usually starts with crumbs or dropped food that attracts the raccoon to your yard. From there, they will begin to scout your property for other necessities such as a garbage site, warm den, and a water source.

Secure Pet Food 

The food you leave out for your pet is also tasty to raccoons. So before you go to sleep, clear out your pet’s bowl to prevent attracting raccoons. If you plan to leave your pet’s food out all night, try to make it inaccessible. For instance, bring your pet indoors and lock your dog/pet door.

Eliminate Den and Hiding Spots

Usually, raccoons are not that far away from the crime scene. They could be living in a small enclosure large enough to fit them within your premises. 

It could be your backyard shed, in the trees, an opening in the wall, or a hole covered up by tall grasses or bushes. Whichever it may be, you need to seal it up or get rid of these hiding spots. Don’t give raccoons a reason to be in your yard!

Make Use of Light and Sound

Raccoons are stealthy animals that need the dark to evade detection whilst enjoying the comfort of silence. You can take advantage of these facts by lighting up the potential raccoon hotspot. 

Also, you can keep them away by placing a radio or baby monitor nearby. The sudden noise will startle the raccoon and may cause it to rummage around in someone else’s yard instead.

Make Water Inaccessible 

Apart from food, a water source is another factor that can attract raccoons to your home. So dry up puddles where possible with sawdust and ensure your pet bowl doesn’t have any water left before you head to sleep. 

If you have water-based facilities such as a swimming pool, fountain, or fish pond, try to make it inaccessible to raccoons. You’ll most likely have to adopt more advanced methods of restricting raccoons from your water sources such as netting or fencing.

Motion Detectors 

Installing motion detectors in your garden or garbage section is another great way to deter raccoons from invading. As the motion detector would trigger a sound or activate lights to deter detected trespassers.

Ultrasonic Sound Generator 

This device would emit low-frequency sound waves, flashing lights, and predator noises that can scare raccoons. You can make use of the Loraffe Rodent Repellent. It combines auditory and visual deterrents to really scare our furry nighttime trespasser. 

Where Do Raccoons Hide in Houses? 

You might be seeing signs of raccoon activity but it seems there is no raccoon in sight. Chances are it’s not that far away. They could be in your house, garden or backyard. 

You can also read our full guide on the places that raccoons nest here.

Here are some likely places to catch a raccoon hanging around:

Within the Ceiling or Walls 

The ceiling and the hollow walls of your home are great hiding spots for raccoons. They usually make a thudding and scratching sound. A good way to detect them is by hitting the area from which you’re hearing the sounds. This will cause the raccoon to move and struggle to avoid detection. 

To get rid of the raccoons, first, find the opening where they are entering. Raccoons must leave the house to find food and water, so they must be finding their way in somehow. 

Once you discover the entry point, simply wait for the raccoons to exit the house and then seal up the opening. Be sure the raccoon(s) are all out before sealing the entry point, or you’ll have a very angry and very damaging raccoon stuck inside your house.

Unsecured Openings

An unsecured opening or crawl space is a structural glitch or damage that exposes your home to critter invaders. They are usually found in the basement or base of a wall, where a raccoon is most likely nursing its young or piling up its excretes. 

Similar to ceiling- and wall-dwelling raccoons, get rid of them by finding the unsecured opening. Wait until the raccoon(s) have left, and then seal the opening.

The Ducts

Another easy den for a raccoon is in the ductwork of a building. It is large enough, well-ventilated, and has a big enough entry point for a rotund raccoon. You can detect them from the tiny steps you hear in the ceiling or the foul trash smell that is circulating in the building.

To fix this problem, be sure there is mesh, netting, or metal coverings over the exhaust of ductwork leading outside. This is likely where the raccoons are getting in.

The Attic 

This part of the house is quite easy to invade due to the ductile nature of the room. As the attic is where three different building materials collide. So a problem-solving animal such as a raccoon should find it easy to break in.

Because attics rarely get used or entered by us humans, raccoons can find their way in by damaging siding or ceiling tiles and we would never know it until we hear them scurrying around above our heads.

The easiest way to solve this problem is by finding the opening, waiting until the raccoons leave, and sealing it up tight so they can’t re-enter.


Another possible den for raccoons is in the chimney, as it provides enough warmth for birthing kits and raising them. This warmth exists due to the furnace releasing smoke in the fireplace below. So it’s most likely you’ll get visitors/invaders during the winter.

Many states have banned the trapping and relocation of raccoons due to the possibility of spreading sicknesses to raccoons in other regions. Because of this, the best method to get rid of raccoons in the house is to let them leave on their own and then sealing the entry point behind them.

With that being said, sometimes you have to get help from a professional. Consider using our nationwide pest control finder to get connected with a wildlife professional near you in seconds, for free! Using our partner network helps support pestpointers.com.

So There You Have It! 

Now you know that onions are powerful in the right hands (yours). And it’s up to you to make use of this vegetable responsibly as you rid your environment of pesky raccoons from your garden, garbage dump, pet cage, ceilings, walls, and so on. 

But do remember that spraying a scent repellent isn’t enough to deter them for a long time. A much better approach is to use the repellent while practicing habitat modification to make your yard less attractive to raccoons.

Also, remember to contact a professional for expert assistance if you need it.


Gehrt, S. D., & Spencer, D. L. (1990). Raccoon Denning Behavior in Eastern Kansas as Determined from Radio-Telemetry. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, 93(3-4), 71-78

Lopez, A. D. (2002). When Raccoons Fall Through Your Ceiling: The Handbook for Coexisting with Wildlife. University of North Texas Press.

Prange, S., Gehrt, S. D., & Wiggers, E. P. (2003). Demographic Factors Contributing to High Raccoon Densities in Urban Landscapes. Journal of Wildlife, 67(2), 324-333.

Kovalkovičová, N., Šutiaková, I., Pistl, J., & Šutiak, V. (2009). Some food toxic for pets. Interdisciplinary toxicology, 2(3), 169.

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