We demand a lot from our feet. They carry our bodies around all day, often from within uncomfortable shoes. It’s no wonder many of us end up with blisters, pain, odor, and even fungus like athlete’s foot. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to your woes, and it's in your kitchen.
Vinegar is a diluted form of acetic acid and is both versatile and harmless. We use it to cook, clean, and now to treat our tired, aching, stinky feet. According to one study, the antifungal activity of vinegar is more powerful than that of other food preservatives, all while being safe enough to eat. It’s this action that’s credited with some of its most notable benefits.
A note: Avoid the treatments listed below if you have diabetes. People with diabetes should have their health care team treat any foot issues.
For Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the toes. The toes appear red and their skin may peel. Athlete’s foot often burns and itches.
For mild forms of this condition, a vinegar soak works well. Soak your feet for 10 to 15 minutes daily in a vinegar bath until the infection subsides. The antifungal properties also make vinegar soaks a good idea for people who are suffering from toenail fungus.
For Foot Odor
- Wear breathable cotton or wool socks.
- Wear canvas or leather shoes, which allow your feet to breathe.
- Go barefoot when you’re at home.
Vinegar can also disinfect the feet, helping to eliminate or reduce foot odor by getting rid of the bacteria that makes them smell.
Before soaking, wash your feet thoroughly with soap and water. Then relax with your feet in a vinegar soak.
In addition to soaking, lifestyle choices are important when treating foot odor. Wear shoes made of leather or canvas, as these allow your feet to breathe, unlike plastic materials. Also wear breathable cotton or wool socks. When you’re at home, go barefoot.
Because vinegar is a mild exfoliator, you can also use it to treat callouses and warts. After soaking, you can file your feet with a pumice stone to help rid it of hardened skin. In addition to soaking in a vinegar solution, you can apply vinegar directly to the affected areas with a cotton ball.
For Dry Feet
Vinegar foot soaks can also soothe dry, cracked feet. Use cool water, as hot water has a tendency to dry out your skin. Soak nightly, then moisturize your feet and put on socks. Soaking too often or for too long may cause your feet to get even drier, so use this sparingly for dry and cracked feet.
Making the Vinegar Foot Soak
Vinegar will not hurt your feet, but you should still dilute it for the purposes of a foot soak. Generally, using one part vinegar to two parts water is a good ratio.
While the soak will smell strong, the odor will dissipate after it dries from your feet. You can also use essential oils to change the scent slightly.
Vinegar is an inexpensive and easy-to-find remedy for a variety of foot ailments. Not to mention, soaking your feet after a long day can be quite relaxing.