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How to Avoid Poison Ivy Exposure

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Well, it’s super-important to learn how to protect yourself from this common plant which, believe me, you can happen upon it before you even know that it’s there. So we want to help you to avoid being super-miserable, like Tom already has been twice and I probably will be once or twice this summer.

    TOM: That’s right. Right now that’s why we’re going to welcome This Old House host Kevin O’Connor and landscaping expert Roger Cook. They’ve got tried-and-true advice on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to keeping you safe from poison ivy.

    And Kevin, this is one itch you definitely don’t want.

    KEVIN: You got that right.

    If you have the itch to work in the garden or backyard, you’ve got a green thumb. But if you have an itch because you worked in the garden or backyard, you’ve probably got poison ivy.

    ROGER: (chuckling) Yes. Poison ivy is an invasive perennial vine; it spreads quickly. Now there are herbicides out there that you can spray on it but not only will it kill the poison ivy, but it’ll kill all the other plants that it comes in contact with. So I like to pull it out by hand but, before I do that, I’ll put on a long-sleeve shirt, pants, socks and then I’ll tape the sleeves and tape the pants so there’s no way that that oil, called urushiol, can get onto my skin.

    KEVIN: Alright, but what if the oil does get on your skin? If you think you’ve been exposed to poison ivy, what do you recommend?

    ROGER: One of the simplest things is a cleanup with soap and water but you have to use the brown Naptha soap. But I’m out in the field and I don’t get a lot of chance to get to soap and water, to be honest with you, so I use a special cleanser that cuts the oil, the urushiol oil. I put it on before I start pulling the ivy and then I put it on again when I’m done. No itch.

    If you want to see me go into a patch of poison ivy, there’s video online at ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: I want to see the video of what you look like about two days later. (Tom and Kevin laugh)

    ROGER: No problem from me. No problem at all.

    TOM: Roger Cook, Kevin O’Connor, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: Our pleasure.

    LESLIE: Well, those are great tips, Roger. You know what? And remember guys, leaves of three – leaves of three – leave them be. It rhymes, you will never forget it. Make sure you put it into your brain when you’re out on those trails.

    TOM: Now I know that rule “leaves of three, let them be” and I still got it. (Leslie laughs) I swear there’s a version of poison ivy out there – I call it the stealth ivy; you know, it sort of hides among everything else and you just don’t see it until it grows on your skin a couple of days later. But I am now going to be super-super cautious and make sure that I scrub with the Naptha soap to make sure it never happens to me again because it’s not fun.

    LESLIE: No way.

    TOM: Hey, but I’ll tell you something that is fun – watching Kevin and Roger on This Old House television. You can tune in and watch the entire team and This Old House is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators – hardwood floors for less.

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