Poison ivy and poison oak have toxic oils in their leaves that cause painful and itchy skin rashes upon contact. These invasive weeds will spread quickly if you do not control them. When you notice the weeds in your yard, remove them carefully to protect you and your family. Instead of purchasing chemical products to kill the weeds, remove them with common items that you have around the home such as salt and dishwashing liquid to help protect the environment.
Poison Ivy and Poison Oak
Poison ivy and poison oak both cause skin rashes. Not everyone is sensitive to the oils in the plants, but most people who encounter the leaves will have a skin reaction. Both plants produce three leaflets with very little apparent difference between them. The leaves may grow in different shapes, but they will always contain three leaflets that grow together. Some types of poison ivy grow on vines while others creep on the ground.
Dishwashing Liquid and Salt
Pour 4 cups of white distilled vinegar into a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of table salt and 1 tsp. of liquid dish soap to the vinegar. Stir the solution carefully so that you do not cause soapsuds to form and stop stirring once the salt dissolves. Place a funnel on the top of a spray bottle and pour the solution into it. Spray the solution onto the poison ivy or oak leaves and the soil that surrounds the plant. Spray the solution carefully to avoid applying it onto surrounding plants or grass because it can kill them as well. Continue to spray the poison ivy or oak weekly until the weed dies.
Salt and Boiling Water
Pour 1 cup of salt into 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring the salt water to a full boil and stir until the salt dissolves. Carefully grab the saucepan and take it outdoors. Pour the boiling water over the poison ivy or oak to kill the weeds. Pour the water carefully to prevent splashing it on surrounding foliage because it can kill other plants. Allow the poison ivy or oak to sit for one or two days and then remove the plant from the ground when it dies completely.
Always wear gloves when handling poison ivy or oak to prevent irritation to the skin. For best results, wear protective clothing such as long sleeve shirts, long pants and boots to protect all areas of your body. Even if the poison ivy appears dead, it can still contain oils that will cause a reaction. The use of salt to kill poison ivy can prevent any other plants from growing in that location. Never burn the poison ivy or oak plants because the oils in the smoke can irritate the lungs.
- Salt Works: Salt Uses & Tips
- Revolution Health; Removing Poison Ivy Plants; Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS ; September 2007
- "Reader's Digest": 11 Ways to Kill Garden Weeds
- Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac Information Center: Controlling Poison Ivy
- University of Florida Extension; Identification of Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac in Florida; Patricia Grace, et al.; 2009
Angela LaFollette was born in raised in West Virginia, but she currently resides with her husband and children in Minnesota. She is food freelance writer and blogger as well as a full-time stay at home mother. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marshall University. Angela's work has appeared on many online publications like Yahoo!, eHow, and Leaf Group.