My daughter had a bear spray canister discharge in her plastic storage bin in her closet. Her Osprey backpack and some other gear were in the bin. What is the best way for her to remove the bear spray from her gear?


@Gigi-G, I had first hand experience with bear spray in August, doing a 'test' and the wind shifted, anyway, off the top of my head, I would spray the stuff down with a hose in the backyard and just let it air out.

If it looks like tough going, maybe put some dish soap or lysol in a a bucket of hot water and wash the items in the yard. 

I guess you could do it in the tub also, that way you can get a good soak, but you might want to spray it down and let it air out in the yard first before taking to the tub.

best of luck!

REI Member Since 1979


Thank you for reaching out and we're sorry to hear that your daughter's bear spray deployed. At least it was contained in a storage bin, it could have been far worse if it had gone off out in the open. You have two aspects of the bear spray you want to be aware of when attempting to clean the affected gear: the 'pepper' part that causes the burning and itching response, and the oil based liquid that is the carrying agent of the spray. If you get any of the spray on your skin use whole milk to rinse it off (either pouring directly on it or soaking a rag in the milk and wiping the area clean). Always rinse with cold water as hot water can open the pores in your skin and make things worse. Here is some additional information form the Yellowstone Bear Management Office.

The best way to remove the bear spray from her gear is to carefully remove the items from the storage bin (wear rubber gloves, a mask, and eye protection) and soak them in a solution of cold water and non-oil based soap (Dawn Dish soap works best). Rinse the gear with cold water and repeat until all of the bear spray is removed. If needed, after a few soaks and rinses, you can apply some soap to the gear and gently rub the area with a sponge or soft bristled brush. Rinse thoroughly with cold water and air dry, avoiding direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time. Potentially, this process may need to be repeated many times to remove all of the bear spray.

Hopefully this helps, thanks and good luck!

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