Poison ivy is very common throughout the United States except for Alaska and Hawaii. If you love the outdoors, then chances are, from time to time, your outdoor leather gear would be hosting poison ivy oils the can possibly be transferred onto other items at home. In this article, I researched the most effective ways to remove poison ivy from leather and I’m excited to share my findings with you.
So, how do you remove poison ivy oil from leather? You can use The Rubbing Alcohol & Dish Soap Method to remove poison ivy oil by:
- Step 1: Put on vinyl or cotton gloves
- Step 2: Make a soap solution of dish soap and warm water
- Step 3: Dampen a rag or cloth with the soap solution
- Step 4: Scrub the leather with the dampened rag
- Step 5: Dry the leather surface with a dry clean cloth
- Step 6: Put rubbing alcohol on a rag and wipe the leather
- Step 7: Retreat or conditioner your leather
- Step 8: Leave the leather to dry
In addition to The Rubbing Alcohol Method & Dish Soap Method, there are 3 additional methods I’m going to show you in the remaining parts of this article. I’m going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to remove poison ivy oil from leather.
I took the time to present 4 different methods so that you will be able to choose a method that you can practically execute using the material you have available. Keep reading this article to find out more.
Poison Ivy Oil vs Leather
Poison ivy oil also known as urushiol oil is produced from a toxic plant called poison ivy. It can cause a severe rash if your skin comes into contact with it.
The rash can last weeks and may result in open sores, blisters, pains, and severe itching.
Nobody likes rashes and in case you were wondering why poison ivy even exists, I must quickly add that poison ivy is traditional plant food for many birds and other animals.
The worse part is that poison ivy oil when it comes into contact with materials like leather will retain 100% of its potency for several years.
This is because leather is a very porous material and can easily assimilate whatever it comes into contact with.
So whether it’s leather boots, shoes, jackets, or gloves, poison ivy oils can linger and transfer their poison to your skin. For this reason, it’s very important that you treat your leather goods that have come into contact with the poison ivy plants the right way so your skin does not come into contact with it or ruin your leather.
How To Remove Poison Ivy From Leather
Now that we have a little background on how crucial removing poison ivy oil from leather is, let’s now go over my step by step guide on how to effectively deal with it.
1. Use Specially Formulated Products To Remove Poison Ivy Oils From Leather
Using specially formulated leather care products is definitely an effective and safe way of removing poison ivy oils from leather shoes, boots, furniture, bags, jackets, etc.
These specially formulated products are usually tough on stains and oils but are very gentle and safe on leather. This is due to the pH appropriateness of the formulation that goes into these products.
Any leather product that’s applied on leather must be pH balanced. On a pH scale from 1 to 10, a pH neutral (5) is what you would want for the product you apply on your leather goods.
Tecnu is a good example of one of the most effective products you can use to remove poison ivy oil or urushiol from leather goods and also clothing.
Pro Tip: While using specially formulated products to clean poison ivy oil from leather is going to be one of the most effective ways of dealing with this problem. It’s also worth mentioning that there are various types of leather with many different surface finishes given to them. So before your apply a particular product to leather you would want to test it out on an inconspicuous part of the leather item before applying it to the whole leather.
Here’s how to use specially formulated products like Tecnu to remove poison ivy oils from leather goods.
- Lint-free cloth or rag
- Warm Water
- Leather Conditioner
- Pair of vinyl or cotton gloves
Step 1: Wear your vinyl or cotton gloves before starting.
Step 2: Test the product. One of the first things you would want to do when it comes to using products to remove stains like poison ivy oil is to test the strength of the product in an inconspicuous part of the leather.
This will help you know if the product has any adverse effect on the look or structure of the leather and more importantly to see if the product actually gets the job done. You would want to test it out for about 2-3 minutes.
Step 3: If you’re satisfied with the way the product reacts or does not react with the leather then you can proceed by saturating your rag or lint-free cloth with some drops of undiluted (for full-strength effect) Tecnu.
Step 4: Apply the Tecnu to the surface of the leather. Make sure the leather is thoroughly covered.
Step 5: Allow the Tecnu to sit on the surface of the leather for 2-3minutes.
Step 6: Dampen another piece of rag or lint-free rag with warm water and then use it to wipe the surface of the leather item.
You would want to do this as thoroughly as possible without leaving behind any form of residue on the leather.
Step 7: Leave the leather to dry. You can put the leather under direct sunlight for about (5-10minutes) to dry. You can also allow the leather to slowly air dry.
Step 8: After the leather is thoroughly dried, condition it using a good leather conditioner.
Because products like Tecnu are very strong, you would want to use a leather conditioner to restore the leather’s shine and any lost natural oils through the poison ivy oil removal process.
I’m by no means insinuating that you can only use Tecnu to remove poison ivy oils from your leather items. That is the product my dad and I have always used since we both love the outdoors.
But there are a lot of leather cleaners on the market that you can purchase instead of Tecnu.
Related Article: 3 Best Leather Conditioners For Oil Tanned Leather Goods
2. The Rubbing Alcohol & Dish Soap Method
The rubbing alcohol and the dish soap method is a remedy based on household items. The items needed for this method are things you can pick out from your first aid kit and kitchen.
Dish soap is particularly great for removing and cutting through tough oil stains from leather and other household items while alcohol, on the other hand, is great for killing all kinds of irritants.
So here’s how you use these two things to effectively remove poison ivy oils from leather gear such as bag, shoes, jackets, boots, and shoes.
- Pair of vinyl or cotton gloves
- Dish Soap
- Warm water
- 2 or 3 Lint-free Rag or Cloths
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Leather Conditioner
Step 1: Wear your vinyl or cotton gloves before starting. I cannot overemphasize this.
Step 2: Make a soap solution by adding 2-3 drops of dish soap into a bowl of warm water and let it lather.
Step 3: Dampen your lint-free rag or cloth with the solution and wring it out.
Step 4: Begin to scrub the leather with the dampened rag. You would want to press or put in a little bit of elbow to help remove any ivy oils that might have sunk into the pores of the leather.
Repeat this 2-3 times and ensure that you from time to time wring out the rag in between each scrub.
Step 5: Once you have thoroughly completed step 3, you can now dry off the surface of the leather with a clean dry cloth.
Step 6: Put a liberal amount of rubbing alcohol on a clean dry cloth and begin to wipe down the surface of the cleaned leather.
You would want to be as gentle as possible because pushing too hard on the leather with the alcohol damp cloth can remove the finish or dyes on your leather.
You can also spray the alcohol so that you don’t risk wiping down the leather so much that you destroy the leather finish.
Step 7: Using alcohol at this point will help to kill the oils that carry the irritants of the poison ivy.
What you will notice at this point is that the alcohol will quickly dissipate with any remaining poison ivy oils. Give it about a minute or two and then proceed to the next step.
Step 8: Condition your leather with your leather conditioner to prevent the dish soap and alcohol from drying up the leather.
Depending on the kind of leather you have, you can also use coconut oil or baby oil to prevent the leather from drying up from the cleaning and alcohol.
Step 9: Leave the leather to dry. Done!
Related Article: Is Baby Oil Good for Leather?
The dish soap & rubbing alcohol method is another effective way you can use if you’re on a budget and wouldn’t want to purchase any fancy products to remove poison ivy oil from leather.
Under normal circumstances, this method should work just fine and your leather goods should be free from any poison ivy oils that may have found their way on them.
3. The Laundry Detergent Method
The laundry detergent method is also a good way of removing poison ivy oil,s particularly from synthetic leather.
This method is ideal for synthetic leather because the surface of synthetic leather is essentially made of synthetic materials with the most common being vinyl and PVC.
Here’s how to go about removing poison ivy oil with the laundry detergent method.
- Liquid laundry detergent
- Vinyl or heavy cotton gloves
- Soft-bristled brush
- Rag or an old towel
- Leather conditioner
Step 1: Put on your vinyl or cotton gloves before starting.
Step 2: Mix a solution of liquid laundry detergent and hot water following a ratio of 2 tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent to 2 cups of hot water.
Step 3: Dip your brush into the solution and use it to gently scrub the leather thoroughly.
Step 4: Scrub the surface of the leather about 2 or 3 times.
Step 5: Dampen your rag with clean water and begin to wipe the surface of the leather item.
Clean and rinse until all soap residue is completely removed.
Step 6: You a completely dry cloth to wipe off any excess water from the leather.
Step 7: Allow the leather to air dry.
4. The White Vinegar Method
White vinegar is a common household item that can be used for so many cleaning purposes on different materials. The cleaning prowess of white vinegar is simply versatile and can also help to eradicate bad odors and smells.
White Vinegar is mostly natural, cheap but very effective. Its chief or most active ingredient is acetic acid. These acids can help to neutralize alkaline substances and can also kill irritants like poison ivy oils.
Here’s how to use white vinegar to remove poison ivy oil from leather.
- Vinyl or Cotton Gloves
- White Vinegar
- Lint-free rag or cloth
- Leather Conditioner
Step 1: Put on a pair of vinyl or cotton gloves before starting.
Step 2: With a ratio of 1:1 mix one part white vinegar to one part water.
Step 3: Dampen your lint-free rag or cloth with the white vinegar solution.
Step 4: Wipe the entire surface of the leather with the damp cloth. You can repeat this process 2-3 times.
Step 5: Leave the leather for about 5 minutes.
Step 6: Dampen a clean rag with ordinary water and use it to wipe down the surface of the leather.
Step 7: Allow the leather to air dry and condition it.
Step 8: Leave the conditioned leather to dry thoroughly.
This method is probably one of the simplest but most effective ways of removing mild poison ivy oils from leather.
The only caveat is that you would have to deal with the initial smell of the vinegar. However, the strong vinegar smell will disappear in a couple of days if not hours.
Important Tips To Remember
- Poison ivy oils can remain active up to 5 years on leather.
- Always use gloves when you’re removing poison ivy oil from leather.
- You would want to use heavy cotton gloves or vinyl gloves to protect yourself when cleaning up poison ivy oil or Urushiol from your leather.
- Don’t use rubber gloves like the common latex gloves as they won’t keep the poison ivy oils away from your hands.
- Always wash your gloves as well whenever you finish removing poison ivy oils from your leather items. Because the gloves you will often use is vinyl, you will be able to wash them with hot water with standard dish soap.
- If you happen to use cotton gloves, then you can put them in the laundry with a pretty much standard detergent and set your washing machine to the highest temperature.
- You would want to use the right soaps when you’re cleaning or removing poison ivy oils from leather. Generally, detergents will work great for removing urushiol or poison ivy oil from clothes and synthetic leathers, while dish soaps and saddle soaps will be perfect for leather.
- Whenever you have to use soap to remove poison ivy oil from leather, you would want to let the soap solution sit on the leather for a couple of seconds or minutes longer before scrubbing or rubbing it in.
- If you decide to take the professional route, inform them of the kind of contamination you have on your leather item.