How to Treat Poison Ivy with Bleach ?

Updated on January 10th, 2020
bleach for poison ivy

Bleach for poison ivy rash works wonders. Bleach made with baking soda is even more effective. Baking soda is alkaline and consists of pH neutralizing properties. It aids in restoring the pH of your blistered skin and promotes healing of the rashes. The antibacterial properties in baking soda protect the rashes from spreading further.

An allergic reaction to poison ivy causes poison ivy rash. This plant has three-leaves, and it is commonly found in the United States. When humans get in touch with Urushiol, the oil located in ivy sap, either directly or indirectly, they develop a rash immediately or within 72 hours. To our luck, bleach is one of the most widely available and inexpensive methods to get relief from the troubling symptoms of poison ivy rash.

Bizzare Facts

  1. Did you know that an opened bleach bottle loses its effectiveness and power after 6 months?
  2. Did you know that more than 350,000 people in the US experience poison ivy rash every year?

How to Use Bleach Bath for Poison Ivy


Once your symptoms show up, they can last for approximately three weeks. One of the best methods to treat this irritation is by taking a warm bath or soak with bleach. As soon as you get in contact with poison ivy(1), you need to wash your skin within five minutes to remove the oil. You must use soap with cold or lukewarm water for this. Hot water can increase your irritation.

To make a bleach bath or soak,

  1. Wash the rash with warm water and gentle soap
  2. Dry the skin using a clean cloth
  3. Pat it dry. Make sure not to scrub it.
  4. Mix one or two portions of bleach in a tub of lukewarm water.
  5. Take a bath or soak your body in this water.
  6. Allow the affected area to soak entirely for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Once you are done bathing, you can apply a layer of any calamine lotion to relax and moisturize.

[Also Read: Home Remedies for Poison ivy]

Side Effects Of Bleach for Poison Ivy

Bleach helps to get rid of urushiol, the poison which is responsible for the rash and other symptoms. Bleach can remove this toxin from your clothes, shoes and other items that come into contact with the plant. But when you use it to treat it on your skin, it may have different effects.

Using bleach directly on the affected area is one of the most common mistakes. Though applying bleach may look like a quick fix, it can worsen your sensitivity and irritate the area. Especially if you have open blisters, the chemical works very harshly on the affected area.

[Also Read: Techniques of Using Baking Soda for Poison Ivy]

Preventive Measures

The rash is typically visible within 12 to 48 hours of the contact with the poison ivy plant. The area gets blisters, eventually becomes rash and takes about three weeks to heal completely. You could have severe swelling, itching, redness, and rashes. However, there are some ways in which you can prevent poison ivy.

  1. Always cover yourself completely when you are in a forest/shrubs.
  2. Wash your clothes and your personal belongings thoroughly before reusing them.
  3. If you have any pet, make sure to clean the fur thoroughly.
  4. Clean the affected area well with cold water and soap within 5 minutes of contact, to ensure urushiol oil is removed.

When to Consult a Doctor

Consult a Doctor

Generally, the symptoms of poison ivy should go away in 1 to 3 weeks. If you do not see any signs of improvement within this time frame, you should consult a doctor. There are some symptoms such as fever, rashes on genital areas, which need medication along with home remedies. If you have any other symptoms along with these, consult a doctor immediately.

Well, due to the lack of evidence on the efficacy of bleach in treating poison ivy, some people believe bleach is not a very good option to consider. According to a study(2) conducted by the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, bleach didn’t work as expected for poison ivy.

However, some anecdotes claim it otherwise. Nevertheless, you should consult your doctor before you decide whether or not to use the bleach. You can have natural allergies to bleach. So first, do a patch test on your hand and wait for 24-48 hours. If you don’t develop any allergies or skin irritations, proceed with this home remedy.

[Also Read: Essential Oils for Poison Ivy Cure]


1. Can I Be Allergic to Bleach?

It’s possible! Especially in case you have come into contact with undiluted bleach. Even for a home remedy, first, discuss with your doctor before trying bleach to treat poison ivy.

2. Can Pregnant Women Smell Bleach, or Is It Harmful?

The smell of Bleach might cause nausea in pregnant women. If you want to use bleach on poison ivy rash, then talk to your doctor to learn about safe treatments for you.

3. How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy Rash Fast with Bleach?

Application of bleach will dry up the rashes and helps in a speedy recovery as it removes the urushiol oil. This can help you get rid of ivy rash much faster.

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