Here’s Why You Should Soak Your Feet in Apple Cider Vinegar — and how to do it

A little in your salad, a little in your foot bath! Apple cider vinegar’s long history as a natural remedy means that it has been used to treat everything from sore throats to obesity — and even the feet. Feet are particularly sensitive to their environment, making them susceptible to bacteria, fungi, calluses, and more. Apple cider vinegar contains many beneficial properties that could help improve these conditions. Here’s why you should soak your feet in ACV and how to create the optimal foot bath.  

What’s so special about apple cider vinegar?

For centuries, people have turned to organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (ACV) for medicinal purposes. Its high levels of acetic acid are believed to be the reason why. ACV is made from apples that have been crushed, distilled and then fermented, according to research published in the Journal of Food Science. Adding yeast to the mix is what ferments the sugars and turns them to alcohol. Bacteria are then added to ferment the alcohol further, which turns it into acetic acid — the active compound in vinegar. Studies suggest that the acetic acid (normally five to six percent) gives vinegar its pungency and many beneficial properties. Other health benefits of ACV are believed to come from a substance called the “mother.” This natural substance gives ACV it’s murky appearance and is made up of strands of enzymes, proteins, and friendly bacteria.

Why you should soak your feet in ACV

Since ACV protects against harmful pathogens like bacteria and fungi, soaking your feet in it could provide a natural remedy for common foot problems, including:

Foot odor

Just like the skin under your arms and on your body, your feet are covered in sweat glands. When your feet are tucked away in tight-fitting shoes, they begin to sweat. And of course, sweat is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, which emits that foul odor. Some people find their feet sweat even without engaging in exercise or strenuous activity. Vinegar makes your skin inhospitable to bacteria. Since ACV is antimicrobial, soaking your feet in a vinegar bath for 10 to 20 minutes a day can help kill the stinky bacteria.

Athlete’s foot

Let’s face it; you don’t have to be an athlete to get athlete’s foot. However, walking around barefoot in public places like gyms and swimming pools will certainly help. Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a contagious skin disease caused through contact with certain fungi. Wearing shoes or damp socks further allows the fungi to multiply thanks to the warm, dark, moist environment. Telltale signs of athlete’s foot include a scaly rash that usually itches, stings, and burns. It can often show up between the toes, but it is not limited to this area on your foot. Research suggests soaking your feet daily in an ACV foot bath can help repel fungal infections like athlete’s foot.

Calluses and dry, cracked feet

ACV acts as a mild exfoliator for skin and even nails, thanks to the acetic acid. This makes it a perfect foot bath for callused, dry, and cracked feet. This gentle exfoliation, over-time, may help slough off dead skin cells and encourage new cell growth. It’s best, however, to use cool water instead of hot water, which can further dry your skin. Soak your feet nightly and follow with a moisturizer and a pair of socks to lock moisture in.

Toenail fungus

If your nails have thickened and changed color, then you may have toenail fungus. Other signs include:

  • Nails that warp or change shape
  • Nails that become discolored and turn dark
  • Nails that become loose or begin to separate from the nail bed
  • A buildup of chalky nail fragments under the nail
  • Nails that become brittle, thickened and broken

ACV has always been a popular remedy for toenail fungus. Many people swear that over time, and with repeated use, apple cider vinegar’s antifungal properties cure toenail fungus. However, there is no clinical evidence that suggests ACV will definitely work. But it is a low-risk remedy and unlikely to cause any harm. Bottom line…it’s worth trying. Simply soak your feet in a warm ACV foot bath for about 15 minutes, twice daily. To avoid reinfection:

  • Soak your feet regularly.
  • Trim your nails straight across. File down thickened areas and smooth edges.
  • Disinfect your nail clippers after each use.
  • Wear sweat-absorbing socks and shoes that breathe.
  • Wear footwear in locker rooms and pool areas.
  • Choose a nail salon that sterilizes manicure tools regularly.
  • Stop using nail polish on your toes, or switch to a breathable polish.

Creating the perfect foot bath

Start with clean feet, cleansed with a regular, soft soap prior to soaking. Apple cider vinegar will not hurt your feet. But for your footbath, you should dilute ACV with warm or cool water.

  • Fill a basin with one cup of apple cider vinegar and two cups of warm or cool water.
  • Continue to add one cup of vinegar and two cups of warm water until the basin is full.
  • Soak feet for 10 to 20 minutes
  • Dry feet thoroughly and finish with moisturizer.

Apple cider vinegar is generally safe for the feet and makes a wonderful, relaxing soak. However, it is still possible for vinegar to irritate inflamed skin, so use with caution. In addition, people with diabetes should consult with a specialist before using home remedies for their feet.     

-Katherine Marko

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