Listerine & Vinegar Soak For Softer, Smoother Feet!

listerine soak

I have been hearing about this unlikely combination as a cure for dry, cracked heels and feet for a long time but thought it sounded utterly ridiculous. I battle with dry, cracked heels in the wintertime and have tried just about every remedy known to man or womankind, but Listerine and Vinegar? Come on.

Up until now I have had the most success with the cream I talk about in this post: “The Cure For Dry, Cracked Heels & Feet.” While this really works, it isn’t very easy to find and also fairly expensive. Since I had recently run out of my tube of Atrac-tain cream I decided I would give this wacky idea a try….because I’m a big believer in the notion that some of the wackiest ideas end up being the best! :-)


Since I’m actually doing a blog post about this….I bet you can guess how it turned out. Yep, you guessed it. It actually works! I was completely skeptical about this, but I’m tellin’ ya, after just 15 minutes my feet (and most importantly my heels) were much softer and smoother!

Here are a couple of terrible BEFORE and AFTER pictures as proof. (It’s hard to take pictures of your own heels! Try it!) For those of you grossed out by feet, my sincerest apologies.


listerine soak

listerine foot soak


While they’re not PERFECT….after just one 15 minute soak, they were markedly improved! I will definitely be doing this again.


Listerine & Vinegar Foot Soak

  • 1 cup Listerine (or any antiseptic mouthwash)
  • 1 cup Vinegar (I used white, but you could use apple cider too)
  • 2 cups warm water

You can double, triple, quadruple the recipe as needed for your feet and container size.

Soak feet for 10-15 minutes then take a foot file or pumice stone to help slough off the softened dead skin. I was able to easily file off a good amount of the dry skin. I have a bit more to go, but I have no doubt another couple of soaks and it should be all gone.

If you are one of the unfortunate ones with dry, cracked winter feet… me….I would strongly suggest you give this a try! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised…like me.


listerine soak



What is your favorite remedy for dry, cracked heels and feet?



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    • Judi says

      I agree with this writer. I’ve heard of this treatment but have not tried it. But I wonder because you mentioned you used a foot file after. And I would think that would be the reason for the reduced dead skin not necessarily the products used. I myself regularly use a sugar scrub. The sugar helps slough off the dead skin and the oil helps retain moisture. I then apply body lotion to my feet for added moisture protection.

      • Andrea Rayna says

        I also make my own sugar scrub. As a diabetic I strive to take excellent care of my feet and not let them get dry enough to crack, since this invites infections that I may not be able to fight off.

        I make sugar scrub as needed with a handful of sugar, a squirt of Olay infused dish soap and a wallop of skin oil — rub this in without water…I hang my feet over the tub and massage into every inch for a few minutes, then rinse off, and dry very well, especially between toes. Lotion is applied to the tops of toes only and a callous relief stick is rubbed all over the heel and socks are immediately put on.

        If I consistently do this once a week my feet fair much better.

        If they get extra dry a concoction of whipped vegitable shortening with a few drops of tea tree oil massaged in at night with socks does the trick

        • Andrea Rayna says

          I should have said, the idea of vegetable shortening is one from a dermatologist friend that said in hospitals it used to be called “C-Cream” and given to patients with ash when they were treated in his emergency room.

          I’m sure the hospital marked up the cost a few hundred times LOL

          • Jason says

            I swear by this, but I think some of you might not be seeing all the benefit because your cause are different. I have had a recurring case of athletes foot and an encroaching nail fungus. I’ve tried OTC topical ointments but nothing seemed to work.

            My symptoms were caused, (I think) by bacteria and fungus. The acidity of vinegar and antibacterial nature of Listerine worked wonders for me.

            • Jay says

              I agree with this post 100%…No more foot issues after using this mixture. I work in a plant and despite wearing plain white socks with My work boots, I had issues because of sweating…NOW, I’M ALL SMILES, and My feet look NICE TOO!

      • Catherine's not naturally crafty says

        I gotta go with the majority on this one – I tried it and experienced no different results than just a warm water soak followed by a scrub. I too make my own sugar scrub, with almond oil, essential oils and a bit of glycerin to retain moisture. I don’t think there is much difference between pure cane and other sugars. But, I find the crystals in the generic pure cane are a bit larger and more “irregular” which give a bit more “scrubbieness” to the scrub. If that makes sense. They take longer to dissolve and are more abrasive so they are great for elbows, heels and knees. Imperial makes a better face scrub since it’s a finer gain of sugar. your mileage may vary.

        Oh, I don’t advise using sea salt I tried it. Ouch;salt and abrasives are two things that should not be mixed!

        • Catherine's not naturally crafty says

          Oh, Listerine will have anti-biotic properties that might help some kinds of foot scaling caused by fungi. but it also has sugars that contribute to fungal growth and alcohols which are very drying. So it’s definitely a double edged sword.

  1. says

    Try using Epsom salt in warm water, soak 15 to 20 minor longer if some one will warm it up with more hot water. Use a face towel and buff off the dead skin. Apply a good moisturizer/ lotion. Repeat if necessary.

    Wear socks on carpets. Carpet fibers can leave real fine cuts/openings in your bare feet! (Fm the Diabetic Dr.). This has made a reL big difference in my feet and heels.

  2. Jeanne says

    Hi Jillee,
    Glad this worked for you! I have also read on “The People’s Pharmacy” website, that many people have had success with soaking their feet just in Listerine and water to get rid of toenail fungus! I guess it’s the anti microbial properties of it. I just thought I would add this since it’s a bonus effect!

    Thanks for all your tips!

    • Colleen says

      I tried it tonight, after many many other items I have spent a lot of money on…and this was a gem!! My feet feel so soft, although I know I need to try it one or two more times to get it “all”… I had really bad cracks, and they are almost gone. Try it! Just try, it can’t hurt.

  3. Tracy says

    I’ve seen this all over FB & although it may work to help soften feet I can’t for the life of me figure out why someone would want to soak their feet in all those chemicals. The feet are conduits to the whole body. They are porous & all those long-named chemicals just ooze right in. It’s one thing to do a quick mouth rinse but this? I’m sure it’s not too harmful if not done on a regular basis but I just wonder. For me, I think I’ll stick with the healthier Epsom salt soak, a good rub, slather on one of the “good oils” & cover with some cotton socks.

    • sally says

      When I told my dentist about the oil-pulling that I’ve been doing (thanks to Jillee) he said that he can see why it works since the reason for Listerine’s effectiveness is the essential oils that are in Listerine. It would make sense that it would help with softening since it does have oils – although as you said, the alcohol and other ingredients are questionable. Guess you have to choose your “devil”??

  4. says

    I totally agree with Tracy. The first thing I thought of when I saw the Title was, ‘I’d never want to soak my feet in all those chemicals.’ In tbose rare times that I rinse my mouth with an Antiseptic (or regular) mouthwash, I feel very uncomfortable doing so! I find that scrubbing with coffee grinds (or a homemade sugar scrub) works fine with me along with the occasional use of a pumice stone. We need to be careful wih what we allow to enter our bodies. Unfortunately, our Government allows a lot of chemicals, GMO’s in our food and the use of harmful dyes that most (if not all) of Europe bans. Since this is the case, we need to be extra savvy and not just go with the next trend without realizing what harm we may be doing to ourselves or our environment. Oh, BTW, I’m a Registered Dental Hygienist for over 30 years so I’m well aware of what’s in Listerine and similar products!

  5. Tina says

    I soak my feet in Epsom salt and warm water for 20 minutes or so then use a buffer to remove dead skin. It works better than anything I have ever tried. I get bad cracks on my heels but this clears up the problem very quick. Then use a thick cream like Gold Bond with socks. Your feet will be so soft.

  6. Paula Blance says

    I’ve noticed that prevention is the best bet. Heels seem to be more dry when I wear open back shoes. Mules, clogs, Crocs, slippers day after day make the dryness much worse. When this does occur, I use lanolin cream (made for breastfeeding relief) found in the baby department. It is very thick & moisturizing! ** I am giving your tip a try too!

  7. Věra Diblíková says

    I think – Listerine is here very expensive – it must be sufficient to soak sock in the solution + microthene folie or bag for some time. By really cracked heels (to live flesh) it must hurt, because it is very strong desinfectant. So – first heal your heels – in apothecary we buy a LENIENS salbe, or Calcium panthothenicum, or some healing baby cream with panthothene and AFTER complete healing try this Jillie good idea for smooth feets. By feet fungus try winegar to desinfect your shoes, but for toes + nails is necessary to go to MD and be prepader for long time to cure.

  8. christy m says

    I may have to try this one. One of my favorite remedies I ‘ve
    Only tried this once but, actually worked for my ugly calloused
    Toes is to use a can of coconut milk (you can get this in the
    Ethnic food section) and add some honey. Sorry, I can’t
    Remember how much I used and soak in warm water for 10-
    15 minutes. It really left my feet feeling nice and soft.

  9. Rita says

    I read at some point in time somewhere that the heavy build up of dry white cracked skin on your heels could be due to a fungus, and not just calloused skin. That perhaps, is why the listerine and vinegar work so well. They may be killing the fungus. Just a thought to share.

  10. Jeanne says

    I used to have ad heels too until a master herbalist told me about the cause. Dry, cracked heels are a sign of a sluggish colon.. Keep your colon moving and you won’t need outside fixes. I say this from much experience.
    I’ve had a sluggish colon my whole life, but when I keep things moving I’m healthier in every way.

    • Kathy says

      I have to disagree w/ this. I have no problems w/ a sluggish colon yet my feet are continually dry and cracked over the winter months regardless what I do. Seems like once warm weather comes they come out of it.

  11. Dayna says

    I was excited to see that you tried this. I’ve seen it too and wondered. I can’t stand the smell of vinegar so I didn’t want to try it until some one else has. I wonder if lemon juice would work…that would be a lot juice though.

    • says

      Dayna, I saw on Dr. Oz once that putting lemon slices wrapped onto your heels for overnight and then lotion in cotton socks does the trick. The lemon breaks up the outer skin layer so that the moisturizer can work. If heels are deeply cracked and open sores, I’d try another method due to the probable stinging.

    • says

      I am a very senior citizen. I was in the dairy business for years. Using udder cream is something I have been doing for 40 years or more. I only use the brand in the red and yellow container called Corona. Reason: it is lanoline based instead of petroleum based. In the 70s the label stated it was for human AND animal use. It takes care of diaper rash that nothing else touches. The new mother us generally put off by the smell, but those who finally broke down and used it all swear by it. I keep it in a small container in my purse for chapped lips and it excellent for cuticles, hands, or any wounds. I have a friend that says to put it on arthritic knees and hold awhile with hands on both sides of knee and it helps the pain. Beware that is greasy and can stain cloth, is also too greasy for feet unless you protect with a sock.
      HINT: anything you use to moisturize like this, cover with plastic wrap or a plastic veg bag from the grocer for a few hours or overnight. A dermatologist says this drives the moisture in instead of absorbing it into the cotton. THEN put on a sock or glove to hold plastic on. Take care if walking, it is slippery even with sock. For cuticles on toes or fingers I use a cut out finger from a cheap disposable glove.

  12. Jane says

    Well…I tried this last year as I found it on pintrest. It did help to loosen some of the dead skin but I made a BIG mistake – I used the dark blue Listerine and my feet came out with a blue stain that I could not wash off for days – ha – gave the family a good laugh though :)

  13. Julie says

    Okay Ladies, according to my husband, the podiatrist, indeed prevention is the best cure. Closed back shoes worn regularly will help prevent the dry skin on the heels from spreading and therefore cracking. Once the cracks occur, the combination of wearing open back or no shoes and fungus makes it a hard problem to resolve without use of medicated lotion and closed shoes. Good luck. Hope this info helps.

    • Jenna says

      Every rule has an exception. All my shoes I wear daily are open back, year round, but my heels are soft, no cracking what so ever. I don’t even use any creams or lotion, so….?
      On the other hand my husband has only closed back shoes and his heels are hard and cracked.

  14. Linda F says

    I must say that I find the reader’s comments at least as entertaining & informative as your posts! Funny how everyone has something to add or an opinion. I’m planning to give this foot soak a try. Thanks for offering it…

  15. Joan says

    My cure is drinking a tablespoon of APPLE CIDER VINEGAR in a cup or so of water daily. Sometimes I make a tea with honey, sometimes I just drink the apple cider vinegar straight down (ugh!). After about a week, any finger and feet cracks are gone. This absolutely works, folks!

    • Chelsea says

      I started the Apple Cider Vinegar regime but now my heels are hurting and really cracked after I started this. Is this normal? It hurts to walk. Before I had bad dry heels now they are cracked and hurt. HELP I have no money for a Doctor :( I am SO EMBARASSED MY SELF ESTEEM IS GONE :(

      • Mab says

        I suggest that you try “Egyptian Magic”. I ordered a jar from Amazon ($20) & it has worked wonders for me. It has lasted for 3 months so far. Apply it twice a day & wear white cotton socks over it. I hope this helps you, dear!

  16. PamWilliams says

    I heard years ago when feet are dry to put on Vicks Vapor Rub (in my years as a kid it was the cure-all my parents used – picture Big Fat Greek Weddings use of Windex) and wear socks to bed. I have never had problem with dry cracked feet since I did this at the times I needed it.

    • Kay says

      My mom’s Doc told her to use vix vapor rub on her toe nail fungus. She couldn’t do it her self and I wasn’t there every day but when I was I did it. He said it would take 6 months to a year and sure enough it did get rid of the nail fungal!!

      • Heather K says

        huh…that explains it….I saw that ‘remedy’ online somewhere but directions were to use it 2-3 weeks. I applied it faithfully but fungus didn’t go away. 6-12 months eh? May try again, thanks!

  17. Sharon says

    I have had cracked heels for years. Summer, winter, not matter. It is now a year round ordeal. Any of these suggestions must be used regularly and that is where I have a problem. I don’t have time to soak my feet daily. When I do I have found that 1 c of cornmeal in warm water is a wonderful soak for dry heels.
    I love wearing open heel shoes, sandals and going barefoot at times. I am not going to stop wearing sandals.
    Once you get that crack on the heel, it is hard to get rid of it permanently. It is a daily battle

  18. Molly Jo says

    I have been wanting to try this myself and even got the listerine on clearance table the other day. This is on my to do list, today!! Hope it does help with fungus on my big toe nails as that is also an issue that the doctors have not had much success with. Thanks for sharing

  19. Vickie White says

    My favorite heel treatment is Kerasal Foot Ointment. Just a small amount smoothed over your heels with a pair of socks at bedtime and you wake up to baby soft heels! When my heels are at their worst, I will do this about 3 nights in a week, then only have to redo about 2 times a month. I found my ointment in the pharmacy area at Walmart.

    I love all the other suggestions too and will also try them as well!

    • Catherine's not naturally crafty says

      Yes, Kerasal has a salicylic and urea acids. And those Baby skin peels do too. This is why they are effective. The acid in vinegar, however isn’t really going to have the desired effect. The pumice-ing or sloughing after the soak is what is actually doing the smoothing. Get the high 20 version for 20% urea (carbamide) and 5% ammonium lactate (an alpha hydroxy acid). Apple cider vinegar is about 8% acetic acid and not a particularly good solvent. So it’s ability to break up hard skin is well, let’s just say i’d need to see some really good side by side comparisons before I start sitting in a straight vinegar foot bath (phew!) You need more than 10-20% acetic acid before it becomes an irritant and way up in the 20-80% range before it becomes corrosive. And that’s before you go mixing it with Listerine and/or water. So they might be treating other causes of foot thickening skin and scaling. but if you just have dry rough skin, go with Kerasal or a similar product with high percentages of urea or alpha hydroxy acids. plus those are also good a fungus or bacterial problems that can lead to thick, scaly and cracked red inflamed skin too. Plus it’s loads easier than siting in a stinky, stingy foot bath for lots of time. Just rub in, and put on cotton socks and sleep.

  20. says

    I haven’t tried this for awhile but it really helps to moisterize your heels. Take olive oil and rub it on your feet put it on pretty heavy. Then wrap your feet with saran or plastic wrap. Put on a large pair of soaks on over top and wait one or 2 hours before you take it off. You can walk around and do what ever if your feet are slidding around in the plasti wrap your have a little to much oil on. This works best after a bath or a soak or after scrapping off callouses. Leaves them nice and soft.

  21. Michelle jadaa says

    Ive tried many things inc vaseline with socks overnight,listerine with vinegar,vicks vapor rub etc etc.
    Nothing worked untill i tried hydrgen peroxide and water,roughly equal parts,it worked like magic!!

  22. Edwina says

    So, I’m wondering ….would it also work for hands that are very dry and chapped? My husband is a tile installer and his fingers crack and become extremely painful for him. Have to try it (if I can get him to)!

  23. MaryG says

    I have this problem in the summer, because of wearing flip-flops daily. So in the summer, after I get out of the shower, I slather cheap lotion (or vaseline) on my heels and put on socks, and wear them for about 20 minutes. If I do that at least 3 times a week, my heels stay pretty healthy! I’ve found that the quality of the lotion doesn’t really matter – I’ve tried expensive prescriptions, baby lotion, even generic, and they all have about the same effectiveness. So now I just use cheap.

  24. Gina J says

    The best (and safest) method I’ve used is Jillee’s coconut & olive oil mash with a few drops of the OnGuard protective blend. Put it on your feet at night, slip on some socks, and you will have soft feet by morning (not to mention giving your immune system a boost!)

  25. Debbie G. says

    I am a devoted vinegar fan. I was told that apple cider vinegar had antibacterial qualities. I have been using it for an after-shampoo rinse to get rid of itchy scalp (winter dry skin etc.). I also use it as an astringent on my face after washing and then apply a moisture buffer (fortified petroleum Jelly). This morning I decided to try it on my itchy legs (also dry skin). After my shower, I wiped apple cider vinegar onto my legs and let it dry. When putting on my socks, I noticed how soft and silky my legs felt, and they no longer itch. Thank you for all your great ideas and to the people who leave such constructive and informative comments. Kudos to all.

  26. Suztats says

    What I use: natural beeswax hand cream immediately following a bath or foot soak, slathered onto my feet, then covered with soft, cushy socks. Then wear the socks to bed.
    I’ve been doing this for years to combat the ripping off of strips of skin when my socks are removed. It works for me. Being well hydrated helps, too.

  27. Jennifer C says

    Hi Jillee! I was just wondering if you’ve ever tried Neutrogena foot cream or their hand cream. It works much better than a lot of others I’ve tried. As a matter of fact, my mom recommended it to me & she has terrible heels due to dry cracked heels & she suffers with psoriasis. She told me to use it each night after my shower & give it a couple of weeks before I made up my mind. She was right & I am a believer. Now, I only have to use it a couple times a week to maintain. Oh, & a little goes a long way & be sure to let it soak in good before walking or putting on socks.

  28. Ginny says

    While soaking your feet feels good you can have soft healthy heels year round by using a “mr pumice” ( it’s like a pumice sponge) daily at the end of your bath or shower. I found this several years ago and within the first week my heels were good and a 2-4 daily quick rub on my heels has keep them pretty year round. And the best part is the cost generally $1.50 and one last for the whole year. It is the best beauty product I have found next to my Japanese washcloth .

  29. Judy says

    I know this will sound crazy, but if it helps anyone with the same problem I will just let myself sound crazy today! I have always failed at all attempts to heal up my feet simply because I cannot stand to wear sock around the house, or to bed! I know, crazy. My toes panic or something!!! I FINALLY solved this by taking a pair of fuzzy (microfiber) socks and cutting off the toe/ball of foot half. I can treat my heels and just wear the heel/ankle half of the sock. And yes, I do look like an idiot, but I figure anyone who comes to my house can deal with it!

  30. says

    Kerasal Foot Cream is the only thing that has ever worked for me-soak feet in warm water, use a Ped-Egg to slough off calluses, slather on cream and put on cotton socks. It REALLY works!

    The Ped-Egg is better than any file, too-it’s the best thing I have ever used file wise and worth the cost IMHO.

  31. tina says

    Please don’t waste your money or time on this…. I’ve spent my life taking care of feet professionally and you can get better results from Epsom Salts and hot water. Always use a pedi-file and you can also put some cuticle remover cream on the rough calloused spots before you soak to make filing a bigger success. Alcohol and other drying agents may show a “false” difference at first, but end the long run, your skin will suffer for it. Just my 2 cents, but I am coming from experience.

  32. says

    I have a good friend who is a fancy cosmetologist with the skin care and all that added onto his training. He said that this is not a good idea. He told me that feet do not have their own moisture/oil producing glands like most of the rest of the body. He said, if you want smooth feet, and you’re not diabetic, you’re better off with a fine pumice stone and a heavy cream for your feet. He gave me his “look” and said, honey if you’d dry your feet well and use heavy foot cream then put on some socks immediately after you get out of the shower, you would not have this problem to worry about! Then he rolled his eyes at me. He knows me well and that will never happen.

  33. jkincolorado says

    I’ve tried this several times and was very happy with the result. I use the yellow Walmart brand of mouthwash and white vinegar, heated (no water). I soak for about 30 minutes and use a pumice sponge to get rid of all the dead skin. I love how it makes my feet tingle!!

    I’m also in love with my Ped Egg!

  34. Ann says

    I live in the desert and wear sandals most of the year. At the end of every shower I gently rub each heel with a pumice stone for about 30 seconds to get off the dead skin and ground in dirt. Then I rub each foot well with a wash cloth. Pumice stones are cheaper in the household area of the store than the bath product area, but they last for years.

  35. CTY says

    Very interesting concoction. Here is my 2 cents worth.
    As per my podiatrist– if cracked heels are chronic despite efforts to heal them, then there is a fungus among us. A few soaks in apple cider vinegar & water, gentle sloughing, pat dry, and coconut oil (rubbed in) should take care of it. If trouble continues try a more aggressive anti-fungal cream (prescription or OTC or a DIY of coconut oil, tree tea oil & oregano oil).
    No time to soak?? What’s that Franklin said?, “A stitch in time, saves nine”
    For me, once my feet are better, I put (50/50) ACV & water in a spray bottle and spritz the feet & between toes after every shower. I spray & let my feet dry a bit (when I can) then put on socks or not. It is the daily spray that keeps it a t bay. If I have gotten lazy/forgetful and troubles are starting, I soak a day or two.
    After showering, just spray the tub floor & let air dry to combat any lingering fungi.
    Added bonus that same spray can be used to clean tub, sink, counter, mirror, & toilet.


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