Getting Rid of Poison Oak Residue
May 11, 2005 1:09 PM   Subscribe

I went on a hike and went through lots of poison oak. I've been free of any symptoms for now because I washed myself with some expensive specialized cleaner. But my clothes and shoes are likely to be contaminated, so I've put them far away. I would like to retrieve and cleanse them, but worry about spreading the oils. Looking also for low-cost or "found in the household" solutions.

I'm also worried about putting my poisonous stuff in the washer/dryer so I don't further spread it. I hear UV light and time is one way to deal with the problem, but it's been very rainy here.
posted by alex3005 to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
When I was a kid we used regular dish soap (not in your washing machine- it'll foam everywhere). It's made to cut though oils so it worked for poison oak.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:28 PM on May 11, 2005

I've never had a problem with the oils after running something through the washer. For the shoes I would just wait a while, or be aware of the oils when you use them.

I don't use specialized cleaners either, soap and water does the trick if you do it in time.
posted by Manjusri at 1:30 PM on May 11, 2005

Any decent soap or detergent. Nothing special needed. If something isn't directly washable, wipe with rubbing alcohol.
posted by sageleaf at 1:39 PM on May 11, 2005

Tecnu (Technu) is an ointment that is sold in pharmacies nationwide, esp in areas where there is a lot of poison oak. It's a bit spendy, but it will help wash away the irritating oils from the poison oak. Apply liberally to your skin after you return from your hike. Also - make sure that you wash your hiking clothes separately from any other washing! Wash in hot water and rinse twice before air-drying - you don't want the oils to spread to other clothing/bedding
posted by seawallrunner at 1:40 PM on May 11, 2005

Best answer: As mentioned by sagehead, rubbing alchohol does the trick in places and on objects where it can be used -- skin, shoes

The alcohol denatures the urushiol, the oil that triggers the reaction.

Zanfel helps if you've actually got a reaction.
posted by anadem at 2:34 PM on May 11, 2005

Technu is mineral spirits in a lotion base, easy to make yourself.The best thing I know is Fels Naptha soap ,let a bar of this soap sit in a saucer of water until it is soft spread it on whatever and don't wash it off let it absorb in.The naptha takes care of the nasty stuff.Tommorow I am hking in big sur
and expect PO over my head.
posted by hortense at 7:33 PM on May 11, 2005

What hortense said. Seriously. Fels Naptha soap is the bomb for poison oak/ivy. We used to sell it at the little rural beach store I worked at because a lot of the nearby roadsides and wooded areas are overrun by poison oak. It also gets out bloodstains from everything. (Note: we charged 89 cents per bar, not $2.75!)
posted by Lynsey at 8:47 PM on May 11, 2005

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