What Scent Will Keep Raccoons Away? | Information & Facts

Raccoons are adorable masked bandits that seem harmless – almost pet-like – as long as they are spreading their mischief in someone else’s garage or garden. When they are terrorizing your space, getting rid of them is a top priority because they carry diseases and wreak havoc to yards and gardens. 

What scent will keep raccoons away? To keep raccoons away, you can use pepper spray, vinegar, or ammonia. Raccoons also hate garlic, roses, and peppermint. So, you can keep raccoons away by planting these in your garden or yard. Finally, putting up fences is an excellent way to prevent these animals from invading your property in the first place. 


Let’s take a deeper look at what raccoons like and do not like to discover how we can keep them away from our living spaces.

How To Keep Raccoons Away?

How To Keep Raccoons Away

Remove the Food Source

Although raccoons live in the forest, they have adapted well to urban living. Part of the reason is that we have taken over their habitat with homes and office space. 

Nevertheless, a larger reason they seem to prefer the city now is that the food supply is more abundant, and since they are nocturnal animals, they get away with a lot of damage before they are noticed. By then, the raccoons have already taken up residence. 

To keep raccoons away, you have to understand why they leave the woods and access your property. Allen Doyle explains that the raccoon has easier access to food in the city due to these primary targets: “bird feeders, table scraps, pet food, and other available garbage.”

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources reminds us that raccoons are “always hungry and are attracted to trash because they can eat just about anything.” So one of the best ways to deter raccoons is to make sure there is nothing available for them to eat.

To reiterate, preventing them from noticing your property in the first place is the best deterrent. Therefore, if you have outdoor pets, when they finish eating, remove any left-over food. If you have bird feeders, keep them clear of dropped seeds, and make sure table scraps are placed in secured garbage bins that raccoons cannot tip over.

Home Remedies To Deter Raccoons

Dave Pehling, an extension analyst for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and Environment, agrees that home remedies made to deter raccoons work, but they only work for a “short time.” He also cautions us to be “aware that laws govern the types of chemicals you can put out to control wildlife.”

Here are some home remedies you can try:

  • Cayenne Pepper Spray: Use a bottle of hot sauce, a small bottle of cayenne pepper, and one gallon of water. Spray liberally and reapply after each rain. 
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  • Vinegar Spray: You can pour vinegar directly in the trash can or spray it on washcloths or used clothing and leave it lying near the garden. Raccoons hate vinegar and are less likely to try to steal food in locations with this smell.
  • Use Ammonia: Raccoons hate ammonia too, so place some in a bowl near the trashcan or dip tennis balls in ammonia and put them in places in your yard where the raccoons usually go.
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Trap and Relocate the Raccoon

This option depends on where you live. Some places require you to trap and relocate the raccoon without a certain vicinity, while others only allow wildlife management agents to trap the animal for you. 

Places like New York State mandate a license to hunt or trap raccoons unless you are a homeowner and the animal destroys your property. Other states require euthanizing any raccoon that you trap humanely. So, check with your state’s Department of Natural Resources if trapping and relocating is an option you want to try.

If you are in an area where you can trap the raccoon yourself, think like a raccoon. These animals are opportunists, eating both plants and animals, so set traps with bananas, corn, or beechnuts.

What Do Raccoons Hate? 

What Do Raccoons Hate

If raccoons are already on your property, one way to repel them is to scare them away. However, as they grow more accustomed to human activity, this option gets more challenging. Still, some scare tactics can be very effective.

You have several options, such as motion-activated sprinklers. You will save water because the sprinklers will remain off until the raccoon activates the motion sensor, and at that point, the unexpected blast of water scares the raccoon away. You can also leave a radio on or create other startling noises that will go off during the night.

But perhaps the most natural way to rid your yard of raccoons is to own a large dog. The dog’s size will scare the raccoon away and show them that your home is not an easy place for raccoons to live.

What Smells Do Raccoons Hate? 

The internet is full of articles about scents raccoons hate. Many of those sites are trying to sell you a repellent, and while that is an option that we will discuss later, there are plenty of homemade and naturally occurring scents to try first.

Peppermint, Garlic, and Roses

For example, raccoons hate peppermint, garlic, and rose scents, so planting those options may help naturally deter raccoons from your property.

They also hate peppery, spicy, and ammonia scents because they “obscure the scent of rotting food,” which is, at least in part, what they are looking for. Therefore, planting hot pepper is beneficial because it is an irritant to their sense of smell.

Epsom Salt

This product is a natural fertilizer for the garden raccoons are trying to destroy, so sprinkling it around the garden will help your plants in two ways.

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Garlic Juice

We’ve discussed that raccoons hate garlic scents, so planting garlic bulbs can be effective, but spreading garlic juice is a better option because the juice has a more substantial and more immediate scent.

Best Raccoon Scent Deterrents to Buy 

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How to Keep Raccoons Away Naturally 

“Fences make good neighbors,” and this adage holds true with raccoons, but you have to remember that they climb well, so having a yard full of scents that deter raccoons, plants that make your yard uncomfortable to them, and the appearance of natural predators are the best natural ways to deter raccoons.

Ways To Keep Raccoons Out of Your Garden

Ways To Keep Raccoons Out of Your Garden

Although the trash bin is an easy target for raccoons, your garden usually is closer to the raccoon and often more exposed. You can deter raccoons from your garden with electric fencing, but often these critters will find ways to get over the fence. 

Some people suggest putting lights in the garden if the fence does not work. Raccoons mainly come out at night because they hate bright lights, so having a bright light in the middle of the garden or close to your home will be a deterrent.

People also suggest planting things like squash around the premier of the garden. Raccoons hate “walking on the prickly vines,” so they are likely to move on to an easier garden target if they encounter squash, cucumber, or zucchini vines standing between them and their meal.

If the raccoons keep returning to the area, you may want to try a more permanent solutions:

  • Ultrasound Animal Repellers: We like the Amerifist Solar Animal Repeller on Amazon. It is solar and USB rechargeable, so you can put it in more areas than electric repellers. It works by creating an ultrasonic wave, followed by sound and lights, and is motion activated.
  • Anti-Climb Spiked Fences: You can put the Grovind Plastic Anti-Climb Spikes from Amazon anywhere using double-sided tape, zip ties, or nails. Each package has 12 spikes that can be cut into four sections. These spikes also deter birds, and we love products that have dual purposes.
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  • Owl Features: The raccoon’s natural predator is the great horned owl. While many homeowners will use a plastic owl with some measure of success, a better option may be the Upgraded Owl Shape animal deterrent. It is solar-powered, which means it can be placed in many locations, and when activated, it sends an ultrasonic sound to scare the animal away.

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While many natural deterrents and products are available to help rid your property of raccoons, the best deterrent is prevention. 

Therefore, removing unused pet food, covering water sources, and cleaning under bird feeders is the better option. Still, if the raccoons persist, the ideas in this article are sure to help you deter those masked bandits so that you can enjoy the garden and yard you work so hard to maintain.

List of Sources

Link, R. (2004). Living with Wildlife: Raccoons. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Pehling, D. (2018). Vertebrate Pest Management. University of Kentucky.

Dewey, T., Fox, R. (2001). Procyon lotor. Animal Diversity Web.

Megalos, M., Moorman, C., Bowen, L. (2019). Raccoon. NC State Extension Publications.

Sawyer, D., Popson, S. (2009). Raccoon. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.