Can Poison Ivy Oil Stay on Clothes After Washing?
The dreaded oil from poison ivy, known as urushiol, has caused many a rash and itchy skin to those unfortunate enough to come into contact with it. It is well known that urushiol can spread from person to person and from clothes to person. The question often arises whether the oil can stay on clothes after washing.
Can Urushiol Remain After Washing?
In short, yes, poison ivy oil can remain on clothes even after washing. Even though it is highly soluble in water and will be partially washed away, urushiol does not break down easily. If you encounter poison ivy and do not know what it is, do not handle it. If you handle the plants and get the oil on your hands or clothes, here is what you can do:
Removing Urushiol Oil from Clothes:
- Soak the items in a solution of 1/2 cup of household bleach per gallon of water.
- Let the clothing sit in the solution for at least five minutes, then rinse with cold water.
- Launder the clothing immediately after removing the items from the solution and rinse the clothes.
- Set the water temperature to hot and use an extra rinse cycle.
- Machine dry the clothing.
Tips for Avoiding Contamination
- Avoid contact with poison ivy plants.
- Wash your hands and clothes thoroughly after handling the plants.
- If you are working outdoors, wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and gloves.
- Be sure to launder all clothes and wash your skin with a degreasing soap.
If poison ivy oil has already reached your clothing or skin, it is important to thoroughly wash the items in the proper solution before further use. This will help ensure that the urushiol oil is removed from the clothing and prevent it from spreading.