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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Treating Urushoil – Poison Ivy Rashes

By Dr. Laundry September 9, 2011

Q: Will the Clorox ® Disinfecting Wipes kill urushoil, the oil that causes poison ivy rashes?


A:  This is a great question, because “kill” as it pertains to disinfectants, is a term whose use is regulated by the EPA. First, I need to clarify that because urushoil is an oily resin, it isn’t “killed”.  Also, please note that Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes should only be used to clean hard surfaces, and are not intended for personal hygiene of any kind.  Hopefully you are considering using the wipes to clean hard surfaces that may have come into contact with urushiol (like the frame of a mountain bike). In these cases, the wipes would definitely be appropriate for cleaning oily soils like urushoil. 


If you are looking for personal care suggestions, I found the Mayo Clinic website very helpful to explain how to care for rashes caused by urushoil contact, as well as prevention of an outbreak following exposure.  You can check it out here:  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/poison-ivy/DS00774/DSECTION=prevention.  Particularly interesting is that a soap and water washing within 5-10 minutes of exposure can reduce the chances of an outbreak, but after an hour the oil will likely have penetrated the skin and washing won’t necessarily stop a reaction. 


Does anyone have a recommendation to help with poison ivy rashes?