How DO you get poison ivy oil (urushiol) off your clothes? That’s a question I haven’t had to deal with in a long, long time, since little brushes here and there have never bothered me. I always wear long pants while hiking (ones that cover my socks) and don’t handle my shoes all that much.
But Tuesday was different. Talk about stepping in it. I was scouting the final hike for “50 Hikes in Central Florida,” second edition – a new and different place to explore – when I discovered that the trail on the kiosk map ended and flagging continued. Into the mosquito-filled forest I went, wading through some of the heaviest poison ivy I’ve been in, knowing that it was a danger zone. Curiosity kept me going, since I already had discovered Class II whitewater down another part of the trail … and this in Central Florida! No, I’m not talking about the Hillsborough rapids. This is far more intense, like Little Shoals. But I digress.
As the flagging got harder to follow and the poison ivy thicker, I turned around. And then my shoelace came untied. And then I realized … oops! I have a dangerous mess on my hands.
I finished the hike, another 3 miles or so, walking with an untied shoelace. Found an even better stretch of whitewater, so it was worth it. Fortunately, this was an overnight trip and I had spare clothes and shoes in the car. But how to change and carry my contaminated clothes?
Luckily, I was wearing zip-off pants, so I zipped the bottoms off and used them, inside out, to remove my shoes. Stuck the whole mess in a fabric grocery bag and changed shoes. Headed for home … and a drugstore.
I settled on a few tactics: Dawn liquid for soaking the clothes and shoes, since it’s great at cutting grease and oils. I found something called “Tecnu” on sale at Walgreens ($7.99 – $3 coupon!) that said it would work on clothes, but I wanted to clean my ankles and any other potential affected skin before I might break out. Finally, I got a tube of anti-itch cream, just in case, so I wouldn’t spread anything I missed.
When I got home, I carefully stripped off the socks and pant tops without touching them, washed off with Tecnu and took a shower.
The clothes and shoes are soaking and awaiting their own special trip through the washer.
This is the first time in a good 15 years I’ve gotten into a bad patch of poison ivy, so if this regimen was – or wasn’t – successful, I’ll be sure to share a follow-up!
Follow-up: It worked!