How to Remove Poison Ivy

Published November 7, 2019
Poison Ivy

You can remove poison ivy with several methods, including killing the plant. Choose the method that best fits your needs.

How to Remove Poison Ivy

You can remove poison ivy, but you'll need to protect your skin. Most people have an allergic reaction to poison ivy and develop a red itchy rash that's often accompanied with blisters. You can use a skin lotion designed specifically to protect against poison ivy.

Wear Protective Clothing

Poison ivy produces a sap called urushiol that can't be wiped or washed off easily and is what causes allergic reactions. You'll need to wear socks, closed shoes, long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and long work gloves to ensure no skin is exposed to the plant. Those highly allergic to poison ivy often wear protective eye wear like safety glasses and some prefer to wear a mouth/nose facial mask.


  • Large garbage bags with ties
  • Long gardening gloves
  • Appropriate clothing to protect skin
  • Shovel to dig up vine, for removing large plants

Pull Out Young Plants

Young plants can be pulled out. You want to be sure you properly dispose of the removed plants.

  1. Place a plastic bag inside out, over your gloved hand when pulling out the plant.
  2. When you've pulled up the plant, simply reverse the bag to cover the plant completely.
  3. Tie the bag closed.
  4. Place the bag in the garbage bin for pickup.

How to Remove Larger Poison Ivy Plants

Larger poison ivy vines and plants can be cut off at ground level. You can then removed the plants in a sealed garbage bag the same way as young plants.

  1. Dig up the taproot.
  2. Place it in a garbage bag.
  3. Seal the bag before sending it to the landfill.

Tips for Removing Poison Ivy

A few tips and reminders about removing poison ivy can save you from an allergic reaction. Take precautions prior to removing poison ivy to ensure you aren't exposed to plant's harmful urushiol oil. Do not pull down a vine without extensive skin protection, particularly for your hands, face, and eyes. Do not burn the vine since the smoke can carry the urushiol oil into the air.

How to Kill Poison Ivy

There are several methods for killing poison ivy. Some use poisons while others offer organic solutions without the use of harmful harsh herbicides and other poisons. Remember that the dead vine still contains urushiol and must be disposed of carefully.

Herbicides for Killing Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is resistant to many herbicides. However, Glyphosate-based Roundup® and Rodeo® from Monsanto will eventually kill them. Repeated applications are usually needed. You can safely spray new growth that has yet to climb up trees with an herbicide without concern of spraying your favorite trees or plants. Older poison ivy growth that has secured itself to the tree with its rootlets presents a bigger challenge. You should never spray a climbing poison ivy vine with an herbicide since the spray can damage the tree.

How to Kill Larger Poison Ivy Vines Using Herbicides

The process for using an herbicide on a larger poison ivy vine requires a few additional steps to simply spraying new growth. You'll need to cut the vine and then apply the herbicide.


  • Tool to cut vine (loppers, hatchet or axe)
  • Long gardening gloves
  • Appropriate clothing to protect skin
  • Herbicide of choice


  1. Cut the poison ivy at its base. This will kill the vine clinging to the tree.
  2. Spray the herbicide onto the remaining vine stump.
  3. You may prefer to use a paint brush dipped in the herbicide to brush the weed killer onto the exposed stump area for greater saturation.
  4. The herbicide will travel the length of the vine root system and kill it.
  5. If the vine stump shows signs of new growth, repeat the praying process.
  6. Remember that the dead vine still contains urushiol and must be disposed of carefully.
Poison Ivy Growing on Pine Trees

Cutback New Growth to Kill Poison Ivy

One of the easiest ways to kill poison ivy is to prevent it from climbing up trees and shrubbery. This process must be done repeatedly, starting in the spring.


  • Loppers to cut vines
  • Long gardening gloves
  • Appropriate clothing to protect skin


  1. Cut back all new growth to ground level.
  2. Any new growth that appears should be immediately cut back to ground level.
  3. Continue to cut back any new growth to force the plant to deplete its energy reserves.
  4. Repeated cutting of the vines will eventually kill the poison ivy plant.
Poison Ivy new growth

Homemade Sprays to Kill Poison Ivy

There are sprays you can make with common household ingredients found in most pantries. These sprays will kill the foliage, but not the poison ivy plant. However, if you repeat this process often enough, you can deplete the reserved energy in the plant's root system, making impossible for the plant to produce new leaves.

Poison Ivy Vinegar and Salt Spray Supplies

The combination of vinegar and salt makes a very effective organic spray.

  • 1 garden sprayer
  • 1 gallon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups of table salt
  • 2 teaspoons of non-detergent liquid dish soap

Instructions for Applying the Vinegar and Salt Spray

You may need to repeat this method more than once. This mixture will kill any vegetation you spray, so be careful not to spray surrounding plants.

  1. Pour vinegar, salt and liquid soap into sprayer
  2. Agitate solution by shaking to thoroughly mix ingredients
  3. Spray mixture onto poison ivy
  4. Repeat when new growth emerges

Other Versions of Spray

You can modify the vinegar and salt spray. You can separate the two main ingredients and use them for a spray.

  • Salt and water spray - Use 6 cups of salt with one gallon of water. If you are using a smaller sprayer, you can use a 2:1 ratio of water and salt, respectively. Be sure to add 2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap (non-detergent) to the solution.
  • Vinegar spray - You can use a gallon of distilled white vinegar by itself. Be sure to include the 2 teaspoons of soap to help the vinegar adhere to the plant leaves.
person killing Poison Ivy

Smother Method to Kill Poison Ivy

You can deprive the plant of sunlight and oxygen to kill it. You can choose a covering, such as cardboard, plastic, tarp, or other material. You may need to overlop the material to ensure no vines escape.

  1. Cover the entire plant area, overlapping materials is needed to ensure the plant can't grow between the coverings.
  2. Leave the plant covered for two to three weeks or longer. This process will completely kill the plant.
  3. Once the poison ivy is dead, remove the material covering it. Be sure to wear protective clothing and long gardening gloves.
  4. Dig up the plant and its roots.
  5. Dispose of the plant and roots in large garbage bags, tied securely and placed in trash bins.

Goats Are Natural Weedeaters

The easiest way to remove/kill poison ivy is to use the natural order of Mother Nature. Many farmers let their livestock fight the poison ivy battle for them. Goats, sheep and cows eat poison ivy. Goats are the most commonly used livestock for poison ivy control.

Goat eating poison ivy

If you have a large area invaded by poison ivy, then goats are a great weapon. If you don't have goats, check with your local agriculture extension agency or community farm groups for goat owners who rent their goats for underbrush cleanups. You may know goat owners searching for more grazing areas for their goats and the poison ivy covering your property may be a fair exchange with no fees involved. Just don't leave the goats unattended or they may end up grazing on more than the poison ivy.

When to Let Goats Graze

Timing is everything when it comes to using goats to kill poison ivy. You'll need to let the goats graze as soon as the leaves on the poison ivy plants emerge. The goats will quickly defoliate the poison ivy plants.

Repeat, Eat and Defoliate

The poison ivy root systems have energy store that is expended to produce leaves. When the spring leaves are stripped from the vine, the root system expends more of its reserves to replace the lost leaves.

  1. When the second growth of leaves emerge, it's time to let the goats in.
  2. Once the goats strip the leaves again, the poison ivy plant roots release more reserved energy to produce a third round of leaves.
  3. Each time the plants produce leaves, you'll send in the goats.
  4. Eventually, this process will deplete all of the energy stored in the poison ivy root system and the plants will die.
  5. If any new growth returns the following year, simply let the goats have a free lunch.

Boiling Water Method

An old-fashioned method for killing poison ivy is simply to pour boiling water over the plant. This method is very effective. You want to be sure you don't splash or pour the water onto healthy wanted plants or yourself!

Best Ways to Remove Poison Ivy

There are many ways you can remove or kill poison ivy. Each method is effective and can be used to address various poison ivy issues.

How to Remove Poison Ivy