A detox bath is considered a natural way to help remove toxins from the body. However, evidence is limited about the benefits of detox baths for a cold.

During a detox bath, ingredients like Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), ginger, and essential oils are dissolved into warm water in the bathtub. You can soak for 12 minutes to an hour at a time.

A detox bath may help with certain cold symptoms by calming the body and easing muscle aches, but the results will vary for everyone.

Read on to learn more about the use of a detox bath for managing cold symptoms, plus tips for how to use a detox bath.

Studies are limited on the efficacy of a detox bath to treat cold symptoms. But a cold, cough, or the flu may lead to symptoms including muscle aches and soreness, and detox baths may help with these symptoms.

Adding essential oils, such as lavender and chamomile, to your bath may have some benefits for cold symptoms. That’s because essential oils may help you relax and calm down.

One small study of 19 participants found that adding Epsom salt to a bath raises magnesium levels in the body. This may help the body dispose of lactic acid, which, in turn, may rid the body of aches and pains. It may also help relax the muscles.

Some limited research shows that certain essential oils may have antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Eucalyptus, for example, may be therapeutic for upper respiratory viruses and help ease congestion. But more studies are needed to confirm the benefits and the use of essential oils for detox baths.

Can a bath help to treat a fever?

While scientific evidence is limited, a warm bath is still considered an age-old remedy for cooling down a fever. Aim for a temperature of lukewarm water (80°F to 90°F or 27°C to 32°C), and don’t take a bath if you’re feeling dizzy or unsteady. If you start to shiver, you’ll need to increase the temperature of your bath. Shivering means your body is trying to raise its temperature, which can make a fever worse.

Check with your doctor to see if detox baths are safe for you to try. Pregnant women, children, and people with impaired kidney function should not take detox baths. (Your body may not be able to rid itself of excess magnesium if your kidneys are impaired.)

Always drink plenty of water before, during, and after a detox bath. Also, get out of the bath immediately if you’re shivering, or feel dizzy or faint.

There are different recipes for detox baths, depending on your symptoms. You can take detox baths once a week to start. Watch for signs such as dry skin or dehydration.

Start out with a shorter period of time in the bath (12 to 20 minutes) to see how your body reacts to the detox bath. If you find them relaxing and don’t have any additional negative reactions, you can increase the time of your detox baths and work up to three baths per week.

Epsom salt bath

Potential benefits: Reduce muscle aches and pains, relaxation

  1. Fill your tub with warm water. As it fills, you can also add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and up to 5 drops of lavender oil, if you choose.
  2. Once there’s enough water for you to soak, add 2 cups of Epsom salt. Use your foot or hand to move the water around to help dissolve the salt.
  3. Soak for at least 12 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Ginger bath

Potential benefits: Promotes sweating, which may help your body rid itself of toxins; may help with muscle aches and pains.

  1. Mix 1/3 cup of Epsom salt, 1/3 cup of sea salt, and 3 tablespoons of ground ginger. You can also add 1/3 cup of baking soda, if you choose. Pour the mixture into a warm running bath.
  2. As the bath fills, add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar.
  3. Bathe for up to 45 minutes and drink water as you soak. Get out of bath if you start to shiver.
  4. Dry off immediately after leaving the bath.

This bath can be extremely dehydrating. It’s important to drink water before, during, and after the bath to replenish your fluid intake.

Sea salt and eucalyptus bath

Potential benefits: Ease congestion, help with inflammation and muscle aches

  1. Add 1 cup of sea salt, 1 cup of Epsom salt, and 10 drops of eucalyptus oil to warm running water. You can also add up to 2 cups of baking soda, if you chose. Mix well by moving water around with your hand or foot.
  2. Soak for 12 minutes up to an hour.

See your doctor if your cold symptoms don’t improve in a week to 10 days. Also, seek medical care when:

  • your fever is above 101.3°F (38°C)
  • you’ve had a fever for over five days or more
  • you experience shortness of breath
  • you’re wheezing
  • you have a severe sore throat, headache, or sinus pain

To manage a cold, you can also try other home remedies.

  • Tea with honey may help soothe a sore throat. Add fresh ginger and lemon to hot water for a homemade cold and sore throat remedy.
  • A neti pot can help rinse debris or mucus from the nasal cavity with a saline solution. Use it to treat sinus problems, colds, and nasal allergies.
  • Chicken noodle soup has anti-inflammatory properties to help ease cold symptoms. Fluids also help keep you hydrated when you have a cold.

A detox bath won’t cure your cold, but you may find it soothing and calming. It may also help to temporarily alleviate your symptoms including congestion, muscle aches and pains, or a fever.

Other home remedies, such as sipping tea with honey, may also be beneficial for cold symptoms. If your cold worsens or doesn’t improve after 7 to 10 days, see your doctor.