1. 1

    Don't mix dirty clothes with clean ones in the washer. Safely wash potentially contaminated items separately from any clean items. The oil on your clothes should be washed out in the wash, but you shouldn't wear anything else until you're sure. There may still be oil residue in the water that didn't get drained. [1]

    • Additionally, the oil on your clothing can only be removed through agitation, and since you're wearing more than necessary, the agitation will be reduced.
  2. 2

    Put it through its paces with boiling water, a full load, and a long cycle. Urushiol can be washed out of fabric with the help of plenty of hot water, a good amount of agitation, and a long wash cycle. It may seem inefficient to wash a small load of laundry using the maximum load and time settings, but doing so is necessary. [2]

    • It will take a lot of water and detergent to remove the urushiol because it isn't very water soluble. Another benefit of a lengthy wash cycle is reduced residue buildup on clothes and the inside of the washing machine. [3]


  3. 3

    Put in the recommended amount of laundry detergent Given that urushiol is only slightly soluble in water, you'll need to use a lot of detergent to remove it from your clothes. Fill the detergent drawer of your washing machine to the brim with a full capful or scoop, or the maximum fill line. [4]

    • In most cases, any laundry detergent will do the trick, but a degreaser detergent is the best bet. [5]
  4. 4

    Try not to stuff the washer to capacity Separate your laundry into multiple loads if you must, but make sure each load is no more than half full. If your washing machine is already at capacity, adding more items won't help get the oil out of your clothes through the agitation process. [6]

  5. 5

    Transferring clothes to the dryer requires the use of gloves. Most of the oil will have been removed if you used a lengthy wash cycle. However, you don't want to risk getting any of the oil on your skin if there are any remnants of it in the water that didn't drain out of the washing machine after the wash cycle. [7]

    • After you've moved the clothes to another location, run the empty washer through a full cycle at the highest temperature to eliminate any lingering oil.
    • If you would rather not use a dryer, you can always let your clothes air dry. The oil is removed by the washing machine; the dryer plays no role.
  6. 6

    If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, you should use a commercial product. Since high-efficiency models can detect when they have a full load and adjust water usage accordingly, they may not remove all of the grease from your garments. For added peace of mind, pre-treat your clothing with a commercial urushiol removal product like Tecnu or Zanfel and wash it in the washing machine twice. [8]

    • Wearing protective gloves, apply the solution to dry clothing. After you're done with the laundry, put the washer through a hot self-cleaning cycle.


  1. 1

    Put in hot water and detergent to clean anything that can't go through the washing machine. When washing something by hand that shouldn't go in the washer, like a leather jacket or shoes, it's important to protect your hands with long rubber gloves. Using two cups (480 mL) of hot water, dissolve two tablespoons of laundry or dish detergent. Cleaning is as simple as soaking a sponge in the soapy water, washing the surface, and then rinsing the cloth.
    • Use a toothbrush to clean those tough-to-reach crevices. After you're done brushing your teeth, dispose of the toothbrush and sponge.
    • Remove shoelaces, soak them in the cleaning solution, and then rinse them in hot water to clean them.
    • Before washing the entire item, check the care instructions and test the cleaning solution on a hidden part.
  2. 2

    Experiment with a commercial leather product. You can try using a commercial urushiol removal product on leather clothing and footwear if you're worried about the effects of detergent. Use a wet cloth to wipe away the product after you've rubbed it onto a dry cloth and rubbed it onto the item.

    • Ensure it is safe for leather by checking the label or website, and always test a small area first.
  3. 3

    Clean equipment with detergent or rubbing alcohol. It's important to regularly clean anything that could potentially be contaminated by dirt or germs, such as gardening tools, golf clubs, jewelry, etc. Use rubbing alcohol to clean them, and the problem will be solved. If you don't have any alcohol on hand, or if you're worried about the effects of alcohol, you can use dish or laundry detergent and hot water instead. [9]

  4. 4

    If you need to get your clothes cleaned, consider using a dry cleaner. If you are unsure about how to properly hand wash a fragile item, it is best to have a professional do it. If your garment can't handle getting wet, have a dry cleaner remove the urushiol for you. The chemicals they use aren't water based. [10]

    • Garments exposed to poison ivy should be kept in a plastic bag and the dry cleaner informed.


  1. 1

    Protect your hands when dealing with soiled items. Avoid latex gloves in favor of vinyl or rubber ones because urushiol can seep through the latter. [11] Your waterproof gloves should extend past your elbows for maximum protection. Wearing long sleeves is a good way to keep your arms safe. [12]

    • Rubber kitchen gloves or not, dispose of them after handling potentially hazardous materials.
  2. 2

    Keep things in a plastic bag until you can wash them. To avoid a more challenging removal process later, wash your clothes as soon as possible after contact with urushiol. Garments and equipment that have been contaminated should be kept in a trash bag until they can be washed. When you take your clothes out to wash them, discard the bag. [13]

    • Don't mix contaminated items with clean clothes that haven't come in contact with poison ivy or oak.
  3. 3

    After washing your clothes, you should clean the washing machine, sink, or basin. When you're done washing your clothes, run the empty machine through one cycle of hot water and a cup of bleach. Cleaning a sink, bucket, or basin that was used for handwashing must be done with a sponge or cloth, hot water, and dish soap. [14]

    • Dish detergent can be replaced with rubbing alcohol or watered-down bleach.
    • Throw away any brushes, sponges, or other implements that you used for hand washing.


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wikiHow Staff

Members of the wikiHow Staff contributed to this article. Articles are checked for accuracy and completeness by our team of trained editors and researchers. Articles on wikiHow are reviewed by the Content Management Team to ensure they are based on reliable sources and up to wikiHow's usual high standards of quality. There have been 111,421 views of this article.

Co-authors: 5

Updated: June 2, 2021

Views:  111,421

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