I have heard that the oils from poison oak, poison ivy, or poison sumac can remain on clothes even through a wash cycle. After hiking through an area with poison ivy (or poison oak/poison sumac), how should you wash the exposed clothes to completely remove the oil and minimize the chance of later reaction to these oils?

2 Answers 2


Normal detergent should be able to break down the poisonous oils in question, it shouldn't require any specialist stuff to remove them. Just be sure of a few things:

  • Wash infected clothes separate from "clean" (i.e. unaffected) ones to eliminate any possible risk of spreading
  • Make especially sure you don't overload the machine - leave plenty of room so the detergent can soak the clothes easily. If it's packed full then parts may be left unwashed, or not washed effectively as they could have been.
  • Use the highest recommended temperature that you can to maximise the changes of breaking down the oils.

I make my own laundry soap. I just found out that fels naptha soap found at walmart in the laundry isle is the best to use for the oils left on material items. Try it it works great and i save tons of money. Just grate the soap and mix with borax and washing powder. If you like you can also put in crystals. I use purex. 2 tsp in the wash cycle and WOW!


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