A DIY foot soak is an inexpensive way for people to soothe their feet at home. A foot soak may help treat sore muscles and dry skin, while it may also promote relaxation.

This article explores the potential benefits of foot soaks, how to set them up at home, and six recipes for easing symptoms such as aching, dryness, and more.

Although research suggests that essential oils may have some health benefits, it is important to remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not monitor or regulate the purity or quality of these. A person should talk with their healthcare provider before using essential oils, and they should be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. A person should always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.

A pair of feet in a blue basin filled with water for a DIY foot soak.Share on Pinterest
Image credit: Jonas Rönnbro/Getty Images

Depending on the ingredients, a foot soak can have several benefits. People use foot soaks to:

  • soothe sore muscles
  • moisturize dry skin
  • aid relaxation

Foot soaks are also inexpensive and easy, as people often have the necessary equipment at home.

People can use the same supplies and set-up for each of the foot soaks in this article. Before beginning, a person needs:

  • a foot bath or basin big enough to submerge both feet
  • hot water between 92–100°F (33–37.7°C)
  • clean towels

To set-up, place the tub or basin on a non-slip surface and add enough water to submerge both feet above the ankle. Then, prepare any additional ingredients.

A small 2017 trial suggests that bath oil may improve skin barrier function in people with mildly dry skin. As such, those with dry skin on their feet may benefit from adding oil to their foot soak.

This simple remedy is suitable for people with sensitive skin and eczema.

Ingredients

  • several tbsps of oil, such as jojoba or coconut
  • colloidal oatmeal, optional

Instructions

  1. add the ingredients to the water and stir
  2. soak the feet for 10–15 minutes
  3. pat dry with a towel

A person can apply an oil-based moisturizer afterward. The American Academy of Dermatology recommend using fragrance-free moisturizers that contain ingredients such as:

  • jojoba oil
  • glycerin
  • lactic acid
  • hyaluronic acid
  • lanolin
  • shea butter

To allow the moisturizing ingredients to seal in moisture, wear a pair of cotton socks.

A foot soak with hot water may be enough to soothe tired, aching feet. Some also believe adding Epsom bath salt can help with muscle aches. Epsom salts contain magnesium, and a magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle cramps.

A 2017 review notes that there is currently no strong evidence that the skin absorbs a significant amount of magnesium from bathing. However, some studies suggest the skin may absorb small amounts, so people may feel some benefit from Epsom salt foot soaks.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of Epsom salt
  • 3–6 drops of essential oil, if desired
  • 1 tbsp of carrier oil, if adding essential oils

Instructions

  1. add the Epsom salt to the foot bath and stir to dissolve
  2. if using essential oils, mix with a carrier oil in a separate bowl
  3. add the essential oil mixture to the water
  4. soak the feet for 20 minutes
  5. dry with a towel

A person may also wish to massage their feet during this foot soak. They can add marbles to the bottom of the basin and apply gentle pressure, or use oils to massage the feet by hand when they are dry.

The National Eczema Association recommend the following bath for itchy skin. This may ease symptoms for people with generally itchy feet or eczema.

Ingredients

  • lukewarm water, not hot
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • colloidal oatmeal, optional

Instructions

  1. fill the basin with lukewarm water and add ingredients
  2. stir until the baking soda dissolves
  3. submerge the feet and soak for 10–15 minutes
  4. pat the feet dry with a clean towel
  5. apply an oil-based moisturizer and allow to soak in

Do not rub or scrub the skin during the foot bath, and avoid using soap or harsh cleansers.

Soaking the feet in water may help soften the skin, making it easier to exfoliate dead cells using a scrub, pumice stone, or foot file.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  • 1/2 cup of sea salt, Epsom salt, or sugar
  • carrier oil, such as jojoba

Instructions

  1. add the ACV to the water and stir
  2. mix equal parts salt and oil together in a bowl and set aside
  3. soak the feet for 5–10 minutes
  4. use the salt mixture to scrub the feet, or use a pumice stone or foot file
  5. rinse the feet off with fresh water and towel dry

Some people use foot soaks as an opportunity to relax, and certain essential oils may boost this effect. According to a 2015 review, geranium, roman chamomile, and lavender have links with relaxation.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of Epsom salt
  • 3–6 drops of essential oil, such as lavender, chamomile, or geranium
  • 1 tbsp of carrier oil, such as jojoba oil

Instructions

  1. add the Epsom salt to the foot bath and stir to dissolve
  2. mix the carrier oil and essential oils into a bowl
  3. add the essential oil mixture to the foot bath
  4. soak the feet

Several ingredients for DIY skin treatments are also antifungal. For example, a 2012 laboratory study suggests that baking soda may be effective against many species of fungus.

Additionally, a 2013 laboratory study found that tea tree oil reduced the growth of Trichophyton rubrum, a fungus that can cause nail infections.

However, as these are laboratory studies, they do not prove these ingredients can treat or cure fungal infections in people. However, a person may find that they discourage fungus growth.

Ingredients

  • 4 drops of tea tree oil
  • 2 drops of lemon essential oil
  • 1 tbsp carrier oil, such as jojoba
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda

Instructions

  1. mix the carrier oil with the essential oil in a bowl
  2. add all ingredients to the foot bath
  3. soak the feet for 15 minutes
  4. dry with a clean towel, and ensure the feet are completely dry before putting on socks or shoes

This foot soak does not replace medical treatments for fungal infections. If a person has fungal nail or skin infection symptoms on the feet, they should speak with a doctor.

People should take a few precautions to ensure their foot soak is safe and does not exacerbate any symptoms. It is a good idea to check:

  • Skin sensitivity: Some people may react to certain ingredients in foot soaks, such as essential oils. Always perform a patch test first to check ingredients are suitable before submerging the feet.
  • Water temperature: Test the temperature of the water before submerging the feet in the basin. A person can do this with a thermometer.
  • Open wounds: If someone has cuts, scrapes, or broken skin on their feet, they should talk with a doctor before using foot soaks.
  • Essential oil safety: Do not add pure essential oils to water without diluting them in a carrier oil first. Undiluted essential oils are potent and may burn the skin.

When exfoliating feet, do not attempt to remove dead or dry skin using a razor. While medical professionals may perform similar procedures, it is not safe to do this at home.

If a person experiences adverse reactions during a foot soak, they should remove their feet from the basin and rinse them in a shower or bath to wash away any residual ingredients. If symptoms persist or become severe, seek help from a doctor.

A DIY foot soak can help someone relax and soothe tired or aching muscles. They can be an easy way to care for the feet at home, and may also help with conditions such as dry skin.

DIY foot soaks should not substitute medical treatments. If a person has persistent itchiness, cracked skin, or signs of infection on their feet, they should speak with a doctor.