How to Kill Poison Ivy and Poison Sumac


Poison ivy and poison sumac contain oils that are toxic to the skin. The toxic oil remains in the vines and roots of the plant even during the dormant season of late fall and winter. Some people are extremely sensitive to the toxins, and only require a slight brush against the three-leaved plant to experience a reaction. Large blisters may soon form on exposed skin, and in some cases hospitalization is required. If you are sensitive to any form of skin irritation, you may wish to contact a professional exterminator to kill the poison ivy and poison sumac.

Step 1

Wear old clothing, boots and gloves whenever treating poison ivy and poison sumac. You may wish to simply dispose of the clothing articles after treating the highly toxic plants. Any piece of clothing or skin that comes in contact with the plant will become contaminated with the oils.

Step 2

Mix the glyphosate herbicide according to label directions for poison ivy and poison sumac. Various strengths of the chemical are available, and the labeling will instruct how to mix the herbicide with water for different pest plants.

Step 3

Apply the herbicide to the leaves of the plants. Thoroughly coat the leaves with plenty of chemical on a dry and windless day. Understand that the chemical will also kill any other plant with which the spray comes into contact.

Step 4

Wait a period of one week. Observe the leaves on the poison ivy and poison sumac. If the leaves have not fully wilted and dried out, another application will be warranted.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never burn poison ivy or poison sumac plants. The toxins in the plant material can become airborne and inhaled into the lungs. The toxic smoke can cause serious injury to people and animals. According to the North Dakota extension service agent, Ron Smith, remove all clothes after treating poison ivy and poison sumac. The oils from the plants, which contain the toxin, will cling to most fabric and skin. Wash all clothes separately, several times in hot water with Fels Naptha soap, before handling. Discard gloves in the trash. You may wish to air dry all clothing, do not machine dry, as any remaining oils may cling to the interior of the dryer.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Old clothing (optional)
  • Old shoes (optional)
  • Glyphosate herbicide
  • Sprayer


  • University of Connecticut: Integrated Pest Management Poison Ivy
  • North Dakota Extension Service: Questions on Poison Ivy
Keywords: ivy blisters, plant toxin, skin irritation

About this Author

G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.