Masked bandit raccoons are nocturnal mammals that go out at night, looking for food. That’s why it can be tough to keep them off your house without proper planning and execution. But, did you know that you can use various scents to discourage them from entering your house?
Yes, raccoons have a strong sense of smell, which they use to find accessible food sources.
More specifically, they hate scents like hot pepper, onion, garlic, peppermint oil and Epsom salt. But wait, there’s more!
Below, we’ll go over some of the scents that raccoons strongly dislike, and the best ways to use them to your advantage. Stick around to learn more about how you can keep these masked bandits out of your property, and make sure that they’re out for good!
Why Do You Need to Keep Raccoons Out?
Raccoons are very, very intelligent mammals.
They’ve really learned to adapt to their environment – it’s one of the reasons why they’re becoming more common in cities than in forests.
Raccoons have learned to live alongside people because it gives them easy access to food and shelter. Aside from that, raccoons are agile, strong, and their nimble hands make them harder to keep in check than any critter you may encounter.
There are only two reasons why a raccoon is taking up residence in your home: it’s hospitable for them, and it’s the safest place for them to look for food
So, it’s most likely that you’re experiencing an issue related to these reasons.
However, if you leave them unchecked, you’ll encounter worse problems in your property, including:
- Female raccoons that are building nests in your attic or chimney. A raccoon habitat inside your house can only worsen the issues that you face because there’s very little resistance between them and their food source.
- Raccoons going after pets such as birds, fish, and chickens. The more accustomed they get with your property, the more likely this becomes.
- The huge mess they leave behind after feeding. Raccoons eat food leftovers in garbage cans, pet food, birdseed, and crops in your yard.
- The excessive deposit of feces in the swimming pool, yard, or other areas around your property. As it is with geese, this is something you really don’t want to see.
There are more problems associated with raccoons, but these are the most common that you’ll experience. The more you leave them unchecked, the harder it’ll be for you to keep them under control.
The first option that you have when dealing with raccoons is to use scents that will turn them off. Using these scents properly will create an invisible shield around your house to keep them away.
PLEASE NOTE: scents are not as reliable as physical deterrents for deterring raccoons. This may be because they require frequent reapplication. They still can get the job done, regardless.
However, if these little rascals are already nesting inside your house, you may have to be more creative to get rid of them. But first things first, let’s try to keep them out of your property for now, shall we?
If you have a family of raccoons on your property, or they’ve managed to make it inside, leave it to a professional to handle the issue. Check out our nationwide pest control finder to get connected with an exterminator near you in seconds. Using our partner network helps support pestpointers.com. Thanks bunches!
Hot Pepper Keeps Raccoons Away
When raccoons are out, looking for food, their most effective way to find a food source is through their olfactory receptors (responsible for picking up scent.)
Hot pepper is one of the most potent scents that you can use to drive them away because it irritates their sense of smell. So, it’s less likely for them to continue their search for food. If you use hot pepper regularly, it may teach these critters that your property is off-limits for them.
It’s the first that we recommend because it’s almost always available in every household.
There’s one caveat to it, though; hot pepper only irritates their sense of smell, and its scent diminishes over time.
A persistent raccoon will find its way back to your house in a few days if you don’t keep applying hot pepper in places where they’re most likely to find food. So, if you’re going to use it as a raccoon deterrent, be sure to use it regularly and apply it in every location where they’ll find food or pathways that they use to go to their food sources.
For application, sprinkle the pepper onto areas where you don’t want the raccoons visiting. If you’d like more specific information on this raccoon deterrent, visit our guide on using hot pepper to repel raccoons!
Spray a Combination of Onion and Pepper
Hot pepper works effectively against raccoons, but sometimes, temporary irritation isn’t enough to keep them out of your property. So you may want to try a combination of onion and pepper of an equal mixture boiled in water.
This combination will irritate their sense of smell while releasing an unappetizing smell that may help keep raccoons away.
Despite its pungent smell, though, onion and pepper mixture will only last for a few days. The scent diminishes over time, so if you want to keep raccoons out of your property for good, you need to use this combination at least twice a week.
You may also need to spray it in places that they use as their habitat to teach them that getting inside your property will only get their olfactory receptors irritated.
While this is an option, really it’s a temporary solution as is with using ALL scents. They go away after sometime! Here’s our detailed piece on using onions to repel raccoons for some more information on this one.
Peppermint Essential Oil To Deter Raccoons
It takes a LOT of time and effort to use these scents to drive raccoons away from your property. So another viable option for you is to use a scent that most critters hate.
A widely used essential oil, peppermint oil is profound across many industries and works well to keep raccoons at bay
My recommendation is that you purchase a peppermint-based wildlife repellent spray, something like Rodent Sheriff Ultra-Pure Peppermint Spray.
You can even take it to the next level by using peppermint essential oil straight, although this may be more expensive.
Regardless if you use a straight spray or pure essential oil, like any scent, you’ll have to keep reapplying when the scent goes down possibly daily or weekly depending on the strength of the smell.
If you’d like to use this method, you can look at our more detailed guide on using peppermint to repel raccoons, it details some specific DIY peppermint recipes you can use!
Epsom Salt Is the Best for Your Yard
Epsom salt is an excellent deterrent for raccoons and is also an effective fertilizer for your garden.
You won’t be using it inside your house, but if you want to keep these little rascals off your yard, then it’s one of the best products that you can use. It’s easy to apply and doesn’t require mixtures to be effective.
All you have to do is scatter them around your garden, and it should work as a deterrent that can help keep raccoons out.
If you have garbage cans or food bins outside your house, you can also use Epsom salt to discourage them from feeding there, forcing these critters to move to another location where food is more accessible. However, the scent that it produces will diminish over time.
For more in-depth info, check out our guide on using epsom salt as a raccoon deterrent here!
Use Raccoon Eviction Fluid
If you suspect that you’re dealing with a female raccoon inside your house, another option that you can use is an eviction fluid. In research produced by the University Of Nebraska–Lincoln about the efficacy of eviction fluids, it was found that replicating the scent of another a male raccoon could be a viable option to force a nursing raccoon and her young to leave their habitat.
While eviction fluid has been used for quite some time, there’s still needs to be more validity on the method. Nonetheless, it’s still a cheap and, possibly, effective option that you can use to deter these critters.
While there are no guarantees to this method or any method, you can learn more about eviction fluid here.
You can apply this product in the chimney, attic, or anywhere you suspect a nursing raccoon takes care of her young. It’ll release a strong scent that replicates a male raccoon, which is a threat to nursing raccoons.
Predator Urine in the Property Scares Raccoons Off
Aside from scents that irritate them, another deterrent that you can use against raccoons is predator urine. Instead of targeting their olfactory receptors, this scent tricks them into thinking that your house is already a territory of another predator. If raccoons are already using your house as their habitat, they’ll think that a predator just arrived, which will force them to move to a safer location.
When a predator finds a new territory, the first thing it’ll do is to mark the area by urinating around the perimeter.
Ever see your dog growl, runoff, and pee? They are marking their territory!
The best thing about this method is you can take advantage of the predator-prey relationship is to, yes, purchase predator urine.
Check out PredatorPee Original Wolf Urine, as it comes with a spray bottle and tags as well. You can also find these products in many sports centers and online stores.
Different areas have different predators, such as wolves, bobcats, coyotes, or mountain lions. The more familiar a predator is in your area, the more effective it’ll be as a deterrent.
So, do some research on what the common animals are in your area! Figure out the predator prey relationship and be tactiful. If you’d like to use coyote scent instead of wolf, take a peak at our guide on the best coyote urines here!
Where Should You Use These Scents?
If you’re going to use the scents discussed above, you have to be careful with where you place them. Although these are safe for humans and only produce odors that drive raccoons off, it’ll be less effective if you use it in the wrong locations.
Remember, these scents need to be close to the raccoons, and you need to use it in multiple locations around your house. Here are some of the places where you should use these deterrents:
- The pantry or any area where food is accessible to raccoons. These places include your garbage cans, food bins, and other containers inside and outside your house.
- The yard, or more specifically, on your plants, crops, and vegetables that you’re growing in your garden. These crops give them easy access to food, and without any deterrent to keep them off, it’ll be almost impossible to keep them under control.
- The entry points and pathways that they use to enter various areas in your house. This including any holes, wires, and poles that they can go through to get to their food source.
- The perimeter of your property is the most important location where you must use these deterrents. If you can only keep them off specific areas in your house, they’ll still try to roam around to find food. However, if you have these deterrents all over your house, it’ll be less likely for them to return.
- Least accessible places that they can use to build their nest. The attic and chimney are the most common places where these little rascals set their nests. So even if you use deterrents regularly, it’ll still be challenging to keep them out without making their nests inhospitable.
No Scent Is the Best Raccoon Deterrent
So, here’s a little bonus that you can work with — no scent.
It’s the one that raccoons hate the most because they’ll think that there’s no food in the area. If you can make your house free from any food source that these critters might find, it’ll be less likely for them to stay inside your property.
It’s the most effective, but we discussed it last because it won’t be easy without temporarily forcing raccoons to leave your property. Right after using one of the methods we discussed above, the first thing that you need to do is to make sure that there won’t be anything left for them to return.
Remember, the methods we’ve shared with you will only provide temporary deterrence against raccoons. If you’re not going to do anything about it, they’ll be back once they get accustomed to the smell.
Long-Term Solution: Habitat Modification
Raccoons can adapt to almost any environment, as long as it provides them with easy access to food.
They also use their agility to reach places that you never thought would be possible for these critters to use as pathways. Without habitat modification, the methods above will be less effective over time.
That’s why it’s crucial to start making the changes as soon as these critters leave your property!
Preferably before they even get to your yard, but you wouldn’t be here if that were the case 🙂
Here are a few simple steps that you can follow to ensure that these little rascals stay out of your property for good.
Get Rid of Any Smell That Invites Raccoons
Seal your trash cans, food bins, and other places where raccoons may find food. These critters can dig through garbage, squeeze through tight spaces, and use the most inaccessible pathways to reach their food.
So if you’re not going to seal these food sources, they’ll be back in your property once they get accustomed to the scent that you’re using to keep them out. What’s worse is that these food sources could be a huge reason for them to endure the unwanted smell you’re using.
Many of my friends take pride in composting. However, if you don’t use a properly sealed lid and keep the scent down, you’re inviting things like gnats, flies, and every critter in the area over for a free meal.
Make sure you get a properly sealed composting bin that DOESN’T smell. Something like this Visit The Cooler Kitchen Oversized Compost Bin should do the trick.
Close All Entry Points That Raccoons Can Use
Seal your house and remove any access point that raccoons can use to get inside. You must do this step right after you drive them out of your property.
Closing any entry point in your house ensures that even if you stop using scents they hate, they won’t be able to find their way back inside.
You can start by sealing your chimney with a cap that has small holes. Aside from this, you also need to fix the broken windows and vents on your walls that they can squeeze through to get inside.
Raccoons and many other animals can fit through much smaller spaces than you would think. It’s shocking.
One time, my cat (which is slightly smaller than a full-grown raccoon), fit through our garage door opening that was less than 4 inches tall. Animals are agile, and usually get to where they want to go if they’re determined enough. Raccoons also have super dexterous paws that they can open things with!
Seal Your Roof and Clean Your Attic
After sealing broken windows, the next step is for you to seal the roof. There are various ways a raccoon can enter your house through the roof. So you may have to conduct a thorough inspection to find all the areas that they can use to get inside.
If you aren’t experienced going on your roof, make sure you have a local professional come and take care of this one for you.
Check shingles, gaps near the chimney, and any other holes that may be present.
Aside from your chimney, the attic serves as an excellent habitat for these critters, because it’s often left undisturbed.
Bats for instance? They LOVE your attic.
It also gives them easy access to any food source that they might find inside your house. So, be sure to clean this area as soon as you evict the raccoons that are taking up residence with you and seal off any entry points. Here are some more detailed tips we put together to help keep raccoons out of your attic!
Make Your House Less Accessible From the Outside
Remove all the adjacent areas that raccoons can use to reach your house!
These mammals are very agile, and they can climb anything just to reach their habitat or food source. It’s one of the reasons why it can be challenging to get rid of them.
So, if there are tree branches, poles, or wires adjacent to your house, get rid of it to prevent raccoons from having easy access. If you have a birdfeeder, keep these objects away from it, because they can also use it to reach the bird seeds.
Try keeping everything at least a few feet away from your house. Even farther if you’re worried about the raccoons jumping.
This solution directly applies to squirrels too – as they are notorious tree climbers / attic jumpers!
Keep Food Away From a Raccoon’s Reach
Store any excess food that may encourage raccoons to visit you. Food is the most powerful motivator for raccoons to visit your property, or take residence in your house
If you have excess or unused food, make sure that you store it properly and seal it so that it DOESN’T SMELL.
Hungry raccoons will do anything to find food. You can be sure that they’ll take up residence with you if there’s plenty of food around your property.
These food sources include human food, leftovers, pet food, and even the seeds on your bird feeder. This is one of the main things that can attract raccoons to your yard.
Remove Fruits That Fall From Trees
Aside from cutting off the branches adjacent to your house, you may also have to clean the fruits that fall from trees regularly.
Any rotten fruit produces a more pungent smell that can attract a hungry raccoon. So before it starts to become the weak link in all of your efforts to deter raccoons, make sure that you get rid of it and keep it stored in a sealed container.
If the fruit is a dud, dispose of it away from your house or put it in a composting bin!
Of course, removing the fruits that fall from trees is the one that requires constant effort. If you don’t have a fruit tree nearby, you’ll be more than fine in this field. Here’s a full list of plants that raccoons love (newsflash, it’s literally everything!)
Putting a Lid on It!
Well, that’s it!
Just to recap… A raccoon’s sense of smell is its most efficient way to find food, but you can also use it to your advantage when you’re trying to keep them out of your house.
Here are some of the most potent scents that you can use as a deterrent for these critters:
- Hot pepper to irritate their olfactory receptors
- A combination of onion and pepper
- Peppermint essential oil
- Garlic bulbs and garlic juice
- Cinnamon in food and access points
- Ground black pepper in specific locations
- Epsom salt on your yard
- Use raccoon eviction fluids against females
- Predator urine to scare them off
Brown, C. R. (1997). Purple Martin: Progne Subis. American Ornithologists’ Union.
West, V., Hunter, A., & Minter, B. (2016). Evaluating the Effects of Plant Oils on Feral Hog Behavior and Populations at Cowden Plantation, Jackson, SC.
ECHNICALN, H. (2001). COMPANIONP LANTING: BASIC CONCEPTS& Resources.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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