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What is good to soak your feet in for toenail fungus?

Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a common condition that affects millions of people. It occurs when fungi infect one or more of your toenails, causing the nail to become discolored, thickened, or brittle. While toenail fungus is not life-threatening, it can be painful and embarrassing. Fortunately, there are many effective home remedies you can use to soak your feet and treat toenail fungus. Soaking your feet allows the treatment to really penetrate the nail and surrounding skin to kill the fungus. Some good options for foot soaks for toenail fungus include vinegar, bleach, essential oils, mouthwash, and Epsom salts.

Using Vinegar

White vinegar is a commonly recommended home remedy for toenail fungus. It helps create an acidic environment that makes it harder for the fungus to thrive. To use vinegar, mix equal parts warm water and white vinegar in a basin or foot bath. Soak your feet in this solution for 15-20 minutes daily. The acidic components in the vinegar can help kill off the fungus. Be sure to dry your feet thoroughly after the soak. Vinegar foot soaks may cause a burning feeling on irritated skin, so you can dilute with more water if needed. Consistently using a vinegar foot bath can help treat even severe cases of toenail fungus.

Using Bleach

Bleach is an effective disinfectant and has antifungal properties. Using a bleach soak can help sanitize your toenails and the surrounding skin to clear up fungal infections. Mix about 1/2 cup of bleach into a basin filled with warm water. Soak your feet for 10-15 minutes per day. The bleach solution will kill fungus on the nails and prevent further spread of infection. Make sure to rinse your feet well and dry thoroughly after a bleach foot bath. Keep safety in mind when using bleach – use it in a well-ventilated area and avoid getting the mixture in your eyes. Dilute with more water if you experience any skin irritation.

Using Essential Oils

Many essential oils like tea tree oil, thyme oil, and oregano oil contain natural antifungal properties. Adding these oils to a foot soak is an easy way to incorporate these antifungal benefits. For a basic essential oil foot bath, add 10-15 drops of your chosen oil into a basin of warm water. Soak your feet for at least 20 minutes. The antifungal compounds in the oils will help kill toenail fungus and prevent recurrence. You can also combine oils to increase effectiveness. Some popular options are tea tree and lavender oil or oregano and thyme oil. Use essential oil foot soaks along with gentle scrubbing to fully treat fungal infections on the toenails.

Using Mouthwash

Mouthwash contains antiseptic ingredients like cetylpyridinium chloride, menthol, eucalyptol, and thymol. These can help inhibit fungal growth and disinfect infected toenails. For a mouthwash foot soak, pour about 1/2 cup of mouthwash into a basin of warm water. Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes. The antiseptic agents will soak into the nail bed and cuticle area to eliminate fungus. Use this foot bath daily along with filing down infected nails. The combination of mouthwash soaks and gentle filing removes dead nail material and allows the antifungals to fully penetrate. Make sure to thoroughly dry your feet after. The minty ingredients may also help soothe any itching or burning sensations.

Using Epsom Salts

Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate which helps draw out toxins, reduce swelling, and exfoliate dead skin cells. This can help treat toenail fungus by pulling out infectious debris from underneath the nails. Dissolve 1/2 cup of Epsom salts into warm water in a foot tub and soak for 20 minutes daily. The magnesium-rich salts will draw out the fungal debris to cleanse the nail bed. The mineral content in Epsom salts may also help inhibit fungal growth. Be sure to completely dry your feet when done soaking. Pair this with regularly trimming your nails to fully remove fungal nail infections as they grow out.

Other Remedies

In addition to the above options, there are a few other effective ingredients you can use for foot baths to combat toenail fungus:

– Baking soda – An alkaline solution of baking soda can kill fungi and neutralize odors. Mix 1-2 tablespoons into warm foot soak water.

– Hydrogen peroxide – This can disinfect toenails and kill fungus. Add 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 4 parts water.

– Apple cider vinegar – Contains antifungal acids like malic acid. Mix equal parts with water for a foot bath.

– Garlic – Contains antimicrobial allicin. Boil smashed garlic cloves in water and use when cooled.

– Oregano oil – Has thymol and carvacrol to fight fungal growth. Add 5-10 drops to foot bath water.

Tips for Effective Treatment

Here are some tips to ensure foot soaks effectively treat toenail fungus:

– Soak feet daily for at least 15-20 minutes to allow the treatment to fully penetrate the nail. Be consistent with applications.

– Always wash and fully dry your feet after soaking. This prevents fungus spread.

– Use clean tub or basin for each foot bath to avoid reinfection. Disinfect after every use.

– File down infected nails weekly to remove debris and allow soaks to penetrate the nail bed.

– Apply antifungal cream after soaking while nails are soft for better absorption.

– Disinfect socks, shoes, pedicure tools to prevent reinfection.

– Be patient as it takes 3-6 months for new healthy nail to fully grow out and replace fungus infected part.

When to See a Doctor

Foot soaks can be an effective home treatment for mild-moderate toenail fungus. However, you may need prescription oral or topical medication for severe infections. See your doctor if:

– Fungal infection persists after 3 months of home treatment

– Infection is painful or causing discomfort

– More than half of the nail is infected

– Fungus spreads to multiple toenails

– Diabetes or impaired immune system – higher risk of complications


Soaking your feet regularly in vinegar, bleach, essential oils, mouthwash, Epsom salts, or other antifungal solutions can help treat toenail fungus. The foot bath allows the treatment to fully penetrate and kill off the fungal infection. Be sure to wash, dry, and disinfect properly after soaking. Combine with gentle filing and antifungal creams or ointments for best results. 2-3 months of daily foot soaks along with proper nail care and hygiene can help clear up toenail fungus. See your doctor if you do not see improvement with continued home treatment. With consistency and diligence, you can usually eliminate mild-moderate cases of toenail fungus using these beneficial foot soak remedies.

Treatment How to Use
Vinegar Mix equal parts vinegar & warm water, soak 15-20 min daily
Bleach Add 1/2 cup bleach to basin of warm water, soak 10-15 min daily
Essential oils Add 10-15 drops oil to basin of warm water, soak 20+ min
Mouthwash Add 1/2 cup to basin of warm water, soak 15-20 min daily
Epsom salts Dissolve 1/2 cup in warm water, soak 20 min daily