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Embrace the Oak - Gear cleaning tips?
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Michael Skwarczek
(uberkatzen) - F

Locale: Sudamerica
Embrace the Oak - Gear cleaning tips? on 01/24/2008 11:41:37 MST Print View

I'm being utterly ravaged by poison oak; I had to soak the bandages off my legs to remove them this morning. It's downright medical journal material.

But I'm freaked out about oils possibly remaining on my gear. Specifically: pack (Jam2), and my bag (WM, down), and shoes (Inov-8). The rest is machine washable. I've got my Tecnu at the ready. Unfortunately, that wasn't so handy in Big Sur last weekend. ::sigh:: I'm so miserable right now.


EDIT: I just realized this isn't the proper forum. Oh well.

Edited by uberkatzen on 01/24/2008 11:55:44 MST.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
I'm really sorry .... on 01/24/2008 12:02:44 MST Print View

First let me say I'm really sorry, any poisan oak story I'd tell you pales to what you are feeling.
Tecno is the product to use,in this neck of the woods we presoak our Carhart coveralls with it before we wash them, do not wash with other clothes and run an empty cycle afterwards,where gloves when handling clothing or tools, packs, etc.
If you look the active ingrdients in Tecno is mineral spirits and alcohols along with soap and a surfactant, before Tecno came along we'd wipe everthing down with rubbing alcohol and then wash in strong soap.
Good luck, much empathy.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Embrace the Oak - Gear cleaning tips? on 01/24/2008 12:24:23 MST Print View

Sorry to hear that, Michael!

Pack, bag and shoes are all washable -- just not machine washable. You can have the bag washed professionally if you are nervous about washing it yourself. I believe REI provides this service at reasonable cost.

In addition to washing clothing and gear (as above) -- wash/wipe anything and everything that you or your clothing may have come in contact with!

An acquaintance of mine suffered through the horror -- only to have a whole another relapse! Culprit -- her car. All that's needed is minute oil residue on the car upholstery, steering wheel, door handles, etc. -- so clean thoroughly all throughout.

Edited by ben2world on 01/24/2008 12:27:15 MST.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Embrace the Oak - Gear cleaning tips? on 01/24/2008 12:57:53 MST Print View

I believe Big Sur translates as "Poison Oak". A bunch of us got it the last time we were there. We hiked past tons of the nasty plant on the way in. It rained the night before we hiked out and the added weight of the rain water on the leaves bent the branches down onto the trail. We couldn't get through without pushing the branches out of the way. It was pretty terrible.

Years ago there was a product called Ivy-All. You added drops to juice and drank it every day for a week. After that you took it once a month. It provided immunity from Poison Oak and Ivy. I used it for years, purchased a case every year, and required all of my surveyors to use it.

I tried to get some a few years ago. The Pharmacist said the FDA realized that the manufacturer didn't have FDA approval (though the stuff had been on the market for over 30 years) and ordered the manufacturer to cease-and-desist.

Your Tax Dollars at work.

Edited by redleader on 01/24/2008 13:06:22 MST.

Michael Skwarczek
(uberkatzen) - F

Locale: Sudamerica
Thanks on 01/24/2008 13:16:15 MST Print View

What about the down bag? I've only had my sleeping bags "professionally" cleaned by a gear shop. Can I get away with wiping the outside with Tecnu?

EDIT: I'll have the bag cleaned by REI or A16, I'm not taking any chances. Thanks for the reminder about all the possible contact areas, e.g. car.

Edited by uberkatzen on 01/24/2008 13:19:21 MST.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Embrace the Oak - Gear cleaning tips? on 01/24/2008 16:30:40 MST Print View

For years, I have just eaten a few of the new leaves of poison ivy every spring when they first come out. Ivy-All may have been an extract. For some reason, this confers immunity for a year.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Re: Eating Poison Ivy on 01/25/2008 08:04:44 MST Print View

Wow... Vick... You're braver than I. But then again, when I was young / adolescent I had HUGE skin senstivities (my first exposure to PI was through the pollen in the air because I knew what it looked like and knew not to touch it... anyhow my face swelled up so bad I think people wondered if they should call social services... I couldn't see out of one eye and could barely see out of the other).

Anyhow, I couldn't stomach the risk of ingesting the stuff...

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
Vick's immunity sounds like homeopathy on 01/25/2008 10:52:45 MST Print View

Vick's drastic, brave, and a few other adjectives, method sounds like a homespun form of homeopathy where you take a minute aqmount of something to intiate an immune response.
The next question is whether there is indeed a homeopathic compound for poisan oak,sumac, and ivy.

(jhaura) - F

Locale: Trail
Re: Homeopathy and Poison Oak/Ivy on 01/25/2008 11:23:09 MST Print View

Yes there are homeo products for ivy. I use hyland's ivy/oak pills.

Hyland's Pills

Cal Aloe is a natural calamine lotion which I've had great success with putting the itch at bay for a good nights sleep.

For a homespun trick try these two after the oak has set in:

1. Moisten a cloth with apple cider vinegar and gently saturate the infected areas. This will keep all itching at bay for 4-8 hours. Be sure to really get the liquid in there good.

2. Put the hottest water you can safely stand on it until the itch sensation goes away. I do this twice daily. It is the most amazing sensation - akin to an orgasm. Does not make it spread but paradoxically removes any itch for 4-8 hours. This may sound crazy but this is actually the same technique Chinese medicine aka Acupuncture suggests. Except they would use a compound of herbs boiled in water then applied hot to the skin inside a cloth. Heat extracts heat (pulls the itch out) whereas our intuition says put cold on it, but this pushes the itch back in.

Also, ivyblock is the only FDA approved ivy/oak preventative, it's not homeo, though it is marketed by a homeo company:

Ivy Block

I've used everything mentioned here numerous times over the years living on the California coast. I can attest for my part, nothing has ever worked to fully keep it from breaking out, but that the techniques listed above significantly reduce the pain and suffering for me compared to what it was like before with no treatment other than calamine lotion.

Edited by jhaura on 01/25/2008 11:36:03 MST.

John Kays
(johnk) - M

Locale: SoCal
Ivy All on 01/25/2008 11:45:07 MST Print View


Ivy All-your bringing up ancient history. By the way that stuff has been off the market for at least 30 years. I worked for an oil pipeline company back in the Midwest during the summers while in college and at the suggestion of my dad, would start Ivy All drops about a month before school was out. I caught poison ivy without even touching it and suffered some fairly terrible episodes but Ivy All changed all that and allowed me to get through the summers without problems. It worked.

Edited by johnk on 01/25/2008 13:21:38 MST.

Paul Tree
(Paul_Tree) - F

Locale: Wowwww
Big Sur on 01/25/2008 11:45:15 MST Print View

I ran a group through there, none of us got oakie tho, probably because we all jumped in the water and washed off soon enough after exposure. Maybe luck?

Here's a great web site about it:

Edited by Paul_Tree on 01/25/2008 11:47:16 MST.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Washing gear on 01/25/2008 11:49:36 MST Print View

Hi Michael,

My sympathies on your affliction. Awful, awful stuff :-(

Detergent and water should clear the urushiol from your gear. Everything you list (okay, not the car) will run through a front-load washer on gentle cycle. At least that's been my experience. Goes in nasty; comes out clean. If you're hinky about doing so with your bag (understandable) make sure you let the cleaners know it's contaminated--not only to protect their employees but also so they choose an effective method.

I found this reference on our oaky friend, for the curious.

Joshua Gilbert
(joshcgil2) - F

Locale: Seattle
Ivy all on 01/25/2008 12:17:24 MST Print View

When my mother was pregnant with me, my father was a surveyor in PA, where there is poison ivy galore. My mother is really sensitive to it and would get the rash from washing my dads clothes, so she started taking the ivy all.

I don't get poison ivy rashes, I can roll in the stuff without any affect, probably as a result of my prenatal treatment.

Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
Re: Ivy all on 01/25/2008 12:45:25 MST Print View

Pretty cool Joshua. I do not (read: I have not) gotten poison ivy though I have certainly touched it and even rubbed my buddies rash one time just to check.

That being said, I was young and stupid and I would not take these risks anymore! I've heard that you can be immune one day and get it the next. So for now, I just stay thankful that I have never gotten it, even when others on the trip got it.

However, my mom wasn't drinking any Ivy all while she was pregnant, so maybe you ARE immune!

Joshua Gilbert
(joshcgil2) - F

Locale: Seattle
Re: Ivy all on 01/25/2008 13:03:39 MST Print View

I wouldn't try it now. I've heard the same thing about immunity dissapearing, and I'd hate to find out the truth of that the hard way.

Luckily the leaves of three are not so common in WA (they may not be here at all, I've never seen them, come to think of it.) so I won't find out the hard way.

Ryan Luke
(rluke) - F

Locale: Atlanta (missing CA)
Re: Ivy all on 01/25/2008 14:07:24 MST Print View

I used to be immune to poison ivy. I found out the hard (and painful:) way that immunity can fade!

After figuring out what had happened (evidently too late to prevent a rash breaking out), I soaked all my stuff in isopropyl alcohol (from a spray bottle), wiped it down, and let it air out on my back deck. I then washed the washable items and ran an empty cycle after the contaminated load. I have had no subsequent breakouts.

This took a great deal of alcohol (isopropyl and bourbon:), but it did the trick.

Edited by rluke on 01/25/2008 14:11:37 MST.

Michael Skwarczek
(uberkatzen) - F

Locale: Sudamerica
Gear cleaning and Alteration in LA area on 01/25/2008 15:38:33 MST Print View

Hey Ben, I called REI and they forwarded me to the business who services their gear (or at least does the cleaning). I spoke with them, they're in Highland Park, and they do cleaning, repair and alterations. I decided to let them handle the bag, they can turn around within a week.

Wilderness Workshop
6916 N Figueroa St Los Angeles, CA 90042
323 - 256 - 0723

On the Poison Oak note: this is my 6th exposure and I can attest to the truth that it gets worse and worse with each round. Half the circumference of my thigh, from groin to knee is a nearly solid surface of rash and weeping boils, with large sections along my calf and shin. There's a few minor outbreaks elsewhere. My left forearm has a 1"x10" patch. I surrendered today, after 5 days, and took my first dose of Prednisone. Though I really wanted to avoid it.

I can imagine the real possibilities of taking small doses of the young plant, or this other extract mentioned, and acquiring a level of temporary immunity. But at my level of susceptibility, the idea of ingesting it scares the crap out of me.

Thanks everyone, for your kind thoughts and advice.


Oh, and thanks Rick, I warned the cleaner about the poison oak.

Edited by uberkatzen on 01/25/2008 15:44:18 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
One guy on 01/25/2008 16:00:06 MST Print View

I met a guy a number of years ago who had gotten P. Oak so many times he had scars up and down his legs. Yikes!

For us in Washington? Be careful! It grows down near the Columbia River quite heartily. Also on the Oregon side as well. It also exists in the Olympics on the Eastern side.

Edited by sarbar on 01/25/2008 16:01:09 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Let's Remove P. Oak and P. Ivy Once And For all!!! on 01/25/2008 16:50:59 MST Print View

Drunk drivers, deadbeat dads, out-of-control celebs, paparazzis, drugged-out athletes and illegal aliens -- all should be put to work clearing out poison oaks and ivies! That should be more than enough manpower.

Edited by ben2world on 01/25/2008 16:52:26 MST.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Let's Remove P. Oak and P. Ivy Once And For all!!! on 01/25/2008 17:10:02 MST Print View


What a great idea. There would be enough manpower left over to clean the restrooms at all the PCT trail heads.