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.

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  1. Tony A
    United States
    Reply

    I had the fungus about 15 years ago. It started in my big toe, spread to other toes then my finger nails. I took Lamisil pills. That killed the fungus – for about 10 years. The fungus came back. I could see the yellow tinge but it never fully took over until one day I saw that characteristic strong discoloration and I knew it was full on back. Now I am 38 and need my liver for beer reasons, so not wanting to take pills I started the Vicks Vaporub treatment that I read about on this forum.

    Actually, I used an expired generic CVS version of it. I have been faithfully applying it to the affected toes for the past 6 months with a Q-tip (I break them in half). I apply it at night after my shower, and then again in the morning before I start my day. It stopped the fungus from continuing to spread in the toe nail. That strongly discolored section has completely grown out. Additionally my two little pinky toes were black and I don’t even know how to describe their shape. One of them is almost normal now. The other one still needs some work. Other things I do: in the summer I am almost always open toes, when I am in the office I kick my shoes right off every opportunity I have and I use a Dr. Scholls Odor-X powder to keep my feet dry during the day. I am not out of the woods yet, but so far so good. I hope this helps some of you.

  2. mary
    Reply

    DS, for years I repeatedly questioned my doc. He agreed the meds were worse than the affliction. Thought no harm to the body and yet I personally cannot see that it wouldn’t compromise some part of health or immune system function.
    For that reason I did the 20 minute a day soak with brown Listerine and vinegar.
    Took MONTHS, [5-6] BUT THE NAILS FINALLY came off, with a new clear nail below. My mistake was that I thought I was cured– wrong –as I learned right here from a poster: the soaking must be continued for more months. Still wonder if this fungus could affect the immune system in some way–like making a person vulnerable to bodily yeast infection or other.

  3. DS
    Reply

    I am not questioning the wisdom of cleaning teeth. I think you are quite wrong about the role of cholesterol but that is another matter. My question was how you know that fungus on the nail is so bad for the rest of the body. I googled it. Apparently diabetics and those with compromised immune systems can have trouble with toenail fungus. About 19 out of twenty people are not going to suffer. My husband is 69 and takes no meds and is healthier than most people and we have tried all sorts of remedies. Since the medicine is more dangerous than the ailment, we have decided to give up his ambition to be a foot model.

  4. KVS
    Reply

    the plaque that builds up on you teeth makes it into your body thru the root of the tooth and acts the same way cholesterol does in your veins… the build-up is bad for your heart. You can ask your dentist about this as well…

  5. DS
    Reply

    How do you know this?

  6. KVS
    Reply

    be sure to go ahead and try remedies to rid the fungus in your toe nails; as this definitely is not good for the rest of your body…just as flossing your teeth is good for your heart.

  7. Jo
    Reply

    how dumb the above comment on 6/10/2014 to befriend the fungus overlords and let it be. Even if you don’t care about how your feet look, the fact that there’s a fungus indicates an imbalance that needs to be resolved.
    I thank the others who took the time to post and will try some of these ideas.

  8. SL
    Reply

    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?

  9. Dosware
    Reply

    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.

  10. cpmt
    Reply

    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..

  11. JS
    Reply

    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.

    • mary
      Reno
      Reply

      JS, the exact same thing happened to me, only much worse.
      After using Tea Tree Oil for years for cuts and bites–like a first aid help in a small bottle I tried it on my toes. Oh my gosh, perhaps my bodily chemistry has changed or something?
      Yes the blistering rash but the itch with it was unbelievable and so severe it made me sick to my stomach.
      Middle of the night I was searching every cupboard for a remedy for itch, then the internet [I was unable to find an article on PP] and found cortizone to help . So relieved that I had that cream for some reason.
      The cortizone made it so much worse! Rubbing with towels, on the carpet, scratching till there was pain, but no relief.
      Having faith in past use I was not careful and the oil dripped around and under the toes.
      Next day asked many I know and they all recommended cortizone cream, as well as the doctor’s office!

      Oh yes, beware of Tea Tree Oil I have learned. Yet am confused as to why this reaction at this time?

  12. Kahleen
    Reply

    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.

  13. cpmt
    Reply

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

  14. SJ
    Reply

    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)!

  15. L.M.
    Reply

    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.

  16. mary
    Reply

    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

  17. cpmt
    Reply

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

  18. mary
    Reply

    Yes please, the recipe. Thank you!

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