Removing Poison Ivy Oils from Your Shoes

Posted on September 7, 2023 at 9:00 AM by Tom Swegle

Image of Outdoor Joe's blog on cleaning posion ivy oils from shoes

You've just enjoyed a beautiful hike through the woods, surrounded by nature's wonders. However, sometimes nature can surprise us in not-so-pleasant ways, like encountering poison ivy along the trail. If you suspect your shoes may have picked up some of that pesky poison ivy oil (urushiol), it's crucial to take immediate action to prevent any unwelcome rashes.

Why It Matters

Poison ivy oils are known for causing allergic reactions. These reactions often manifest as painful rashes, itching, swelling, and blistering. If urushiol from your shoes transfers to your skin, it can lead to a rash that lasts for weeks.

Step 1: Don't Panic, Just Act Swiftly

If you think your shoes have come in contact with poison ivy, the first thing to remember is not to panic. Quick action can prevent the oil from spreading further. Here's what you should do:

  • Remove Your Shoes: Take off the shoes that have come into contact with poison ivy, being careful not to touch the exterior of the shoes with your hands.
  • Wash Your Hands: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to make sure you don't transfer the oil to other parts of your body.

Step 2: Cleaning Your Shoes

Now that you've taken off your shoes, it's time to clean them. Follow these steps:

  • Gloves On: Put on disposable gloves to protect your hands from any remaining urushiol on the shoes.
  • Scrubbing Time: Use a brush or cloth to scrub the exterior of the shoes. Focus on the areas where you suspect contact with poison ivy. You can use warm, soapy water for this, but avoid using hot water as it can set the oil.
  • Check Your Soles: Don't forget to clean the soles of your shoes as well. Urushiol can stick to any surface it touches.

Step 3: Dispose of Gloves and Wash Hands Again

Once you've cleaned your shoes, carefully remove the gloves and dispose of them. Wash your hands once more to ensure you haven't picked up any urushiol during the cleaning process.

Step 4: Prevent Future Encounters

To avoid a repeat scenario, be cautious on your hikes and outdoor adventures. Learn to identify poison ivy and steer clear of it. Consider wearing protective clothing like long pants and closed shoes when you're in areas where poison ivy may be present. For areas where poison ivy exposure is likely, Outdoor Joe's® Poison Ivy Pro can prevent you from developing a painful rash if you are exposed.