Are There Any Benefits to Soaking Your Feet in Listerine?

Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT on May 18, 2017Written by Kristeen Cherney on May 18, 2017

Listerine for feet?

A Listerine foot soak is a type of at-home foot bath. It’s primarily used to treat athlete’s foot and onychomycosis (toenail fungus). People also use Listerine on their feet to help remove dead skin.

Listerine, which is normally used to help prevent cavities and gingivitis, has numerous active ingredients. When it comes to feet, this type of wash isn’t used to combat odor, but rather for the antifungal properties found in menthol and thymol.

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How it works

Below are step-by-step instructions for performing a Listerine foot soak:

  • Find a tub that fits the length and depth of your feet. While a foot spa works well, any deep tub can work.
  • Fill the tub with Listerine along with two parts of warm water. You will need enough to cover your entire feet.
  • Instead of water, you can also mix in equal portions of white vinegar. This type of vinegar is thought to get rid of fungus because of its high levels of acidity.
  • Place feet in the solution for 45 to 60 minutes at a time.
  • Use a Listerine foot soak every day until fungus clears up. You may also consider using the soak occasionally as a preventive measure.

If you’re running short on time, you may also apply Listerine with a cotton ball to your feet twice daily.

The key to using Listerine for fungus is patience. Just as with prescription antifungal treatments, it can take a few months for the fungus to completely go away. However, you may start seeing noticeable improvements right away.

Research and evidence

Though the ingredients in Listerine are thought to possess antifungal properties, no studies have proven that the mouthwash is a surefire way to get rid of foot and nail fungus.

One study stated that Listerine could prevent fungal infections in people with autoimmune diseases. However, the study focused more on fungal infections in the mouth.

The powerful antifungal and antibacterial properties of Listerine are clear — as a mouthwash. Clinical studies are needed to support Listerine as an alternative treatment for foot fungus.

Warnings and considerations

Although Listerine foot soaks are relatively safe, they may not be appropriate for everyone. If you have sensitive skin, the soak could cause mild irritation. Consider testing a small area of skin with Listerine (and vinegar if you decide to use it for the soak) before doing a full soak. After applying the sample, wait several hours to see if you experience any reactions.

If you have athlete’s foot, using this foot soak alone won’t prevent the condition from returning. Be sure to keep your feet dry and to bathe regularly after periods of sweating. Changing your socks often helps during long periods of activity. You may also use a daily spray or powder to keep your feet dry if your feet tend to sweat a lot.

Keeping your nails trimmed can also help prevent fungal infections from occurring on your feet. If you have in-grown toe nails, avoid using Listerine, as this could irritate the area. You may want to have the in-grown nail removed by your doctor to prevent infection.

The bottom line

When it comes to foot and toenail fungus, Listerine foot soaks may be an alternative remedy you can use at home. Overall, this method doesn’t carry serious risks and side effects. However, consider asking a pediatrician first before using this foot soak on children.

Still, there’s not enough solid evidence to support Listerine as a reliable treatment for foot fungus. You should see your doctor if fungal infections on your feet and toenails fail to clear up, even after using home remedies like Listerine. Some nail infections can lead to more serious complications, especially if you have diabetes or other underlying medical conditions.

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