foot bath at a day spa in a bowl, hydrogen peroxide

Several months ago we heard from a reader that soaking her feet in vinegar and Listerine cleaned up her toenail fungus:

“When I read your article about soaking the toes in vinegar and Listerine every day, I figured I had little to lose. I started soaking twice a day and I still am. It’s been three months and all my nails have cleared up except for the big toes. Even they have nearly grown out and are looking pink and healthy. I can’t thank you enough.”

Since then we have heard from others that this inexpensive home remedy has been helpful. Of course readers want to know what the “right” formula is and how long they must soak their tootsies to treat their toenail problem. The answer is, there is no answer. Some people use a half and half dilution. Others dilute the vinegar (2 parts water to 1 part vinegar) first. There is no science here, so experimentation is not only permitted, it is encouraged.

Here is the most recent story from Andrea:

Hi! Just wanted to let you all know that I have been doing the vinegar since January and my toenail is almost cured!

I don’t soak my foot anymore because I got sick of sitting around and my husband was sick of the terrible smell. So I put some vinegar in a little spray bottle that I would take with me everywhere I go. I spray my toenail every time I remember, at least 4 times a day. I realized about a month ago that my toenail was much better. I was doing the spraying thing just as a routine, with little hope… thinking about doing the pills (a friend told me it worked for her, but I was scared about any side effects).

So now I will keep spraying my toenail and will do more foot treatments like I used to do. My toenail is growing and the bad part is almost gone!! :)))

April 6, 2010


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  1. John

    I am using vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to dissolve my toenail fungus. Nor only is the vinegar dissolving the fungus but also dissolving my toenail as is keeps getting smaller. Is this supposed to be happening as the fungus-infected toenail is going away or is this not normal?

  2. Joan S.
    Salem OR

    A question about the vinegar strength: I read a “testimonial” from a person who used a vinegar soak daily, plus application of tea tree oil; he said he uses 9% vinegar, which I cannot find at all where I live — just the 5%, and 6% “cleaning” vinegar. Is the vinegar strength important — and, if I could locate it, is 9% safe?

    • Terry Graedon

      We think that most people use the usual 5% strength vinegar. We have not seen 9% and don’t know if it is safe.

  3. Laura

    My Dr said use full strength vinegar 30 minutes a day. One of my nails recovered after three treatments. I like the taped cotton ball idea.

  4. Betty

    Thank you for all the great info. I’m going to start the Listerine/Vinegar treatment today.

    • Edi

      After keeping nail polish on my toes from a pedicure most of the winter, I noticed my nail was hard to cut on my big toe. It was thick and white, chalky. The top quarter of the nail. The rest of the nail was normal. I read about fungus on many sites and decided to use all the methods. Vinegar and Listerine soak 15 min. in the morning, scrape off skin underneath nail with a toothpick. Sand nail down. Tea tree oil. Pee in shower on occasion. Hot water and Epson salt weekly. Hydrogen peroxide soak at noon.Vicks vapo rub before bed. After 2 months of religiously following the routine, my nail is completely normal. It has been a week with no treatment. Not sure what cured it, but it was probably a little of everything. I also started acidophilus tablets. At the end, I began using cream with 10% urea. Good luck! Stay with it.

  5. Ruby

    To AMH: It’s almost certainly fungal. It came back when you wore the shoes because it never really went away. It takes a long time to fully leave your system, and only with consistent treatment. Forget those antibiotics; use either an anti-fungal toenail treatment from the drugstore, or try this vinegar/Listerine soak. I can’t personally attest to how well the soak works because I haven’t tried it yet, but everyone posting here seems to have had a lot of success. I plan to try it soon myself.
    One thing I can say for sure is it’s really important to keep your feet clean and dry as much as you can, and try to wear flip flops or sandals. Feet perspire inside closed-toed shoes, so if you have to wear that kind, be sure to wear only white socks with them. Wash your socks in the hottest water with no soap. A little bleach is okay. If there is some kind of stain or grime on the sock, just spot clean it with a little drop of liquid detergent, or one of those Clorox bleach pens. Then wash in the hot, hot water and rinse extremely thoroughly. Only wear fresh, clean socks, never longer than one day in a row. (Don’t be offended; lots of people re-wear their socks. I used to! I wore the same few pairs of socks in layers all winter, several days each time, because my house has no heat. That’s all it took. I won’t be doing that again.)
    I have been using an expensive anti-fungal serum (brushed on like polish) from the dermatologist. It has been helping, but when it runs out soon, I am eager to try the vinegar and Listerine. In fact, I’m going to get generic Listerine from Walmart (Equate brand). Might as well save a couple bucks considering the serum cost over $50 for a 3-month supply!

  6. SS

    This is the third time I had a toenail fungus infection; could I dig it out with a toothpick, or will it eventually dissolve on its own? Because I do not want to make the infection worse.

  7. TC

    I was told to spray inside of shoes to prevent reinfection of fungus. Or buy all new shoes. Change shoes frequently and let them air dry from wearing. Wash sox in hot water with detergent. I dry my sox (usually worn only during winter) in the dryer, then spray them with vinegar and let them air dry. This is my personal preference.

  8. Libby Howard-Blood

    Another wonderful remedy is TEA TREE OIL…..which is anti-viral/anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Apply directly to affected problem area. Extremely cost effective.

  9. AMH

    I have one toe that was red and swollen around the nail and the nail is now half yellow. I took 10 days of antibiotics which cleared up the swelling and pain and redness. A month later, after wearing a loose fitting pair of shoes for a day, it is now red, swollen, and painful again. Yellow nail is gradually growing out. Anyway, I think it’s bacterial, not fungal. Would the vinegar/Listerine soak work for bacterial infection as well?

  10. Kahleen

    That’s good news!

  11. cf

    I have had yellow toenails since I was like 11, I am now 24. I was in karate n had to be bare foot which I’m guessing is the reason I had mild athletes foot as well. I have been putting on white vinegar in a cotton ball n taped it on my toenails for about 4 weeks. It has worked great! My nails are half way grown out and they look great!! Excited till they grow out completely!

  12. Kahleen

    Excellent SJ – I was using my slippers to prop up the heel area creating the same affect! I love how we keep perfecting everyone’s ideas – makes things so much easier without your own “trial-error” process.

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