Health Benefits of a Foot Soak

Medically Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner, MD on July 03, 2023
3 min read

A foot soak is relaxing and can have many health benefits. Here’s what to know about the ingredients that make a foot soak good for your health.

A foot soak is more than just relaxing with your feet in warm or hot water. It’s what you add to the water that makes a foot soak beneficial. The two main ingredients used in a foot soak are Epsom salt and vinegar.

What is Epsom salt? Epsom salt is a natural mix of magnesium and sulfate. Don’t be confused by its name, because Epsom salt is nothing like table salt.

How do I use Epsom salt in a foot soak? Dissolve a half-cup of Epsom salt into a tub or bowl of warm water. Soak your feet for 10 to 20 minutes once a week.

What are the health benefits of Epsom salt? Epsom salt can help soften your skin and leave it less prone to bacteria overgrowth. Other health benefits include:

  • Relieves stress and helps you feel relaxed
  • Eases pain and muscle cramps
  • Boosts nerve and muscle function
  • Helps prevent blood clots

It also has more specific uses like:

  • Reduces and prevents athlete’s foot
  • Loosens skin to remove splinters
  • Treats toenail fungus
  • Soothes pain from sprains and bruises‌
  • Eases gout pain and discomfort

What is vinegar? Vinegar is made from fermented things like grapes and apples. It’s high in acetic acid.

The process used to create apple cider vinegar, for example, involves using yeast to break down the sugar in apples. First, it turns into alcohol, and then bacteria turns the alcohol into acetic acid. The end liquid has a lot of B-vitamins and polyphenols, also known as antioxidants.

How do I use vinegar in a foot soak? To soak your feet using vinegar, mix two parts warm or hot water with one part vinegar in a tub or bowl. Soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes once a week.

What are the health benefits of vinegar? Vinegar has natural antibacterial properties, so bacteria have a hard time growing on your skin. If you have fungi on your feet, including athlete’s foot, vinegar may be less effective. But it does fight bacteria that cause odor.

Many products on the market — including detoxifying foot soaks — claim to have health benefits. This may sound appealing if a weekend of unhealthy foods and alcohol leaves you feeling guilty. But research shows that these cleanses may not remove the damage caused by overconsumption.

Any products that claim to detox your body are not approved by the FDA. This means they haven’t undergone testing or clinical trials to prove or disprove results.

The list of ingredients in these detox products may include Epsom salt or vinegar. Don’t pay more for the same things you have at home. Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Foot soak solutions are most likely safe to use, but they won’t give you dramatic results.

When putting Epsom salt in your tub, don’t use more than is recommended. As with any supplements, you run the risk of an allergic reaction. Watch out for problems like:

  • Hives or rash
  • Trouble breathing‌
  • Swelling in your face, lips, tongue, or throat

Also talk to your doctor before using a foot soak to treat bacterial or fungal infections. You may need a prescription treatment. Other ways to prevent infections include:

  • Keeping your feet dry
  • Changing your socks often
  • Switching pairs of shoes
  • Wearing shoes in locker rooms and public pools‌
  • Not sharing shoes with anyone else