How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy

Last updated : 21 November 2014


I often get asked; “Mike, How do I get rid of poison ivy?”  And because I’ve got a situation on my property that has a really good stand of poison ivy that I have to deal with, I made you a video.  A while back I showed you How to Identify Poison Ivy.  This video is all about getting rid of it once you know that you have some in your yard or garden.

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Most full service garden stores sell sprays that will kill poison ivy and I recommend that you spray poison ivy and kill it rather than try and dig it out and physically remove it.  Poison ivy contains an oil that is released any time the plant is damaged in even the slightest way.  The leaves, vines and roots all contain this super potent oil.  When the plant is damaged the oil is release in an invisible mist form and if you are close to the plant the oil gets on your skin and that starts the irritation that can quickly turn into an extremely and possibly dangerous situation.

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When you dig, cut and chop poison ivy to remove it you are certain to release a considerable amount of this dangerous oil.  Therefore I am suggesting that you do not try and physically remove the vines.

In the situation that I show you in the video I have been spraying this poison ivy throughout the growing season and I have successfully killed a great deal of it.  But some of these vines are growing way up into the trees where I cannot get the spray on the leaves of the poison ivy.  So I have resorted to cutting a very small section out of the vines, severing the largest part of the vines from the root system that support them.

This effort will kill the top part of the vine, but the bottom part that is still attached to the roots is likely to still be alive.  But next spring when the plant leafs out I can easily spray and kill the part that is still alive.  In the video I show you how much protective clothing I am putting on to make these four simple cuts.  As you’ll see in the video, I take poison ivy very seriously!  I’ve been infected many times and the older I get the less I enjoy dealing with a poison ivy rash.

Anytime that you think you might have come in contact with poison ivy you should wash all exposed areas of skin with a really strong detergent.  Most of us “older than you youngins” recommend Fels Naptha soap for removing poison ivy oil from your skin.  Fels Naptha is a heavy duty laundry soap bar used for pre-treating laundry stains but it is also the recommend choice for preventing poison ivy should you come in contact with it.  You should wash your skin as soon as possible after coming into contact with poison ivy.  Do not wait until the end of the day.

When I was in the landscaping business we always carried a bar of Fels Naptha soap in the truck.

Check this out!

Huge Poison Ivy Vine!

Huge Poison Ivy Vine!


Look to the left of my fist in this photo.  That huge vine is poison ivy.  I just discovered this as Duston and I were shooting this video.  That’s the craziest and scariest thing I’ve ever seen.   How long has that thing been growing?  I have to get rid of it but I am so allergic to poison ivy that I actually get nervous just looking at this vine.  Let alone cut into it.  Oh well, I’ll have to find a way and find the courage, I can’t leave it there.

Huge Poison Ivy Vine!

Huge Poison Ivy Vine!


Okay, I hope this post on how to get rid of poison ivy helps!

-Mike McGroarty

Comments?  Questions?  Post them below and I’ll do my best to get back here and answer them for you.


  1. Lorbee says

    Thanks Mike. How I detest that vile weed. I wear gloves, long pants, long sleeved shirts, socks and shoes and last summer I still got it, but never actually SAW it in the beds in any of the beds in which I worked. It is sneaky and somehow was down mixed in with ground cover, I suppose. I seem to have a real allergy to the stuff and it usually ends up getting infected, no matter how diligently I fight it with a million different preparations. I also come in the house, remove all the clothes the washing machine and then shower and wash my hair! Still, I get the rash. This year seemed a little better than last, though, and I sprayed diligently with weed killer–from afar, wherever I actually could see it.

      • Bobbe Seibert says

        Poison Ivy only has a negative affect on human beings. It is a source of food for an enormous number of animals including birds, mammals and even amphibians. So we are the only ones who don’t care for it.

        Eliminate it from your yard but leave it in the wild places. Maybe Mother Nature is trying to tell us to behave.

    • Alex says

      Goats love poison ivy and will clean it up for you. They can even give you immunity to getting poison ivy . How ? You put the goats on the ivy and after they munch down on it you drink the goat’s milk which will give you immunity to breaking out for about 10 years . Kind of like eating local honey to give immunity to hay fever .

    • Albert McBee says

      Poison Ivy is the pitts! And to many, it can actually be deadly. My mother was gathering twigs to start a fire during a family outing and quite by accident, picked up some twigs and live vines containing poison ivy. When she lit the fire, the heat felt good, so she stood near it and the smoke got on and in her. Her allergic reaction to the oils put her in the hospital with the blisters in her lungs causing pneumonia. She survived, but was then hyper-allergic to the stuff.

      We consulted a homeopath who recommended an easily found compound at any compounding pharmacy called “BE GONE” POISON IVY treatment. The tiny pills are spheres that relieve and cure the itch and rash caused by poison ivy’s active ingredient called uric acid. After several treatments over several years, I am nearly immune, only breaking out where the uric acid contacts scratches or otherwise open wounds.

      I know it sounds like BS, but try it! What do you have to lose? Only the rash and itch!

    • Julia Burton says

      Usually not far from poison ivy you will find sour dock ,wild sorrel. This plant likes exactly the same spots that the ivy does and is the OPPOSITE acid to neutralize the alkaline burn of the ivy. Just crush a handful and rub it on the ivy exposures. to cancel out the ivy if done within 30 minutes. I have done this many times and it works for me. The best ridding of poison ivy is of course a GOAT. It has no affect on the animal and they clean it right up. It will stay gone for a couple of years. Again this is first hand knowledge. Hahaha. I’m sure most of you won’t go that route though. I had miniature goat inside city limits. Not a problem but dogs running loose in the neighborhood got my goat.. DANG the ivy came back!

    • Gina Lauffer says


      That is some poison ivy cultivar! Spraying is always an option, but can also affect plants around it … so choose carefully. If you think you may have come into contact with the plant, there is a no fail three step program tha

      t I recommend to all of our employees and customers. Step one: Wash area really good with a DISH soap (I like Dawn or Ajax) … both remove the oil well.
      Step Two: wash same area with alcohol and rinse. Step Three: Wash area again with White Vinegar and then cover area with Technu Poison Ivy cream.

      One the oil is eliminated from the surface of the affected area(s) … there is no dermal reaction via the skin surface. Have used this method for years and no lost time accidents due to this nasty weed. Cheers! Gina

    • says

      I’d start by cutting them to the ground and digging out the roots. After that you can keep working the soil until they are gone or spray any new growth with a non selective herbicide. The tilling will work just fine but you have to till before the new plants get a foot hold. If you just keep working the soil it will be completely weed and berry free, but not for long. You’ll get rid of the berries, but you have to plant something or muclh heavily to keep the area free of weeds.

      • Robert Mehaffie says

        Dig up those roots and sell them. I have 6 or 8 plants/vines and they produce 10 or better quarts each year. Where I grew up the property had 20 or bushes. Summertime was a great time to get up and pick berries for on our ceral in the morning.
        Berries make a great gift to those friends without berry bushes. I know people who can berries and other fruit for winter delious.

    • Anonymous says

      Also keep in mind that if you have neighbors who have berries, the birds can spread the seeds back to your yard… :)

    • Anonymous says

      Please know that if you have neighbors with blackberries, or wild berries in the neighborhood, the birds could be spreading the plants by seed…it’s happened to me….it’s a constant battle…

  2. Barbara says

    Great information, Mike. It is good to know that cutting the vine below stops the growth above. I noticed you cut the vine high on the tree. When you spray in the spring will it not harm the tree?

  3. Elise Morris says

    I have been using Rubbing Alcohol for years now, after my aunt told me that was her method to prevent a reaction to poison ivy. It has worked like a charm. After I garden, if I think I’ve come in contact, I DON”T WASH the area first! Don’t get it wet!!!! First, rinse it with rubbing alcohol. Pat dry with a paper towel, then rinse with alcohol again. Dry again with a paper towel. Then, if you want to wash it, go ahead. Since I’ve done this, I’ve not had a single bad reaction to poison ivy. Once, when I didn’t catch it early and I saw the early signs of a rash, I poured alcohol on it, and it didn’t spread or get worse.

  4. Ed Morrow says

    As usual, an informative and useful video.

    By the way, with that outfit you are set for Halloween.

    Thanks again

  5. taz baby says

    Jewelweed is the only plant that will kill the oil from poison ivy. I keep a spray bottle with this just for that reason. Fill the bottle half full with leaves of the jewelweed and then fill with water. The older it gets the stronger it is.

      • Judy says

        I have found that using 1 gallon of vinegar, 1 cup of salt warmed until the salt melts and then adding about 8 drops of Dawn detergent and then sprying with a huge sprayer such as a Round UP container killed every bit of poison ivy that I had in my yard and it didn’t come back. Any other that did was a different spot. And if I accidently got it on my self and it started a rash, , I would shower and rub the blisters with a cloth until they opened up and sprayed the same mixture that I sprayed the ivy with and it totally stopped itching and didn’t spread and healed up. Alcohol is good for right afterwards of touching it and also Jewelweed, but for killing the ivy itself, vinegar and salt is not toxic.

  6. Beverly Holmberg says

    Do NOT wash in HOT water. Hot water opens the pores and gets the oils deeper and makes the situation worse. Wash with body temperature water instead.
    Also the homeopathic Rhus tox can be purchased at some drug stores and most health food stores. It works for 80% of people. Just dissolve two tablets under the tongue. It has been a life saver for me and my children. Before I started using Rhus tox I was at the doctor every summer for Prednisone (hard on the liver).
    If you know you are going to be into poison ivy, apply “IVY BLOCK” lotion to vulnerable areas(recommended by my doctor) before you go outside.
    Emphasis on DO NOT BURN. The smoke is almost deadly. If a neighbor is burning trash that might have poison ivy, leave the area at once.

  7. John says

    Thank you! Poison Ivy grows among my English Ivy. The English Ivy climbs my brick home. I would like to repace it with climbing rose bushes. How do I get rid of all ivy and prep the soil for roses?

    • says

      John, somebody else here mentioned using Ivy Block before you do anything with poison ivy. If you want to get rid of it completely to replant you really need to remove the vines completely. Not a job that I’d want to do, but if I had to I’d wear rubber rain gear and cover all of my skin. It is my belief that poison ivy has gone right through my pants. I’ve often had poison ivy on my lower legs, but only to the top of my leather work boots. Which leads me to believe that it passed through my pants but not my leather shoes. Unless it found it’s way up the pant leg. I don’t know for sure, but all I know is that any area that is not covered gets poison ivy.

  8. Susan says

    I also use homeopathic remedy Rhus Toxidodendron to reduce the rash time once it starts. If you know you are exposed, Rhus Tox may also prevent rash from starting. Jewel Weed also effective.

    I was exposured to dormant vines in the winter and had more than 6weeks of very bad rash. Steroids only slightly reduced the itch. Rhus Tox got rid of it.

  9. Clare says

    Thank you for the info. As a pharmacist, using Dawn dishwashing liquid will remove any oil from the poison ivy, wherever it has settled. I always placed a small bottle in the shower in the summer so we reduced the incidence of the rash. Wash all clothes, including shoes, laces, work gloves, hats and glasses after dealing with the ivy. IF you get it and it starts to spread, make sure you wash sheets EVERY DAY for a bit. Once the oil gets on something, it will continue to infect until it is washed off. Washing in a machine will take care of the oil on fabrics.

  10. Phillip Andrews says

    Mike, thanks for the info. For the folks that don’t know, if you burn any part of the plant and inhale ANY of the smoke, it can do the same thing to your windpipe. Now that’s a real problem!

  11. nancy becker says

    For poison ivy plants growing among my favorite flowers, I pull on a newspaper plastic bag over my hand and pulled up to my elbow. I reach down and gently pull out the plant, then I carefully pull off the bag with the plant inside! It has saved me many times from that bad itch.

  12. BJ says

    Good information! We have some poison ivy vine that is almost as large as my forearm, growing in one of our trees. I will use your technique and try to get rid of it. We have small areas due to birds “gifting” it to us. Beware of using mulch from tree trimming companies who will give it to you–it might contain poison ivy seeds, or roots.

  13. RJ says

    Also, you can continue to take a capsule of the black walnut every couple/few hours until relief. I usually take one before I work on the yard and then one after. If I see a problem I’ll take one or two every 3-4 hours.
    No more problems!

  14. RJ says

    I didn’t get poison ivy until late in life while working in my yard, but even then it didn’t have a chance with using Black Walnut.
    If you are sensitive to poison ivy you can buy a bottle of Black Walnut either at Wal-mart, or a health food store, sometimes even the grocery stores and others will have it that carry vitamins and herbs . It cost anywhere between 5.00 to 7.00 dollars.
    You can take 1 or 2 black walnut before going out to work in the yard Or directly after or both; one before and one after.
    If you get it on your skin you can make a poultice (a paste) out of the black walnut by opening up a casule and adding just a bit of water to turn it into a paste and put it on the affected area of the skin.It goes away right away; relief within minutes!
    Black walnut kills the effects of the oil, parasites in the body, heals skin areas that are dry and so much more. You can find more info on the internet on the uses.
    I made the mistake of cleaning with ammonia without using gloves and it tore up my hands. They were drying, burning,peeling and cracking to the point of almost bleeding. I made a poultice of the black walnut, put it on my hands, put some gloves on (plastic or fabric) and within 20 minutes I was feeling the relief and healing. The issue was gone that day!
    I’ve been taring those vines down for years with no problem and I didn’t know they were poison ivy, so I burned them too with the rest of the wood I was removing.Never a problem with breathing or anything else. Hmmmm
    Take Care!

    • Sharon Klein says

      I have never been allergic to poison ivy until recently it seems to affect my fingers. After watching this movie, I realize I have been pulling these vines off trees for years and never knew what it was. I have used the method shown to kill the vine when it gets too high. Guess I’ll be more careful from now on.

      • Martha High says

        There are other vines that grow on trees that look very much like poison ivy vines. What you pulled must have been Virginia Creeper, Five Leaf, or other vines if they did not break you out. I’ve pulled them out, too, without incident, but Poison Ivy sends me to the doctor for shots when I am exposed to it. I must try the black walnut capsules. Thanks to Mike & to all who had a remedy.

    • says

      For those of you that still suffer from contact with Poisin Oak or Ivy, I can tell you there IS A FAST CURE TO GET RID OF THis nasty RASH!
      In my Higth school Freshman year, I came in contack with Poison Oak and then that same day got a horrible Sunburn on top of it at the beach. The rash was ALL OVER ME and even got in my blood stream! Most of that school year I suffered and went to doctors and no one could cure it or make it go away! EXCEPT….The Sweedish father of a friend of mine said ,,”I can tell you something that will have you completely cured within days and a week at max! So he told me to go down to the drug store and pick up a TINY BOTTLE OF SUGAR PILLS and chew up 6 pills on the hour for an entire day, and thenthe following day 4 times during the day. I DID and was cured within a few days completely! The majic pill? “Rhustoxicodendron Sugar Tablets!” (Tiny little pellets!” Only sold nowdays at Health food stores! Whats moe, I became immune to even driving by the plants with my car window dow during the pollen season! God Bless this big old sweedish man! Wish our medical doctors were as smart as he was!
      Blanche Lauver, Edgewood, Wa.

        • Chris Davis says

          Homeopathic medicine has been used in Europe for years and is quite effective for healing poison ivy. I also make sure I first pour vinegar over where I think I could have had contact and then dawn dish washing soap or fels naptha soap. I recently read where if you have poison ivy you will have jewelweed within a 20 yard radius. Interestingly enough I found poison ivy and lo and behold there was the jewel weed so I mixed up a brew and keep it in a spray bottle in the frig and it really has kept me rash free. I by mistake pulled up a clump this last weekend bare handed and went in and vinegar end, soaped and jewel weeded my hands and I didn’t get anything! I know it works as I have been doing this for over 20 years now and never got a rash yet. Keep up the good work keeping the ivy at bay.

  15. Kathy says

    I had some new poison ivy growing up a tree and I was concerned that the weed killer spray might hurt the tree, so I used my garden fork to get under the poison ivy vine and pulled it off the tree so I could then spray the leaves without hurting the tree. it seems to have done the job. I was careful to stand back while pulling the vine off and the long handled tool helped me do that. Love your posts, Thanks

    • Martha High says

      Some people are immune to poison ivy….my late husband was…it never affected him when he was exposed to it… must be immune. And any spray that kills weeds when leaves are sprayed will not harm a tree trunk. Just keep it off the tree leaves.

      • says


        Your right about spraying mature trees, but young trees can absorb chemical like roundup through the bark causing damage to the entire tree, so you do have to be careful.

  16. D.C. Lytle says

    Hi Mike,

    Here in Oregon we have more poison oak than ivy, however we also have a local company that makes a product that really works to help you both if you get either one, and also as a preventative. You might want to check out the website:

    My husband is very sensitive to poison oak and he relies on this product.

  17. michele says

    OOPS! Got sent without meaning to. To continue. As you get more and more episodes, shots/pills will become necessary as your tolerance decreases. Also, you can become “allergic” at any time so don’t tempt fate. Finally, Virginia Creeper is another plant/weed which can mimic the same symptoms and is no less of a very itchy problem!

    • Jacob says

      You’re the first person I’ve ever heard of getting a rash from Virginia Creeper. Are you sure that’s what it is?

      • Ernest Fields says

        Poison Ivy uses Virginia Creeper vine as a support to go up into the trees where it’s roots grow into the tree bark to get it’s nutrients and water. A large vine as this can live for years after having a section cut out. The Virginia Creeper becomes contaminated by contact.

  18. says

    I use a 3% solution of round up. And like you Mike, if it is “up the tree”, I cut it closer to the ground. I am immume to the oil, but still don’t allow it on me. The plant will die and over a season, the oils will become inert, but I just let them decay on their own.

  19. susan Creager says

    I have discovered that cutting and painting the root helps to destroy the crawling poison ivy and blasting it in the spring insures a greater kill. I get poison ivy blisters at least 3 times a summer. I use Dawn dish detergent after working in my garden and also Ivy Block ( prevents penetration of the oils) prior to going out into the woods and it helps. I don’t use steroids as it takes as long for it to clear up either way. Steroids have their own side effects I’d rather avoid. I use something called Techno wash and Ivy dry to dry up the blisters and reduce the itch.

  20. michele says

    According to my dermatologist, the oil of poison ivy/oak/sumak is like velcro–once it’s on you, it’s on you–YOU CANNOT RINSE IT OFF EVEN RIGHT AWAY. If you are allergic, each subsequent contact will be WORSE

  21. Pam says

    Hi Mike, I think anyone who has experienced poison Ivy will take note thanks for the update on this. Had I know to wash all my cloths afterwards maybe this would have saved me some grief. I suffered so much before I actually new what I had. I went to two doctors so unless you live in a wooded area people in the city have no idea I found. I got mine from cleaning a yard. The client didn’t even know she had it. Pam

    • Lorbee says

      Pam, I hear you–I get it so easily it is ridiculous. Some people have natural immun. and the young man who did weeding for me had been in the service and thought some of the innoculations they gave him made him immune–he never got it and I always did. You can identify it no only by the manic itch it produces, but the bumps appear to be in straight ‘lines’ almost looking a little like a cat scratch. I swear I’m itchy just thinking about this miserable stuff. Don’t just wash your clothes, also take a shower and wash your hair too. Good luck!

  22. says

    As to poison ivy and smoke/fire. As a child, a person used 2 yr old dried firewood for a campfire. The smoke was terrible and I was only wearing a bathing suit. Needless to say, I was covered in poison ivy. If I’d rolled in poison ivy I don’t think I could have gotten it worse. For the next several years, I only had to look at it to break out. The doctor said it was in my system and as he figured, I only needed an incentive to have a full body rash. This was back in the early 50s. Today they say the poison ivy oil is carried in the smoke and somebody burning a log with a vine on it can be over a block away and the oil will transport via the air. Poison ivy remains active in dead vines for several years I think. Also, don’t forget raking leaves can easily have them in their, too.

  23. Hedy Caldwell says

    Mike: We got RID of all poison ivy on the farm by letting our goats EAT IT! They repeatedly ate the leaves off (they did the same with floribunda rose, did not get poison ivy on themselves or us, and we virtually had no poison ivy as long as we had goats. However, goats and fruit trees, shrubs, and vines cannot grow on the same property! The goats will eat them all. And they will do the same to Kudzu!

    I have used your technique as show here with success. If the vine and the leaves in the top of the tree are big and several years old, they are producing berries. The birds like the berries. The birds and the vines strew the berries all over and the poison ivy starts little plants in the grass. Experience talking here.

    Thanks so much for your videos. They are so very helpful.

  24. Roger says

    Jewel weed works great on all kinds of poison plant rashes. Crush the stem and apply the juice to the infected area. Also, generally what grows near poison ivy cures it. Additionally, if you spray the P I plant with a strong solution of salt water 3 times (atleast) it will kill it. I cut the vine and pull as much of it off the tree as I can then discard it in a plastic bag into the dump. Then I use something like Ortho weed killer and or salt solution and leave it. The stuff that grows on the ground I spray with the salt solution and or weed killer. Remember when taking off your gloves and cloths that the oil is on it too. Dispose of the old gloves and cloths in a large plastic bag into the dump. I fortunatelly am not suseptable to any of these poison plants. In the fall I eat a few of the poison Ivy berries to build up my imunities. That was told to me by an old woman when I was a child and I never got it. NEVER BURN THE PLANT the smoke has the oil in the vapor and you will get it in your lungs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Sue says

    Thanks for all your videos and helpful hints Mike. Always enjoy seeing all your ideas. Poison Ivy is a real problem. I agree with Jim. I have had very good luck cutting the vine and brushing or spraying brush killer on it. I keep a jar of straight brush killer in my toolbox and have a small paintbrush in the jar, so it’s easy to pull it out and do a small job. Great when I find something in the fence rows, etc.

  26. Julie says

    I even got poison ivy in the winter when I’d not been out anywhere near the huge patch we had near the house which we had just moved to years ago. I get poison ivy easily, so have become adept at recognizing it even without the leaves, and this patch had the usual clusters of white berries. I finally figured out that I had gotten it off our dog’s fur. I also learned that it grows differently in the cold Minnesota climate than it does in southern Iowa–it doesn’t vine in that part of Minnesota, while down here in Iowa where I’m living now, I’ve had vines larger than my calf growing up trees. But not for long. Heh.

  27. dean creps says

    hey mike, tell all your people that if they get poison ivy to cut open a fresh clove of garlic and rub it on the rash catch it early enough the rash will be gone. this works better than jewell weed

  28. Eva Caye says

    A chemist friend says to do what Jim Biddle suggests. Get concentrated herbicide and paint it on a leaf, or a few leaves if the plant is very big.

    Another “natural” remedy to poison ivy is to take a watery clay (plain clay, not potter’s clay) and have a bucket by your back door to, say, actually step your feet in. Let the clay dry for a while. It absorbs the oils.

  29. Kay says

    Do not ever burn poison ivy. The poison plant oil called urushiol can burn, and you can inhale the toxin. This could cause a very severe allergic reaction.

    According to the Wildland Firefighter Magazine website, inhalation of burning poison ivy and oak plants is common among firefighters although much less common among the general population. The heavy particles of the smoke contain urushiol, which will fall down in soot form and can be inhaled. The lungs can swell, cause coughing, and extreme irritation and swelling in the throat. It can also cause blisters that break and run. If you think you may have inhaled burning poison ivy or oak, seek medical attention immediately. Only a medical professional can administer proper treatment in such a case.

  30. Lucille McNichols says

    Yes I also have done this and it all works. Should you get some contact, another great remedy is Jewelweed. If you rub it on immediately, you may not even get a rash. It also calms and soothes after a rash has developed. It worked better than steroids for me. It can usually be found in the same vicinity as the poison ivy.

    • Jamie Shafer says

      You can make a decoction of jewel weed and keep it in the refrigerator over the winter. I know folks who have done this and it works in cold weather when the plant is not around. I haven’t done it but I believe you boil the plant parts – stems and leaves – in water and store in a glass jar.

  31. Carol Bliss Streeter says

    Thanks for the info. I am highly alergic and have been battling poison oak in my backyard for years. This should help! By the way, I always go directly to the washing machine and undress there, putting everything right in the washer so there is less chance of getting it from my clothing. Also, if you do get it, WalMart (and probably other places) sell a product called TechNu which will help if you do get poison oak or ivy. It is a wash which helps dry out the blisters and calm the itching.

  32. Geert says

    Mike, in the first place, one should not let poison ivy grow up the trees. You spot and spray poison ivy when it is young. Like you, I walk my yard, and when I spot a small vine, I immediately get my roundup of Brush be Gone and spray it. Nowadays, I rarely have any poison ivy coming back.
    Even if it has grown tall, I would first spray the whole lot with a heavy dose of Roundup. Roundup travels to the roots and kills poison ivy like any perennial from the roots.

    • MommaBear says

      Many people have wooded and or large properties that cannot be patrolled so easily, as you suggest. Also, many people will find the poison ivy vines already in place on the property when they first move there.

      You mentioned “Brush be Gone” and “Roundup” as if they are the same thing. They are not. Roundup works well on grass and small annual weeds, but not as well on perennials, shrubs or woody brush – that’s what Brush B Gone is for. I would definitely recommend BBG over Roundup for poison ivy. Roundup might work on small seedlings, but will not do much damage to larger plants.

  33. Barb says

    Thanks! My hubby got P.I. In his lungs from standing in the smoke at a bonfire years ago… Put him in the hospital for quite awhile! He is horribly susceptible to P.I., even had the shots for years to help.. So, I get to be the P.I. Police on our property ! I was going to try cutting a chunk out of the vines, but hadn’t thought about not disturbing it after…. I was going to yank it down and spray the devil out of it! Now, I will leave it and work on the base in the spring. Thanks again for posting this!!

  34. EJ says

    The way you showed how to get rid of poison ivy will work. But you have to keep at it. We moved to a wooden lot and had lots of poison ivy. I did just what you did, and it seems to be less & less each year to watch out for. Kep the hints coming, I did enjoy them.

  35. Caroline says

    Dear Mike……I just went to bed last evening thinking of how in the world can I get rid of the patch of poison ivy in my flower garden…..I am now infected very badly and had to get a shot and take RX etc…just from cleaning it out last week.
    So I get up early this morning and check my email and …..the answer to the problem is now solved……Thank you so so much for your emails…..I do so look forward to them.

    Caroline from Hillsboro,OH

    • Lester White says

      I bought a tube of Cortaid Poison Ivy Care. It is a removal scrub. Rub it on where it is itchy and wash/shower it off.
      This also works on Poison Oak and Sumac.
      I bought it for about $10 and it works!

  36. grace says

    Hi, Mike. Sure hope you didn’t get that nasty rash of poison ivy. I did notice in the video that a small white dog was roaming the area. I would also recommend that the dog be washed down as well. Many claims about animals bringing the p o oil into the house and onto the rugs and furniture lead me to believe that although the animal is often not affected, the oil is transferred to humans via their fur/hair. Hope you avoided the rash, my son gets a nasty case every year from mountain biking in the woods. It is not pretty. Would a solution of vinegar, say 10% work? I have recently noticed that I have been able to kill weeds in my yard with a dose of 5% vinegar, full strength, placed in the heart of the plant. It can kill grass, etc, so I wonder if it would be effective on p.o.?

    • Sharon Klein says

      One of the worse cases(poison oak)I’ve seen was my 16 year old son working on his car in northern CA one summer. He had his shirt off and when his dog came running out of the woods he leaned over and gave her a great big hug. The next morning he was covered with the rash from his beltline to his chin, both arms included. Be careful out there!

  37. Jim Biddle says

    Mike – A couple additions from a serious sufferer. Cut the large vines at the ground, then paint or spray the freshly cut surface with concentrated herbicide. You should not get new growth in spring. After exposure, any liquid dish detergent is less irritating to the skin The “sample” size is easy to carry, and cuts the oil if washed soon after exposure.

    • Al Lyon says

      I appreciated the article. Soap helps lift the oils – but an added note: wash or shower in cold water, not hot. Hot water opens your pours and allows the oils to enter. Cold water is more effective as your pours will stay closed and the oil can be washed off your skin more effectively. Also, there’s a great product on the market called Tech Nu – it provides a protective skin barrier, and is said to also work effectively for drying up rashes.

      • Elise Morris says

        If you don’t have an allergy to rubbing alcohol, I suggest you rinse with alcohol first – don’t wash in cold water. Don’t get it wet at all – just rinse once or twice with alcohol, wiping dry with a paper towel. After that, wash if you wish.

    • Nathan McC says

      Yep, Jim’s approach is what I’ve used with good success at my forest property that was 50% covered with 3′ tall poison ivy in many areas with vines going 30′ to 50′ up the some trees. Called them aunt and uncle vines and there were a few grandpaw vines that were as big as my wrist that must have been very old. Just put extra long heavy duty garbage bags over my boots and jeans and walked to the trees and cut the big vines a foot or two off the ground and IMMEDIATELY sprayed with 49 or 51% glyco herb. Kept it in a small spray bottle and refilled as needed. 3% solution works well for the smaller stuff.
      Carefully remove bags while turning it outside in and discard. Used an old hatchet and just sprayed with dish soap and just chopped sandy ground until it looked shiney and clean. I’m very allergic so I’m careful and have gradually gotten 10 or 12 acres mostly erradicated over the last 10 years and only got a couple of small patches. I did it by using a sprayer with hose in the back of an ATV and creating paths I could then branch off of the following season.
      This approach let me kill the poison ivy, but spare most of the virginia creeper that I also have.

  38. Kay says

    Hi Mike, you also might want ato try my method of applying a drop of full strength weed killer to the cut. I have found this to be very effective in killing the roots and keeping the vine from resprouting in the spring… making sure to get all around the cambium layer. Like you, I am extremely allergic to poison ivy. I, too, ‘suit up’ before tackling the beast!

  39. bill says

    Thanks for the poison ivy video. I am rather immune and have a LOT on my 3 acre property. I also have dairy goats who head straight for the ivy when allowed and will eat leaves, branches and vines…even the woody growth with the tendrills on the trees. Wondering if vinegar applied to the leaves would also kill ivy? The large amount of migratory songbirds here eat and replant it like crazy.

  40. donna says

    we really do not like to use poisons, as they are bad for environment, us and the wildlife..we have used black plastic to cover the poison ivy so it just ‘suffocates’ and dies but i also wondered if you had any non-toxic ways for getting rid of it, barring getting a goat..we have heard vinegar works but it has not so far for us…thanks

    • Geert says

      Dear Donna, I can’t resist pointing out your inconsistency. On one hand, you do not want to use e.g. Roundup in order to save the environment and wildlife. On the other hand, you want to use plastic. Plastic harms the environment and wildlife as much as anything. What will you do with the plastic afterwards? It probably will have poison ivy oil on it that can cause rashes just the same. And then the plastic goes in the garbage, because recycling does not pick it up. And even if it goes in the recycling bin, recycling staff can be severely hurt.
      You probably also use detergent to wash dishes and clothes. Did you realize that the most toxic (if one can call it that) ingredient in Roundup is a bit of detergent to open up the weeds’ cuticles? Other than that, Roundup decomposes into harmless elements as soon as it touches the soil.

      • Ernest Fields says

        Roundup will persist for up to 50 years in the soil/water where ever it’s put. New findings in the last couple years.

  41. Craig Buback says

    You can also “paint” the exposed surface of the bottom part of the vine with Roundup or something similar which will help kill the root. Don’t know if it will do a lot of good for a vine this big, but it certainly helps with the smaller vines.

  42. Norbert Peissert says

    I usualy clip it at the bottom and let it dry out first. I put the whole plant in a garbage bag careful not to touch it. Make sure you mark it so the garbage man knows what it is. There is also a product you can spray it and the plants will die. However never burn the plants no matter how old

    • PeterB says

      Wondering if anyone would mention it, If you born it, the toxin will be in the smoke and you can inhale itand end up with blisters inside your Mouth, Nose, and lungs. I have a natural imunity but still ocassionally catch a light dose that thankfully it doesn’t last long. I have found that most brush killers will knock it out no mater what sixe the vine. On bigger vines I cet the consentrate and pour it on or spray it on without diluting.

  43. Pat says

    Wish my husband had followed your advice this past weekend. I’m on my way to pick up his Rx from the dermatologist as soon as the pharmacy opens this morning!
    Question:Does a heavy frost make coming in contact with the poison ivy any less potent?

      • Mary says

        I went to a health food store a few years ago
        and found a liquid in a bottle with an eye
        dropper for putting under the tongue that
        helps build an immunity to poison ivy. I use
        it every year and have not had a bad case since. I do still get small rashes around
        my wrist but it is not too bad and can be
        controlled with no serious spreading. Mary

        • Susan says

          I use the drops Mary mentioned AND THEY REALLY WORK! They are homeopathic. Also, if you think you have touched P.I. Tincture of green soap is invaluable for preventing its spread. Wash up with it with cold water AND use a cap full of green soap in the laundry with the clothes that may have the oil of poison ivy on them. GOOD LUCK! Also, for small vines, I have found digging it up with a shovel and placing it in a plastic bag to go in the trash helps get rid of the plant. Mike’s technique on huge vines seems to be the best!

          • Janis in ID says


            That will teach those dumpster divers, won’t it! Ha.

            “Hmmm….wonder what is in this bag………..EGADS!!!”

      • cassie says

        Frost won’t affect the effects of the posion ivy oil. My older brother got a rolling in the snow, had no way of knowing that there was poison ivy roots there. So, no forst won’t make it any less potent.

    • sharon says

      I had lived on a farm growing up and we heated our house with wood. Some wood had small bits of the vine left on the wood. I got posion ivy in the middle of winter. I get posion ivy if it is a windy day and I just walk past an ivy patch. If you burn the ivy you run the risk of inhaling it and then getting it internally. Use the posion and be done with it.

      • Betty says

        About 28 years ago I was driving past a burning brush pile. I had the vents turned on, pointed towards my face. There was poison ivy in the brush pile. The entire right side of my face was affected. It wasn’t pretty. I had always been allergic to it, but since then it takes very little for me to break out. My husband takes care of it at my mom’s house and doesn’t put his clothes in the hamper but washes them separately, then showers before coming anywhere near me. I’ve not had it in a long time thanks to our precautions.

    • TT says

      My husband works for DOT and cut a tree out of the road a few years ago in February or March. That was the worse case of poison ivy he has ever gotten. Doctor told him during the winter when it did not have leaves, the poison was more concentrated in the vines. He is very allergic. He carries a small bottle of 95% rubbing alcohol in his truck that he uses if he’s been exposed at work and can’t get a shower quickly. It seems to work fairly well at preventing an outbreak and only cost a couple dollars.

    • Jessie says

      Pat, poison ivy contains ‘urushiol’ the oil that causes so much discomfort, all year long. It’s in the leaves, stems, seeds, roots, all throughout the plant, at all times of the year, even in winter. One authority says that plants that have been dead over a year are still potent. I got poison ivy rash in February. Be careful, and NEVER BURN poison ivy! Be careful with firewood!

  44. Anonymous says

    Every year I say leaves of three leave it be,but every year I start pulling weeds and see i have leaves of three,this year was bad bad bad.too close to the right eye I had gloves on ,but must have rubed my face
    I wash with Tecnu Oak-N-Ivy . I find it works well.

    • John Haughton la says

      I talked with a nurse works emergency room
      -first thing the emergency room does is scrub down patient with Dawn dish soap. Best thing they have found.

      • Cecil says

        I hate to sound like a Dawn commercial but that’s what I use as well; and I am almost embarrassed to say how much I get poison ivy. Cold water, Dawn dish soap, and scrub, scrub, scrub.

        • says

          I discovered a long time ago that Tea Tree Oil kills the poison Ivy oils before it breaks you out. Since I started making my soap. I tried it out once again. I break out within 30 seconds of touching the ivy. Washing my fingers with TeaTree Soap works. Stops the break outs. Another thing that will work and everyone has it is Hand Sanitizer. Rub it on and get rid of the ivy oils on your skin. I do nature hikes despite how allergic I am both of the above works.

        • says

          Patti and all, I’d like to thank everybody that posted a comment on this topic. Lots of great information about poison ivy has been shared on this post. Thanks again, everybody!

        • Lorrie Creech says

          I use alcohol anytime I think I am exposed to poison ivy , this works very well. I have ivy everywhere in my yard it’s an on going battle.

          • says

            Be extremely careful about anything you might consider drinking as a remedy to anything. If it’s not medically approved don’t drink it. As I approve this question and I can’t see what it was in reply to so it could be perfectly safe, but be careful.

      • Johnny says

        The Dawn is useful for so many problems. It is exactly what we use along with alo. Off subject..the American Beauty Bush leaves rubbed on your clothing and skin repels insects. Dr Allen is working on this for the US Army at Ft. Polk Louisiana. They want it bottled for use in the field. I use it when hunting or scouting for wild edible plants.

    • Sandra K. Clay says

      Mike – One year, I cut the plant close to the ground and “painted” the exposed end that was toward the ground with a weed killer that I bought at a local greenery center. The killer was absorbed to the root and the poison ivy was not there the next year. Have another patch and will be doing it again soon. Might want to try this…the greenery recommended it. I wore gloves, cut the plant at ground level and painted…gone ! and it was getting bad in that area…

        • Larry says

          Mike, don’t know why, but seems I’m not affected by poison Ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, brown recluse, nor black widows! Where I live, I’m surrounded by forest… black oak, maple, hickory, and poison ivy everywhere. Every year I’m kept busy with fallen branches and pulling up unwanted growth, and every time I find these poison vines in the piles I throw on the burn pile. My wife always gets on my case because I don’t wear gloves, makes it harder to feel and grip what I want to pull up. Luckily, all of the terrain is mostly sand, so they come up fairly easy. I only have to watch out for the rattlers, copperheads, and cotton mouths. Had a rattler by the tail when I pulled up some poison oak in thick underbrush. A quick snap took care of it though.
          She’s desperately affected by those poison plants so stays away from me while I’m pulling them, but often still gets affected. Due to weather extremes here I haven’t been able to burn yet this year and the pile is getting quite large! Maybe now that it’s turned cold and we had one good rain, they may lift the burn ban, finally!

          • Jeannie says

            Larry and others, DO NOT BURN poison ivy. That could be why your wife gets it. Dispose it in the trash.

          • Ana says

            Jeannie is right. I have read that you are never supposed to burn poison ivy. It can make you seriously ill breathing it in.

          • Janis in ID says

            Your wife is a smart gal. If you are pulling up venomous snakes with the poison ivy vines, I would stay away, too!

        • brett sandberg says

          everyone remeber you must also clean your tools the oil residue can transit up to a year or more after contact.

    • Adrienne Blue says

      Mike and all readers.. Everybody with poison ivy in their garden should plant Yarrow (Achilles). On exposure to resins of poison ivy chew in the leaves spit out and apply to affected areas. This will prevent the outbreak. Also this plant heals everything including cuts from shears. It even healed my dahlia branches when they split. I used the leaves as an antibiotic and put a bandage of floral tape on the spit and they healed up.

      • Jessie says

        Also ‘jewelweed’ or spotted touch-me-not is helpful. I’ve used it, and it works. Jewelweed is in the impatiens family, has pulpy stems. Crush them up and apply to affected area. Works. I put some jewelweed in blender with a little baby oil and spread it on my arms after contact, helped stop the itch. Kept the extra lotion in the fridge.

    • Jessie says

      Mike, do be careful! That thing is a monster! I’ve seen lots of poison ivy vines on trees here in So. Jersey, but nothing like that.

    • C Huss says

      There is a product called Zanfel that works great. You can get it at the local pharmacy. Works like the same products they use on oil slicks. It removes the oil from poisen ivy off of your skin and takes care of it within a couple days if used correctly. It is a little pricy but worth every penny and if you have had poisen ivy you don’t care how much something costs if it gets rid of it quickly. I have tried everything and this is one of the few products that really works. They have knock offs on the market for less now as well. Works just as good.

    • glenne anne murphy says

      Getting goats- -putting up a smiple fence they will eat to the ground.Or put halter on one two/of them plus fresh water for them to drink,

      • Anonymous says

        Please do not tether goats. They are sitting ducks for whatever canine ( domestic or wild) comes around. I’ve had to repair damage to a goats leg that was attacked by three of the neighbors dogs. ( not my goat). Either keep them in a strong fence or don’t have them, please……

    • Henrick Horton says

      Mike, I teach a construction safety course and I would like to use your Poison Ivy Video and Pictures in my presentations, with your permision of course.
      I do have 27 acres so I am also concerned on a personal level.

    • Linda Newberry says

      I have found something to help prevent the breaking out of poison ivy or poison oak, it is called “Rhus Stop”. I get it from my pharmacy but I have seen it advertised in rural newspapers. There are 3 vials that you take 1 a week and it cost me about $20. It works really good. I don’t get any on me now. Hope you can find some and use it you won’t be sorry.

      • Karen says

        I’ve been taking Rhus Stop for several years, and have not had an outbreak since. We have 20 acres, mostly wooded, and several very healthy stands of poison oak. After my last outbreak when I had to again resort to prescription steroids, I heard that our local utility company pays for the Rhus Stop for their linemen annually, because the treatments have been so effective. I was sold! You can find it available online by searching for “Rhus Tox Poison Ivy Prevention.”

    • says

      How can I get rid of poison ivy that is growing in and around other ornamental plants, perennial and annual plants? I have a wonderful Nandia, aka Heavenly Bamboo bush from Virginia that has survived 30+ years of S.E. Ohio’s winter weather and I do not want to lose it or my perennials

        • says

          Hello Mike,

          I am dealing with the same situation as Rebecca. We have an organic vineyard and the ivy is making inroads in some areas.

          I don’t want to use chemical sprays around the vines but I must admit it is tempting when dealing with poison ivy. I have tried strong vinegar and other organic sprays, unsatisfactory.

          I have had success with newspaper mulch as you mentioned.
          This year I’m going to cover all the areas where I have spotted
          it with black plastic after everything freezes. Hate to loose the other good ground covers in those areas but it will fill back in quickly I’m sure. It will be worth it if I can get rid of the ivy.

          Thanks for everything MIke.

          Dave in the Adirondacks

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