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How to Kill Poison Ivy Plant

By Kelly Shetsky ; Updated September 21, 2017

Poison ivy is, quite simply, a nuisance. If you have it in your garden or on your property, it's likely just a matter of time until you develop a rash from it. Poison ivy contains urushiol oil, which causes adverse reactions. To kill poison ivy plant, you have to get into the dirt and remove all traces of it. If not, it will regrow and you'll be right back where you started.

Identify the poison ivy plant. It usually grows like a vine or a shrub with one stem and has three distinctive leaves. Many times, those leaves are tinged with red. It usually grows around trees, near a road, in open grass or along the edge of a field.

Smother poison ivy by cutting the plant down to the ground. Make sure to wear gloves and long sleeves so your skin isn't exposed. Lay plastic, newspaper, or mulch down on top of the plant to kill it. Once it's dead, remove all parts of the plant.

Make a vinegar concoction to kill poison ivy naturally. Mix 1 cup of salt with 1 gallon of vinegar in a pot on the stove. Heat it until the salt is dissolved. Let it cool down and add the detergent. Pour it into a spray bottle and spray it on the poison ivy. This will kill all vegetation, so use it carefully.

Sprinkle or spray herbicides on top of the poison ivy. Follow the instructions on the label. The solution will kill the above-ground portion of the plant. Do not spread the herbicide to other plants or you will kill them, too.

Remove the root system to make sure the poison ivy doesn't come back. Use a shovel to dig a very wide berth around the stem of the poison ivy plant.

Place the poison ivy in plastic bags to dispose of it. Do not toss it in with other removed plants or grass clippings in compost piles. Seal the plastic bags well.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Gloves
  • Smothering agent
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 gallon vinegar
  • 8 drops liquid detergent
  • Pot
  • Stove
  • Herbicides
  • Shovel
  • Plastic bags


  • Keep all your skin covered.
  • Always wear safety goggles and a breathing mask when killing poison ivy.


  • Never burn poison ivy. You will release the urushiol oil into the air.
  • Avoid working with poison ivy when it's windy outside because the seeds will spread to other areas.

About the Author


Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.