If a person comes in contact with poison ivy, the first course of action is to treat the rash. But what about the clothes that were worn when the person made contact with the plant?

When someone gets poison ivy on his or her clothes, you’ll want to make sure these garments are properly cleaned to avoid a relapse — and to make sure the rash doesn’t spread to others from contact with any toxic residue remaining on the garments. Let’s take a closer look at how both dry cleaning and laundering can properly clean clothes that have come in contact with poison ivy.

What Causes Poison Ivy?
Before we review cleaning options, let’s briefly explore what causes a poison ivy rash in the first place.

Poison ivy is caused when skin comes in contact with an oily resin called urushiol, which is a sap-like substance present in the leaves, stems and roots of the poison ivy plant (as well as poison oak and poison sumac).

Urushiol is sticky, and attaches to skin, clothing, or anything else it comes into contact with, rather easily. Garments are poison ivy “transmitters” only when they contain the sap from the plant, which in turn may infect the skin. Every person has a different sensitivity to these toxins, but it’s always better to be safe and clean garments if you suspect they are contaminated.

Washing Out Poison Ivy at Home
When you get poison ivy on clothes, laundering is typically the best solution. The reason for this is that your washing machine performs multiple flushes, which helps remove all of the remaining toxins from the garments.

When laundering, be sure to wear gloves when handling clothes, and wash these garments separately. If, buy chance, your skin comes in contact with the poison ivy on the clothes, wash the area with soap and water immediately to avoid getting a rash.

Dry Cleaning Clothes with Poison Ivy
If your affected clothes are dry clean only, bring them over to Klinke Cleaners! Be sure to let us know that the garments have been exposed to poison ivy. We want to make sure that we protect our coworkers, and that we deliver clothing back to you toxin free.

A great way to avoid poison ivy is to simply dress appropriately when going for a walk or hike where it might be present. Socks, long pants, and closed-toe shoes can keep the sap off your skin.