bottles of listerine and white vinegar

A reader offered the following suggestion for getting rid of nail fungus:

“I cured my toenail fungus using a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and Listerine. I combined them in a quart jar with a screw-on lid and used a clean paintbrush to apply the liquid to the affected toes morning and night. “Then I put my socks on to keep it acting a while longer and protect the bed sheets at night. The fungus took about three months to clear up. It is slow growing, but is also slow to cure. I hope this helps someone else.”

The herbal ingredients in Listerine (menthol, eucalyptol, thymol and methyl salicylate) may have anti-fungal properties, but home remedies rarely come with specific guidelines. This reader combined a couple of favorite remedies. Many people have reported success soaking infected nails in one part vinegar to two parts water. Others got good results soaking their toes in Listerine. Such remedies won’t work for everyone with toenail fungus and may take several months to produce results.

Other home remedies that readers have used to treat their nail fungus include Vicks VapoRub, hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil and cornmeal mush as a foot soak. Search this site to find more details on using home remedies against nail fungus. The comments below also contain advice that may be helpful.

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  1. Patti
    Pennsylvania (PA)

    Clip your nails and after each nail you clip wipe the clippers with alcohol so you do not infect other nails. Mix half Listerine and half unfiltered apple cider vinegar. ( unfiltered vinegar works best). Soak for 30 mins. 3 times a week. It takes time to clear it up but it works. Good luck to all.

  2. D

    I tried all over the counter preparations, obviously to no avail (they do say to only improve the appearance, Duh?)
    I started using Listerene only about twice a week or three after a shower.
    I have a couple of shallow Tupperware type containers that I can dip my toes in while watching television. I use it full strength for about 15-20 min.
    It took awhile (like everything does) maybe 6 weeks for the nails to grow out abit to see that every toe was clearing up, they just keep getting better. It was worth a shot and is working for me.
    PS I always buy the generic equivalent

  3. Don
    Phoenix Arizona

    I live in a hot dry tropical desert and it is very easy to contract foot fungus and even more difficult to remove it BUT I had real good success with coconut oil. I applied it after showering and it eventually killed off the Fungus. I Sprayed both Infected Feet with 91% Alcohol then after it dried, I applied the Coconut Oil. It worked for me..

  4. Dolly

    One thing for sure…..TEA TREE OIL does not work. I used it faithfully for 6 months with no improvement in my nail fungus.

  5. Mike R

    For last 15 years I have been riding a bicycle to and from work with a shower after both rides so I’m always damp. Have had problems with warts (fixed by freezing) and nail fungus in hands and feet. Over several years tried the various commercial fungus treatments with almost no success. Finally tried Listerine. Had noticeable improvements within weeks and am completely free now. Here is my technique:
    1. Clip nails and pull back cuticles when nails are as dry as possible so they will suck in Listerine.
    2. Only do the treatment after cutting nails above, for me only once every 2 to 3 weeks.
    3. For treatment soak finger tips in about 1 inch deep Listerine for about 1/2 hour while watching TV. I constantly rub the base and flex the nail around in the bottom of the container.
    4. Ignore wife and kids protests about the Listerine stink, you will come to like it as your fungus disappears.
    5. Pat your hands dry with tissue and go to bed. The stink will only be noticeable to others if they stick their nose in your hands.
    6. Don’t do anymore treatments till your nails need clipping again.
    Part of the key may be the minimum treatment. I have read that fungus doesn’t like PH changes, so maybe that helped. In any case you will notice that new nail coming in from the bottom is noticeably fungus free and when it eventually grows the whole nail will be.
    After the fungus was completely gone I only do the treatment occasionally.
    Have to add that I recently was diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency for which I take 2000IU D3 so that may have helped although the fungus was around at least 10 years before the diagnosis.

  6. A. W.

    Maybe this could be worded differently.

  7. Karen D.

    I have been using Listerine and vinegar for only about 2 weeks now. I am hopeful that it will work. There is not much nail left because I have had problems with this nail for about 2 years. I still have some of the nail from over a year ago. I’ll write back and let you know what happens.

  8. Bernie

    I am finally trying the Listerine/Vinegar. I had tried the Vaporub, with no real results.

  9. JC

    Can’t say how great Listerine/Vicks treatment is. I used this method for approximately 6-7 months. Soaked for 15 minutes each foot every night before bed faithfully. Used cheapest generic for Listerine. Used Vicks sparingly at night and would dab some on when wearing sandals in daytime. Saw results within a few weeks but could tell that fungus was still present and watched as nails grew out. Pink and healthy now. Kept nails trimmed very short. Thank you Peoples Pharmacy and all who have previously commented!
    (By the way…..I used same soaking solution for 3 or 4 treatments. Kept it in a snap lid storage container large enough to fit one foot at a time. Sometimes added vinegar but not always because of sharp odor.)

  10. Xenoman

    First of all – I’m pretty sure that using Vinegar DOES NOT help. Or at least it didn’t help me.
    I’ve tried white vinegar and apple cider vinegar, and took pictures of my toe each week to follow any progress.
    Though it did help with the discoloration, I saw no real improvement.
    Then I came across an article that mentioned baking soda as the most effective treatment for fungus. Fungus thrives in acidic environment (low pH levels), and Baking soda has a pH value of 9 which is considered very high. Any other treatment may work at first, but fungus can adjust to it and become immune. I think fungus cannot adjust to baking soda.
    What I did was mix a bit of water with baking soda – just enough so it becomes paste. Then I soaked a cotton ball in it and attached to the infected area using a band-aid. After about a week it seems to have killed the fungus. It’s center has become dark and it stopped spreading. Soaks will probably work just as well, I just found the cotton ball solution more convenient.
    I am going to continue the treatment until the infected area grows out, and then cut down to once a month just to be safe. So be sure to incorporate baking soda into your treatment! It may very well be the perfect solution to your problem.
    Also – if you live near the ocean: Seawater have a relatively high pH value (7.5 to 8.4).
    Going to the beach seems like a fun way to get rid of fungus, don’t you think? ;)
    Good luck everyone!

  11. Wartface

    Nothing worked for a foot fungus…
    So just out of curiosity I tried sulphur power mixed with warm water
    I used sulphur on potato seeds in the garden, so I soaked my feet in warm sulphur water for 2 hrs.– fungus, thick stuff under nails, and little scaly looking things on skin all vanished. Skin looked like new. I had flakes for the garden, but I’ll bet powdered sulphur would work too.
    I never saw any side effects, but you probably should check with a Dr. I tried
    this because sulphur protects seed potatoes from fungus when planting.

    • Alfredo
      New York

      How long did it take for the baking soda to work?
      I have tried tea tree oil, v. Vaporub, vinegar, lamisil, sopranos .

      Thank you

  12. Karen D.

    The question I posted is, I have a large toe nail that now has 4 nails on it, each at a different length, and are all very yellow, almost orange/brown. Does this mean that it is a fungal infection?
    thanks, Karen

  13. Sharon

    I also just painted on. I used half vinegar and half listerine.

  14. kathy

    I thinking of starting the listerine method, but was hoping I could just “paint” it on, but some are saying they are soaking in it. This sounds awfully expensive…unless you are reusing it each time! those who have been successful with the Listerine, what was your methodology?

  15. Tonya D. J.

    I used 50/50 listerine and white vinegar warmed and soaked feet it loosened the fungus under nails so it was easier to remove. I could tell after two treatments my nails started to get healthier. I kept the nails cut to the healthy skin under nail. Also your nail became easier to cut.
    White vinegar was used.

  16. JB

    Had one toenail infected for about 10 years, very thick and ugly. Tried ZetaClear for 3 months everyday (which is a mixture of oils, among others: tee tree oil) without any results and it was a bit pricey.
    Stumbled across the info about Listerine against nail fungus online but did not have time for long soaks. I have used Listerine everyday for 2 weeks now, soaking a piece of toilet paper with Listerine, putting it on the nail and then wrapping the toe with cling film and leaving it overnight. To keep it in place I´ve slept with a thin pair of cotton socks and left the nail to dry during the day. The nail soon started to fall off (without pain) and I´ve just helped it along with a bit of cleaning and some filing, but not so it would become a wound. I haven´t had the nail this thin in 10 years and I´m really happy with the results, the fungus is clearly disappearing. I thought I had no other option but to take the liver damaging pills, since the nail was very badly infected, but thankfully I did not need to, thanks to Listerine.
    Recommend this to those that don´t have much time to soak their feet – let the Listerine work during the night.

  17. Ray

    One toenail started to suffer from slight fungal rot about 18 months ago, did nothing initially, then tried the Scholl fungal treatment – course over approximately 6 months. Seemed to halt the decay, but after weeks of completing, it seemed to restart. I then tried Curanail, but the same result.
    Started looking for home remedies online. In desperation I tried soaking the foot for 4 hrs in 50/50 white vinegar and Listerine mixture, each preheated separately. Unfortunately I used the blue Listerine, a mistake as it left the foot a strange bluish colour for almost a week – guess the original brown Listerine is best. During the soaking, I cleaned off the softened fungal damaged nail so that the vinegar-listerine had direct contact with the toe nail base. I had intended to soak the foot again for the same period after a week, but never got around to it.
    That was 8 month’s ago, and the toe nail is now healthy and funny regrown with no sign of the fungal rot. Cost of the remedy was £6/$10 after wasting over £45/$70 on ‘off the shelf’ remedies from a pharmacy.

  18. Monica

    I read somewhere that putting real honey on the nail and wrapping it in gauze twice daily. And that after the third day the nail will start to fall off. Once it does the new nail grows back without the fungus. I am going to try the listerine for a month to see if I see any results, if not then I am going to try the honey.

  19. DHP

    I have had my big toes suffering from fungus for some years. They were painful as well. My wife read somewhere the reason for the pain, the nail was ‘growing’ through the toe.
    The answer was to get a fabric band aid, and cut one end square. You then placed the square cut end as close to the nail as possible, then pull it so that there was a gap between the toe and the nail. You wrapped it around the ball of the toe, and over the top. The advice was to leave the bandaid in place for a couple of days, and then repeat after washing.
    For me, it worked. The pain from even the bedsheets pressing on the toes didn’t happen. So now I am going to get rid of this fungus.
    Thanks to all who have helped.

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