Tecnu vs Tecnu Extreme - what is the difference?

By Lisa  |  Wednesday, June 15, 2011  |  , , , ,  |  19 comments

Tecnu Extreme and Tecnu Original Poison ivy cleanserHave we confused you? Do you wonder why should you use Tecnu Extreme® Poison Ivy & Oak Scrub instead of the old original standby, Tecnu Outdoor Skin Cleanser? Don't feel like you are the only one. We get this question a lot. Hopefully this post will clear it up for you.

If you are a poison ivy or oak sufferer, then you probably know the rash is caused by your body's reaction to the plant's oil, urushiol (pronounced ooh-roo-she-all). The key to avoiding a poison ivy and oak rash to get this oil off of your skin as soon as possible.

What is Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser?

Tecnu Original is a cosmetic skin cleanser that removes urushiol from your skin.  By washing with Tecnu Original within 8 hours of exposure to the plants you can remove urushiol.

What makes Tecnu Original different than other soaps and cleansers?

  • It unlocks the bond of urushiol with your skin. This will effectively remove the oil to keep it from spreading.
  • You can use Tecnu Original without water. Sometimes you are out in the woods away from a sink or shower. You can wipe it on your skin for two minutes and then wipe off with a cloth. This will remove the oil until you can get to a shower.
  • Tecnu Original can be used to remove urushiol from other surfaces such as tools, equipment, clothing and even your pet's fur. See our How to Use Tecnu instructions.
  • It can be used to remove other substances such as pitch and tree sap.

What is Tecnu Extreme Poison Oak & Ivy Scrub?

Tecnu Extreme is an exfoliating scrub that removes urushiol, stops urushiol from spreading, and gently exfoliates.

What makes Tecnu Extreme unique?

  • Like Tecnu Original, it unlocks the bond of urushiol with your skin. However, the natural, exfoliating microbeads, much like the texture of a facial scrub, allow for a deeper cleanse.
  • Since you only wash with Tecnu Extreme for 15 seconds, it quickly removes urushiol from poison oak and ivy plants.
  • While Tecnu Original is great for use on skin, clothing, tools, pets, and can be used without water, Tecnu Extreme is the superior option for use on your entire body.

What should I use and when?

When you know you've been exposed to the plants, or at the first sign of a rash, you can use either Tecnu Original or Tecnu Extreme to remove urushiol.  Which product application you prefer is up to you.

If your rash is continuing to spread, it's possible you are being recontaminated with the plant's oil. Wash objects such as tools, clothing, equipment and pet's fur with Tecnu Original.

If you are going to be out in the wilderness and not around a water source, carrying Tecnu Original would be a better choice since you can use it without water.

While Tecnu Original is the best choice for all of your items that may be contaminated, or if you are without access to water, Tecnu Extreme is the superior choice for your entire body. We recommend keeping a tube handy in your shower!

Hopefully, this clears up the difference between the two cleansers. Feel free to post questions or comments below.


The intention of this blog is to be an informational resource for our customers. We are not medical professionals and are not distributing medical advice. Any questions you have about your health should be directed to a physician. We want to hear from you and welcome your comments - please note all comments submitted will be moderated and we reserve the right to refuse to publish any comment that may be negative, contain foul language, suggest medical advice, or offer tips that may be harmful to our readers. It is not our intention to defame, purge, discriminate or humiliate any party directly or indirectly in any way. We do not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any information or content contained on, distributed through, or linked, downloaded or accessed from any of the services contained on this website. If you have a question or concern that must be replied to right away, please call 1-800-482-4464.

19 comments for “Tecnu vs Tecnu Extreme - what is the difference?”

  1. Posted 7/10/2011 at 12:32:32 PM
    Gravatar of sharilyn

    From years back, I seem to remember a technu product we used PRIOR to going hiking. It was a preventative measure to keep one from actually getting the poison oak. Could you let me know what this was and if it's still available?

  2. Posted 7/11/2011 at 4:06:00 PM

    The Tecnu product you are thinking of that was used prior to going out was called Armor. It was a barrier lotion that we used to make, but have not manufactured for over 10 years now. The only barrier lotion we are aware of now is called Ivyblock which is not made by Tec Labs and it has limited distribution in the retail marketplace. Just remember that even when you use a barrier, you must still wash off the urushiol from your skin after being exposed to poison ivy, oak or sumac, so it’s great to keep Tecnu on hand for post-exposure.

  3. Posted 3/2/2012 at 7:16:10 AM
    Gravatar of doc suess

    you should market your product for removing skunk from pets. it works. like a charm. thanks

  4. Posted 3/7/2012 at 3:10:01 PM
    Gravatar of Lisa Leverich

    Thank you! Tecnu Original does work well for removing skunk odor.

  5. Posted 7/5/2012 at 4:21:41 PM
    Gravatar of joanne

    OMG this product is GREAT! I never got poison ivy/oak until age 46..someone suggested it after i was covered from head to toe twice in 3 months last year..now i keep it close by it my cabinet and my hubby and i use it the first sign of an itch..so far this year no big breakouts (i did tell him to kill it all and stop playing in it or i was moving to the city lol) no more sleepless night thanks to Tecnu!!!

  6. Posted 10/8/2012 at 3:14:26 AM
    Gravatar of Trex

    What is the best way to wash your clothes after and not to spread the oil to my family?

  7. Posted 10/9/2012 at 2:53:03 PM
    Gravatar of Lisa

    Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser can be used on clothing as a spot treatment or soaking completely to remove urushiol (the oil from poison ivy/oak) However, sometimes it can take a lot of Tecnu to soak an entire outfit or more, so another option is to wash clothing in a washer on hot water (or warmest temperature the clothing will tolerate) through two cycles with a strong degreasing detergent (like Tide).

  8. Posted 6/9/2014 at 9:55:06 AM
    Gravatar of Sean

    Is it ever too late to use the product? I think I was initially exposed over a week ago and I have been itchy for the last 5 days in certain spots.

  9. Posted 6/10/2014 at 10:37:57 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Sean: If it has been over a week ago that you were exposed, you may consider using Tecnu Extreme at this point. Tecnu Extreme will remove remaining urushiol (if, any) and help relieve any itching or burning you may be experiencing.

  10. Posted 8/11/2014 at 8:07:10 PM
    Gravatar of Linda

    After breaking out with poison ivy, I washed with Technu Extreme. Is there another product that actually helps the body cure the rash rather than just treating the itch? The red, blotchy, puffy, sores are unsightly and I would like to "cure" this darn rash.

  11. Posted 8/14/2014 at 7:55:23 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Unfortunately, there is no cure for poison oak and ivy rash; simply products to help treat the symptoms. Our bodies just have to run their natural course, and heal on their own. However, Tecnu Rash Relief Spray can help promote healing with natural calendula. On average, a poison oak and ivy rash can last up to 2 weeks, longer in more severe cases. If you do not see any improvement, or your symptoms appear to be getting worse, we recommend contacting your physician.

  12. Posted 5/15/2015 at 4:48:54 PM
    Gravatar of Lousinda

    Can I leave Tecnu original on, or do I HAVE to wash it off?

  13. Posted 5/20/2015 at 1:17:32 PM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Lousinda: We recommend following the label directions (wash with cool water after 2minutes). Tecnu Original is a strong detergent that can irritate the skin if left on for too long.

  14. Posted 8/9/2015 at 12:39:36 PM
    Gravatar of Jill

    How many times a day should i use Tecnu extreme ? should i pop the bubbly rash bumps ?

  15. Posted 8/12/2015 at 12:21:29 PM
    Gravatar of Ellen

    I bought TecNu after my first, very bad, case of poison ivy at the age of 60+ while also recovering from an injury that required surgery, but I am concerned about the microbeads. These plastic beads are very bad for waterways as they pass through water treatment filters, clog up, and get ingested by wildlife, and in fact my home county,Erie County, in Western NY, is banning the sale of microbead products while waiting for the State of New York to ban them. I would like to see you find an alternative, especially since outdoor people care about the environment. Meanwhile, is the original product microbead-free?

  16. Posted 8/27/2015 at 12:44:47 PM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Jill, you can use Tecnu Extreme® as often as needed throughout the day. No, we never recommend popping the blisters. This can potentially cause an infection.

  17. Posted 8/28/2015 at 8:55:50 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Ellen, thank you for contacting us with your concern! Great news, we've recently found a more environmentally-friendly replacement for the microbeads! Stay tuned for the change coming soon :). Yes, Tecnu® Original is microbead-free.

  18. Posted 9/11/2015 at 5:11:09 AM
    Gravatar of Ostara

    "Stay tuned for the change coming soon": I hope it *will* be soon! I thought I had purged all products with plastic microbeads from my household until, one day, I took a good look at the Tecnu Extreme tube. Aargh! I am so very reliant on this product, *and* so against putting these microbeads in the water.

  19. Posted 9/14/2015 at 9:04:32 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Ostara, you are right, it is coming soon :). As with any pharmaceutical, the necessary testing and validation must be done in compliance with the FDA. This takes a bit of time, but we are working vigilantly to make it happen as soon as we can. We certainly hope by the end of the year, very early next year. Thank you for expressing your concern, it's consumers like you who sparked this change!

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