Q&A: Natural Solutions For Poison Ivy

  • August 29, 2012 9:00 am


Dear Alexandra,

I recently bought a house in upstate New York. It is perfect except for one problem: poison ivy. Now, I have kids and want to avoid using pesticides and chemicals because that is where they will be playing–outside on the lawn. Is there any way to deal with all this poison ivy non-toxically?



Dear Kevin,

Congrats on your new home. Although it may seem impossible to deal with poison ivy without pesticides, apparently there are ways. I say apparently because I have not tackled this myself and an initial search shows the natural ways of battling PI get mixed reviews. But I certainly think they’re well worth a try. Here are some suggestions I saw listed as ways of battling poison ivy naturally: mowing it, suffocating it, and using certain plant oils. Do not burn it! This can result in serious rashes in your lungs and eyes (family lore is my grandfather did this once and was hospitalized).

All of these methods aside, it seems that the most effective way to deal with poison ivy is to pull it out. My understanding is that if you yank the itch-making stuff by the root, it cannot grow. Simple enough. Of course this poses another problem: PI is not exactly the sort of thing you want to be touching in order to yank. So full HAZMAT suit and rubber gloves are required. If this is not a task you would enjoy doing–who can blame you? I wouldn’t want to do it either–and  you have the budget, hire someone to do it for you. Here is great story about a guy in upstate New York who started his own poison ivy pulling business.

If you’re not Kevin and reading this and have other suggestions, please weigh in in comments.

Hope this helps. Good luck!



Planet Home In Health Magazine

  • April 8, 2011 6:20 pm

I was reading my April issue of Health this morning and came across my name and this mention of Planet Home. Fun! I love vanilla.

“Kick household stenches (and maybe even some germs) to the curb—sans chemicals—with vanilla. Not only does it lift odors, but a compound in vanilla may serve as an antibacterial. You can concoct your own nontoxic deodorizing spray by adding a few drops of pure vanilla essential oil (preferably organic) to a few cups of water in a spray bottle, says Alexandra Zissu, co-author of Planet Home. Spray it in stinky spots throughout your house to make your place smell like baked goods. Sweet!”

There’s also a sweet tip for how/where to store vanilla beans (hint: it involves sugar) in the article. Click here for more.