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Tomato Skunk Stink Cure

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A well-known North American remedy for being sprayed by a skunk is to take a bath in tomato juice—although tomato paste, tomato sauce, and even just tomatoes themselves are also popular alternatives. In fiction, whenever a character is sprayed by a Smelly Skunk, they'll be forced to take a bath in some kind of tomato solution.

Unfortunately, this doesn't work in real life, at least not in the way that most people think—at the most, tomato juice will just mask the smell instead of truly getting rid of it. There are better remedies out there than dousing yourself in tomatoes. The most popular recommendation, for those curious, is a combination of peroxide, baking soda, and liquid detergent.note  This also counts as Bizarre Beverage Use for juice and Unconventional Food Usage for paste, sauce, soup, and raw tomatoes.

Sub-Trope of Artistic License – Botany and Grub Tub.


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    Comic Strips 
  • In this Rugrats comic strip, Phil and Lil see what they think is a cat. Phil notes that he never saw a cat with a white stripe on its back before. In the next panel, the twins are seen taking a bath in a tub filled with tomato juice.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Almost Perfect (2014): After the poodle Breaker has a run-in with a skunk, Bess and Benny wash him in tomato juice.
  • Animorphs: One book sees Visser Three get skunked. The Visser has them cornered, but Ax points out that the smell is going to linger, and that returning to his spaceship (an environment not known for being easy to air out by opening a window) will only transfer the smell and require a weeks-long cleaning at a major space station. The Visser lets them go in exchange for the secret, and the book ends with Tobias reporting the Visser is now a lovely shade of purple, and the Animorphs musing that they should maybe have told him he should bathe in tomato juice, not grape.
  • A Dog's Purpose: Bailey comes across a skunk while wandering in the woods. He doesn't know what it is, goes to investigate, and ends up sprayed. His owners are forced to bathe him in tomato juice and he isn't let in the house for a few days. Unfortunately, Bailey doesn't correlate the smell with the skunk and tries to get near her a second time. After one more tomato bath, he figures out that maybe he should avoid skunks.
  • Fudge: In Fudge-a-Mania, Turtle the dog gets sprayed by a skunk, and Buzzy Tubman Senior, Sheila's grandfather, is the first to suggest making him bathe in tomato juice. Peter and Fudge's dad Warren drives away to get some but ends up buying a special shampoo called Skunked instead, which presumably works better.
  • Bat and the Waiting Game: Referenced and averted. Bat smuggles Thor the skunk into Janie's school play, and he sprays in the middle of her solo, causing everyone to flee the auditorium. Afterwards, Bat's mom washes his clothes with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap, and calls everyone who was at the play to give them the recipe. Bat hears her telling multiple people that tomato juice doesn't work.
  • The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks: Used in book 4 after Fluffy gets sprayed by a panicked skunk that he tried to move away from him. Since tomato juice also contains salt, which can kill plants, Michael and his family have to carefully apply it and then wash it off in a hurry to make sure he won't get hurt further.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Fuller House: Stephanie, Tommy, and Max have to bathe themselves in tomato soup when a skunk ends up getting loose in the Harmon Veterinary.
  • In the C-plot of the Good Luck Charlie episode, "Charlie in Charge", Bob is on his way to take Amy to the spa when he finds a coupon for it that expires the next day. However, he gets called into an extermination job to remove a captured possum. Since he is too big to fit into the crawl space where the possum is captured, he sends Amy in to get it out, only for them to find out that it wasn't a possum that got captured, it was a skunk that ends up spraying Amy. When Bob and Amy return home, Bob has Amy stay outside the house and scrub herself with tomato juice in the hope that it will get rid of the smell.
  • The Jackass skit "The Skunk" ends with Johnny Knoxville pouring tomato juice on himself in the shower after, of course, getting sprayed by a skunk.
  • One of the various myths tested by the Mythbusters. The result: the smell of the sauce masked the stench, but it didn't get rid of it completely. A better solution was to wash the sprayed part thoroughly with commercial cleaners, preferably those with an oxygen solution.
  • The Partridge Family has an episode, "But the Memory Lingers On," where the Partridges all get skunked on the way to a show. Reuben comes up with the tomato juice bath cure. It works, but then their dog Simone, who wasn't washed yet, gets the stink all over them again.
  • Oddly invoked on one episode of Scrubs where the stench involved wasn't even generated by a skunk. "Sunny" Dey informs her colleagues, as calmly as she can, that she's going home to bathe in tomato juice after she's unlucky enough to be in the same room as one patient's particularly rancid fart.
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Smelly Car", Elaine's hairstylist offers tomato sauce as a backup plan to get rid of the super-strong and persistent bad smell from Jerry's car. Toward the episode's ending, she accepts it.
  • Two and a Half Men: Alan gets sprayed by a skunk in "Skunk, Dog Crap and Ketchup". He tries to clean himself with Herb's garden hose to no avail, so Herb suggests tomato juice. He immediately adds he doesn't have any, but he does have V8 Vegetable Juice, which may not taste like tomato juice but Alan can't smell any worse anyway. The V8 doesn't work, so they try ketchup. It doesn't work either and Alan has to leave smelling like skunk, ketchup, and the dog crap he stepped in.
  • Zoey 101: In the episode "Bad Girl", a skunk sprays Michael and Logan, making them seek odor removal. They try drinking multiple cans of tomato juice, only to learn that they were supposed to bathe in it.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Under the Umbrella Tree: At the end of the episode "Twins," when Gloria and Jacob get sprayed by Sparky and Spunky Skunk, Iggy and Holly are revolted, but Gloria and Jacob take it in stride, since it's happened to them before, and calmly ask Holly if she has any tomato juice so they can wash themselves.

  • Breaking Cat News: Elvis gets sprayed by a skunk and then put in a tomato juice bath. Naturally, he's extremely annoyed about it.
  • Comes up every so often in Kevin & Kell, with skunks showing up as recurring characters or extras every once in a while. Angelique, who has adopted several skunks, has a water tower of tomato juice attached to her house.
  • This is invoked in this Questionable Content strip, mostly to embarrass Elliot. When it actually happens, however, Yay recommends the actual remedy.
  • Sabrina Online: In one strip Sabrina and her boyfriend R.C. get cornered by a mugger. Sabrina sprays the mugger, and R.C. gets caught in the crossfire. Cue this trope.

    Western Animation 
  • In the American Dad! episode "An Irish Goodbye", Jeff gets sprayed by a skunk. Hayley cleans him but can't quite get the smell out, so she asks Francine to get her a big can of tomato juice when she goes to Costco. Francine refuses and Jeff is left to solve the issue himself.
  • In the BoJack Horseman episode "BoJack Kills", Todd and Mr. Peanutbutter get sprayed by a skunk and use the tomato juice method to get rid of the smell.
  • In one episode of Curious George, the titular monkey comes across a skunk. He goes close to it to study it and gets sprayed. The Man with the Yellow Hat gives him a bath of tomato juice. This happens multiple times throughout the episode, the man remarking that he's down to his last bottle.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Meg Stinks", Brian dumps and bathes himself with tons of tomato juice after getting sprayed by a skunk. It doesn't work.
  • Kamp Koral: In "The Taste of Defeat", Plankton gets sprayed by some skunk snails. To get rid of the smell, Karen puts Plankton in a can of tomato juice and shakes it.
  • In the Katie and Orbie episode "Peeheew!" Orbie gets sprayed by a skunk and the parents wash him with tomato juice in the kiddie pool outside. It takes four baths before the smell finally goes away.
  • In the Little Bear episode "The Wedding," where two skunks get married and Little Bear is accidentally sprayed by the bride, the final scene shows Little Bear in a bubble bath with a can of tomato juice added to it.
  • In the The Loud House episode, "The Boss Maybe", Lana gets sprayed by a skunk. Leni later gives her a bath in tomato juice, much to the latter's disdain.
  • Molly of Denali: In "A Splash Of Mink", Molly and Trini were sprayed by a mink. They find an online article that says that tomato juice gets rid of mink smell, but when Molly and Trini try it, it doesn't work. Nat tells them not to believe everything they read.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the episode "Winter Wrap Up", while waking up the animals from their hibernation, Twilight Sparkle gets sprayed by an entire family of skunks, and later she is shown taking a bath into a tub filled with tomato juice.
  • In the PAW Patrol episode "Pups Save a Surprise", Marshall rigs his cannons to shoot tomato juice after Mr. Porter gets sprayed by a skunk.
  • Subverted in the Puppy Dog Pals episode "A Stinky Story". After Hissy gets sprayed by a skunk, this is one of the remedies Keia attempts to remove the smell. Needless to say, it doesn't work out so well.
  • In the Regular Show episode "Skunked", Rigby gets sprayed by a were-skunk and will turn into one unless he can get rid of the smell. Naturally, the solution is tomato paste.
  • Discussed in the Rugrats (1991) episode, "Chuckie Gets Skunked". After Chuckie gets skunked, Chas tries everything to get rid of the smell. Didi and Stu question Chas if he bathed Chuckie in tomato juice or tomato paste, respectively—Chas claims he tried both, but it didn't get rid of the skunk smell and just made a mess of the bathtub. Bathing him in borsht does the job, though.
  • In the episode "Looking for Mr. Goodbart" of The Simpsons, Homer thinks he's about to catch a Stunkasan in Peekimon Get, but actually is approaching and agitating a real skunk. After getting sprayed, Marge gives him a tomato juice bath. The result is that it seems to have helped, but Homer also threw vodka and celery into his kiddie pool, so it wasn't just tomato juice he bathed in.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man episode "Market Forces", Spider-Man gets stuck with a persistent garbage smell after fighting Shocker in a dump. J. Jonah Jamerson, upon smelling Peter, assumes he got the stench photographing the scene and tells him that tomato juice is the only thing that will get rid of the smell. This results in a Brick Joke at the end when Aunt May asks Peter why he smells like tomato juice.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: The short "Out of Odor", which is a part of the episode "Viewer Mail Day", has Elmyra wanting to capture Fifi La Fume because she mistakes her for a cat, but Fifi's strong stench is a powerful deterrent. So Elmyra douses her with tomato juice to get rid of the smell so she can cuddle Fifi. Fifi is eventually able to wash off the juice and tries to fight back. Unfortunately, an allergic reaction to roses leaves Elmyra unable to smell anything, which allows her to capture Fifi.
  • Total Drama Action: In "Dial M for Merger", the contestants each need to defuse a stink bomb with undisclosed content. They fail and so they are treated to a bath of tomato soup that doubles as dinner to get rid of the stench. They have to soak for over twelve hours to get any effect.
  • Twice in the T.U.F.F. Puppy episode, "Law and Odor", Kitty gets sprayed by a group of skunks when they get scared. She's later seen being lowered into a vat of tomato juice.
  • In The Venture Bros. episode "Pinstripes & Poltergeists", Brock Samson and Shore Leave try a tomato bath to get rid of the stench of a chemical weapon's lab they took down. Notably, it doesn't work, causing Hunter Gathers to comment they now smell like "tomato and crap soup".
  • Subverted in the Wild Kratts episode "Skunked!". After Jimmy gets sprayed by a spotted skunk, the crew use tomato soup as their first attempt to get rid of the smell. It doesn't work. At the end, they correctly use the combination of peroxide, baking soda, and liquid detergent to finally wash off the scent.