7 Ways to Kill Poison Ivy Naturally (2023)


Plant Problems



Barbara Gillette

7 Ways to Kill Poison Ivy Naturally (1)

Barbara Gillette

Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener, herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist. She has 30 years of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals.

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Published on 09/22/22

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(Video) How to Kill Poison Ivy in One Day- Without Poisonous Chemicals

Amanda Rose Newton

Reviewed byAmanda Rose Newton

Amanda Rose Newton is a pest specialist, reviewing pest control content for The Spruce's Cleaning Review Board. She is a board-certified entomologist and volunteers for USAIDs Farmer to Farmer program. Currently, she is a professor of Horticulture, an Education Specialist, and pest specialist.

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7 Ways to Kill Poison Ivy Naturally (3)

For most homeowners, the sight of poison ivy is enough to make them drop everything and prepare to remove it. Their fears are well-founded. All parts of the plant Rhus radicans contain urushiol, from the reddish-gray berries produced in fall to the tough, rhizomatous roots. To top it off, it is hard to get rid of this stubborn vine, but natural methods of removing poison ivy do exist, enabling you to avoid using synthetic sprays.

It's hard to imagine, but poison ivy does have a place and purpose in the environment. It's a food source for birds and other wildlife. In fact, seeds dropped by birds are usually responsible for the plant's spread. With the exception of primates, other animals show no sensitivity to poison ivy. Your pup may not have any problems, but she can carry the oil on her coat and urushiol can remain active for as long as ten years. Poison ivy's twisting, clinging roots make it difficult to eradicate by pulling it out. This characteristic, though, provides a measure of erosion control.

When poison ivy takes root in your yard the best option is to remove it quickly to avoid accidental contact and spread. If left uncontrolled, it can even grow to the size of a small shrub, although this is a more common form for poison oak (Rhus toxicodendron). Unfortunately it often shows up in places where synthetic herbicides may not be the best option. If you find poison ivy in your prize rose bed or along walkways and other high-traffic areas, it's helpful to know about natural ways to kill it (i.e., ways that don't involve store-bought herbicides).

Here are seven methods to get rid of poison ivy naturally. Some are more practical than others but options include at least one or two that will work for everyone.

Remove Poison Ivy Safely

Always wear protective clothing when working around poison ivy. Long sleeves and pants, boots, water-proof gloves and eye protection are recommended. Wash your hands, gloves and clothing if you think you may have contacted the plant.


Never use fire to kill poison ivy. The smoke and fumes can carry urushiol into the air over long distances which can be harmful to health.

(Video) How to kill poison ivy the natural way….. Very effectively!

  • 01 of 07

    Dig Out the Plant and Roots

    Ivy plants, in general, have a stubborn spreading root system, some more so than others. Poison ivy is one that falls into the "more-so" category. Pulling it out even when the plants are small is unlikely to capture all the tiny fibrous roots. Pulling it also requires fairly close contact with the plant. Digging is safer and much more effective.

    1. If the vine is climbing or has run out along the ground, begin by using snippers to cut back to the crown.
    2. Use a shovel or garden trowel to dig out of circle of soil at least 8 inches in diameter and 8 inches deep around the crown.
    3. Carefully lift the soil and plant with the shovel or your gloved hands.
    4. If roots remain attached to the ground, dig out another two to three inches of soil until the roots come completely free.
    5. It's okay to shake off excess soil but do this in a traffic-free area where pets and children aren't likely to come into contact with any residual urushiol.
    6. Bag the poison ivy plant and dispose of it. Do not compost or burn.
    7. Clean any tools used with isopropyl alcohol to remove urushiol residue.
  • 02 of 07

    Deploy Boiling Water

    While burning is hazardous and can release poison ivy's irritant into the air, you can safely pour boiling water over the plant. This method will require several applications but eventually you will see wilting and dieback.

    1. Use a tea kettle or another heat-proof vessel with a spout.
    2. Fill it with water and bring it to boil.
    3. Pour the boiling water over the crown of the plant.
    4. Repeat applications every few days until the poison ivy dies back and disappears.
  • 03 of 07

    Smother It

    In the absence of air, water and light most plants cannot survive. Although poison ivy tends to grow in shaded spots, it does need filtered light to thrive. Starving it of air and light is an effective removal method. It also enables you to avoid touching any part of the plant with gloved hands.

    1. Cover the poison ivy with a piece of heavy cardboard.
    2. Weight the cardboard down firmly with wood chips, or another heavy material.
    3. Poison Ivy creeps so it's important to make sure the plant is covered and well-weighted down at soil level.
    4. Leave the cardboard in place for six to eight weeks or until it begins to break down.
  • 04 of 07

    Use Salt, Soap and Water

    Here is a simple spray using common household ingredients.

    1. Dissolve 3 pounds of salt in a gallon of water.
    2. Add 1/4 cup of dish soap.
    3. Fill a garden sprayer with the solution and spray the leaves thoroughly.
    4. Repeat until dieback occurs.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.

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  • 05 of 07

    Spray White Vinegar

    White vinegar contains acids which can alter soil pH and damage other plants so practice care when using this solution.

    1. Fill a garden sprayer with undiluted white vinegar.
    2. Spray the poison ivy leaves and crown.
    3. Try to avoid overspray into surrounding soil.
    4. Repeat every few days until dieback occurs.


    Even when you are using common household ingredients to kill poison ivy, these homemade sprays are still a type of herbicide. Keep in mind that other desirable plants and flowers can also be adversely affected by over-spray. Protect your flowers and shrubs by shielding them with a piece of cardboard when spraying poison ivy.

  • 06 of 07

    Cut Back and Repeat

    This method requires diligence and will take longer but it will eventually starve the ivy of nutrients and cause it to die.

    1. Use a snipper or hand pruner to cut the vines back to the crown.
    2. Watch for new growth and cut that back to the crown each time it appears.
    3. Be sure to clean your tools after each cutting,
  • 07 of 07

    Get Help From a Goat

    This is impractical for most homeowners and not the most effective removal method. It is true, however, that goats will eat just about anything, including poison ivy. The problem is that while the leaves and vines may be safely eaten by a goat, the roots remain leaving you with the problem of poison ivy that continues to grow back year after year.


There's a common saying about poison ivy — "leaves of three, let it be" — and it's actually true! Poison ivy's growth habits include a wide range of variables. It's not picky about soil and can thrive in sunlight to shady areas with only filtered light. Once established it's fairly drought tolerant and can take the shape of a vine, perennial plant or even a small shrub. The leaves may show slight serration or toothed margins or they may appear smooth with color that changes according to the season. There will always, though, be three leaves.

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The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Everything To Know About Poison Ivy. DMU

  2. A Poison Ivy Primer. Smithsonian.

  3. Poison Oak: More Than Just Scratching The Surface. Palomar College.

  4. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/outsmarting-poison-ivy-and-other-poisonous-plants

(Video) 5 Ways to Get Rid of Poison Ivy Plants From Your Lawn | The Home Depot


7 Ways to Kill Poison Ivy Naturally? ›

Homemade weed killers: You can kill poison ivy without noxious chemicals by dissolving one cup of salt, one tablespoon of white vinegar, and one tablespoon of dish soap in a gallon of water. Pour this soapy water mixture into a spray bottle and apply it liberally to the whole plant.

What kills poison ivy permanently naturally? ›

Homemade weed killers: You can kill poison ivy without noxious chemicals by dissolving one cup of salt, one tablespoon of white vinegar, and one tablespoon of dish soap in a gallon of water. Pour this soapy water mixture into a spray bottle and apply it liberally to the whole plant.

Does Dawn dish soap and vinegar kill poison ivy? ›

Homemade weed killer: Add 1 cup of salt, 1 tablespoon of dish soap and 1 tablespoon of vinegar into a gallon of water for a DIY weed killer spray that can kill poison ivy over time.

What will kill poison ivy permanently? ›

To eradicate poison oak and poison ivy chemically, use an herbicide that contains glyphosate, triclopyr, or a 3-way herbicide that contains 2,4-D amine, dicamba, and mecoprop. See Table 1 for products containing these active ingredients. These herbicides can kill desirable plants, so be careful.

Does Dawn dish soap stop poison ivy? ›

If you have contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac , immediately wash areas of the skin that may have touched the plant. Sometimes the resulting rash ( contact dermatitis ) can be completely avoided by washing the affected areas with plenty of water and soap (such as dishwashing soap) or rubbing alcohol.

What is the fastest home remedy to get rid of poison ivy? ›

Home Remedies for Poison Ivy: Ways To Stop the Itch Fast
  1. Wash the Rash at the First Sign of Poison Ivy. ...
  2. Apply a Cold Compress. ...
  3. Soak in an Oatmeal Bath. ...
  4. Use Hydrocortisone Cream or Calamine Lotion. ...
  5. Take an Oral Antihistamine. ...
  6. Make a Baking Soda Paste. ...
  7. Soothe the Skin With Aloe Vera. ...
  8. Don't Use Apple Cider Vinegar.
Jun 22, 2022

What kills the root of poison ivy? ›

(Do not tear or rip the vines, as this may disperse the urushiol into the air.) Then dig out the roots about eight inches below the plant. “To make sure the [extracted] roots are dead, you can douse them with boiling water, suffocate them with mulch, or spray them with a commercial herbicide,” says Cook.

How do you get rid of poison ivy fast and easy? ›

What are some remedies that can help cure poison ivy fast?
  1. Apply a cool compress to the affected area several times a day. This can help reduce swelling and itchiness.
  2. Taking oatmeal baths. ...
  3. Using aloe vera gel. ...
  4. Applying a slurry of baking soda and water to the affected area. ...
  5. Rubbing the affected area with a raw potato.
Jul 29, 2022

What home remedy kills ivy? ›

Spray White Vinegar
  1. Fill a garden sprayer with undiluted white vinegar.
  2. Spray the poison ivy leaves and crown.
  3. Try to avoid overspray into surrounding soil.
  4. Repeat every few days until dieback occurs.
Sep 22, 2022

Does rubbing alcohol remove poison ivy oil? ›

Rubbing alcohol removes the urushiol oil from your skin once it's been exposed to poison ivy. You may still experience some discomfort, but the rubbing alcohol significantly reduces symptoms. You should apply rubbing alcohol as soon as possible—within 10 minutes of exposure is ideal.

What not to do when you have poison ivy? ›

Do not use rubbing alcohol, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide as a treatment for poison ivy. These items will irritate the rash more than soothe symptoms.

How long is poison ivy oil active? ›

Urushiol oil stays active on any surface, including dead plants, for up to five years. Breaking the blisters releases urushiol oil that can spread. Not true.

What does vinegar do to poison ivy? ›

There isn't a lot of recent scientific research on the benefits of treating a poison ivy rash with apple cider vinegar. However, it does have a long history of being used in this capacity. As an acid, this home remedy is thought to dry up urushiol, which reportedly relieves itching and speeds up healing.

Does Epsom salt get rid of poison ivy? ›

“Epsom salts dry things out,” Dr. Zug says. “They are especially good for poison ivy rashes and other oozy dermatitis. Just follow the directions on the box and sprinkle some into a lukewarm bath.” You can get Epsom salts at your pharmacy or supermarket.


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