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11 Uses For Epsom Salt: Baths, Beauty & Beyond

Use epsom salt for health, beauty, and even your garden.

There are so many great uses for Epsom salt (also called magnesium sulfate) that I keep a big bag of it under the sink in my bathroom. That way, it’s always at the ready on occasions when I’m looking forward to a long relaxing soak in the tub. (More on adding Epsom salt to baths shortly!) 

But I’ve also discovered a number of other ways to use Epsom salt, both within the realms of health and beauty and without! We’ll explore the many uses and benefits of Epsom salt in this post.

The Important Health Benefits Of Magnesium 

Using epsom salt for health usually means benefitting from the magnesium it has in abundance.

Did you know that Epsom salt isn’t really a salt? At least, not in the same way as table salt is. Epsom salt is a natural mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate that is named for the English town where it is said to have been discovered hundreds of years ago.

Magnesium is a necessary part of our diet that helps support important bodily functions, but according to the National Academy of Sciences, up to 80 percent of Americans don’t get enough of it. The reasons for this are many, from farm soil depletion to methods of modern food production. Additionally, some food, drink, and prescription medications can inhibit magnesium absorption.

Magnesium deficiency can lead to serious health issues, so how do we make sure we’re getting enough of it? Taking a multivitamin or magnesium supplement is probably your best bet, but Epsom salt soaks and other practices can be beneficial as well. (That is to say, the health benefits of Epsom salt probably won’t overcome a magnesium deficiency alone, but Epsom salt is generally safe to use and certainly can’t hurt!)

11 Ways To Use Epsom Salt Around The House

A long soak in an epsom salt bath is relaxing and can help with sore muscles and more.

1. Take A Relaxing Epsom Salt Bath

Whether magnesium can be absorbed through the skin in any meaningful way is a matter of some debate, but many health practitioners recommend adding Epsom salt to a warm bath to soothe sore muscles and promote relaxation. In fact, it’s probably the single most popular use of Epsom salt!

To enjoy the benefits of Epsom salt baths, just add 2 cups of Epsom salt to a tub full of warm water (or double the amount for an oversized tub.) Aim to soak for at least 20 minutes, and don’t use any soap or bubble bath during that time — soaps can interfere with the action of the salts. Take it easy for about 2 hours afterward (or better yet, take your bath just before bed for a great night’s sleep!)

Some Epsom salt bath products have added moisturizers and essential oils, but you can easily add them yourself — custom scented bath salts are inexpensive and make great gifts! Lavender essential oil has a calming effect, so it’s perfect for a warm, relaxing bath at the end of a long day. You can also add Epsom salt to a DIY detox bath with bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar.

It’s best to wait until skin irritation or open sores heal before you take an Epsom salt bath. And while some women find that Epsom salt baths help with pain and soreness related to pregnancy, you should check with your doctor first, just to be safe!

A foot soak with epsom salt can have the same benefits as a bath.

2. Foot Soak For Tired Feet

Another of the most popular uses of Epsom salt, foot soaks are a great option for those who don’t have a bathtub or aren’t fond of baths. Just add 1/2 cup of Epsom salt to a basin of warm water and soak your feet for 20 minutes — you’ll enjoy similar benefits to a full-body soak.

An invigorating peppermint foot soak is a nice way to pamper tired feet, too. A combination of Epsom salt, baking soda, and peppermint essential oil helps eliminate odors, reduce swelling, and soothe soreness in one fell swoop.

Taking epsom salt in water can ease constipation.

3. Ease Constipation

Epsom salt has a natural laxative effect that can help relieve constipation. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt in a glass of water and drink — it will taste bitter, but it works! Be careful not to use more than indicated or recommended by your doctor — consuming too much Epsom salt internally can have unpleasant consequences.

Treating your hair with epsom salt and conditioner makes it full and silky.

4. Add Volume To Hair

A simple Epsom salt treatment can leave your hair feeling soft and full of body! Combine equal parts Epsom salt and moisturizing hair conditioner in a saucepan, then place on your stovetop over low heat until the mixture is warmed through. Work the warm conditioner and Epsom salt mixture through your hair, leave it on for 20 minutes, then rinse.

The magnesium and sulfates in epsom salt make it great for your garden.

5. Feed Your Garden

Magnesium-rich Epsom salt can also come in handy out in the garden. Studies show that Epsom salt may help plants grow greener with higher yields and more blooms. Before planting in the spring, sprinkle 1 cup of Epsom salt per 100 square feet of soil and till it in to promote seed germination, increase chlorophyll production, and improve phosphorus and nitrogen uptake.

If you have rosebushes, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt per foot of height and scratch it around your roses every two weeks. (For example, a 4-foot rosebush would get 4 tablespoons.) For houseplants, try my homemade “Miracle Gro” with ammonia, baking soda, and Epsom salt — it’s by far the most affordable plant food I’ve tried, and my plants seem to love it!

Sprinkle epsom salt around trash cans to deter raccoons.

6. Deter Raccoons

Spread a few tablespoons of Epsom salt around your garbage cans to help deter pesky raccoons. (Apparently they don’t like the taste of the stuff.)

An epsom salt soak can make splinters easier to remove.

7. Remove Splinters

Dissolve 1 cup of Epsom salt in a tub of water, then soak the area of skin affected by a splinter to draw it to the surface. You’ll be able to remove it with a pair of tweezers much more easily.

Use epsom salt to repel slugs.

8. Repel Slugs

Another way to use Epsom salt in the garden? Deterring those sneaky slugs that like to come out and night and feast on your veggies and flowers. Sprinkle Epsom salt in areas where you see slug activity to keep them at bay.

Dissolve epsom salt in water and use it to soothe minor skin rashes and acne.

9. Soothe Insect Bites And Acne

Epsom salt can be used to reduce swelling and redness from minor irritations like insect bites and acne. Start by dissolving 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in 1 cup of hot water, then place it in your fridge until cold. Dip a washcloth in the cold solution, then apply to irritated or inflamed skin for cooling, soothing relief.

Epsom salt makes a great exfoliant.

10. Exfoliate Rough Skin

Epsom salt is also great for exfoliating skin, helping to remove dead skin and leave rough areas feeling soft and smooth. Just combine a handful of Epsom salt with enough olive oil, coconut oil, or baby oil to make a paste, then gently rub the exfoliating scrub on heels, elbows, and other rough or dry areas before rinsing.

Make fabric softener crystals with epsom salt and essential oils.

11. Make Fabric Softener Crystals

Fabric softener crystals are one of several homemade softener options you can use to soften your clothes, reduce static buildup, and give fabrics a fresh, clean scent. It’s easy to make your own fabric softener crystals with Epsom salt and essential oils!

How else do you use Epsom salt around the house?

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  • Once upon a time…

    Last winter, I was going to visit my best friend who lives three hours away from my place. Unfortunately while bringing my luggage to the car I badly fell on a patch of black ice near the car! I was aching all over my back and my shoulder for the whole trip.

    Upon arrival, my friend prepared me a bath in which she had put 2 cups of Epsom Salt. Hold and behold, after 20 minutes of soaking I felt so much better and was able to get a good night sleep without any pain. Next day, same thing, the pain was just gone ! This stuff really works!

  • There is a helpful hint when washing your sheers. Run the sheers in a gentle cycle. Then, in the rinse cycle, put a cup of Epsom Salts in the water. Once the machine has stopped, hang up your curtains immediately.

    You will never have to iron your sheers ever again!

    • Heck, Karen…I don’t iron my sheets now! That way, my wrinkly body thinks it has someone to sleep with. It might get scared if there were no wrinkles in the sheets! ;>) Just messin’ with you, it is a good idea.

  • What a great list! Look out slugs! (I have got rid of them in the past with tuna tins filled with beer…but this is so much easier!)
    If i could recommend using coconut oil with Epson salt for an exfoliant over baby oil or olive oil…especially for anyone prone to pimples. Coconut oil gives the same moisture but contains Lauric Acid giving it natural antibacterial properties. Thanks again

  • Thank you for your wonderful and helpful tips. I used Epsom salt to remove the splinter as per your article and boy it was so easy. I am very grateful and happy. Thanks again and keep us informed.

  • I broke up with my boyfriend last 3 months due to many misunderstandings i was fighting so hard to get him back. none of his friends would give me any information about him. The only thing I could do was to go find help from anywhere, so i looked for a way to get him back then a friend recommended me to contact dr_mack@yahoo. com. saying Dr Mack will help me and as my friend said, Dr Mack helped me to bring back my boyfriend just in 3 days, I now have him back and this is the biggest joy of my life

    • You may have the boyfriend back BUT it will not work out…what ever the Gypsy had you do…you can not go against another’s free will..
      the best way to get a boyfriend is to allow him to do the chase….don’t be at his beck and call….don’t be available every time he calls…act like you don’t care….you could read Steve Harvey’s book…it is less expensive than paying Dr.Mack…..also do not act desperate…..

  • I add epsom salts to my laundry. I mix some Dr Teal’s Eucalyptus Spearmint with unscented epsom salts & add about 1/2 cup to my washer when I toss a load of laundry in. It leaves a great scent, gives a cleaning boost & is supposed to help with static cling.

  • Hi Jillee, I love this. My husband just bought a huge jar of Dead Sea Epson salt. It is great stuff and we did use regular epson salt on our plants. It does wonders. We just diluted the salts down a lot. I always wondered about the deal with Chicken pox and Epson salt! I know now it’s for real..Thank you You beer ads (way too many Miller Beer ads we taking me away from your site. I’m sure you aren’t aware of so many. Too had to get though your post, but thanks again for the heat adicd, love it!

      • I never see an ad when I am on this site BUT there are tons of ads elsewhere that I have been on….Is it really free ? Will it affect the computer ? I am so out of touch with anything that requires more than OFF and ON….I suspect that my age is a factor….Love this site..thanks for that info re: ADs..

  • Jillee! Great post … love such simple and inexpensive ideas!

    How much Epsom salts (mixed in water?) is used to fertilize plants? I obviously used far too much when I did this once, because my huge, beautiful fern hanging basket died ~ it was brown and lifeless in just days!

    Thanks!

  • Kids with ADHD tend to have lower than average magnesium levels. Soaking in a Epsom salt bath every day or two has REALLY helped my little ADHD dude to have less stimming (spinning, humming, flapping) and more restful sleep. I add a drop or three of lavender oil along with his bath and its even more relaxing

  • I had a beautiful heirloom bedspread that I sent to the cleaners and it came back limp as a rag. I put it in my washer (figured I couldn’t make it worse than it was) with some Epsom salts and dried it on a windy day on my clothesline. It came out as good as new. It would probably do okay in a good-sized dryer too.

    • One question. How much Epsom Salts did you use. I have a regular size top loading machine. May seem like a foolish question but I tend to use too much. Thank you for sharing.

  • I have a huge pesky Raccoon that loves to raid my birdfeeders. I am having ro bring them in every night! If I sprinkle Epsom Salts around the base of the feeder, will it cause harm to the birds?

  • Living in South Florida for over 30 years, my orchid list of dead and alive is long. Dr. Martin Motes of Motes Orchids told me years ago that palm trees and orchids love magnesium sulfate and potassium nitrate, 1 Tablespoon EACH, per gallon of water. Doesn’t make them grow, however it does act like Iron in our blood.
    It makes them Healthy. One example is an orchid that had a bloom or two for years. The most was 11 flowers. After using epsom salt and potassium nitrate the first of the month and fertilizing the middle of the month, the next blooming time, there were 60, yes, sixty orchids on this plant. It works. Feed them and they will bloom.
    Potassium nitrate is no longer sold due to bomb making… So epsom salt will work. Good luck. Get on a schedule. In South Florida, the metals in our water cause using salts and fertilizer together a no no.

  • One of my favorite uses for Epsom salt is as a soak or compress for injuries. It really helps reduce bruising, esp. if you use it right after you injure yourself. It also helps in the days after an injury, but it’s the most effective if you use it right away. I’m accident-prone, so I always keep it on hand!

  • As a teen, I once used a commercial product with little scrubbing crystals…and it irritated my skin so badly, that my acne went completely out of control! So I second the motion of not using anything harsh to scrub facial skin.

    A natural solution that I use is a small amount of baking soda and water, GENTLY rubbed on my face, and equally gently rinsed off with water. It feels really good, with no irritation!

  • I have a comment on the NO SOAP for the bath tub soak: if you soak for 12 min or more before you use soap, how can soap wash away what the body has already ABSORBED? The directive “DO NOT USE SOAP” needs some clarification.

  • Have a pimple pop up? At bedtime mix a half teaspoon of Epson salts with enough water to make a paste. Apply thickly to pimple. In the morning it is dried. This was told to me by a New York model 59 years ago so I have used it many, many times.

  • For people like me who sometimes have extremely painful leg cramps, a good soak in an epsom salt bath often works when all else fails, such as soap in bed and mustard.

    Of course it’s the magnesium.

  • Does the epsom salt have to be plain to use for the constipation. I have some with the clay and ginger added. A family member is doing calcium shots for osteoporosis and the shots have had this side effect.

    • Hi Christy- I buy generic brand Epsom salts for laundry(helps set colors in jeans and red dyes so they don’t run or color other things in laundry load) (and other uses-thanks Jillee!).

      I also buy lavender infused or peppermint infused for bath or foot soaks. Sometimes Dr. Teals brand.
      On the bag, of the ‘flavored’ Epsom salts, it specifically says “DO NOT INGEST!”

      How about Metamusil or store brand powder for constipation, or bran cereal-be safe!

    • Christy, the following recipe for magnesium water comes from the Wheat Belly website; it may help.

      2 liter bottle of seltzer (not club soda)
      3 tablespoons unflavored milk of magnesia

      Uncap the seltzer and pour off a few tablespoons. Shake the milk of magnesia, then pour out 3 tablespoons. (Most brands come with a handy little measuring cup.) Pour into the seltzer slowly.

      Cap securely, then shake until all sediment has dissolved. Allow to sit for 15 minutes and it will clarify. Drink 4 ounces twice per day. Label the bottle to keep others from inadvertently drinking it (and experiencing diarrhea by drinking too much).

  • Since you stated that the magnesium and sulfate are absorbed into the body through the skin you might want to warn anyone who is allergic to sulfate might want to check with their doctor before soaking in it,
    My daughter almost lost her life a few years ago when she had cellulitis in both her legs. She was prescribed an antibiotic that contained sulfate. About a week later she broke out with a rash. The next morning she was red from head to foot. She could not hold anything down, including water, and her lips and tongue turned white from dehydration. We had to take her to the emergency room and she was admitted to the hospital for two days. The emergency room doctor told me it was a good thing I brought her in when I did.

    • Confusing sulfa drugs with sulfates and/or sulfites is quite common.
      Sulfa is short for sulfonomides which is a kind of antibiotic. Sulfonomides are not chemically related to sulpher or sulpher salts i.e. sulfates and/or sulfites (also written as sulphites and sulphates). These do not not cause the same allergic reaction that you see with sulfonomide antibiotics.
      Soaking in Epson Salts (magnesium sulphate) is harmless, quite pleasant and possibly beneficial.

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