Last Updated on January 24, 2023 by The Filtery
Since the discovery of apple cider vinegar’s healing properties, it has been passed down from generation to generation as a natural antibacterial.
Lots of remedies include apple cider as a hero ingredient, which is one reason why apple cider vinegar (ACV) is highly recommended for “detox” drinks. As the foot detox trend emerged in the recent decade, naturopathic experts naturally preferred apple cider vinegar for it as well.
An apple cider vinegar foot soak can have several potential benefits, as we’ll talk about in a minute. But can it actually detox your feet?
What Is An Apple Cider Vinegar Detox For Your Feet?
Generally, “foot detox” is a term used for a soak that helps clean skin, neutralize odor, and help with conditions such as athlete’s foot or warts. (This differs from a “full body detox,” which we’ll address a bit later.)
A daily shower, no doubt, can sufficiently clean your feet, but to remove certain microorganisms, you might want to try a slightly more powerful (but still natural) acid wash by using apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is safe for almost everyone to use and can be more gentle than certain creams and medications.
Potential Benefits of Soaking Feet In Apple Cider Vinegar
1. Dry and Cracked Skin
Cracked heels are fairly common. For those working long hours on their feet, a good foot soak and scrub can adequately remove callouses and dead skin cells, leaving feet feeling refreshed and with less itchiness and pain.
But sometimes, you might need a bit more than a typical soak. As apple cider vinegar contains antiseptic and exfoliating properties, an ACV foot bath can provide extra support to help your feet heal.
2. Athlete’s Foot and Toe Fungal Infections
Contrary to popular belief, athletes are not the only ones who develop athlete’s foot!
If you routinely wear shoes without frequently changing socks or if you walk around barefoot at the gym, your feet could get a dermatophytes infection, with a toenail fungus to boot.
Most people are just unaware of it because cracked heels and dryness between the toes are ordinary symptoms and easily overlooked until it’s too late.
Since ACV is antifungal, it can penetrate the skin and slow down the fungus infection, giving your body the support it needs to fight the infection.
Of course, there’s always the chance that there could be a more serious issue going on, so be sure to talk to your doctor to make sure you’re treating any infections or other conditions properly.
3. Warts and Cones
Typically, a doctor recommends a salicylic acid solution for warts or cones. Salicylic acid burns through the dead skin and bumps, while ACV is a bit more gentle.
As a peeling agent, ACV contains malic acid that carefully scales the outer skin, shrinking warts and cones.
Eventually, the wart detaches from the skin and the cones erode, bringing out the supple skin hidden underneath.
For stubborn warts, you can try putting apple cider vinegar directly on the skin using a cotton ball and bandaid, letting it soak overnight. Depending on the size, depth, and age of the wart, you may need to repeat the process several times.
4. Neutralize Foot Odor
ACV foot soaks can also help with Bromodosis, a.k.a. smelly feet! Generally, Bromodosis is caused by excess bacteria production, and doing an ACV cleanse might help with this.
Since ACV is a natural antibacterial but is not as harsh as something like a pharmaceutical antibiotic, it may help to balance the skin’s healthy microbiome without completely killing off all of the “good” bacteria.
5. Stress Relief & Self Care
Despite the fact that ionic detox foot baths probably can’t actually pull toxins from the whole body (which we’ll talk about more in a minute), that doesn’t mean there aren’t other whole body benefits that can be gained from a good foot soak.
Multiple studies have shown that nightly foot soaks can help with anxiety and stress relief, as they help to soothe aching feet and wind down the body and mind before sleep. This in turn may help with things like hypertension, fatigue, and maintenance of healthy cortisol levels.
Steps to Prepare a Foot Detox with Apple Cider Vinegar
If you decide you want to try it out, here’s a foot bath detox recipe you can do at home:
- Fill around 70% of the tub (or large bucket) with lukewarm water and 30% with apple cider vinegar.
- Add a few drops of your favorite essential oils or epsom salt if you want.
- Soak your feet for 10 to 20 minutes or until the water is cold.
- Gently rub your feet with a pumice stone or other exfoliation tool and rinse your feet with plain water.
- Dry your feet immediately.
- Finish off with a non-toxic moisturizer.
- Repeat the bath as needed or desired.
Make sure you use ACV that contains “the mother” (which is where most of the health benefits come from), and shake gently before using. Bragg’s is the most well-known brand that can be easily found at stores like Target and Walmart.
It should not burn. If it does, consult with your doctor and consider switching to an Epsom salt footbath, which can also help to relieve pain and inhibit the growth of fungus, but is even more gentle.
Can an Apple Cider Vinegar Foot Soak Detox Your Whole Body?
“Detox” is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. (And with the amount of environmental toxicants we are all exposed to on a daily basis, it’s understandable why.) It’s used in different ways and for different reasons, which can lead to a lot of confusion.
Some claim that you can basically “pull toxins” from your whole body out through your feet (also called an ionic footbath). This isn’t a new idea; in Traditional Chinese Medicine, regular foot soaks are a part of holistic wellbeing.
That being said, there isn’t currently any modern scientific research backing up this theory, and in fact, some studies have debunked it.
So while apple cider vinegar foot detox baths may aid in “detoxing” feet in terms of neutralizing odor and deal with fungal infections like athletes foot, they may not actually serve as a “whole body detox” by drawing impurities out through the feet from other parts of the body.
It’s important to keep this distinction in mind as you set your expectations for your soak.
A Few More FAQs & Considerations
Who should not try to detox feet with ACV?
Despite apple cider vinegar’s organic nature, there’s always a possibility it can adversely affect sensitive skin, as happened to one adolescent girl.
Make sure to consult a doctor if you have allergies, other conditions, or experience a negative reaction to the vinegar.
What does soaking your feet in apple cider vinegar do?
Because of its natural antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, soaking feet in ACV can help neutralize odor, minimize warts, help treat athlete’s foot, balance the skin’s microbiome, help with cracked heels, calm itchiness, and soften skin.
How long does it take for apple cider vinegar to cure toenail fungus?
It depends on the type and seriousness of the fungus, but in general, you should see results after 2-3 weeks of soaking your feet for 10-20 minutes daily. It’s wise to start with 10 minutes a few times per week and then slowly increase the soak time and frequency to make sure it doesn’t have any adverse effects on your skin. You should always consult with your doctor or dermatologist to get individualized recommendations.
Can you put apple cider vinegar on feet overnight?
If you have especially stubborn warts or fungus, you may consider putting ACV on the affected area for longer periods of time, like overnight. If you have already tried foot soaks for a shorter amount of time and did not experience any negative effects, you can try putting ACV on a cotton ball, attaching it to the affected area with a bandaid, and then leaving it on overnight. Only apply the ACV to the area of the foot that is having the problem, not the whole foot.
Can apple cider vinegar help with foot pain?
“Foot pain” can mean a lot of different things. For internal injuries of any kind, ACV is not likely to help. But if your foot pain is surface level as a result of dry skin, warts, callouses, or fungus, then soaking your feet in warm water and ACV may help with pain relief.
Benefits of soaking feet in regular vinegar versus apple cider vinegar
You may be wondering if you can replace ACV with regular white distilled vinegar and get the same benefits. Like ACV, white vinegar also has antimicrobial properties, so you can also try using it to help with things like neutralizing foot odor, getting rid of foot fungus, and to soothe tired feet.