How to Remove Pepper Spray From the Body

Young man being sprayed in face with water, eyes closed, side view
Removing pepper spray requires special steps. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Pepper spray is a popular self-defense weapon, useful against both wild people and wild animals. Unfortunately, a shift in the wind can mean the spray blows onto you or somebody with you. You should seek medical attention if you get pepper spray in your eyes or mucous membranes. For skin irritation from contact with pepper spray, you can clean up on your own.

Step 1

Leave the contaminated area. Get far enough away that you won't get resprayed when the wind shifts.

Step 2

Remove any clothes contaminated with the pepper spray. If you would have to pull clothing across you face, seriously consider cutting the clothing off with scissors instead.

Step 3

Pat off any liquid pepper spray using a towel. Do not wipe or rub, as this can spread the contamination or grind it into your skin.

Step 4

Mix a solution of one part non-oil-based soap with three parts water. Use a basin large and deep enough to immerse the contaminated area.

Step 5

Soak the contaminated area until burning begins to subside. Note that during the first minutes, the burning might intensify briefly. This is normal, and you should not panic.

Step 6

Wait until you can touch the contaminated area without feeling pain. Gently scrub the area free of any remaining pepper spray.

Step 7

Wash your hands thoroughly in a fresh solution of soap and water. Avoid touching your skin, eyes or mucous membranes until your hands are completely clean.

Things You'll Need

  • Towel

  • Liquid soap, non-oil-based

  • Basin or sink

  • Scissors


Watch yourself for any signs of allergic reaction, such as swelling eyes, difficulty breathing or hives. In rare cases, pepper spray can cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock. If you experience these symptoms, get immediate medical attention.

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