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What Smells Do Bears Dislike? (Quick Answers)

Did you know there are certain scents that can drive bears away like magic? They do have somewhat strong nostrils, so it is understandable they would be susceptible to strong smells.

Some fragrances tend to have quite an effect on grizzly and black bears, and you can easily keep them out of sight by using these smells.

5 Smells That Bears Dislike And How To Use Them

The most notable 5 fragrances that bears have seen to dislike the most are neem, pine, cider vinegar, pepper, and/or the smell of ammonia/bleach-based cleaners. There are some more, but experts consider these the best. You can use them to repel bears away.

Due to their large nostrils, these strong scents cause repulsion. Besides these, bears are also repelled by coffee grounds, lysol, and anything else with a pungent smell. However, try these 5 smells for maximum results.  

Neem Oil:

Neem-based bear repellents have shown to successfully deter bears from approaching people. Unlike products with mint fragrances, Neem-based repellents generally do not camouflage the smell.

A bear might find it hard to avoid such a scent, as they are really sensitive to the smell. In fact, grizzy’s and black bears can detect the smell within a few yards. So it would become easier to scare away the bears using this repellent.

Experts recommend spraying some neem oil around the campsite or onto yourselves. This would make it easier to avoid encounters with bears.


Bears cannot stand the smell of pine. So, you can definitely use pine oil or pine-sol for the purpose of scaring the bears away. They dislike the scent of sweet-smelling wood and can become agitated if they encounter it in close quarters.

These great animals have a keen sense of smell, and when they encounter the pungent aroma, their sensitive nostrils are immediately overwhelmed.

It makes them dizzy and nauseous. When they come near a campfire or a wood stove, they are forced to turn away in disgust.

To use pine for this purpose, take 1 cup of pine-sol and add 1 cup of water, and pour it all in a spray bottle. Spray it around, and let it do its magic.

Most campsites reek of pine oil, as that is the most commonly used deterrent for bears. It is relatively commoner than neem oil because it is effective, and you can use it without a shred of doubt.

Cider Vinegar:

Bears are deterred by the smell of cider vinegar. Similar to the above smells, cider vinegar also has a particularly strong scent. Because bears are so sensitive to smells, any such strong smells can be rather unbearable for the native grizzly bears.

When a bear approaches, just add a little bit of vinegar to your garbage can or compost pile and watch them back off.

The pungent odor will keep bears away so you can keep your food and garbage safe. You can also use vinegar to clean your garbage can to make sure it smells fresh, so the bears don’t realize your trash is still good to eat.

Pepper Spray:

When bears hunt for food, the strongest smell usually signals the greatest chance of being detected. This makes the smell of pepper an enemy to any bear who is trying to remain stealthy.

The smell of pepper is so strong that it can ruin a bear’s ability to stay silent and undetected. When bears can’t tolerate the strong smell of pepper, they move away from it, rather fast, in order to find a more comfortable environment.

Keep some pepper spray with you and use it the same way you would for self defence. Spray it around yourself as well, so that the black bears don’t even consider coming near the campsite. This should be quite helpful and effective at deterring the bears.

Bleach or Ammonia:

There are plenty of things that can keep bears away from your yard, but nothing is more effective than keeping them away with ammonia and bleach.

You can also use various other products on your site to make your scent, but bear repellents that contain either of these two chemicals tend to be the most effective.

For this purpose you can either resort to using bleach or ammonia directly, or buy specific bear repellents with them included. Just make sure to apply in adequate amounts to ensure the proper prevention of the grizzlies around you.

Where To Place These Smells To Prevent Bears?

Spray the scents around your house, yard, or campsite, to get the best results. It is also important that you cover the garbage cans with the deterrents as this will also ensure the bears stay away from the site.

Grizzly bears are quite stubborn and might try to hunt down the source of smells. So, you must be careful and make sure to apply the fragrances as adequately as possible.

Placed in an open area where the bears are used to such scents, bear deterrent scents can be highly effective.

All the above mentioned smells can make bears stay away from areas where people live or frequent and deter them from approaching people and/or their homes.

The bear deterrent scents (like bear spray) should be used or placed on the wall, by the front door, or in another easily accessible area of your house or yard. It should also never be placed in places that are difficult to reach.

Anywhere the bears can come through, spray the deterrents all around them, for the most effective results.

What Attracts Bears To Your Yard Or House?

Most bears love the scent of fresh fruits. Although you may think they are carnivores, bears absolutely go nuts at the smell of fruits and are very attracted to them.

In some cases, they are also captivated by the fragrance of meat at barbecues and campfire cooking.

A lot of bears are attracted to smells like smoke and tar, which may be more appealing for a few specific bears than the usual attractants like food or scents from trees, flowers, or grasses.

Bears are also attracted to other scents like perfume and cologne, which is another reason they may be attracted to residential areas that smell of these products, even if no animals get close to the lot.

On the other hand, bears can also trespass into homes in search of water. This means you should hide your open pool with a strong cover, especially during hot seasons.

Aside from these, grizzlies seem to also be allured by compost heaps and wood piles. This is because these smell particularly like food, even if rotten, and that is something bears like.

Make sure to either get rid of them or keep them away from the house itself to prevent bear encounters.

Long-Term Solutions To Keep Bears Away

You can take certain steps to keep these furry creatures away from your premises. These steps will ensure their absence in long-term situations.

Use Bear-Proof Garbage Cans:

Garbage cans with bear-proof lids, which keep bears from entering, are critical as they keep bears from defecating in the cans and leaving dangerous waste.

So, it’s essential that you invest in a good garbage can that the bears around you cannot access the insides, to begin with.

Fruit Trees Should Be Away From Home:

Bears tend to have a strong liking towards fruits that have a strong aroma. This is why it’s crucial that if you decide to grow fruit trees in your yard, make sure to plant them a bit far away from your house itself.

When choosing the fruit trees to plant, select the ones that ripen faster than others and pick up the fallen fruits to further prevent attracting bears.

Refrain From Leaving Food Outside:

Leaving food outside, especially in an area that is prone to bears is definitely going to attract these grizzly beasts.

Strong scents of cooking can cause them to come running.

But when you’re not cooking, be sure to clean the barbeque and benches where the food leftovers might remain. That should prevent bears from entering your yard, or at least decrease the chances.

Electric Fences:

Although this sounds a little too much, an electric fence system is a fool-proof bear prevention method. This type of fencing can not only protect you from bears, but also any other kind of danger such as breaking in, robberies, and whatnot.

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Use Deterrent Smells Regularly:

We know this sounds obvious, but you’re going to want to spray the deterrent fragrances that we mentioned earlier, more frequently. Regularly spray them around or, keep diffusible liquids around your premises.

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Final Thoughts

So, to deter the bears from your house or yard or wherever else, you can opt for anything from pine, neem, cider vinegar, pepper or ammonia/bleach. These are the smells that bears heavily dislike, and if you follow the prevention steps correctly, you can keep the bears away from your place.