Proponents claim a foot detox can remove toxins and heavy metals from the body. However, there is no scientific evidence to confirm this works.

People claim that it is possible to detox the feet using various techniques, including ionic footbaths, foot soaks, and scrubs.

This article looks at the science behind a foot detox and explains some of the most popular detox methods.

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The manufacturers of the IonCleanse, which is one of the most popular foot detox systems, claim that it uses charged particles called ions to create an ionic field that cleanses and purifies the body. The system ionizes water molecules, separating water (H2O) into H+ and OH- ions.

These ions then attract and neutralize toxins and heavy metals of the opposite charge, supposedly pulling them out through the bottom of the feet.

The theory is that users will feel relaxed and refreshed after using this system. The manufacturers advise people to do a foot detox for 30–60 minutes each week.

The water in the bath may change color during the detox, which some people believe means the detox is taking place. However, changes in the color of the water are usually due to sweat and dirt from the feet. They may also occur when people add salts to the bath water or when metals in the bath corrode over time.

Other types of foot detox method, such as foot masks and scrubs, do not rely on ionic charges to work. Instead, they simply remove impurities from the surface of the skin.

Proponents say that a foot detox offers many benefits, but the most credible is that it provides a relaxing experience. Many people enjoy a warm foot soak, especially if they add extra salts and essential oils to the water. Foot soaks can increase circulation, clean the skin, and relieve aches and pains.

Ionic foot baths are available at alternative healthcare centers. At-home versions are also for sale online.

However, many people use alternative methods to bathe their feet. The most popular types include:

  • Foot soak: A standard foot soak involves immersing the feet in warm water. Some people add Epsom salts or a few drops of essential oil to the water.
  • Foot masks: A clay foot mask may clean and soften the feet. People typically apply the foot mask for a set period before washing it off.
  • Foot scrubs: Regular foot scrubs can clean the feet and remove dead skin cells. An accompanying foot massage can relax the muscles and reduce tension.
  • Foot pads: Special detox foot pads cause the feet to sweat. Some people believe that this process draws out toxins.
  • Acupressure-based techniques: Using special massage techniques to apply pressure to specific points in the feet can encourage relaxation. Some people also think that acupressure aids detoxification.

Read about the best remedies for dry skin on the feet.

There has been very little scientific research on the effectiveness of foot detoxes. As a result, most evidence is purely anecdotal.

A small, older study from 2012 with only six participants tested the ability of the IonCleanse to remove toxic elements from the body. The researchers collected water samples before and after 30-minute sessions, both with and without feet in the bath. They also collected urine and hair samples from the participants.

After testing each sample, they concluded that the foot detox bath does not reduce toxin levels in the body. Toxins did not leave the body through the feet. The system did not stimulate detoxification through the liver, kidneys, or hair either.

The authors of this study also dismiss earlier research by the Center for Research Strategies, which has links to the IonCleanse manufacturer. They state that this prior research may be unreliable due to poor-quality reporting, imprecise scientific methods, and the potential for conflict of interest.

The Center for Research Strategies reported that ionic footbath sessions reduced the levels of aluminum and arsenic in the participants’ blood. However, they found no change in the levels of mercury, cadmium, or lead.

Popular recipes for foot soaks, scrubs, and masks include:

1. Epsom salt foot soak

Add 1 cup of Epsom salts to a footbath containing warm water to make this foot soak. Soak the feet for 20–30 minutes. Avoid using Epsom salts if there are any open wounds on the skin.

Read more about an Epsom salt foot soak.

2. Apple cider vinegar soak

Some people drink apple cider vinegar to encourage detoxification. To make a foot bath using apple cider vinegar, add 1 cup of the vinegar to a tub of warm water and soak the feet for 20–30 minutes. Vinegar may also deodorize the feet.

3. Baking soda and sea salt soak

Dissolve 1 cup of sea salt and 1 cup of baking soda in a warm footbath. Soak the feet in it for 30 minutes.

4. Bentonite clay foot mask

To make a clay mask, mix the following ingredients in a bowl:

Add more clay or vinegar as necessary to achieve a thick paste. Apply this mixture to both feet and allow it to dry. Wash the paste off after 30 minutes and pat the feet dry with a towel.

This mask may be especially helpful for people with foot odor or fungal infections.

5. Olive oil foot scrub

To make a hydrating foot scrub, mix:

Apply some of the scrub to each foot and gently massage the mixture into the skin, paying attention to the sole and the areas between the toes. Rinse the scrub off and pat the feet dry with a towel.

Some people should avoid foot baths or speak with a doctor before using them. These people include:

  • children
  • pregnant people
  • those with pacemakers or electrical implants
  • people with diabetes
  • anyone with open sores on their feet

Foot baths are popular alternative health treatments that may relax a person, soften the skin, and treat minor foot complaints.

While there is no evidence to support the use of these treatments for detoxification, they are unlikely to be harmful to most people.

People who want to care for their feet can use ionic detox baths, foot soaks, scrubs, or masks.