Getting rid of sumac


Home Remedies for Poison Ivy, Oak, or Sumac

Even though your rash can go away on its own in 1 to 3 weeks, your skin will feel better if you take some steps at home.

To help with oozing problems, try over-the-counter creams or lotions that you put on the rash, such as:

  • Calamine lotion
  • Zinc carbonate
  • Zinc oxide

For itchiness, apply baking soda or colloidal oatmeal to your skin. And for an oozing rash, give aluminum acetate a try.

You can also get relief from a steroid cream if you use it during the first few days after you get a rash. But experts say over-the-counter steroids, such as 1% hydrocortisone, may not be strong enough to do the job. Your doctor may need to prescribe a stronger version.

Some folks take antihistamines, but they won’t make your itchiness go away. Antihistamines that make you feel sleepy, though, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), can help you take your mind off the itchy feeling when you go to bed.

Your skin will feel better if you soak in a bathtub with cool water and an oatmeal-based bath product. Or place a cool, wet compress on the rash for 15 to 30 minutes at a time, a few times a day.

There are a few things to avoid. As tough as it is to resist, don’t scratch the blisters. Bacteria on your hands can get into the blisters and lead to an infection.

Also, some creams or ointments can make your rash worse. Don’t use any of these:

  • Antihistamine creams or lotions
  • Anesthetic creams with benzocaine
  • Antibiotic creams with neomycin or bacitracin

Poison Sumac Information: Learn About Poison Sumac Control

What is poison sumac? This is an important question if you spend time in the great outdoors, and learning how to manage this nasty plant can save you hours of misery. Read on for more poison sumac information and learn how to get rid of poison sumac.

Poison Sumac Information

Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) is a large shrub or small tree that reaches mature heights of up to 20 feet, but usually tops out at 5 or 6 feet. The stems are red and the leaves are arranged in 7 to 13 pairs of glossy green leaflets, often with pale green undersides.

Poison sumac trees grow in wet, swampy or boggy areas or along shorelines. The plant is most common in the Great Lakes and coastal plains, but it is sometimes found as far west as Texas.

How to Get Rid of Poison Sumac

Although you can manage poison sumac any time of year, poison sumac control is most effective when the plant is in bloom in late spring through midsummer.

Herbicides containing glyphosate are an effective means of control. Use the product strictly according to the directions on the label, and keep in mind that glyphosate is non-selective and will kill any plant it touches.

Alternatively, you can cut the plants to a height of about 6 inches (15 cm.), then apply the weed killer to the cut stems. Use pruning shears, not a weed trimmer or mower, to avoid releasing irritating plant parts into the air.

Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are safer and much more environmentally friendly.

Natural Poison Sumac Control

Natural poison sumac control is difficult but not impossible. You may be able control poison sumac by pulling or digging the plant, but be sure to get the entire root system or the plant will resprout.

You can also cut the plant to ground level with pruning shears, but you’ll need to repeat the task every two weeks or so to keep up with new growth. If you are persistent, the plant will eventually die, but it may take a couple of years.

Dispose of plant parts in plastic bags. Of course, be sure to dress appropriately – wear gloves, long, sturdy pants and long-sleeved shirts.

A Note of Caution: Avoid burning poison sumac trees because heating the plant releases vapors that can cause serious allergic reactions. When inhaled, the vapors can even be fatal.

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Saturday – July 30, 2011

From: Huntersville, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Vines
Title: Getting rid of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac
Answered by: Nan Hampton


How can I rid my yard of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac? I have tried roundup, poison ivy roundup and even a clorox solution and nothing seems to kill it, I keep seeing it come up. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you


Vigilance and persistence are the keys. If you can dig or pull up the roots of the plants, you are going to be able to get rid of the plants more quickly. That will take a great deal of effort and you might not be able or willing to do this. If you can’t or don’t want to make the effort to try and dig up roots, your best strategy is the following:

  • Every time you see a new poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac plant emerge in your yard, cut it off near the ground and IMMEDIATELY (using a small paintbrush–the small foam ones work well) paint the cut with the poison ivy Roundup or equivalent. (Clorox is not likely to be particulary effective.) You need to paint it as soon as you cut it because, as a means of defense against disease or insect infestation, plant cells close off wounds quickly and the herbicide won’t be transferred to the roots.
  • Wrap the cutoff portion in a plastic bag and dispose of it.
  • Keep careful watch for new plants and act when you see them. It will take a while, but it will eventually rid your yard of the poisonous pests.

Remember to read and follow the safety precautions listed on the label of the herbicide. Wear long sleeves, long pants, shoes, socks and gloves to keep from getting the poisonous oils on your skin.

Please check the answer to a previous question about eliminating poison ivy with more detailed instructions as well as methods to avoid.

From the Image Gallery

Eastern poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans
Eastern poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans
Eastern poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans

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Question: I have some large poison sumac trees in my backyard. What is the best way to get rid of these nuisance plants?

Answer: Like its cousins poison ivy and poison oak, poison sumac contains copious amounts of an oil called urushiol, which causes blistering, itching, and general misery in those who are exposed to it. Any attempt to cut down the tree and grub out the roots carries a mighty high risk of exposure. Old-fashioned ways of killing poison sumac include spraying brine on the leaves and shoots to kill them, or pouring kerosene or motor oil on the roots (not recommended, since the entire area would be contaminated). If you choose to cut down the trees and grub out the roots, be sure to do it in the cold season, when there are no leaves on the trees, and wear total protective gear. All saws and hoes must be washed in large amounts of water when you’re done, to remove the urushiol. Don’t burn the wood or roots, as urushiol can be carried in smoke. Maybe the best solution is to call your county extension agent and get advice on the best herbicide for poison sumac. Don’t feel too guilty about using a herbicide; the tree wages its own chemical warfare on whoever touches it!

Control the Plant

You can do it yourself, or hire somebody else, in which case, check our growing list of poison ivy control companies by state. If you would rather do it yourself, my advice is below, but there is no easy or totally safe way to deal with these plants.

No easy way.

There is no easy and totally safe way to deal with poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac. You can poison them, which can kill your healthy plants, and many consider the herbicides to be unsafe for people, pets, and wildlife. You can tear them out by hand, which puts you in danger of a hospital-grade rash.

While I tend to favor the non-poison methods, I know of two very anti-herbicide people who were each faced with such massive poison ivy problems that they both resorted to herbicide.

I like to recommend finding someone with goats who can bring the goats to eat it, but I have heard of situations where the goats ate not just the poison ivy, but everything in sight, so they gave up on the goats.

So here we give you the two general approaches: pulling it out or poisoning it. For do-it-yourselfers, those are the only options. Unless you count goats as a realistic option. So the other real option is to find a professional, which is why we created our list of control services.

1. Pulling it out by the roots or cutting it down.

Small ground vines have surface roots that run just under the leaf litter, so you can pull them right out, as you can see here. It gets tricky when the vines are wrapped around wire fences and stone walls.

Big older vine roots can go down a foot or more, and you will need to dig with a shovel. However, cutting the vine off at the surface might kill it, so you can start by cutting it off, then deal with it later if it does grow back. Unless you plan to garden where the roots are, in which case, they have to go, so shoveling might be needed. Some people soak the ground to make it easier to yank out or dig out the roots.

Tearing down the climbing vines is easy when they are thin, but they can get up to a few inches thick, in which case you will need a saw, and possibly a winch or vehicle and a chain to tear them from the tree or wall. Needless to say, this can get dangerous even aside from the rash you might get from the sap.

Beware of the plant sap you will unleash! Whenever you tear the leaves, vines, and roots, you unleash plant oil with the urushiol that causes the rash. Cutting the vines and roots can cause the plant to bleed large amounts of sap, and that can cause great misery.

Don’t use a weed-wacker device, which will pulverize the plant and spray the sap all around.

You would be wise to wear safety glasses. Getting a tiny fleck of plant sap in your eyes would be the start of a bad summer.

Wear thick rubberized gloves, not latex. The word is that the plant oil can soak through latex just the way it soaks through your skin. So you might want to wear rubber gloves with work gloves over them to protect them from tearing.

There is also no easy way to dispose of the plant. You must NOT burn it, as that releases dangerous amounts of the oil in the smoke. You should not just put it out in yard waste or trash bags without checking with your town about their policies. You can bury the dead vines or toss them into an unused area on your property, if there is one.

When you are done you should rinse yourself and your tools off thoroughly with a hard, cold spray from a garden hose. If you have a swimming pool handy, jump in. The chlorine should help to neutralize the oil. After all of that you can wash normally. Remember that hot water and soap tend to open the pores and let the oil right in, so don’t wash with soap and water until you have rinsed off with lots of cold water spray.

The clothes and shoes that you wore will be covered with the plant oil. If you can afford to, you might want to throw them away with the dead poison ivy vines. Otherwise, I would suggest washing, maybe twice, with some bleach.

Consider using Tecnu to wash off your hands, arms, and other areas after you are done, but soon, because the oil can penetrate your skin in a half hour.

Wash off your tools with a hard spray from a garden hose, or wipe down with alcohol.

Assume your boots are covered with sap, and wash them down with the same hard spray, and alcohol.

2. Using herbicides.

Herbicides will kill lots of plants, not just poison ivy and oak. There is a variety of chemicals that are sold to kill poison ivy and oak, but all of them will also kill any broadleaf plants, including trees, garden flowers, and vegetables. And the health effects of these products on people and pets is questionable, so I personally see them as a last resort.

Some people find you need multiple applications to kill the plant, while others find just one works. Probably depends on the hardiness of the plant and your choice of poison.

Read the directions! So if you use a weed killer chemical read the directions carefully, and use as little as you can. Overuse of broadleaf killer can kill off your cherished plants and even trees.

Safer herbicides? I have been told that a vinegar and salt solution with some soap will kill poison ivy, but have not tested that out. I will test that this summer (2017) and post my results here and in a blog post. If you know for sure of safer ways to kill the vine, let us know.

There are quite a few plants that can be harmful to people upon contact. The chemical found in these plants can cause skin inflammation, itching rashes, and blisters.

The most common poisonous plants are:

  • Poison Ivy
  • Poison Oak
  • Poison Sumac

These plants can present a real danger to people who work or pursue recreation outdoors.

Hikers, gardeners, groundskeepers and others who come in contact with plants on a regular basis are at risk. Firefighters and forestry workers are especially at risk because inhaling fumes from burning poisonous plants can cause severe allergic reactions.

In this article, we will look at poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. We will share valuable information to help you identify and avoid them. We will also provide information on removing these potentially dangerous plants from your home landscape.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • How to get rid of poison oak
  • Getting rid of poison ivy
  • How to kill poison oak
  • Best poison ivy killer
  • How to get rid of poison ivy without killing other plants
  • How to get rid of poison sumac
  • Natural way to kill poison ivy
  • Homemade poison oak killer
  • How to dispose of poison ivy
  • and more…

Read on to learn more.

Poisonous Plants Are Found Across The United States

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans or Rhus radicans) grows abundantly east of the US Rocky Mountains. Along the west coast, you will find a similar plant, Poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) in great abundance. In the southern states, poison sumac vines (Toxicodendron vernix) adorn the swamplands.

All of these plants contain a liquid sap called urushiol which causes a severe allergic reaction in most humans. Either direct contact with plants containing this substance or contact with animals or surfaces that have been exposed can cause a red, itchy rash and be hard to get rid of. The more often you are exposed, the more severe your reaction will be.

How Can You Recognize Poisonous Plants?

Poison oak, ivy, and sumac grow best in sheltered settings so that you will encounter them more frequently in the woods than in the open; however, this is not a hard-and-fast rule. Birds can carry the berries to other settings.

If the berries happen to take root along a fence row or against the side of a building or beside a large tree, conditions may be just right for growth. Additionally, if you live in a new development, there may be poison plant roots lurking beneath your lawn!

Poison ivy and poison oak sometimes share one similarity in appearance. Their leaves tend to grow in clusters of three, and you can remember this with the adage “Leaves of three, let it be!”

This is a good basic rule, but be advised it is not entirely foolproof. The number of leaves per cluster may vary depending upon the species of poison oak or ivy. There is, even more, variation when it comes to poison sumac. Its leaves grow in a feather-like formation in varying numbers ranging from seven to thirteen per grouping.

Luckily, all three of these types of plants have other traits you can watch for to help you identify and avoid them.

#1 – Poison Ivy Comes In Several Varieties

This plant spreads through seed distribution and root spread.

Eastern poison ivy grows as a vine. It typically presents three leaves per stem. These are shiny green throughout most of the year and bright red in the autumn. The vine, itself, is usually ropelike with a hairy surface.

Western poison ivy is more bush or shrub-like. It also displays clusters of three shiny leaves that may turn colors in the fall.

Both varieties small have flowers in green or yellow during the spring and summer. The flowers grow on stalks in clusters of five. They become grayish, amber, yellow or green berries in the fall. Over 50 types of birds eat these berries.

Leaf shapes may vary from one type of plant to another. Some look rather like a maple leaf, while others are tear-drop or oval shaped. The leaves may or may not be hairy. Some are smooth-edged, while others have lobed or toothed margins.

#2 – Poison Oak Comes In Several Variations

Like poison ivy, poison oak may grow as a vine or as a shrub. Its leaves are typically arranged in clusters of three, and they are usually shaped like the leaves of an oak tree. Poison oak may display green or yellow flowers which become green, yellow or white berries in autumn.

#3 – Poison Sumac Always Grows As A Shrub Or Bush With Long Fronds Of Leaves

You may encounter some accounts of “poison sumac vine,” but these are very likely to be cases of mistaken identity. Poison sumac is a bush. It can grow very tall and may be considered a poison sumac tree by some, but it is never a vine.

Leaves of the Poison Sumac – Image:Wikimedia CC

Each frond or stem of poison sumac may have between seven and thirteen oblong leaves (always an odd number) symmetrically arranged in pairs with one lone leaf making up the tip of the frond. The leaves are green throughout most of the year and turn from yellow to red gradually in the fall. The bushes may produce glossy cream-colored or yellow berries.

How to Identify Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac

What Is the Difference Between Sumac and Poison Sumac?

There is also a non-poison sumac that looks quite a bit like poison sumac but has a few important differences. A regular sumac shrub has very different seeds from its poisonous cousin. The seeds of a non-poisonous sumac grow as a red, feathery seed-tuft. The seeds are packed tightly inside of the tuft, as opposed to the clusters of berries found on poison sumac.

Also, the harmless sumac shrub grows in a broader variety of settings than the poison sumac. Some consider the harmless sumac invasive because it can thrive almost anywhere. You’ll find the poison sumac almost entirely in swampy settings.

How Can You Be Sure?

You really can’t. It’s always best to follow a policy of “look-don’t-touch” and heed the “leaves-of-three” rule. This may prevent you from touching some harmless plants, but it will also help you avoid touching quite a few poisonous plants.

When in the woods, keep to paths and avoid touching plants unless you are certain of their identity. Wear gloves and avoid rubbing your eyes or touching your face when out in nature. Simple precautions such as these can prevent transferring urushiol and other irritants to sensitive areas of skin.

How To Get Rid Of Poison Ivy, Poison Sumac and Poison Oak Plants

If you have poison ivy, oak or sumac growing on your property, you will naturally want to get rid of it. Simply avoiding it is not a solution because it is a weed. It spreads far and wide very quickly.

Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to control or get rid of poison ivy plants. If you have a large property and lots of poison oak, sumac or ivy, you may not be able to get rid of the plants entirely, but you can control them. Here are a few of the top methods.

Poison Ivy Control: Hiring A Removal Service

If you have a big problem in terms of lots of poison plants or just one huge, very old one you may want to hire a professional service. There are lots of advantages to this, not the least of which is you avoiding all personal contact with poison oak, poison sumac or poison ivy plants. You also have some guarantee that the job will be done correctly.

5 Things To Keep In Mind When Hiring A “Poison Plant Removal” Service:

  1. If you think you may want to use a service, call and ask for an inspection and estimate first before you try anything else. If you wage battle against your poison ivy on your own and then call a service, you’ll make it harder for the contractor to find the poison plants!
  2. Prioritize your problem plants. If you have several stands of poison ivy, oak or sumac, have the contractor work on the worst and most problematic one first. If he or she does a good job, move forward to the other areas.
  3. Let the contractor know whether you prefer hand removal, use of chemical herbicides or a combination of the two.
  4. If the contractor says covering poison ivy, sumac or oak with soil will kill them, don’t believe it. These plants will grow right through the soil.
  5. Be prepared to pay well for these potentially dangerous services. Typically, poison ivy removal cost falls somewhere between that of standard landscaping services and tree trimming and removal services.

Video: Poison Ivy Removal

Goats – The Best Way To Get Rid Of Poison Ivy Plants Without Chemicals

One way to keep poison ivy at bay on your property is to keep goats. Interestingly, goats love to eat poison ivy, oak, and sumac and doing so has no ill effect on them. Nor does it negatively affect the milk of dairy goats or the meat of meat goats. Just be careful about handling the goats after they have been grazing on these plants. There may be urushiol on their coats.

If you don’t want to or can’t keep goats, you can sometimes rent them to mow your poison plants and other undesirable weeds. The big advantage of using this method is you don’t have to:

  • Do the work
  • Risk exposure to the plants

Goats can keep poison plants under control, in the short term. In the long term, with regular grazing, the roots will die. Poison ivy, oak, and sumac will not tolerate continuous mowing, cutting or tilling. If the plants are cut off at ground level for an extended period of time (several years), the roots will die.

Video: Goats As A Solution To A Poison Ivy Problem

Poison Ivy Treatment: Pull It Up By The Roots

The most common and successful way to get rid of poison ivy and other poison plants altogether is to pull them up by the roots. If you have young plants and vines, this can be relatively easy after a rain when the ground is still damp. Young plants have fairly shallow roots, and you can pull them by hand or use a pair of garden forks to lift them out of the ground.

Older plants can have thick trunks and deep roots. If they are climbing vines, you will have the challenge of untangling them from the trees or structures that support them. For mature plants, you’ll have to dig deep to get the whole root. You may even need to use a tractor or winch to pull up deep roots.

Whether your plants are young or mature, be sure to check back frequently and spray, cut or pull up any new sprouts. If you miss only a little bit of root, a new plant will grow.

Be Prepared – Be Careful

When digging and cutting, be careful handling every part of the plant. The urushiol is present in the leaves, flowers, berries, stems, trunk, and roots. When you cut or crush the plant or the roots, the sap will flow, and you can get a nasty skin rash or blisters if you are exposed. Follow these precautions to protect yourself and avoid experiencing the symptoms of poison ivy:

  1. Wear goggles to protect your eyes and a breathing mask to avoid inhaling fine particles of dust, shredded plant matter and plant oil droplets.
  2. Keep your skin properly covered with long sleeves, long pants (double layers).
  3. Wear boots and gloves. It’s best to wear a pair of cotton gloves next to your skin and a pair of long rubber gloves over them. Alternately, you might want to wear work gloves over rubber gloves to keep them from tearing.
  4. Use duct tape to tape your sleeves to your gloves and your pants legs to your boots to prevent any skin exposure.
  5. Cover your head.
  6. Be careful not to touch your face or wipe your face with your sleeve while you are working.

Video: How to Clear Poison Ivy

Use The Right Tools For The Job

Prepare your tools in advance so you will not need to stop in the middle of the project to maintain them. The chainsaw should have a new chain, properly adjusted and well-oiled. The shears, pruning saws and other implements should be sharp.

Don’t use a weed eater! It will throw sap and tiny bits of the plant all over causing a contamination problem you will never be able to get rid of. Urushiol remains hazardous on surfaces for five years.

After use clean your tools thoroughly. Wash them with dish soap and cold water outdoors. Wipe them down with rubbing alcohol.

Dispose of the Plants Properly

Have plenty of heavy duty plastic trash bags on hand to bag up your debris as you go. Double bag the poisonous brush and seal the bags tightly before placing them out for trash collection or taking them to the dump. You may want to label the bags to prevent anyone accidentally coming in contact with the contents.

Never burn poison sumac, oak or ivy. The fumes will carry the urushiol into the air and can sicken people for miles.

Clean Yourself Up Promptly

You may want to wear old clothes and boots you can just throw away when you are finished. Washing your clothing could contaminate the inside of your washer. Your boots will surely be covered with sap.

Whether you decide to clean your clothes or toss them, be careful taking them off. Avoid skin contact with your outer garments. Shower (don’t bathe) immediately in cool water. Wash with Tecnu (Poison Oak and Ivy Skin Cleanser) to neutralize any urushiol that might have made its way to your skin.

How To Kill Poison Ivy, Poison Sumac and Poison Oak Using Chemicals

Some homeowners opt for the chemical route to kill or control poison ivy. Below you’ll find several commercial chemical products along with some “homemade” poison ivy killers.

Ortho VS. Roundup Poison Ivy Killer

If all else fails, you may elect to use Roundup, Ortho or a similar herbicide for poison sumac, ivy, oak and other poisonous plants. The main active ingredients in standard herbicides are:

  • Glyphosate – This is the main active ingredient in Roundup products.
  • Triclopyr – This is the main active ingredient in Ortho products.

When it comes to which is better (Ortho vs. Roundup poison ivy killer) consider the fact that according to the University of Georgia Agricultural Extension, Triclopyr may be a bit more effective against poison ivy, oak or sumac than Glyphosate. While Roundup poison ivy killer does contain a small amount of Triclopyr, it is the only active ingredient in the Ortho product.

One downside of all herbicides is that they are very detrimental to the immediate environment, the water table and you. Herbicides are also not picky about what they kill. If you are not careful, you will end up killing plants you want along with the poisonous plants.

8 Things You MUST Do When Spraying Herbicides

No matter which herbicide you choose, you must:

  1. Read the instructions and mix and apply the product accordingly.
  2. Wear long sleeves, pants, goggles, a breathing mask, and gloves while applying.
  3. Use the minimum amount needed for effectiveness.
  4. Use the right equipment (a tank sprayer, spray bottle or paintbrush).
  5. Apply on a still, dry, sunny day when the forecast calls for NO RAIN for at least 24 hours.
  6. Apply in the spring or summer when the poisonous plants are fully leafed.
  7. Keep children and pets away from treated areas for 24 hours.
  8. Store and dispose of herbicides per handling and packaging instructions.

For plants growing independently, spray all surfaces lightly and evenly. If the plants you are attempting to eradicate are growing against or climbing up a structure, spray very heavily to be sure of covering all surfaces.

If you are attempting to kill a vine growing up a young tree, you may want to paint the herbicide onto the poisonous plant carefully to avoid harming the tree. If the tree is mature and has thick, coarse brown bark, you needn’t be concerned.

If the ivy has grown high up into the leaves of a tall tree, cut the vine off about 2 feet from the ground. Spray the vine that remains in the ground with a standard solution of herbicide, and paint the cut stub with a full strength concentrate. You must do this within two days of cutting the vine.

Even though commercial herbicides often guarantee complete eradication with one application, it’s a good idea to check back and treat re-growth as needed.

Get Rid Of Poison Ivy Plants With Clorox or Bleach

An inexpensive homemade alternative to herbicides is plain bleach and a cheap spray bottle. Before using this alternative, keep in mind that bleach is a potentially dangerous chemical, which can also destroy any garment you may be wearing when you apply it.

6 Steps For Killing Poison Ivy, Sumac and Oak with Bleach

Follow these steps to kill poison ivy, oak or sumac with bleach:

  1. Choose a still, dry, sunny day when no rain is in the forecast for at least 24 hours.
  2. Pour the bleach into the spray bottle and screw the lid on tightly to prevent leaks.
  3. Wear an old, long-sleeved shirt and pants you don’t care about. Protect your skin and avoid damaging good clothes.
  4. Wear goggles, a breathing mask, and rubber or latex gloves.
  5. Spray the stems and leaves of the poisonous plant liberally. Avoid spraying desirable plants and grass.
  6. The “kill” may require several applications. Check back frequently to spray new growth if it appears.

Like the vinegar solution, this method works by killing off the foliage of poison ivy, oak or sumac and eventually starving the roots because the plant will not be able to perform photosynthesis without leaves.

While using bleach can be effective at killing poisonous plants and other weeds, it does have some definite downsides. You must be careful to protect your skin, eyes and nasal passages when spraying bleach. Repeated use will cause a buildup of bleach disrupting the pH levels of the soil as it breaks down into salt with the passage of time.

How To Get Rid Of Poison Ivy Plants With Vinegar, Salt and Dish Soap

You can make a powerful homemade herbicide using a gallon of white vinegar, a cup of table salt (not Epsom salt) and a tablespoonful of dish soap.

Apply this mixture in the same way you would apply a commercial herbicide or bleach, except you wouldn‘t have to wear a hazmat suit! (You will want to wear long sleeves, pants, and solid shoes or boots to prevent contact with poisonous plants.)

Remember, if you plan to plant anything in the place of the poison plants, your application of table salt to the soil may prove problematic. Table salt will leach the soil of its nutrients. The soil will need amendments or you can simply establish a raised bed garden over it.

Many people have had success with this; however, it can take quite a few applications. If you plan to till the soil after the poison ivy has died, be very careful. The roots (even dead ones) contain active urushiol for up to five years.

How To Stop Poison Ivy From Growing Back

Whether you engage goats or dig up poison plants, you can treat poison ivy and prevent having roots grow back by smothering them. To do this, you would use the same concept as you would when preparing a location for a raised bed garden.

Cover the entire area with a thick layer of cardboard and/or newspaper and cover this barrier with mulch and compost. This will smother any lingering roots and prevent poison plants from growing back.

Some sources say that mulching alone is enough, but this is doubtful. These poisonous plants are vigorous, hardy weeds. They will have little trouble growing through the mulch in search of sunlight. It’s best to establish a solid barrier first before applying mulch.

If you plan to remove the “smothering covering,” do not do it for 5+ years. Remember, the urushiol will remain potent for at least that long. The better plan would be to plant a new crop of something that is not poisonous in your newly cleared location and leave the barrier in place.

Can You Get Poison Ivy From Mowing Over Poison Ivy?

For a very small amount of poison ivy in the lawn, you could just keep the area well mowed at all times after the plants have been carefully cut down to ground level. You should not mow over standing plants.

Just as using a weed eater will toss bits of the plant and oil around, so will mowing. This can cause contact dermatitis and could even cause airway and lung irritation if you happen to inhale the oils in the air or the fine particles of the plant.

Cut the plants back by hand or have goats eat them first. As with continuous grazing, frequent mowing will eventually kill the roots by depriving them of the benefits of photosynthesis.

When you initially cut back the tall plants, be sure to take proper precautions for protecting your skin, clean your tools and dispose of the brush correctly.

What Kills Poison Ivy The Fastest?

Spraying with herbicide, bleach or a vinegar mixture will get quick results, but you will probably need to check back frequently and may need to reapply your choice of product to new growth.

Cutting back and/or digging up poisonous plants can be a difficult, risky and time-consuming job, but it will yield more permanent results. You may have to dig up new growth, mow it or use vinegar, bleach or herbicide to quell it.

Mowing or using goats involves an ongoing commitment to keeping the poisonous plants short so they cannot grow.

Hiring a service to handle your poison ivy, oak or sumac problem is a safe and carefree (but potentially costly) way to achieve the results as soon as the service can get to you. The company may need to come back several times to make sure the job is complete.

The bottom line is – no matter how quickly your poison ivy plants are killed, any urushiol remaining in the soil or the surrounding area could be an irritant for as long as 5 years. None of the removal methods described in this article is a one-off. They’ll all require a bit of persistence for permanent results.

Exercise Caution!

No matter how you get rid of any poison sumac, ivy or oak plants on your property, always exercise caution when cutting, digging, spraying, mowing or even covering them with a physical barrier.

Protect your skin and wash thoroughly with cool water and a product such as Tecnu or Ivy-Block immediately afterward. If any urushiol has gotten on your skin, a thorough washing within 5 minutes of contact will neutralize and remove it.

Remember urushiol oil can transfer from other surfaces. Be sure to clean camping equipment, gardening equipment, and other items that might come in contact with poisonous plants immediately after use. Bathe your dog after a hike in the woods. Clean your tack and bathe your horse after a trail ride.

If you do happen to develop a poison ivy rash, keep the area clean and treat with an over-the-counter anti-itch cream or gel. The rash should improve daily and resolve within week-to-ten days. If the rash gets worse, or other symptoms develop seek medical assistance immediately. If you have trouble swallowing or breathing, you should call 9/11 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Take Care To Avoid Contact With Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac

An outdoor life is a rich and enjoyable life, but it’s important to understand that some things in nature can hurt you. Being able to identify and avoid them is an important part of enjoying the great outdoors.

We hope the information presented here will be helpful to you in identifying, avoiding and getting rid of the poison ivy vine, poison oak, and poison sumac.

Infographic authored Treks In The Wild.

Even thinking about coming in contact with this plant can get those feelings of itching start to creep in. If you’ve ever come in contact with this nasty bush, then you know the importance of being aware of its existence and effect on you and your body. Learn how to get rid of poison sumac, so you can relax while out in your backyard.

Exploring in the woods and the outdoors is a ton of fun, but if you happen to find yourself in contact with poison sumac, it’s important to know what you should do to get rid of it as well!

Even more importantly is knowing how to get rid of the poison sumac plants that can be hanging around your yard and home. If you think you have these plants in your backyard, it’s important to take the steps to get rid of them before they spread.

What Is Poison Sumac?

Poison sumac can have a variety of forms. It can be a bush or a tree, and is usually not any taller than 6 feet or so in height. The stems and leaves are a bit glossy while the back or bottom side of the leaf has a greenish color to it. The leaves are arranged in pairs.

Another tell-tale sign is the red stems and the small groups of yellow-green, or light pink flowers. Poison sumac bushes tend to grow and thrive in very wet climates. If you happen to live in a swampy area, it’s important to know what you are looking for.

In the fall, these plants turn beautiful colors. But they’re not worth keeping it around your property.

Here’s how to identify it, and the differences between the staghorn and poison sumac.

How To Get Rid Of Poison Sumac

It is possible to rid your home or yard of poison sumac with several different methods. There are chemicals out there that can help to rid your yard of the plant, but you can also use a more natural method.

Pull out the sumac and its roots

Digging out the poison sumac plant is a possibility, but you need to make certain that you are getting out the entire plant and root system when attempting. If not, it will grow again and you’ll never fully rid of it.

If you’re going to attempt this method, make sure you’re properly dressed. You’ll need long pants, long sleeves, and gloves (if you use short sleeves, you can use a pair of long gardening gloves).

After pulling out the poison sumac plants, discard them in a plastic bag. Tie it up well, so you (or a family member) don’t accidentally open it up ad get infected.

Never burn poison sumac plants, as the poisonous oil will spread through the smoke and affect your lungs.

Cut it down

Another natural method to get rid of poison sumac plants is to cut plant down to the stem over and over again. You have to do it repeatedly as the plant will continue to grow, every week or two.

If you keep up with it and cut it quite often, it will eventually end up dying off and won’t re-sprout or grow again. This method is more time consuming, taking up to 2 years, but there are less chances to get its leaves and the urushiol oil all over yourself.

Don’t mow or use a weed wacker: you’ll spread oily particles all over your yard and your clothes. Cut it with a pair of sharp garden clippers and make sure to wear gloves.

What to do if you come in contact with poison sumac

No Rein’s Jewelweed Salve 4 oz the Jewelweed Plant Is Commonly Used for Poison Ivy Oak and Sumac If you happen to come in contact yourself with the poison sumac plant, you might get an allergic reaction. It’s important to know that there are things that you can do to help control the spreading and the itch.

Wash your body with cold water

Just because your body doesn’t start showing signs of a rash immediately, don’t wait! Wash your body with cold soapy water to try to remove any of the oils off that may be lingering.

Warm water can have a reverse effect and actually cause it to spread, because it opens up your skin pores. Cold water and soap is the key to naturally removing the oil from the poison sumac plant.

Don’t forget to scrub under your nails and clean your clothes

Getting a good scrub to your nails and under them is important to make certain that there isn’t any of the poisonous oils hiding underneath!

As soon as possible, remove your clothes that you were wearing as well to give them a good cleaning, too. When it comes to the possibility of spreading poison sumac, you don’t want to take any chances.

How to soothe a poison sumac rash

If you missed a spot and got a poison sumac rash, you can use a few natural ways to get relief:

  • use a poison sumac (works for poison ivy and oak too) wash, like this Zanfel dual action formula
  • spray a 50/50 solution of vinegar on your rash. Alert: it will burn!!!! But after the initial burn, your itching will go away and your rash will dry out. Apply 2 or 3 times a day.
  • apply this soothing healing gel

Now you know how to get rid of poison sumac.

Don’t take it lightly if you come in contact with this bush. Statistics show that it’s less common than the other poisonous plants, but it’s one of the more toxic ones as well.

The plant can be difficult to get rid of, but with the methods above it is possible. Remember that persistence is key to getting rid of the poison sumac plant and also the rash that appears as well.

Do you have poison ivy on your property? Here are some suggestions for removing is safely.

And if you struggle with poison oak, here are 3 ways to get rid of it naturally.

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Poison Sumac Removal

Natural poison sumac control: difficult but not impossible. You may be able control poison sumac by pulling or digging the plant, but be sure to get the entire root system or the plant will re-sprout. Be sure to dress appropriately – wear gloves, long, sturdy pants and long-sleeved shirts and avoid coming in direct contact with the plant. Wash your clothing immediately in hot, soapy water when you are finished working on the plants.

You can also cut the plant to ground level with pruning shears, but you’ll need to repeat the task every two weeks or so to keep up with new growth. If you are persistent, the plant will eventually die, but it may take a couple of years. Again, clean your tools in hot, soapy water.

Dispose of all plant parts in plastic bags.

A Note of Caution: Avoid burning poison sumac trees because heating the plant releases vapors that can cause serious allergic reactions. When inhaled, the vapors can even be fatal.

Chemical Control: Herbicides containing glyphosate are an effective means of control. Use the product strictly according to the directions on the label, and keep in mind that glyphosate is non-selective and will kill any plant it touches. RoundUp is one product that contains this chemical. You may have heard about it on the news as potentially causing cancers — especially in those who use it frequently. So be advised. Always carefully read and follow all directions on the label.

Alternatively, you can cut the plants to a height of about 6 inches, then apply the weed killer to the cut stems. Use pruning shears, not a weed trimmer or mower, to avoid releasing irritating plant parts into the air.

Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are safer and much more environmentally friendly.

Removing a Sumac Tree from Your Yard

Removing a sumac tree from your yard can be a tricky business. Sumac trees send up sprouts if the roots are not completely removed. The trees also drop seeds. These seeds will grow if they are given half a chance, especially once you remove the parent tree. If you are planning on removing a sumac tree, be sure it is not poisonous sumac. If it is, you may want to call a professional. They will be prepared to deal with the urusiol oil that causes sever rashes.


  • Protective Clothing
  • Chain Saw (or cutting implement appropriate for the size of the tree.)
  • Shovel
  • Herbicide
  • Low Pressure Sprayer
  • Weed Wrench

Step One: Gear Up

Before you step outside, be sure you are properly prepared. Wear long clothing and sturdy boots. If you will use a chain saw, have protective goggles on hand; you do not want sawdust in your eye.

Step Two: Cut the Tree

If the tree is small, you may be able to use a weed wrench or shovel to remove the whole tree. Once the tree is out, you need to ensure that you removed all of the roots. You do not want a new tree springing up from the old rood system. A larger tree may require the use of a chainsaw. If this is the case, check your county codes to see if it is permissible to fell a tree in your yard. Some smaller trees can be cut using pruning shears. Cut as far down the trunk as you can. Dispose of the remaining tree properly. This may include taking it to the dump or having your county collect the debris. Once the large tree is gone, remove any saplings around the tree.

Step Three: Apply Herbicide

Mix the herbicide according to the manufacture’s instructions. Once it is mixed, it needs to be put into a low pressure sprayer. Again, this needs to be done according to the manufactures instructions. All of the mixing needs to be done far away from any plants you want to keep. The herbicide also needs to be kept away from any drains and water sources.

Slowly spray the herbicide on the sumac trunk. If there are no plants nearby, spray some herbicide on any visible roots and the ground surrounding the trunk. Be careful and avoid spraying other plants.

Step Four: Follow Up

You will need to watch your yard throughout the year to be sure new sumac plants don’t begin to grow. If they do, pull them out while they are sill young. You may also add more herbicide to the area, if there are no surrounding plants. You may have to fight these new trees for awhile so make it easy on yourself and always remove as much of the root system as possible.

Poison Ivy Removal Cost

  • Go for the roots. Pulling poison ivy plants out of the ground is only the first step to getting rid of it for good. In order to completely eradicate the plant from a specific area, you must dig the roots out of the ground. Otherwise, the plant will re-sprout. This is another reason why you should never bury the plants with topsoil to get rid of them – unless you kill the plant’s roots, it will always re-emerge.
  • Never burn poison ivy. Warning: Burning poison ivy plants (even dead ones) can be deadly! The oils that cause the allergic reaction in most people mixes with the smoke, and when inhaled can cause swelling and blistering in the nose, throat, and even lungs.
  • Don’t plant edibles where poison ivy has been. The oils that cause poison ivy to be a problem for most people can linger in the soil for months, so be careful not to plant fruits, vegetables, or herbs in the area for at least 12 months.
  • Getting rid of poison oak and poison sumac. Poison ivy isn’t the only dangerous plant that could be overtaking your garden or yard. Call for professional help is you discover sumac or poison oak, too. Both can cause serious allergic reactions and need to be removed by a trained professional.
  • FAQ

    • How do you get rid of poison ivy in your yard?

    There are several methods that can be used to free your property from the dangers of a poison ivy outbreak. While it is possible to eradicate the plant with chemicals and sprays, the best method for removal involves manually digging out the plant’s root system and removing the dead plants from the area.

    • What is the best way to get rid of poison ivy?

    The absolute best way to get rid of poison ivy is to pull out the plants and then dig up the roots.

    • How do I get rid of poison ivy fast?

    The fastest way to get rid of poison ivy is to spray it with an herbicide or homemade spray using vinegar, salt, and dish soap, followed by pulling and disposing of the dead plants.

    • Can you pull out poison ivy?

    Yes, but be prepared to deal with it again. Pulling the plant from the ground leaves behind the roots, which enable it to re-grow.

    • Does bleach kill poison ivy?

    Bleach kills just about any plant. However, vinegar solutions are recommended for weed killing without using harsh chemicals. Also, you should never mix bleach with other chemicals due to the potential for noxious gases to be produced and you shouldn’t put bleach on a poison ivy rash.

    • Who removes poison ivy?

    Not every landscaper is qualified to remove poison ivy. Be sure to hire only those professionals who have been trained in removing it.

    • Does poison ivy die in winter?

    The plants you see above ground do indeed die off in the wintertime, but the roots do not and the plants can leave behind oils in the soil which can cause an allergic reaction, even in colder months.

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