Q. I read your question about the young lady who had problems with poison ivy. I am a dermatology nurse and see a lot of patients with poison ivy. I have them wash ALL their clothing and work tools in soap and water as soon as they come in from outdoors. They take the shoelaces out of their shoes, too, and wash them both!
Poison ivy oil can stay on garden tools and toys for MONTHS, so washing is important. People say poison ivy spreads, but really it is from new contact with the oil on some object.

A. You didn’t mention pets. They too can carry poison ivy oil on their fur. They are harder to wash, but it may be worth the effort!

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  1. DGR

    Is there not 70% or 90% ethl alcohol and if so which goes into Joan W.’s formula? Thanks

  2. s.bangs

    I have had a severe case of poison oak or ivy do not know which. I’ve tried everything. Someone told me to put Listerine (original) in spray bottle. I’ve strayed it and have had relief instantly. I thought it would burn like mad but it did not… good luck.

  3. wh

    Thank you for the picture of poison ivy. One of the difficult things about it is that it resembles so many other plants that are not harmful! Back in the early 70’s, I contracted a bad case of poison ivy after exposure in what I thought was a field of innocent, shiny, big green leaves. It was all over the backs of my legs and buttocks. I tried everything, consulted doctors, and finally one just gave me an injection of cortisone which really began the healing process.
    I have not had a problem since, yet I don’t know all the guises that poison ivy comes in. I live in a state lush with so much vegetation that it helps to know the plants well. I hope more websites put out more info like you have so folks can know how to identify problem plants (and insects) and what to do about them. I am particularly thankful for home remedies, since they are simple, usually on hand, and have few to no side effects!
    I would use the vinegar remedy next time to see how that works for exposure, and also pour it full strength at the root and on the leaves of the vines if I find them again.

  4. Joe

    One should know that poison oil can stay on clothes for five YEARS and still be virulent. Some has been found on mummified remains that are 5,000 years old.
    A good preventive for poison ivy, if you know you are going to be in or near it, is to spray yourself – clothes, ankles, arms and hands, even face (with your eyes closed and covered, then remember not to touch, scratch, smack flies, etc. until you’ve washed thoroughly) – with hair spray. Get the cheap stuff. Learned this from a forensic pathologist at University of Tennessee 20 years ago and it works. I used to get severe cases, “just by walking by it”, but this has prevented it.
    Mix kitchen detergent with Roundup and spray the leaves. The detergent cuts the oil on the leaves so the Roundup can do its thing. For vines, cut them and paint the end above ground with straight Roundup. It will be absorbed down into the roots. May take more than one application if the vines are very big.

  5. m

    I recently had 2-5 poison ivy leaves brush over the top of my leather walking shoes. My brother, who was a Boy Scout leader, said to put the shoes aside for two weeks. Does anyone know if poison ivy loses its potency after two weeks on clothing? (I don’t want to wash my leather shoes.)

  6. abigail

    And if you did not know about poison ivy exposure in time to wash the clothes and the people, be sure to wash bed linens and sleeping bags, cloths, towels, etc.

  7. DLF

    When i was a kid I lived near a bayou in Houston and it was covered with berry vines and poison ivy. My brother and I played there alot and picked berries. My brother was extremely allergic to the stuff. Me not as much. How ever I did get poison ivy a few times.
    My mom used an old remedy her mother used when she was a child. When she knew we had been playing in that area and as soon as we got home she would put us in the bath tub and wash us down with vinegar and then bath us in warm soapy water. We both hated the smell of the vinegar but I can’t remember us ever getting infected after such a bath.
    Mom said you have to do the vinegar bath soon after the exposure.

  8. W

    Having suffered from Poison Ivy, neighbors Ivy creeping onto our land, after 5 years of it, got it so bad had to go the hospital for treatment. She wouldn’t get rid of it so finally I got information from the computer and my husband after quite a few applications store bought stuff experts told him to buy, and cutting the ivy down off her trees, it seems he got rid of it. But to be safe I don’t go near that place in the yard.
    Yes, Dr in hospital told me exactly what that person wrote to wash all clothing, tools used and sneakers and laces EVERYTHING, and get som Ivy Block to put on BEFORE going out in yard. I have my husband check every Spring & Fall to see if it may be coming back. It’s a dangerous plant as it can if you ingest it, kill you, I was told in hospital.
    Please folks if you can’t get rid of it yourself, hire a professional. Thanks for reading.

  9. Cheryl S.

    I’m sure it varies from person to person, but I’m wondering how long after being exposed to poison ivy does one have before ‘catching’ it???

  10. Joan W.

    I worked for the Forest Research Lab at Oregon State University many years go. While I was there I got a bad case of poison oak while on a field trip. The infection spread rapidly and I had it all over my body because it would weep and get on my sheets at night. A man who worked in the forest industry saw me and gave me a formula to mix up and rub on all the infected areas. Within 24 hours, it was gone completely.
    I’ve used that since on poison ivy and given the formula to two other people who had the same experience. I was told that the reason it works so quickly is that it breaks down the poison chemically and so it can immediately begin to heal. One of the people who used this formula had even been in the hospital on steriods and was still was fighting it. When he put this on, he felt immediate relief. The problem is that most pharmacies won’t mix it.
    The way we got it mixed was to go to a chemical lab at a university. Here is the formula: 20 ml Ethanol alcohol, 20 ml Water, and 20 ml Ferric Chloride. For anyone who can get the formula mixed, they will be amazed at how quickly it works.

  11. pb

    When my husband was alive, he would remove any poison oak on the place, come in and put his clothes into the washer and take a shower, and I would end up with poison oak in places that only his hands touched. Fortunately, I learned that a hot shower took away the itch, which ordinary “remedies” didn’t, and the itchy rash went away.

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