The Wonders Of Ordinary Epsom Salt

When I hear the words “Epsom Salts” about the only thing that comes to mind is soaking my feet. That is honestly the only thing I’ve ever heard it used for….before now.

Since Pinterest I’ve also learned a thing or two about how it is helpful in the garden, but recently I’ve been reading article after article about the myriad of OTHER benefits of this “salt”. By the way…turns out Epsom salt isn’t really a SALT at all, but a natural mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. (Clarification: Well ok…according to BryanR’s comment below…it technically IS a salt…it’s just not SALT….you know…like the stuff you put on your eggs? Don’t put it on your eggs.)

So what’s the big deal? Well, apparently magnesium plays an important role in many bodily functions, like muscle control, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins. And that is literally just naming a FEW!

And guess what? According to the National Academy of Sciences, MOST Americans are magnesium DEFICIENT, which can contribute to serious health issues.

OK…enough BAD newshere’s the GOOD news! Doctors say that soaking in an Epsom salt bath is a safe, easy way to increase the body’s levels of both magnesium and sulfate because they are both readily absorbed through the skin

Epsom salts You mean to tell me taking a long, luxurious soak in the tub is good for my health!?! Sign me up!

Here is the “prescription” for a therapeutic

Epsom salt bath soak:

Add 2 cups of bath salt to warm water in a standard-sized bathtub (double the Epsom Salt for an oversized garden tub). Bathe 3 times weekly, soaking for at least 12 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup olive oil or baby oil for moisturizing benefits. DO NOT USE SOAP. It will interfere with the action of the salts. Also, try to rest for about two hours afterwards. (Or better yet, take a bath just before bed! You’ll sleep like a baby!)

Epsom salts

 

If you don’t have a bathtub or just aren’t all that fond of soaking in a tub (in which case I don’t think we can be friends! lol), try a FOOT bath.

Add 1/2 cup of Epsom salt to a basin of warm water, soak feet for 20 minutes.

As good as a nice, long soak in the tub sounds…that is just the beginning when it comes to uses for this humble mineral.

 

From at-home spa treatments to fertilizing your garden….

here is a list of just SOME of my favorites uses for Epsom Salt:

Epsom salts

Muscle Pain and Body Aches.  This is probably what Epsom salt is BEST known for…but I found it interesting to know WHY. The magnesium that is absorbed into the skin from the “salt” interferes with receptors in the brain that register pain. So the next time you have body aches from the flu…try an Epsom salt bath!

Epsom salts

 

Constipation. Epsom salt is a natural laxative that can be used to relieve constipation. Mix 1 tsp. in a glass of water. It will taste extremely bitter, but it works.

Reduce swelling and itching from insect bites. Make compresses by soaking a cotton washcloth in cold water that has been mixed with Epsom salt (two tablespoons per cup), then apply to the skin.

Epsom salts

Skin exfoliation. Blend Epsom salt with enough olive oil or baby oil to create a paste. Gently rub it on your face for deep pore cleansing, or use it on heels, elbows and other rough areas. Rinse and pat dry.

Epsom salts

Splinter removal. Dissolve about 1 cup of Epsom salt in a tub of water and soak the affected area to draw out the splinter.

Epsom salts

Sunburn. A cool bath with 2 cups of Epsom salt reduces pain and has mild anti-inflammatory properties.

Epsom salts

Dislodge blackheads – Add a teaspoon of Epsom salt and 3 drops iodine into a half cup of boiling water. Apply this mixture to the blackheads with a cotton ball.

Epsom salts

Foot Odor Reduction.  Soaking your feet in 2 gallons of very warm water mixed with 1 cup of Epsom salts helps eliminate foot odor caused by bacteria. Exfoliating prior to soaking the feet in salt water makes results faster as well as longer lasting.

Epsom salts

Treat toenail fungus – Soak your affected toes in hot water mixed with a handful of Epsom salt three times a day.

Epsom salts

Autism Symptoms.  Children with autism may have decreased levels of phenol sulfotransferase, or PST. Magnesium sulfate may help to increase sulfate in the bloodstream and to moderate PST levels. Soaking in Epsom salts may provide relaxation and promote calmer behavior, and the magnesium sulfate from Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin during a bath.

Epsom salts

Mood Lifter
Taking Epsom salt baths helps your body detoxify and absorb the magnesium, which is very helpful for depression and anxiety.

Clean hair.  Have unusually oily hair? Add nine tablespoons of Epsom salt to a half cup of shampoo to help soak up excess oil and leave your locks clean.

Epsom salts

Volumize hair.  Warm equal parts deep conditioner and Epsom salt in a saucepan; work the mixture through your hair then rinse after 20 minutes for soft, volumized hair.

Epsom salts

Garden Fertilizer.  Studies show that Epsom salt may help plants grow greener with higher yields and more blooms. Magnesium helps seeds to germinate, increasing chlorophyll production and improving phosphorus and nitrogen uptake.

Epsom salts

Get rid of raccoons
A few tablespoons of Epsom salt spread around your garbage cans will deter the raccoons, who don’t like the taste of the stuff.

Epsom salts

Deter slugs
Sprinkle Epsom salt where they glide and say good-bye to the slugs.

 

Believe it or not…that’s just a sample of ALL the different things I found after extensive research. But I think I’ve hit all the highlights. If you have another way that YOU use Epsom Salts…please email me or leave a comment below. I would love to hear about it. :-)

 




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Comments

  1. Susie E says

    My kids tease me because of my tendency to pull out the Epsom salts for just about all maladies. It is great for scrapes and scratches, so my first line of defense for their “boo-boos” was an Epsom salt bath. I found it works great on diaper rash for babies, and yeast infections infections for Mom’s. Love to add your tips to my arsenal!

      • Demaroge says

        It treats them both for several reasons….

        1 – anti-inflammatory properties

        2 – often diaper rash IS a yeast infection (yeast loves to grow in damp dark areas)

        3 – helps with the itchy-ness of both

        4 – the ph is similar to the natural ph of the nether-parts (epsom is 5.5 to 6.5 and a healthy vaginal area is 3.8 to 4.5) A yeast infection is below normal so the epsom salt will help to raise the ph killing off excess yeasts

  2. says

    I have long loved using Epsom salts in various things- but I just did it because I liked the result. So happy to know that it’s actually doing something & it wasn’t just my perception. Thanks for all the awesome info.

  3. says

    Wow! I am going to buy epsom salt today! I was really excited to read the garden and raccoon uses! I have a compost pile in the backyard that I think has been attracting a raccoon. I don’t want to get rid of my compost pile, but finding big piles of his poo in the backyard where my kids play is not fun. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Vicki says

    My brother had a brown recluse bite on his tricep that got really bad. The doctor said a large portion of flesh would have to be surgically removed. When I found out about it (36 hours after being bitten) I told him our sister in law said to soak his arm in an Epsom salt bath. It took awhile, but it slowly started drawing the poison out. I KNOW it would have worked better if he had done this right away. Although the area affected was large and very painful and itchy, it got better. And he did not lose any flesh at all!

    • Re says

      Bentonite Clay would have sucked the toxins right out…heck, so would have milk of magnesia, for that matter. (right on the round) Surgery to cut out a chunk of flesh? Give me a break. Want to pass your gallstones? Take a Epsom Salt bath then take a table spoon or two of olive oil or coconut oil. A salad with Italian dressing would probably work too! Then go to bed….wala! In morning the proof will be in the john….

  5. blah blah says

    Sulphur is also an anti-parasitic. Hill country folks used to mix sulphur with molasses, down it by the teaspoon, in order to combat intestinal parasites. So, you can avoid the nasty epsom salt taste by mixing it with molasses or honey. Everything you said about magnesium is true, and we don’t get enough in our modern diet, b/c our modern diet is usually devoid of the green veggies it rides in. Women that crave chocolate during PMS … that’s a magnesium deficiency. Milk of Magnesia (the anti-constipation “medicine”) is just magnesium citrate in solution. Most of those anti-constipation meds are just magnesium. It gets the bowls moving. But, gently and without distress / cramping.

  6. Jeanne says

    I use Epsom Salts in the garden all the time! It’s great for bringing out the blue in my Hydrangeas, keeping the snails/slugs away from the garden and a pinch or two is good for your tomatoes! Plus, mix a cup of epsom salts into a liter of vinegar and you have the BEST non-toxic weed killer. I guess a box is moving up to the bathroom for soaking now too…

  7. BryanR says

    Nice article, but as a chemist I must object at your mislabeling this product as not a salt. Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate, you’re right there, but any compound that contains a positive ion (magnesium is +2 charged) and negative ion (sulfate is -2 charged) resulting in a solid, overall neutrally-charged compound is, by definition, a salt. Sorry to be a buzz-kill, but as a chemical educator I must correct errors of this type!

  8. megan says

    My daughter has severe excema and suffers from terrible rashes on her legs. After trying just about everything we discovered Epsom salt, now she soaks 2-3 times a week and it has been a life saver! She loves her baths because she knows how much they help.

    • Linda says

      My sister-in-law suffered from SEVERE psoriasis. After consulting with a nutritionist, she started a whole foods diet and began soaking in an Epsom Salt bath daily followed by an application of organic coconut oil on her skin.. It took several months, but her skin is as beautiful as a babies, she lost 60 pounds, and overall feels so much better.

  9. Karen S says

    I love that you mentioned this. My kids just did a simple chemistry unit and we learned this exact thing. It was cool to read your post, and it doesn’t take a single bit of shine off Jillee’s terrific post.
    You just never know what wonderful people are reading.
    :)

    • John says

      hi Jean,
      the best cure for chipmunks (assuming you don’t want to resort to a 410 shotgun) is , a Jack Russell terrior. Those little buggers are fearless. They’ll also keep snakes & moles out of your yard. They really delight in grabbing whatever they can catch and literally shaking it to death…And, they are very lovable too!

    • ex-army girl says

      Speaking of sparkling like snow, & though it is late for Christmas this year, I learned years ago in an early childhood class that a heavy epsom salts water mixture brushed on paper made that paper sparkle when dry.

      We had the kids draw their winter scene on construction paper, then brush this concoction on the finished picture, let it dry & the sparkles were everywhere. Sometimes the paper wrinkled as it tends to after paper does get wet, but the final product was superb & worth it. Works really well on the dark papers but shows up well on the lighter papers too. So for the scrapbookers out there that want to try this, just be careful that inks you may be using for stamping cards & etc. are waterproof or they may run. I like this as an alternative to glitter.

    • Mary in Seal Beach says

      Hi Susan – Since my daughter has been juicing and drinking Mean Green Juice, her migraines are gone. If she misses a few days, they come back. But a lovely soak is always nice!

  10. Billie says

    Thank you for a wonderful article….. My oldest son suffers from Autism, so I am definitely going to have him try that bath!!!! I do have one question though, you mentioned it as a fertilizer for plants….. can you use it for household plants? and if so, how much? do I mix it with water? Thank you

    • Re says

      Hi. I just read yesterday that iodine deficiency during pregnancy is linked with autism (iodine was taken out of bread in the 80′s, go figure, so mostly everyone is severely deficient. Lugol’s is an inexpensive remedy. Also, some have used bentonite clay baths to detox their Autistic little ones with much success…xoxo hope this helps

  11. Deidre says

    Have REALLY enjoyed reading all of these great posts on Epsom salt. My folks used it for years…and I have, in raising my sons. Now my current husband and I use it alot! It IS good around trees; especially Magnolias. They love it!
    Thanks for all of these posts!

  12. says

    I have several large bags of Epsom Salts in my home for several of the reasons you list. My daughter started giving her 1 year old baths in Epsom salts because she didn’t sleep well. It seemed to help her. I’ve used it on my lawn (dissolved in a hose-end sprayer) to fertilize during hot summer months and also use it in the garden.

    For decorating purposes, you can use Epsom salts as “snow” and put it into jars or glass bowls and add tea lights or votive candles for some winter ambiance.

  13. sue says

    okay – we have racoons getting into our birds suet metal trays . we have them nailed to the wooden swing set in the back yard. can we hang some epsiom salts in a cheese cloth and hasng by the metal suet trays? i wander if that might help and how ong would the scent last? or when would u change it? sue

  14. says

    epsom salts are wonderful for a number of reasons beyond what you’ve listed.
    first, when you soak your feet in very warm water with epsom salts, it’s really easy to scrub off the worst part of corns and calluses. they can do it for you at the spa or you can do it yourself. works well for me.

    the other is to make nice spa=type gifts. you can use food color to create a pretty looking supply of epsom salts. use a bit of essential oil ( i like lavender best) also for a heavenly aroma. toss the epsom salts with the color and scent, place on a cookie sheet to dry, then package up for a gift. you can place in a pretty jar and tie instructions for soaking on a card with a ribbon, or just wrap up the epsom salts in a couple layers of tulle that you’ve cut into a circle, gather up and tie with that ribbon. again, you can make this yourself on the cheap or pay much more to buy it already scented and colored at the spa.

    jd in st louis

      • Bonnie says

        We call any type of green smoothie or juice at our house “monster juice”. The kids LOVE to drink it and then show off their “monster mustaches” ! Add some pineapple or Apple to any green juice and it sweetens it right up – naturally. Whatever gets it in them!

  15. Shelley says

    I tried a foot soak last night…. WOW! I have plantar fasciitis and it really gave me some relief!! I’m actually thinking of getting a kids pool to soak my whole body!! Thank you so much! I look forward to your posts everyday! What blessing you are!

  16. Brittany says

    I’ve been using epsom salt in my once weekly foot soaks for a while now, and just started adding a cup or two to my baths after having my doctor suggest it.
    I have chronic kidney infections, and though I’ve had every test imaginable done, a cause hasn’t been found. My doctor said that a lot of people who get kidney stones, (not the same thing as what I have, but close) have magnesium deficiencies, and suggested that I take epsom salt baths to get more magnesium in my system. I’ve only done it a couple of times so far, but I also haven’t had a kidney infection since starting. (I’ve had 9 kidney infections in the last 3 years, they suck.) Hopefully this will help keep them away!

    • heidi says

      I used D-mannose for kidney and bladder infections that no antibiotic was working on. Terrible pain! I took much more than was “suggested”. At first, up to a T every 15 minutes till the pain subsided and then a t. every hour then 4 times a dayfor 10 days. Now whenever I suspect I may be in danger of getting one (especially if I have gotten a little dehydrated) I start taking it. When I was battleing the worst infection I put some in a bottle of water and just sipped it. I am never without it in my home, and am surprised how many people get these and don’t know about D-Mannose. Ihave been using it since I had a life threatening bout with kidney infection in 1999-2000. Good luck!The epsom salt is great too and it helps to detox and to feed the body with life-giveing magnesium ( I use it and have for years), but the D-Mannose worked for me like nothing else!

  17. Kimmer says

    I’ve been a fan of Epsom salt for decades (before the price doubled). I was perscribed (by a neurologist) to do epsom salt soaks to treat migraines. I was sceptical, but did it as prescribed (twice a week, then once a week) and it worked like a miracle. I no longer need prescribed meds. I will forever be “soaking”. Remember – do NOT use soap when soaking. It interferes with the absorption. I also wrap up in a warm blanket and then wait for the “shvitz” or big sweat that comes – lets you know it’s doing it’s job. Then it’s nighty night!

  18. Sue says

    I mix epsom salt with sugar and bone meal as a super meal for my transplants. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons in the planting hole , mix it with the soil and water in. I also love a good Epsom salt bath and foot soak :)

  19. Donna says

    Many years ago an old lady told me ..when I wash my shear white curtains in the washing machine..put them in the dryer when they are dry put them back in the washer with Epsom Salts…let them soak a little (20min)then hang them dripping wet on the cloths line….they are a mess of wrinkles…but the minute you iron them….they have NO wrinkles and great body a stay in place with a wonderful firmness, the ES also puts a filler in the material that keeps dust from building up on them…..45 yrs. later I am still using this technique…..of course I have bought new curtains….I also soaked my daughters hair ribbons in EP for body…spray starch left them to wet.

  20. Kim says

    Just found your site today and gotta say I love it (subscribed!). I’m definitely going to try this – I broke my foot in a car accident last year and it is still swollen and aches constantly – Hopefully this will ease some of those aches. Have any great DIY ideas for swelling? Elevation and ibuprofen just doesn’t cut it. lol

    Thanks for this great blog!

    • says

      A friend had the same thing with a broken ankle. She put her foot in ice water for 10 min then hot water for 10 min then back and forth again a couple of times per day and in just a few days the ankle and pain were reduced and disappeared within a week!

  21. says

    Excellent information about the lack of magnesium in our bodies and the makeup of epsom salts. I use them for swollen feet after a long day and to exfoliate the bottoms of feet. I also add essential oils and a bit of natural coloring, put them in glass jars and add ribbon to create affordable gifts.

  22. Brownie says

    I love soaking in the tub and have used Epsom salts for years and it felt wonderful. I didn’t realize WHY it felt wonderful. I pour in the salts and add drops of Lavender Oil – right before I go to bed. I might try this now with my little wild man!

    I have also used it for constipation. Word of advice – it is VERY bitter. Have a big glass of water to follow it – or orange juice. You’re going to want to chase that taste away quickly. Also – watch out how much you take otherwise the results could be… um… rather… um … explosive.

  23. says

    Both my husband and I put the stopper in the tub and add epsom salt to the bottom of the tub, so we are in effect getting a foot soak without having to be sitting down and doing nothing. We have both commented how much better we “feel” when we get out of the shower (as apposed to not doing it) and I have not had a re-occurrence of any toenail fungus since starting this procedure. We started this a number of years ago when I broke my foot and loved it so much we kept it up.

  24. Camille says

    WOW, these ideas sound amazing!!! I have had migraines from hormones (I thought) ever since I started my cycle and they are always very bad in the beginning of pregnancy & post pregnancy. I also always get really bad muscle cramps while pregnant. Well I’m just barely pregnant again and I will definetly be trying the bath soak to see if I can have a migraine and muscle cramp free pregnancy this time! Thanks so much Jillee and everyone else for their input!!!

    • Erica says

      Be careful soaking in baths while preggo without direction from your doctor!! Some serious problems could happen if you don’t take the right precautions, like infections that could lead to miscarriage (early on), or going into labor way too early (much further along). This doesn’t happen to everyone and it’s quite rare, but you just never know. I would check with your doctors before just in case!

    • ex-army girl says

      Be careful taking epsom salts baths while pregnant–it raises your blood pressure while in the bath & also your temperature. That wonderfully warm, comforting body-wide flush you feel. It is more dangerous to your fetus than it is to you while pregnant. Also later in the pregnancy, 1/2 way through & on, it relaxes your muscles enough that it can start labor. One of the reasons they tell you to be so careful with exercising as the pregnancy progresses, is that your tendons & ligaments & joints are extra flexible in preparation for labor & permanent injury to your body can & is more likely to occur. Then you get into a wonderfully relaxing epsom salt bath & you are just begging for trouble.

  25. Holly says

    As I type this, we are attempting the epsom salt bath for my 11 year-old stepson with pervasive developmental disorder (a mild form of autism). So far he seems to be calming down from the monster of a fit he threw this morning. Either that, or it’s the 80′s rock music playing on the iPod that he also loves… :-P Whether it’s the 20 minutes in a bath, the small size of the bathroom that makes him feel safe, the epsom salts, or the music… Whatever is working, we will keep doing it!!!

  26. Charity says

    Two years ago my kids came home with a stray kitten. Unfortunately, he had maggots in his anal gland (gross, I know). Because it was late in the evening and I was NOT letting this kitten in my house in this condition, I put some Epsom salt in warm water to soak his bottom. It worked WONDERFULLY! All the maggots came out, leaving the kitten on the road to recovery. I took him to the vet the next morning and he couldn’t believe clean the wound was! He was very impressed and said he wouldn’t have thought of doing it. It saved me $$$ and was less traumatic for the kitten. With all the suggestions I’ve read here, everyone should keep Epsom salts on hand.

    • Nesa says

      As a side note, maggots only eat dead tissue. They have been used medically to treat infected wounds for centuries. It could be the maggots saved the kitten’s life and they cleaned the wound. If they weren’t maggots but another parasite, then the Epsom salt may have been the cure.

      • says

        I agree. I had a dog with a wound we didn’t know existed until I noticed something moving. I found maggots and took her to the vet. They’d eaten a hole in her leg and I’d poured peroxide to clean out wound and added neosporin and a sterile wrap until taken to vet. The vet did the same thing I did and said I did good, but that the maggots saved her however gross.

  27. Leah says

    All of these are great- but my favorite use for Epsom Salts is a bit more unusual. Have you ever worked with fiberglass insulation carelessly and found yourself itchy and in pain because of the little particles? Take a long bath with epsom salts- they will draw all the particles out! I was a 19 year old girl working at a construction job, installing fiberglass insulation for 40hrs/week when I discovered this- it worked better than any other method, ever. Try this and you’ll save yourself weeks of ‘pokes and owws.’

    • says

      Donna Sure wish I knew about this for fiberglass itch 40 some years ago. I worked at a place where they made
      fiberglass bar-b-que bottoms and thought I would scratch myself raw. We had moved into an older house that didn’t have a shower or bathtub. That was a really nasty episode. Now I’m wondering if making a paste would have helped? Guess it’s called never too late to learn. LOL

  28. Abigail says

    My midwife prescribed a drink mix called CALM for me for placenta health (I had two difficult labors due to placenta issues and suffered an abrupted placenta miscarriage). HOWEVER, I could take a bath in Epsom Salts and/or do the drinks, especially since I don’t love the taste of CALM and it cost $40!

  29. Jacquelyn says

    Wow! Great article and very happy I came across it. You see, I noticed a YI coming on and went to my cupboard to get “the cream” only to find out the next evening, after no relief) that it had expired, UGH! over a year ago! Yikes! Lol! Been that long since a YI, yay!! It was late and I decided to wait until the next morning (today) to take a trip to Walgreens to get the 7-day cream, the only one that works for me. I was inspired to google YI & Epsom salt! Ha! And here we are! I will try this regimen and believe it will work! Thanks again!

  30. KD says

    I use two tablespoons in a quart spray bottle, fill with distilled water, and spray it on my pepper plants. They absolutely love it! (any peppers. I currently have jalapeno, habanero, sweet, and chili) It also keeps the bugs (most of them anyway) from eating the leaves. I have so many peppers :) I’ve also heard about burying a few matches below each pepper plant, which I am going to try next year.

    • ex-army girl says

      Yes KD, dig an extra inch or so deeper & put 3 matches in the hole, cover the hole with an inch of dirt and plant your peppers. They thrive from the sulphur…it gets them revved up so to speak. Also, for all plants like tomatoes, pappers, any that have that stalk when you plant them, wrap the stems with strips of newspaper (black ink only) about 3-4 inches wide & no more than 3-4 layers or wraps. The paper should go 1-2 below the dirt as well as 1-2 above the dirt. It keeps nuisance worms & grubs from eating into the plant & killing it in early stages of growth. Make sure to not wrap too tight & not too many layers; the paper will eventually be able to split as the plant grows in girth.

    • Isobel says

      That was an interesting read. It’s nice to read about the proven uses (scientific, I mean – not anecdotal – and there are a lot) and very surprising to learn that seemingly no studies have been done at all on the effect (if any) Epsom salt has on muscle soreness. Thanks for the link.

  31. trisha says

    My betta fish wouldnt eat. He went weeks without food and acted very scared of me and quite sluggish. I added a spoon of salts to his tank and the next morning he was back to his old self ! My dog has an itchy fungus that causes him to lose fur. I’m going to try bath soaks and cold compresses to see if that will help him. I’m so glad i found this site. When i was a kid and had chicken pox my mother soaked me. It was great but i had forgotten just how beneficial the salts can be. Thanks!

  32. Jen K. says

    My daughter has autism. We are always looking for things we can try to help her through her day. I had no idea about the epsom salts. Thank you so much for the wonderful idea! I think I will try mixing it with my autism blend of essential oils. If anyone is interested, I use 1 drop of vetiver and 4 drops of cedarwood for every 12 drops of lavender. I usually use this blend to make one of your mood mists, but I think it will be wonderful for the espom soak. Thanks again so much!!!

  33. MPMom says

    Very interesting. I had no idea! We have a raccoon or two that often come visit to clean up around our cat’s food bowl. I’m wondering if I sprinkle some around her food area if they’d stay away, but still allow the cat to eat?

  34. Dannelle says

    I used Epsom salt for infected hangnail it worked like a charm. Soak infected area in hot water add 2-4 tbs Epsom salt in water. repeat 3 times a day until infected area is cleared up. I applied an antiseptic ointment and bandage after each soak this cleared up immediately. Saved me a trip to the walk in clinic and the dollar tree sells these items for $1.00 each what a deal :)

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