Print This Page

Eliminating Toenail Fungus Infection Takes Plenty of Patience

  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Not Helpful ..... Very Helpful
Was this information helpful? Average rating: 4.5/5 (74 votes)
What do you think? Click the stars to vote!
If you have more to say, post a comment below!

Q. How long does it take Listerine and vinegar to work on nail fungus? I have never seen any information on how long this method might take, only that it works.

I am not sure how long to soak my toes in the Listerine/vinegar solution. Ten minutes or half an hour? I'd really appreciate some information on this.

A. As with most home remedies, there is little information on precisely how to optimize the effect of soaking the feet in a half-vinegar/half-Listerine solution. Some people report that soaking their toenails for half an hour or an hour at a time a few days a week works to foil nail fungus. Others prefer the discipline of soaking 15 or 20 minutes every day.

Whichever regimen you choose, you will need patience. To get rid of toenail fungus, you should keep up the soaks until the toenails have grown out completely and are free of fungus. That can take many months, since toenails grow so slowly.

If your nail fungus does not seem to be responding to Listerine/vinegar soaks, there are other remedies (such as hydrogen peroxide or tea tree oil) that may be helpful. You can read more about them in our Guide to Hair and Nail Care.

  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Not Helpful ..... Very Helpful
Was this information helpful? Average rating: 4.5/5 (74 votes)
What do you think? Click the stars to vote!
If you have more to say, post a comment below!

41 Comments

| Leave a comment

I had a bad case of toenail fungus, which I was successful in curing by spritzing my toenails nightly with vinegar. (I used an atomizer which originally contained eyeglass cleaner for this purpose.) This process may have taken as long as half a year. However, the cure proved worse than the disease, as I then developed very painful ingrown toenails. I eliminated the ingrown toenails by stopping the spritzing of my toenails with vinegar. The toenail fungus is returning, but it's not painful, and it's the lesser of two evils. As my doctor told me when he initially treated my toenail fungus with Itraconozole, "There are things worse than ugly toenails."

I had had toenail fungus on both little toes for 50 years. Three years ago my doctor increased my Armour thyroid from 120 mg to 180 mg. and my toenails are now normal looking. I had tried several suggested home remedies over the years and none of them worked as well as the Armour.

Regarding toe nail fungus, I have found that applying Vicks Vapo Rub morning and night has helped, though I don't feel it will completely banish it. I rub it on both the toe nails and between the affected toes.
Good Luck

Have had better luck by painting the toenails with Vick's Vaporub (the Dollar store off brand works as well). Easy to do and do at night that wear socks to bed. Once the nails grew out, I continued to do this a couple of nights a week.

I soaked about half an hour a day. Then I applied tea tree oil. The duo did the trick for me.

Vaseline worked on one toe, partially on another, two others not. A podiatrist told me any type of acid will do.

I have the fungus in both great toenails. I use the listerene/vinegar soak almost every night. Slowly, but surely, they are much improved. What also helps greatly is rubbing Rosebud salve around the toenails when I go to bed.

Please provide the recipe. I have a tiny spot of toe nail that has separated from my toe. I'm afraid it is the beginning of fungus because it has not grown out. Have splashed listerine on in the mornings, but it seems from this posting that there is a soak.

Please let me know how much of which ingredients.

Willing to try almost anything to stop this before it becomes worse.

Also, have tried Vicks Vaporub, but see no progress in my case. Thank you.

I kept a small pill bottle containing white vinegar and q tips on my bathroom counter. After my daily shower and drying off, I would dip a cue tip in the vinegar and paint my toenails with it before donning socks. It is so quick and easy that I actually stuck with it for months as opposed to other methods. My toenail fungus was gradually replaced with clear nails growing in. The toenail fungus is completely gone.

I've found tee tree oil works on both fingernails and toenail areas. It's GREAT!

Patience for sure. Worked after a few months of amber Listerine soaks. Lost large toe nails and was thrilled. However, did not continue after the 'cure', and fungus returned.
Other comments told me that continued soaks are necessary even after losing nails. [perhaps for a few additional months] Do be aware of that necessity.

I can tell you that mine (toenail and foot) was not conquered with an hour a day for a month. I'll try a longer period in the summer. Right now I'd rather keep my wool socks on (Buffalo).

I asked my podiatrist about using over the counter remedies for toenail fungus. He didn't seem to be happy with my choices (Hydrogen Peroxide and Listerine) and sold me a 10.0 ml bottle of FFNctf for $30.00, wow. Active ingredients are ciclopirox, terbinafine and fluconazole. And also has Pine Oil, Peppermint Oil, Benzyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Alcohol and Mineral Oil as inactive ingredients.

The stuff worked well, also he cleaned and cut my nail back as much as he could. I'm sure the good cleaning helped a lot. I noticed afterward there are some over the counter remedies that contain similar ingredients for about a 1/3 of what I paid in his office.

I've had the fungus on both feet for quite a few years. I've tried soaking in the listerine/vinegar solution for over a year, NO success; the cornmeal - NO, tea tree oil - NO, now have been using Vick's Vapo Rub for several months - NO change cept some of the nails aren't as thick as they used to be. Any other ideas???? I'm so tired of wearing socks and closed toed shoes all the time.

I've had toenail fungus for several years--tried Vick's but maybe didn't do it often enough. A few months ago I heard someone call into a National Public Radio program, Dr Zorba on Your Health, thanking the doctor for recommending Decolorized Iodine as a remedy for toenail fungus. I bought some for about $2.50--use it 3-5 times a week before I put my socks on and it seems to be working. I only had the problem on one toe, but I apply it to all the nails with the little stick applicator just as a precaution. It's not messy or greasy, dries quickly, doesn't discolor sheets or socks. Might even be helpful for getting a little iodine (which we are probably short of) transdermally into the system.

I read your newsletters religiously. I am particularly interested in the items about toenail fungus. Many of the responses suggest wearing socks to bed to avoid staining the sheets. However, I have not seen any reference to using finger cots, the largest size may be necessary for the big toes. Finger cots stretch, do not leak and will not fall off with movement in the bed.

Lucy R- If I remember correctly it took me at least 6 months of 20-30 minute soaks per day. Until the old nails literally grew out and came off with the new beneath. After so many years of disgusting large toenails, it was magic to me and wonderful, especially wearing open toes and going barefoot.

However, not continuing for some months after, as one reader instructed, it did return. So now, sadly back to square one. Good luck, do not give up. It does work and certainly better than the internal med which my doc says has ugly side effects.

Use equal parts white (generic) vinegar to generic antiseptic Listerine. Soak 20-30 mins. once a week. Do once a month after that for maintenance.

I've used vinegar and Listerine in the past and it does help but takes an extremely long time to see good results. In the last year, I started soaking my feel in the cornmeal paste (also reported by the Graedon's) once a week and started seeing results within three weeks and by three months the fungus was gone and within six months my toenails had grown to the point where I started wearing toeless shoes again and was no longer embarrassed about hideous toenails.

I highly recommend the warm cornmeal paste and found that it was so easy because I'd soak my feet for an hour while reading the morning paper. (Killing two birds with one stone.)

Nightly application of Vicks Vaporub to the affected toenail for 10 months and the fungus is gone forever. Simplest solution of all.

I had a toenail fungus that I tried to cure by soaking with original Listerine. I soaked my trimmed toenail for 20 minutes daily for several weeks with no change. Then I read about Monistat 7. The idea is that the toenail is affected by a fungus and Monistat 7 treats vaginal fungus. I applied the cream once a day to a well trimmed, scrubbed and dry toenail, being careful to rub it under the toenail as far as possible. Within 2 days the toenail fungus turned white. I continued to apply the cream for 2 more days and then stopped. That was 8 months ago. My toenail has gradually grown out and the fungus has not returned.

I've had the fungus in a big toenail for at least 10 years. Nothing has yet got rid of it totally, it always comes back, but it may be because I haven't used any of the various concoctions long enough. I've tried vinegar, Listerine, tea tree oil, corn meal and whatever else anybody recommended. The only thing that has stopped the inflamed redness and pain in the toe is Vicks Vaporub (or the generic store brand equivalent) which I've been using about 3 months morning and night. The toenail looks almost normal now (thickness is gone) but I plan to keep this up for at least a year if results are still good. The smell goes away in about 10 minutes so I don't mind it. At night I just put the vaporub on my bare toenail and I can still see traces of it in the morning. I don't think a sock or anything is necessary, just doing it 2x a day is probably more important.

That is most interesting. Thank you.

I just wanted to add my comments for Vicks Vapor-Rub; it works on toe nail fungus. I tried drugs, soaks, and other remedies until I heard about Vicks. I had a old bottle in the cabinet and tried it on my thick, peeling, ugly nail. Every day I apply a small dab on the nail before I put on my socks in the morning getting dressed. The nail did not completely heal yet, but it looks normal. So I say Vicks is successful and worked for me!

I have found Vicks Vaporub and Vagisil to be effective for my toenail fungus. Nothing gets rid of existing toenail fungus; Vaporub or Vagisil stops new fungus from forming, and the deformed nail just slowly grows out. I apply either once/day after my shower, rubbing it into the base of the nail.

I find the Vaporub etches the surface of the nail, leaving a rough surface. The Vagisil leaves a nice shiny nail that would be more attractive for women wearing sandals. Vagisil contains resorcinol, which Joe and Terry said was an anti-fungal. That inspired me to try it on my toenail fungus, and it worked. Plus, it only takes a few seconds once/day to put it on and there's no odor or greasy residue.


Tea tree oil comes in different concentrations. I tried a weak one and my toenail fungus grew back. Joe and Terry have said that 100% tea tree oil can be irritating. Please post info about what percent tea tree oil you found effective.

Did you not read the Poeple's Pharmacy article above these blogs??? It gives the recipe as half yellow Listerine and half vinegar, appprox soak time 20-30min 2-3 times per week. One lady does it daily followed by Vicks.

Joe M - did you put the Vicks on the top of the nail only or did you also put it under the nail as well. My toenail is raised up off the nail bed from the fungus. I used the vinegar & Listerine soaks and the fungus went away, but my toenails are thick and yellow and raised up. I'm starting the Vicks today. I only put it on the top of the nail, maybe on the underside tomorrow?

Fighting with Vick's and having reasonable albeit slow results, after reading here I decided to increase the 'treatment' by adding Tea Tree oil.

The allergic reaction began with small blisters and itching. Immediately washed toes next morning but the itch persists. Thought it would be gone by now, yet this is the third day and while the 'blistering' has dried up, the itch is even more severe, driving me to sleepless nights and horrible days.

I am unable to find any articles on what to apply to stop this allergic skin reaction. A friend puts a dab of ammonia on mosquito bites to stop the itch, but I am wary of this. Is there anything to help?---Vinegar? Cayenne?

Waiting it out is not working well since disrupting every working day and every sleepless night. Please suggest some kind of relief.
Thank you for all your help in so many areas.

I would like to tell that I went to a well known foot doctor for laser treatments after watching The Doctors Show on TV. I only saw him twice as he had "girls" in the office who did the work. The year long treatments, the special shoe lights and creams he sold me cost over $1,200! I was require to pay up front with no money back if it did not work. It did NOT work even tho I was very faithful to do all that he suggested! At the end of the year he looked at my feet and said must be a tough case. Now I am trying the soaks, and clear iodine and wish I had my money back!

what is the recipe for the cornmeal paste???

Yes please, the recipe. Thank you!

I think the recipe was written in other comments (previous years), maybe you can check the list before 2014?.

Yes, I do believe there were a couple of recipes, but they were in other columns on same subject which I am unable to find. So if someone does find, please post.
thank you

I'm so done with this condition. I've had this for over 7 years and I'm 21. Started out with a nail that grew over my nail and I was too late with cutting it off. After a few years it spread to another nail, so on and so forth. Now my whole left foot has the fungus on each nail..

The treatments I have used and their results:


Vicks: looks promising at first, but after a few months I realized it doesn't work. It seems to improve the way the nail looks temporarily but not permanently. Also used this in different times, both about 3 months. One time I even used vinegar -> vicks every morning and evening, and filing the nails once a week. Still nothing.

Hydrogen peroxide: Applied for 2 months, seemed to improve slightly but only on one nail. Destroyed the skin around the nails.

Tea tree: Nails turn bright dry white/yellow in the morning. Other than that nothing.

Listerine/vinegar soak: THIS. This was the only treatment that worked on my nails. I used it for about 2 months and saw things get better. Then I went to a festival for 3 days. It was 30 degrees and did not bring anything for my nails. Needless to say back to square one.

Is it possible that results could show after like half a year? Maybe I just quit too soon..
The soak is just impractical for me. I'd rather apply something and be done with it. I feel like any minute spent on this is a waste.

I have been using a "soak" I got from the pharmacy, though I don't have the packaging with me.

It calls for the herbal portion to be steeped in apple cider vinegar, (and calls specifically for the cheap, "motherless" kind, $3.00 a gallon), then the mixture is strained and the foot soaked every day for a few minutes.

I usually do this in the evening, after showering, then make sure my feet are clean and dry, especially between the toes. I usually soak, and immerse the whole foot, while I'm checking email, just messing around on the computer, what have you.

I saw improvements within 2 weeks. I have been doing this now for 3 months, and can document a substantially healthier set of nails. (And mine were quite grotesque, believe me).

I can't remember the product name, but it's from Missouri; contains lavendula and eucalyptus, among other things. I'm not even sure what effect the herbs have on the solution, I think perhaps the bulk of the work is done by the vinegar.

Strangly, my gout problems in my toes have also subsided. (gotta be the vinegar)!

three tea oil its very strong you must mixed with other oil like olive oil or…coconut oi...

the Listerine/Vinegar soak works for me if I still do a once a month maintenance. I also found that a "whitening" toothpaste applied to my toenails and then rinses off when I take my shower in the AM is helping to take the yellow out of my nails.

I tried tea tree oil at 100% — dabbing it on my toenails with a cotton swab — and had a VERY strong reaction to it. It was like poison ivy x1,000. The sores on and between my toes wept so much I had to keep towels under my feet for several days.

I haven't had poison ivy before, so I'm not sure whether there's a connection. But I will never use anything with tea tree oil in it again.

TREE TEA OIL HAS TO BE MIXED WITH OTHER OIL… (I use coconut oil or olive oil) ) I think the instructions say that (at least in my bottle). As well when you use extracts oils. You should try first in a small patch of skin before you use it in a large surface of the skin… all oils, extracts etc..

My advice- befriend your fungal overlords. They mean no real harm- other than cosmetic. External topical ointments are almost always ineffective. The fungus grows in the nail root and lives off those growing cells. Applying external ointments misses the "root cause." The only curative treatment is serious long-term oral anti-fungal therapy... which may damage your liver. Unless you are experiencing pain, or have serious cosmetic concerns, I suggest live and let be. I have for 40 years.

Can anyone tell me this:
If you rid the fungus or do a fungal treatment on your toes, are you cross-contaminating when you put your shoes back on? (shoes you might not wear socks with) Has anyone found that they need to treat their shoes too?

Leave a comment

Share your comments or questions with the People's Pharmacy online community. Not all comments will be posted. Advice from other visitors to this web site should not be considered a substitute for appropriate medical attention. Concerns about medications should be discussed with a health professional. Do not stop any medication without first checking with your physician.

Check this box to be notified by email when follow-up comments are posted.