Whether you're wearing sandals all day in summer or trekking in heavy boots during winter, your feet are definitely in need of some TLC. A day of walking and standing can lead to seriously tired and achy feet!
When it comes to feet, prevention and ongoing maintenance are a must. Dry skin can lead to painful cracks. And sweaty feet can turn into an itchy, stinky problem in no time.
Try one of these 11 soaks to treat your feet, no matter how they’re feeling. Hey, even just having an excuse to sit and relax for 15 minutes is worth it!
How to Soak Your Feet
If you're giving yourself an at-home pedicure, start by prepping your toes with a simple foot soak. The best way to soften calluses is to soak them in warm water. Adding something acidic, like lemon juice, orange juice, or white vinegar, can help with the job.
I like to sit on the edge of the tub—or heck, take a long bath—to soften things up.
The bowl is pretty, but I know everything in it will inevitably end up all over my floor. And if you plan to repaint your toes, then be sure to take off all of the old polish before you soak.
1. Soften feet with a turmeric milk soak.
If you've tried a turmeric face mask, it's time to try it on your feet, where this healing spice can soothe inflammation and repair dry skin [source]. Combine it with hydrating milk and exfoliating rice flour to soften feet. Note: turmeric powder can stain light-colored towels and surfaces, so lay a dark towel down.
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon rice flour
Combine the milk and turmeric powder. Pour the mixture into a basin with warm water, and soak your feet for 10 minutes. Then use your fingers to buff your heels with the rice flour for 1 minute. Rinse your feet. Repeat twice a week.
2. Whiten nails with a denture soak.
Here's an inexpensive remedy for yellow nails: soak your feet in denture cleaner! The tablets help lift surface stains with repetitive use and also combat nail fungus.
- 3 denture cleanser tablets
- Warm water
Drop the tablets into a basin filled with warm water. Soak your feet for 15 minutes, and then scrub your nails with a clean toothbrush. Repeat twice a week for whiter nails in 3 weeks.
3. Relax sore feet with a citrus soak.
This restorative soak combines Epsom salt and aromatherapy, plus the exfoliating benefits from the alpha-hydroxy acids in orange juice [source]. Orange and lavender essential oils in hydrating almond oil are soothing and naturally antibacterial [source].
- ⅓ cup Epsom salt
- 4 drops sweet orange essential oil
- 2 drops lavender essential oil
- 1 teaspoon almond oil
- 1 orange, sliced
Combine almond oil and the essential oils. Fill a large bowl with warm water, add all of the ingredients, and swirl. Soak your feet for 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry.
4. Help swollen feet with a peppermint milk soak.
- Whole milk
- Warm water
- 4 sprigs mint
Add equal parts milk and water (enough to cover tops of the feet) into a large bowl. Stir in the mint. Soak your feet for 20 minutes, and then use a pumice stone to gently exfoliate rough patches, especially around your heels. Rinse well and pat dry. Repeat as often as needed.
5. Reduce swelling with a black tea soak.
Black tea's caffeine penetrates the skin barrier and improves circulation [source]. The cold soak helps reduce swelling and puffiness. And the tea tannins help kill off foot fungi and the bacteria [source] that cause odor.
- 4 cups strong black tea, cooled
- ½ cup ice
Add tea and ice to a large basin. Soak feet for 10–15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry.
6. Repair cracked heels with a lavender + castor oil soak.
Castor oil is an excellent emollient that will work to reduce the roughness of thick heel skin and calluses. Antibacterial lavender essential oil wards off fungus and infection, so that dry, cracked skin heals faster. Try it before bed to help send you off to sleep!
Measure out the castor oil and add the lavender essential oil to it. Fill a basin with warm water, and pour in the oil mixture. Soak feet for 15 minutes, then pat dry.
7. Soften dry skin with a piña colada foot soak.
Soften your feet in rich coconut while the natural alpha-hydroxy acids in pineapple help break up the layers of dry skin on your heels. Follow with a foot scrub to help manually exfoliate.
- 1 cup pineapple juice or ½ cup chopped fresh pineapple
- ½ cup coconut milk
Pour the pineapple juice or chopped fresh pineapple into a basin of warm water. Add ½ cup of coconut milk. Soak your feet for a minimum of 15 minutes or until the water starts to cool. Follow with a foot scrub.
8. Warm cold feet with a cinnamon spice soak.
When it's chilly out, your cold feet will love warming up with this soak. Add a bit of cinnamon to speed up blood flow [source] and boost warmth.
Fill a large bowl with warm water. Add bubble bath, and then add the remaining ingredients. Soak feet for 15 minutes, then rinse well and pat dry.
9. Stop stinky feet with a vinegar and baking soda soak.
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup baking soda
Add ingredients to a basin filled with warm water. Soak feet for 10 minutes, then pat dry.
10. Fight athlete's foot with a tea tree and vinegar soak.
Vinegar's natural acids are a cheap but effective way to help fight athlete's foot. Add tea tree oil to fight fungus and bust up odor-causing bacteria [source]. You'll soften the dead skin on thick heels and calluses at the same time!
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- ¼ cup sea salt or Epsom salt
- 1 tablespoon carrier oil, like olive or sweet almond
- 5 drops tea tree essential oil
Combine the carrier oil and essential oil. Add all ingredients to a bowl of warm water. Sit for 10 minutes, and let the acidic water soften your soles.
11. Soothe achy feet with an Epsom soak.
Epsom salt is great for soothing sore muscles, and it can do the same for tired feet. Try an Epsom salt foot soak to help reduce swelling and keep bacteria and blisters away. And any inflamed skin can be curbed with camomile’s medicinal powers [source].
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Fill a basin with warm water until it’s deep enough to cover feet, then add ½ cup of the Epsom salt mixture to the water. Soak your feet for 20 minutes, then pat dry.
Follow with a Foot Scrub
Once your feet are good and soft, go to town on them with a simple salt or sugar foot scrub. This doesn't have to be (and probably shouldn't be) fancy-schmancy. Sugar with a little oil will do a nice job of removing dead skin and cleaning things up.
And your best investment of the year will be a pumice stone. Work on the hard calluses and heels with this guy. Even better, keep it in the shower, and do a little scrubbing every time you're in there.
If your feet are dry, slather them with whatever thick foot cream you have on hand (I like to repurpose a hand salve) after soaking and scrubbing. You can then wear socks for a while to let it soak in.
Some folks sleep with their socks on, but this feels icky to me. I prefer to let my toes have a chance to air out. If you want to paint your toes, now is the perfect time!
1. Vollono L, et al. Potential of curcumin in skin disorders. Nutrients. 2019.
2. Tang SC, et al. Dual effects of alpha-hydroxy acids on the skin. Molecules. 2018.
3. Orchard A, et al. Commercial essential oils as potential antimicrobials to treat skin diseases. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017.
5. Smith WP. Epidermal and dermal effects of topical lactic acid. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1996.
6. Herman A, et al. Caffeine’s mechanisms of action and its cosmetic use. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2013.
7. Chung KT, et al. Tannins and human health: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1998.
8. Ranasinghe P, et al. Medicinal properties of ‘true’ cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified physician with more than 20 years of practice experience. Learn more about Hello Glow's medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.39