Have you ever thought about how many times you have tracked the residue of poison ivy into your house through your shoes and gardening tools? Urushiol is an oil compound that comes from poison ivy. The allergic reaction that occurs when this plant comes in contact with the skin happens because of this oil compound. It leaks into the soil and gets on to your hands and tools even when wearing disposable gloves. So, the question is ― how to clean poison ivy off tools?
If you’re thinking about snipping off the poison ivy trail and burning it, don’t. You’ll be making a HUGE mistake! The smoke from this plant has deadly side effects. Inhaling this smoke can cause your lungs, nasal passages, and bronchial tubes to inflame, landing you in the hospital. It’s nasty stuff, and you need to learn how to deal with it the right way.
There are two methods you can try to clean your gardening tools. These methods include using commercial cleaners, such as a degreaser or poison ivy cleaner, and DIY solutions of detergent water or isopropyl alcohol.
Let’s take a look at how to use them:
Items You Need
- Poison Ivy Cleaner (Tecnu)
- Warm Water
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Rubber Gloves
- Breathing Mask
- Steel Wool
- Linseed Oil
Using Commercial Cleaners
Using a Degreaser
You can apply degreasers in two different ways: you can either pour a small amount of degreaser in a bucket of water and submerge your tools in it, or cover the tools directly with it and wipe it off after a while.
Wear rubber gloves, a breathing mask, and goggles. Since the toxins of this plant disperse in the air upon removal, you need to be extra careful hence, the mask. For the first method, add the recommended amount of degreaser in a bucket full of warm water and dump all the tools in it. Wait for 30 minutes, and then, wipe them with a rag.
For the second method, apply a healthy dollop of degreaser on the tools and vigorously rub it in. Wait for 20 minutes, and then, wipe it off using a rag. Apply the degreaser again and this time, use steel wool to scrub the tools. Again, wipe off the degreaser and then dunk the tools in a bucket full of warm water.
Since your tools have now been exposed to water, they are susceptible to rusting. Once you have wiped the tools with a rag, apply a good amount of linseed oil on them. Then, use a rag to rub it in gently. This oil creates a barrier between the metal and oxygen in the environment and prevents the tools from rusting.
Using a Poison Ivy Cleaner
A poison ivy cleaner such as Tecnu is not only great at removing this plant’s residue from your tools but your clothes and skin too! Using this cleaner is easy. All you need to do is wipe your tools with Tecnu, wait a few minutes for the cleaner to work, and then wash the tools under tap water. Apply linseed oil or WD-40 in the end for protection.
Using DIY Cleaners
Detergent and Warm Water
Why bring your dirty tools into the house when there’s an easy way on how to clean poison ivy off tools in your garden? Tools covered in poison ivy residue can be cleaned without a commercial cleaner. Fill a bucket with warm water and add detergent to it. Place all your tools in it for an hour or two. If you still have doubt left in your mind that there might be a little residue left on them or in the corners, fill your bathtub with detergent and hot water. Leave the tools in it overnight and then wipe and oil them in the morning. Do clean your bathtub with bleach in the end so that when you take a bath, you don’t come in contact with the plant’s toxin.
Note: Use a detergent that can cut through grease. This feature will help break down Urushiol’s chemical compounds. Hot water will wash away all the soap.
Use Isopropyl Alcohol
Similar to rubbing alcohol, isopropyl alcohol is a concentrated version, which makes it a great option for cleaning poison ivy from tools. You can easily find it in any drug store. Depending on how old your tools are, you can either dilute isopropyl alcohol with water and then apply it or pour it directly on them. You can also use this solution on any other areas that poison ivy has come in contact with. Remember to wear gloves when using isopropyl alcohol as it can be harmful to your skin.
Our Final Thoughts
Poison ivy plants grow like weeds. So, you need to be vigilant when it comes to removing the plant. The first thing you need to do to get rid of it is to use pruners and shears to cut off the plant from ground level. Don’t try to yank out the plant, because you’ll disperse the toxins in the air, further complicating the removal process. Next, use a shovel to dig out the roots. Make sure that you get in there deep. Dispose of every part of the plant safely by tying them in a heavy plastic bag. Now that the site is clear, use a natural herbicide spray to kill any of the remaining roots.
Poison ivy might grow again, but that’s alright; this is bound to happen because the plant’s toxin usually spreads far and wide. Simply use the method mentioned above again, and by the second or third try, you’ll no longer see the trail growing in your garden.
So, the answer to how to clean poison ivy off tools is quite easy. There’s detergent in your laundry room and isopropyl alcohol in your first-aid kit. If these DIY solutions don’t work, run to your nearest superstore and buy any commercial cleaners.