bottles of listerine and white vinegar

Q. I have had toenail fungus for many years and have tried all the remedies you’ve written about without success until now. For over 21 days, at the same time of day, I soaked my toes and feet in a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and generic Listerine.

I now have NO toenail fungus and maintain this status by using tea tree oil on my nails. I hope this formula might help others.

A. Getting rid of nail fungus often requires patience. It can take months for a toenail to grow out fungus free. What works for one person may be totally ineffective for another.

We are delighted that you have had success with the vinegar and Listerine mixture. Many readers also report success with this approach. There are other testimonials about a variety of nail fungus remedies at

You can also find more detailed descriptions of nail fungus remedies in our Guide to Hair and Nail Care. You will learn about cornmeal mush food soaks hydrogen peroxide and Vicks VapoRub.

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  1. Wayne

    Yea, toenail fungus is pretty annoying. My whole family had some and so we had to get some serious treatment. These contagious nail diseases are not preferred by many people. The reason is basic, they should shroud their fingers and nails of others, regardless of whether contaminated by the parasite. The shade of the finger was adjusted after disease. It May yellow or dark colored. In the most pessimistic scenarios might be dark in shading. The parasite causes torment and swelling in the bed of nails. Here is my site to learn my experience and my preferred treatment:

  2. Liane W

    I just started doing the Listerine and White Vinegar toe nail fungus treatment. Quick question, can I reuse the treatment or should I start fresh each time I do the treatment? Just trying to save a little money, but I’m willing to start fresh every time, if that’s what it takes to get rid of this nasty fungus on my big toes.

  3. Barb

    I’m starting this routine tomorrow. So tired of my nasty looking toenails.

  4. John
    Deep South

    I bought a very rigid (as rigid as they had) paint roller tray to put my solution of 1 & 1/2 cup amber generic listerene, 1 & 1/2 white vinegar and 1 cup warm water (it’s january) then can sit and soak for 30 minutes to an hour while watching a movie or googling away. I’m only on my second week and my toenail is practically clipped off all but a lil’ nail at the bottom, I may can see it getting better but still have some dark fungus patches that are getting noticeably better. I put vicks vapor rub all over the nail after push back the cuticles and forcing it into every crevice then apply my socks. I’ve had this fungus for 4 years and it’s embarrassing to say the least. I did have some success in summers when I was working on boats in salt water and sun w/flip flops by scrubbing infected toe with hard brush and scrubbing bubbles bathroom cleaner, although it only lasted until winter when I had to start wearing shoes again. From reading all the comments I have high hopes of being able to wear my flip flops again! I wouldn’t have commented this early in the process but I thought it a good pointer to buy the $4.00 paint tray from wally world to give a good comfortable angle to sit for a while and only soak your toes instead of entire foot. I will come back when I see definite progress.

  5. jum

    does no name vinegar do as well as apple cider? – I ask due to cost

  6. tb

    Just started soaking. I am using an old oval crock pot, on low so the water/vinegar stays warm… I don’t like it when it gets cold. Both feet fit in it just fine. Just thought I’d share.

  7. ABC

    I’m currently soaking my right thumb in half apple cider vinegar and half peroxide. My questions are: After this I apply an over-the-counter ointment, how long does it take to dry out my finger since it should be dry. Also would a bandaid help at night? Also should I put on some tea tree oil?

  8. judy

    Thanks everyone great ideas even if this is an old thread

  9. Sun

    I realize that this thread is a couple of years old, but since fungus is hard to get rid of & the treatment takes awhile, I figured I’d respond just in case it is still relevant to you. Go on an anti-fungus/candida diet, which is primarily eating animal protein & low sugar vegetables. Stay away from sugars, fruit, & carbs, while doing your protocol. That should clear up your nail fungus for sure. I have fungus on my toenail & when I for pregnant I had gestational diabetes so I went on a low carb high protein diet & noticed my toenail fungus nearly went away on its own. I wasn’t even trying to treat the fungus at the time. Unfortunately, when I had my baby, I went to eating lots of sweets which I was deprived of during the whole pregnancy so the toenail fungus came back. If you go on diet & treat your nail, I’m certain the nail will be cured of fungus. I am about to start the same protocol for myself along with cutting off all of the nail that has lifted off the nailbed. Good luck!

  10. Richard

    Hi, Jeanette your answer to your question is yes vicks rub and apple cider vinegar both work effectively. I’ve had this problem for ten years not knowing how to remove it without taking meds that are harmful to my liver. I looked into the soaking after a friend told me about it and amazingly It began to work immediately.
    So I was so impressed with it and I began to research it and also learned that vicks was also good and so I tried it and it also help attack the fungus during the day.
    Here’s the thing in order for it to work.
    1 You must file the area down where the fungus is at.
    2 Soaking the feet in the vinegar everyday for 45min.
    3 Apply vicks during the day or while you sleep.
    4 Make sure to wear clean socks daily and switching shoes will contribute to your battle.
    I’ve had it really bad and slowly one toe nail at a time began to grow nicely, but you must be patient with this problem it took me a month to regain my toe nails but again I did have them really bad..
    Hope this was helpful…

  11. SL

    Morning and night I would spray my feet and toenails with a combo of peroxide/apple cider vinegar (with the mother) and let air dry before continuing my normal routine. This has allowed my nails on my big toes to grow out pink instead of brown at lest 1/4 inch. Even though I have not done for about a month or two the progress has not reversed itself, but I appreciate the site and will get back to work on it soon! Before it gets worse or reverses.
    Thanks to all do more tips and encouragement.

  12. jay

    how much vinergar and how much Listerine? and does peroxide works also?
    People’s Pharmacy response: Equal amounts vinegar and Listerine. Peroxide also works.

  13. WJ

    My naturopathic doctor has mentioned that it is likely you have Candida in your intestinal tract if you have a stubborn case of athletes foot, toe nail fungus, vaginal yeast infection or jock itch. So cleaning up your intestinal tract should help control your other fungal issues. There are herbal supplements for controlling yeast in the digestive tract and going on a non-alcohol diet also aids in reduction of yeast. It has worked for me.

  14. adela

    today I started with vicks tomorrow start soaking my feet with listerine and vinegar. I have really bad toenail fungus don’t know what to do hope this really works.. those it really works on really blach toe nails is kind of weird they grow but really bad does this means something else ????please help me.

  15. EC

    This is not a time to be cheap.
    Generic white vinegar and generic ‘Listerine’ are one of the most inexpensive treatments you will ever run across, and you’re complaining about costs?
    How do you feel about a 90 day course of Lamisil for $800?

  16. Sara C.

    My husband had REALLY BAD toenail fungus! We found out using LISTERINE (generic or store brand, doesn’t matter) is what gets rid of toenail fungus completely!!
    Soak your feet in only LISTERINE for half an hour, for 31 days. That gives your toenails enough time to regrow. My husband said he could tell right from the start that it was working because his toes had a “tingling feeling.” I guess if it can kill all bacteria in your mouth, it should work on foot fungus!
    He hasn’t had an issue since!
    I hope this is helpful ;)

  17. ACT

    I tried the soak last night. I filled a basin with half white vinegar and half crest pro health… which I am just realizing doesn’t have the active ingredients listed. So this must have been vinegar all the way. I didn’t realize that this was meant to help with nail fungus when I did it. I was just trying to make my feet a little softer.
    I let them soak for a little bit and then scrubbed my feet and toenails with a toothbrush. I let them soak a little bit longer. Dried and applied my favorite lotion. Before doing this I had two dark toenails for years, like since 2001. I was subscribed a proscription but was breast feeding at the time and lost the pills. Anyway. The dark nail on my right foot is white again. If you were looking at it alone you wouldn’t notice a thing it looks white. But when compared to the other toes on my right foot it looks a little off white. I’m happy regardless.
    The toe on my left foot is a little more cloudy looking but not dark like it was before. Will try again with listerine. I have tea tree oil and will be applying it as well. Thanks for all the tips!
    I want to add that I have thin nails so perhaps that why it was so easy.
    The one tip I want to leave is about bleach. I make my own “bleach” alternative. For surfaces, I first spray with 3% hydrogen peroxide then layer over that with a spray of white vinegar. Let air dry. For laundry, I mix 2 cups hydrogen peroxide (3%), 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 10 drops lemon essential oil and store in an old peroxide bottle. works like a charm!

  18. Martin P.

    Soak in white vinegar for 30 minutes a day
    Put some selenium sulphide in a bag and stick your feet in it (easy to apply that way as it is smelly) take feet out after a while and let it dry on your feet and leave it as long as possible (remember it is smelly and so don’t get into bed with it) – do this until your feet look to be cleared up 7 – 10 days or longer (1 large bottle of selsun will last you a month)
    Keep feet dry and shoes clean etc.
    If you are a regular swimmer, in public changing rooms and susceptible to foot rot I suggest doing this even when you think you are clear of it.
    Scrape dead skin from heels.
    End of problem.

  19. johnlemke62

    To LM – you are correct – I did not make it clear that I was using Terbinifine during the entire regimen until close to the end of my last writing on here. I should have proof-read my previous writing a bit better, and then I would have have made that fact clear.
    The 45 day regimen seemed to be working – I was told by my first dermatologist that “it takes about a year for your toenails to grow out – so the medication will keep working after your nails grow out. – even though you have completed your prescription”. But – after another four months “the fungus soon came back with a vengeance”.
    It was then and only then, on the suggestion of my new Doctor the advice to try soaking my feet, and I have been getting with much better results – like I said, after the first Terbinifine regimen, my feet were slowly getting better, but soon were just as bad as before. But – I figured “what have I got to lose by soaking as well?”
    In hindsight – I should have used a bit more common sense, such as wearing rotating my shoes more often, so that I only wear the same pair once a week, as I do now. – but I am new to Seattle – the land of rain and moisture ( but I love Seattle!) and so being from sunny Southern California – where I could wear flip-flops almost all year long, I never had or even considered nail fungus much less reading up on it. It’s SO dry there – so, perhaps it was simply the Terbinifine working – who knows?
    All I know is that whatever it is that that I am doing, is working – and working better and faster then before. So perhaps it IS only the Terbinifine and maybe I am wasting my time and a few extra bucks with “overkill” – who knows – but I am getting great results. And so I am sticking with my overkill, self-prescribed regimen.
    BTW, I am now off the Terbinifine.
    On another note, if anyone is concerned with any of Terbinifine potential affects on the liver, my friends Doctor suggested that Terbinifine may be crushed up and applied topically. I do not not know anything about doing this, but if you’re interested – I would Google it. I have only just heard of trying that course of action.
    Thanks for the comment LM, and the best of health to you and everyone.
    Now, I am going to overkill even more with Vicks VaporRub for my first time tonight! : )

  20. Valerie K

    Both of my “big toes” have………..sorry had a severe fungus. Yes, the Vicks does work. The toe nails are now sitting flat and the nails are now growing out. I soak daily, then cover with Vicks twice a day. At nigh I put on socks. You have to file or cut so the vicks can penetrate. I now use tea tree oil one day and vicks the next……… will be at least another six months before my toe nails are normal………..I will use tea tree oil one a week to maintain my fungus free toe nails.

  21. Carolyn

    My husband uses a plastic storage container with a substantial locking lid and reuses the vinegar/listerine liquid until it is getting low. It is working. He said his feet are in better shape than they have been in 60 years. Still now well but much better.

  22. Carolyn

    My husband says he has had toenail fungus for 60 years. He also has a fungus on this thumb, not just the nail. He started soaking almost daily for 30 mins. at a time using 1/2 generic listerine and 1/2 vinegar. He said he doesn’t ever remember his feet being this clear. He is not cured but is still soaking. He reuses the liquid for about a month and then starts over. We use a container with a more substantial lid for this purpose. it has plenty of room for his feet and with the lid under one end it doesn’t require a great deal of liquid. He uses an empty large pimiento jar for soaking his thumb.

  23. LM

    I can’t believe you didn’t start by telling that you have been on Terbinifine the whole time that you were soaking. Don’t you think think that is why your feet and nails have improved?

  24. DGW

    If you research Tea tree oil & Eucalyptus, you will see why Vicks works like Tea Tree oil on toe nails. Here is an excerpt that explains why:
    eucalyptus and tea tree (melaleuca) are derived from different species of trees, they are NOT both from eucalyptus trees. However, they do have very similar medicinal properties, due to the fact that both contain the active germicidal oil cineole, which acts as both an antiseptic and antifungal.

  25. John

    Originally, I was prescribed 250 MGS of Terbinifine to be taken for a 45 day regimen and it seemed to be working – I was told by my first dermatologist that “it takes a year for your toenails to grow out – so the medication will keep working after you are finished with your prescription”
    Well, the fungus soon came back with a vengeance. I am not blaming the doctor, as I was careless not to properly dry my toes (especially between them) and I was ignorant by wearing the same shoes a few times a week. So, after this recurrence, I did a lot of reading up and found a lot more information. Just for reference, I am a 6 foot man that weighs 190 lbs.
    Here are a few things I have learned:
    With every shower, I do a LOT of scrubbing with a “a callus stone” – I think that’s what it’s called – on the thick parts of my nails, so that the topical products that I use will have better access to the deep virus that lay under the nails. I also brush my nails and toes using soap – of course – and I keep my foot brush, stone and nail clippers sanitized by leaving them soaking in a bleach solution.
    Also, It’s VERY important to DRY your feet and toes especially between your toes making sure they are totally dry and if you are serious about getting rid of this fungus use a hair blow dryer for extra insurance. I realize this is time consuming – but I wanted my fungus GONE. Once my feet are totally dry, I apply an anti-fungal gel called Naftin – this is a prescription topical product is that is VERY expensive – if you have insurance, it is worth looking into – my Doctor gave me a coupon that enabled me to get this $300.00 product free. I apply the Naftin which is alcohol based – so it dries quickly. I then put on clean white socks – followed by my black socks that I wear to work. I do this in the morning before an 8 hour shift at work.
    I also requested a note from my DR. enabling me to I wear canvas shoes to work, so my feet can “breath” – ALWAYS WEAR CLEAN FRESH SOCKS AND ROTATE YOUR SHOES EVERYDAY – as well as spraying an anti fungus in your shoes – such as odor eaters or a powder or a similar product.
    At the suggestion of a different dermatologist, I use the apple cider vinegar/Listerine mixture, My new DR. did not say anything about using “natural – unpasteurized apple cider vinegar – but I broke down and bought the good natural vinegar with “the mother” in it. It is pretty expensive (well about 5 bucks a quart, but it will last a good three weeks) – that is *if* you reuse it, as I will detail in a minute. Five dollars is relatively inexpensive to have healthy toes/feet. My DR. said I only have to soak my feet for about 15 minutes every other day , if possible. But of course wanting to “cure” myself and seeing no harm – I use it daily for about an hour after work. I had HORRIBLE looking toe nails and I wanted them CURED!
    You can use generic Listerine but be sure it’s the original gold colored type – look on the bottle for the active ingredients – it should say:
    Eucalyptol 0.092%
    Menthol 0.042%
    Methyl Salicylate 0.060%
    Thymol 0.064%
    You can use this 50/50% mixture for up to 4-5 days at about a cup of each to save money – as long as you keep it clean by making sure it is covered.
    You do not need a super large tub – I have size 12 feet – but I use a tub that is about 10 inches around and put a cloth under one end of the container so that the tub is a bit angled, to make the mixture to “pool” to one end and enabling me to totally soak my toes with a pretty minimal amount of the expensive vinegar an Listerine. Regardless of the person who indicated you should use a fresh batch everyday – with all due respect – I use the same mixture long as four to five days – that is IF you keep it the mixture clean by keeping it covered between uses and if you need to get up, wear some sandals, and be sure to wipe off your feet with a very clean towel or paper towel before putting your feet back in the soak.
    Personally – I am getting amazing results ( my DR. was amazed!) I have been doing this for about 6-8 months with very satisfying results. I soak for about a half hour everyday after work – sometimes as long as over an hour – only because I get engrossed in a movie or a book and and forget that I am soaking! I also supplement another mixer of a cap full of bleach and a tub of warm water – I do not do this every night – I do have a life!
    Lately I have been reading about using a few tablespoons of powered alum to soak in, as well. I may try this. I have been wondering is I could simply make a mixture of all four of these active ingredients? But I am having so much success – I am reluctant to experiment at this point in the game. I can almost go in public with sandals! I forgot to mention that my new DR. has kept my on Terbinifine for about a 6-8 months – I get my liver checked every 6 weeks and all is fine – I’m glad I quit drinking : )
    Good luck to everyone, and keep us posted on any thoughts or ideas!

  26. HEC

    Hello, I have the same type foot basin that you’re talking about that vibrates and all that. What I do is take a bath towel, roll it up or fold it a few times and place the towel underneath the back of the foot basin. I will then place the listerine/apple cider vinegar mixture into each half of basin until I feel its enough to just cover my toes. I set my toes into the solution with the back of my feet in the upright position and get to where I can be seated comfortably enough to watch tv, sit at the computer or whatever. Take care.

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