It’s sandal season, which means we’re paying a little more attention to the feet we’ve ignored for the past, umm, eight months. Whether your soles are dry and unsightly or not smelling as fresh as they can, it’s time to consider a vinegar foot soak. Here’s everything you need to know (including how to do one right in your bathroom).
What Are the Benefits of a Vinegar Foot Soak?
1. It Can Fight Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the foot that develops commonly on the soles of the feet and in between the toes. It can be caused by walking barefoot in public places or at the gym (since your feet are exposed to bacterial and fungal organisms that can infect the skin and nails), and usually produces itchy, dry, scaling skin or, in more severe cases, inflammation, cracks and blisters. Because vinegar has antifungal properties, soaking feet in a vinegar foot bath could help fight off fungal infections, including athlete’s foot. Note that there hasn’t been a ton of research to say that home remedies like vinegar are effective in the treatment of athlete’s foot. But a vinegar soak may soothe and ease symptoms and is unlikely to cause any harm.
2. It Can Improve Foot Odor
Yikes. Foot odor can result from sweating, which can build up around the feet. Sometimes, foot odor is made worse by the growth of bacteria and fungi on the feet and in footwear. In addition to being antifungal, vinegar is also antimicrobial, so soaking your feet in a vinegar bath may help to kill the bacteria or fungi that’s causing pesky foot odor.
3. It Can Smooth Dry Feet
While foot odor affects those around you, dry, cracked feet are a painful, less noticeable problem. Enter a vinegar foot soak. Vinegar’s acidic properties can do wonders for dry feet and cracked heels and can moisten the parched skin on your feet.
How Do You Make a Vinegar Foot Soak?
1. Fill a large bucket or basin with 1 cup of vinegar (it doesn’t really matter what vinegar you use; results are similar regardless of type—but you probably don’t want to use your expensive aged balsamic)
2. Add 2 cups of warm water
3. Continue adding 1-part vinegar, 2 parts water until the bucket or basin is full
4. Soak your feet for 10 to 20 minutes
5. Repeat this process daily until the issue subsides
5 Other Ways to Smooth Dry Feet
1. Try Vinegar and Listerine Soak
To try this, all you need is Listerine, vinegar (white or apple cider), water, a pumice stone and a large bowl. Mix equal parts Listerine, vinegar and water into the bowl so that it completely covers your feet. Soak for 15 minutes. Then rub the pumice stone over your heels and wherever else feels dry. Rinse clean and enjoy your baby-soft soles. Why does this work? Both Listerine and vinegar contain exfoliating ingredients like benzoic acid that help slough off dead skin. The soak alone should take care of any surface dryness, but the pumice stone will handle the more stubborn spots (which have now been softened for easier removal). And yes, there is a minty tingle that feels quite nice but isn't overly intense since the Listerine is diluted with water.
2. Moisturize with a Banana Peel
Yep, you read that correctly. It turns out the inside of each peel is packed with amino acids and a ton of nourishing vitamins (like A, B, C and E) that soothe and soften dry, itchy skin. Save the peel from a banana and rub the insides of it (aka the stringy, mushy part) all over the soles of your feet and anywhere else that’s dry. Rinse off any excess goop and repeat for a few days until they feel silky smooth.
3. Get a Foot File
We like this one by Diamancel, which is a lot more durable than other files or pumice stones we’ve tried in the past. Using a gentle pressure, file the bottoms of your feet and anywhere else that feels dry or rough to the touch (this usually include the balls of the feet and sides of the toes). Be sure to take your time with this part instead of speeding through for the most consistent results.
4. Try a Foot Mask…
Behold Baby Foot, the OG of all foot masks. You’ve probably seen the pictures of peeling feet that took the internet by storm a few years ago, and maybe you even tried the product for yourself. If not, you must. The formula includes a trifecta of glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid as well as moisturizing ingredients and natural extracts to slough off dead skin cells in the most satisfying sheets, while nourishing soles at the same time. Just pour the gel into the little disposable booties, let your feet soak for an hour and then wash it off. Your skin will peel (painlessly) for about two weeks, but it’s totally worth it for the level of softness that ensues. However, we suggest using this before sandal season to avoid leaving behind visible bits of skin in public.
5. …Or a Foot Scrub
For a more classic exfoliation, try this sugar scrub from the nail experts at OPI. It’s made with, you guessed it, sugar granules, plus cupuaçu and white tea for a full spa-like experience. Just scoop out a bit like they do at the nail salon and work it into rough areas in circular motions for about three minutes before rinsing. While this product won’t tackle extremely hard calluses, it will keep your feet feeling smoother longer, so we suggest working it into your weekly rotation to keep dead skin from building up.