Detox Baths - How to Use Baths to Heal Your Body

| Modified on Jul 23, 2021
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Discover the simple ingredients that you can use in a bath to detox and help heal a multitude of ailments. These bath add-ons are natural remedies that you most likely already have in your kitchen or medicine cabinet, like epsom salts, garlic and activated charcoal!

Some home remedies can be rather inconvenient. Some may even be expensive. But some are quite cheap and downright pleasant. Such is the case with a healing bath. But can taking a bath really do much for your health? You may be surprised!

Your Body Absorbs Through the Skin

A healing bath capitalizes on the fact that your skin absorbs things. Many of them good and many of them not so good. With a bath you can get a large surface area, your skin, which is your largest organ, to absorb the healing elements of a large variety of natural vitamins and minerals. If you doubt that your skin really absorbs all that well, try this test. Put a peeled clove of garlic into your sock next to your big toe. Now see how long it takes for you to taste the garlic! This test alone will make you think twice before you let your skin touch cleaning chemicals you would never think of ingesting!

What Health Problems Can be Helped with Healing Baths?

Perhaps there would be a shorter answer to the question, "What health problems cannot be helped by a healing bath?" In fact, most health conditions would be helped to some extent by adding healing baths to the treatment plan. Healing baths can promote healing in conditions from chicken pox to high blood pressure, insomnia to poison ivy, infections to eczema, and fever to anxiety!

History of Healing Baths

Have you ever read an old book in which there was a particularly frail character who was sent to the shore for healing? Clearly in times past, something about water was considered healing. Indeed, spending time in the ocean was not only good for the psyche, it was good for the body! Salt alone has some amazing healing properties and it will come into the body through the skin if you are standing, walking or swimming in the ocean.

Likewise, for ages people have vacationed at hot springs for medical purposes. The hot water and high mineral content of the springs was thought to bring healing. And it makes scientific sense! Hot springs often contain high mineral content, and those minerals are absorbed right through the skin! Hot water also increases circulation and absorption of minerals in the water into the body.

But you don't need a lot of money to vacation at a hot springs resort or the beach. While this would be lovely and option for some, healing baths can be one of the most inexpensive natural remedies available for your primary health concern!

Healing Baths for Detox

Baths are also used for detoxification purposes. Because many health conditions are caused by toxins in the body, baths are a great complement to the treatment of a variety of health complaints.

Baking Soda Baths

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) may be one of the cheapest bath ingredients ever, but it makes a great healing bath. Baking soda in the bath will help to raise the bicarbonate levels in the body. It can also help to raise the pH of the body. Baking soda baths can help all sorts of skin conditions, especially those of the itchy variety. Poison ivy, chicken pox, eczema, and psoriasis suffers can all find some relief with a baking soda bath. While baths are usually best at a warm temperature, those with itchy skin may find that having the bath be on the cooler side may be more soothing to the skin. Gout suffers may find baking soda baths are helpful, too. A baking soda bath is a also a great stress reliever at the end of the day. A cup of baking soda would not be too much to add to the bath.

Epsom Salt Baths 

Epsom salt is readily available at pharmacies and grocery stores. You would do well to keep a bag of this on hand. It will last indefinitely. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. Adding a cup of epsom salt to the bath will allow your body to absorb needed magnesium. Magnesium helps the body to relax, making an epsom salt bath especially wonderful at bedtime for those with insomnia. If you have sore muscles or a sprained ankle, epsom salt baths will be a treat. The muscles need that magnesium! An epsom salt bath is also a great way to relieve mild constipation.

Activated Charcoal Bath

A cup of activated charcoal can be added to a warm bath. This can be used for skin conditions, chronic pain, and high blood pressure. Activated charcoal draws poisons and toxins. After your charcoal bath you will probably need to rinse off in the shower and your tub will need to be wiped out or rinsed as well. It is one of the more messy baths, but for some people, it is just the right bath.

Garlic Baths

Perhaps the garlic bath will not be your bath of choice. But for some situations, taking a garlic bath will be worth overcoming the distaste of it!
Garlic baths are useful for skin problems, especially infections. Bronchitis, coughs and sinus infections can all be helped by a garlic bath. Garlic baths have also been used by people with MRSA.

To prepare a garlic bath, mince all of the cloves of one garlic bulb. Place in a pot and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cool to the temperature of your bath. Add to a tub of warm water and soak for at least 20 minutes.

Oatmeal Baths

A popular remedy for poison ivy and chicken pox, oatmeal makes a great bath for skin problems including eczema. Blend one cup of dry oats in the blender. Add to a warm bath. You may wish to have a strainer when you drain your tub to keep oatmeal out of the plumbing. Another option is to put a cup of oats in a sock and tie a knot in the end of a sock. Put this sock into the bath water. A child with a skin problem will enjoy squeezing the sock out and having the oatmeal water come out - right onto affected areas as needed.

Herb Baths

Dried herbs make interesting and healing baths. Rose petals might be used just for fun on a stressful day. Chamomile is another herb with relaxing properties that can be use for insomnia. For skin conditions, especially poison ivy, try plantain and/or comfrey baths. Fill a sock with a cup of dry herbs of your choice and put into a warm bath. This will make a large "tea" bag. The longer your soak, the stronger the bath will be.

Ginger is another herb that makes for a great healing bath, though you won't need so much. One or two tablespoons of dried ginger is enough for a ginger bath. Ginger will heat up the body. It will cause the body to sweat. It is a great detoxifier and way to promote circulation. Do drink plenty of water during and after a ginger bath to make up for fluids lost in sweating.


Yes, borax from the laundry aisle can be used in a bath. Borax is an increasingly popular remedy as word gets out about its effectiveness. You certainly can't beat the cost! One to four tablespoons of borax can be added to a bath for detox purposes. Borax is also an anti-parasite and anti-candida remedy, therefore especially appropriate for skin problems caused by parasites or fungi.

Bath Fizzies for Fun and Heath 

Bath Fizzies are pretty popular these days. Did you know they actually have some wonderful health benefits? Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and citric acid are combined in bath fizzies, sometimes with a few other ingredients. Then they are added to a bath and voila! Fizz! Fun for kids and adults alike. Your tub will look like you have poured soda pop into it because of all of the fizzing. That fizzing is a reaction between the baking soda and the citric acid forming tiny carbon dioxide bubbles. Getting extra carbon dioxide in the body actually helps to oxygenate the body, which is helpful for many disease, including cancer!

How to Make Your Own Bath Fizzies:

  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons bentonite clay
  • 10 drops of essential oil (lavender for relaxation, eucalyptus for respiratory problems, or tea tree for fungal problems.)
  • Mix the above in a bowl with gloved fingers. Spritz with witch hazel or water and mix. Continue to spritz and mix until the powder is like damp sand and will hold together a bit. Press into silicone molds or a cupcake tin with paper liners. Allow to dry for 24 hours. Add one or two "bath bombs" to your bath and enjoy your healthy bath!

If you don't want to go the trouble of making these, just add 1/4 cup baking soda and 2 tablespoons of citric acid (and the essential oils if you like, just a drop or two) to a warm bath. Enjoy!

Hydrogen Peroxide Baths

One to four cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide can be added to a bath for detoxification purposes. Do be careful as hydrogen peroxide can bleach your hair!

Apple Cider Vinegar Baths

A cup of raw apple cider vinegar can be added to a bath. This is a popular remedy for the skin problem molluscum contagiosum. Apple cider vinegar baths would also be appropriate for skin problems like tinea versicolor.

Essential Oil Baths

A drop or two of an essential oil can make your bath a healing bath! Add lavender for its relaxing effects. Add peppermint to cool you off if you have sunburn. Add eucalyptus if you have a cough or sinus congestion.

Other Types of Baths

Of course, no discussion on healing baths would be complete without a discussion of sitz baths and foot baths. These are a great option for treating specific areas of the body and also will help the body absorb the needed elements in the bath. These are particularly suited to those who have no access to a bathtub, those who actually do not care for tub baths, and for those who have limited access to water. You will also need much less of whatever ingredients you are adding to the bath since you will be using much less water.

Any of the above bath suggestions can be used as a foot bath. Some may be more or less suited to a foot bath though. Earth Clinic had a couple of readers report a cure using garlic in a foot bath for bronchitis. Epsom Salt foot baths are great for sprained ankles, tired feet, foot infections and ingrown toenails.

Vinegar Foot Bath

Adding 2 cups of white distilled vinegar to a quart of water and soaking feet affected with athlete's foot can be done daily until the fungus is gone.

Sitz Baths

Sitz baths can be purchased at pharmacies. Some of our readers have improvised with a basin in which to soak. These are great for hemorrhoids (try apple cider vinegar), healing the perineum after childbirth (try comfrey and plantain), or yeast infections (try apple cider vinegar).

But What to do about Bath Water that has Chlorine and Fluoride in It? 

What good is a healing bath if there are toxic chemicals in the water? Many people avoid baths all together because they realize that their body will absorb the chlorine and fluoride that are in bath water to begin with.

One option is a shower filter that removes these elements. Then you can use the shower to fill the tub. You will want to use hotter water than with a bath as the water will cool from all of its contact with air on the way to the tub.

Ted from Bangkok recommends sodium thiosulphate to dechlorinate bath water. This is available at aquarium shops or science shops online. Vitamin C will also remove the chlorine from bath water. You can add 1/4 teaspoon of ascorbic acid to your bath to remove the chlorine. You can buy shower filters online made with vitamin C as well.

Tablets can be bought online to dechlorinate bath water. They contain baking soda, citric acid and ascorbic acid. But you can so easily do this much cheaper with these ingredients already in your home.

Borax is used to remove fluoride. You can add 1 tablespoon of borax to your bath water if fluoride is a problem in your city water.

You will note several of the ingredients used to remove bath contaminates are already items suggested for healing baths!

Healing Bath Cautions

It can be easy to become overzealous with your detox baths. If you take a bath that is too long, too hot or two concentrated with the added elements, you could end up feeling quite poorly. You may get overheated or experience a serious detox effect. This is especially true of someone who has fragile health. With any new remedy, always start with less, increase slowly and monitor the effects on your body.

Remember that tub sizes are different, comfort levels with water temperatures are different and people are different. You will have to find what works for you. With any of the above baths, start with a shorter bath. Even just 5 minutes the first day, 10 minutes the second day, etc. The hotter the bath, the more of the bath elements that will be delivered to the body.

Possible side effects include nausea fever, dizziness, diarrhea, headache, rash, and weakness.

Have you used a healing bath? What did you put in your bath? What were the results? Be sure to share your story with us!

Apple Cider Vinegar

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by A J (New South Wales) on 06/21/2017
5 out of 5 stars

I tried absolutely everything with molluscum contagiosum. I thought I was doing the right thing by using the creams the doctors had prescribed because naturally you assume that they know what they're doing. But like you- my daughter got progressively worse. Blistering and large red rashes spread rapidly. I did a a full bath with about a litre of apple cider vinegar and she bathed in it two days in a row, once daily for approximately 20 minutes. They were turning dark brown- and dying the next day. You wouldn't believe my relief after already battling this with another child for about 12 months! Apple cider vinegar will be your savior!


1 User Review

Posted by Timh (KY) on 09/16/2014 2073 posts

As a replacement for the oral route for borax, I use 1/4 cup Borax in a whole body hot bath w/ also 1/4 cup Epsom Salt and 1/4 cup Baking Soda. This is a good bit of Sodium so one would be wise to also take a Potassium supplement or drink up on the Apple Juice.

Replied by Julie

Are you still convinced that Borax works for LS? Have you spoken to your doctor about it?

Thank you.

Replied by joy
0 out of 5 stars

Yes, I did that bath and was itchy and didn't feel well for a few days.. too much salt absorbed thru my skin. Does anyone else notice their urine is slightly green after taking a Borax bath? What is being taken out of the body in this detox that would make a faint green color.


Posted by Francisca (Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France) on 04/14/2010

An interesting recipe I saw yesterday on a BBC program (Grow your own drugs):

Chamomile Bath Milk

NOTE: For the coconut cream, buy either tins or blocks of creamed coconut and follow the instructions to make it up into liquid form.

30g dried chamomile flowers (or 60g fresh)
500ml sunflower oil
20 drops of lavender essential oil
100ml coconut cream

1. Mix the chamomile flowers and sunflower oil together in a glass heat-proof bowl. Cover and place the bowl above a pan of simmering water. Simmer gently away for 1 hour, being careful the pan does not boil dry (make sure there is no gap between the pan and bowl), then leave to cool.

2. Once cool, strain the oil and discard the spent flowers. Stir in the lavender essential oil. The resultant chamomile and lavender-scented oil also makes a brilliant soothing skin and massage oil that will keep for up to 1 year.

3. To transform the floral oil into a dispersing bath milk: whisk the oil 1 tablespoon at a time into the coconut cream, making sure the mixture is thoroughly combined between additions of oil. You should end up with a rich milk, about the consistency of double cream. All you've got to do then is bottle it up.

USE: Pour 100-200ml of the milk into the bath. Can be used for adults, also children aged 2-16.

STORAGE: Keep refrigerated, and use within 1 month.

Epsom Salt and Baking Soda Bath

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Mama To Many (Tn) on 11/14/2016
5 out of 5 stars

When we have a long weekend, I find that little ones can be extra cranky on Mondays. (It helps to have more patience when you remember this, too! )

Today at 5 pm my 5 year old was melting down. He was crying and fussing about I don't recall what. It wasn't time for dinner yet and he had had a snack a bit earlier, so I didn't think he was hungry. (A good protein snack is really helpful for hungry and cranky little ones, just as an aside.)

Anyway it was too early to put him to bed and besides, he would need dinner.

So, I gave him a bath. I put about a half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of Epsom salt in the tub and added some bubble bath. (Nutribiotic makes one that is good. Regular bubble bath can cause UTI's.)

He soaked and played for a good half and hour and forgot about his troubles. I dried him off and dressed him and he was good to go until dinner and long after. I forgot about his earlier grumpies until I was telling my husband about the day.

A baking soda, epsom salt bubble bath would probably help a cranky adult, too. :)

~Mama to Many~

P.S. Do not leave small children unattended in the tub!

Hydrogen Peroxide Baths

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Dort (Brooklyn, NY) on 07/23/2021 3 posts
5 out of 5 stars

Use Good Ventilation When Removing Contaminants From Bath Water

When Removing any contaminants from bath water... Remember to ventilate the room very well as the contaminates will now be in vapor form, you don't want to inhale the contaminates anymore than bathe with them.

I personally wait 3 to 5 minutes before getting into the bath and allow the ceiling fan to do its job after adding the removal potion and departing quickly.

I love Hydrogen Peroxide baths (which will also remove contaminates). 1 8oz. cup of 35% FG to a full bath.

Magnesium Hot Baths

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by ORH (TEN MILE, TN) on 07/20/2021
5 out of 5 stars

HI U OLE PATOOTS, ORH here, and my '54 classmate lived in Hot Springs, ARK. and yet never took the detoxing baths, that I urged him to do. Once upon a time the whole world went to Hot Springs to do the magnesium hot baths. It was a neutral zone for the dreaded mafia and no family battles took place there. They went there to get well. All the bath houses are now gone except for one or two. We once went there to take the natural baths. When you went through the program, you ended up limp as a dish rag and you sleep that night. Their massage was not like you thought. It was about pulling your blood away from your heart and pushing it back. No one beat on your muscles. You cannot imagine the relaxation you feel and you slept like a baby that night. Too old to travel, but thinking about going back to Hot Springs to experience that joy one more time.


Molluscum Contagiousum

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Newtoonquine (Uk) on 08/07/2016
5 out of 5 stars

Hi, both my boys, 9 and 3, had molluscum contagiosum. I've been using Dead Sea salt baths and it worked within a week for the 9 year old but hasn't for the youngest so I'm going to try Apple Cider Vinegar next. Thought you might like to know that Dead Sea salt is an option. I bought in bulk from Amazon as it is very expensive in small batches.


1 User Review

Posted by Lori (Onalaska, Wi) on 10/11/2017
0 out of 5 stars

I was wondering if you could shed some light. I have recently made many changes to my health care. Most are natural with the addition of superfoods. My eye strength has plummeted in recent years. Since I started taking detox baths (soaking in salts for about twenty minutes) I have noticed stringy goop in my eyes when I am done bathing. I have to swipe my eye with my finger to remove it. Another relevant change that could have some affect is that I quit commercial shampoo and conditioner and replaced it with diluted baking soda and diluted apple cider vinegar for hair cleansing. I also use it on my skin. Do you have any intelligence to share on this issue? Thanks!

EC: Hi Lori, can you please clarify what you mean by "salts"? Pure epsom salt? Sea salt? Epsom Salt combined with other ingredients?

Replied by Lori
(Onalaska, Wi)


I am currently using Ancient Secrets Bath Salts from the dead Sea. That has been the last three weeks. Before that I was using a Celtic Sea Salt bath brine fluid. I really think the eye goop that I notice after my detox bath may have started to occur about two months ago when I gave up commercial shampoo and conditioner for diluted baking soda and diluted apple cider vinegar. Since my eye ability has decreased so much I wonder if I have a more serious problem.

Sea Salt, Epsom Salt + Baking Soda

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by PB (NC) on 03/09/2019
5 out of 5 stars

I have been using dead sea salt, pink Himalayan salt and Epsom salts and baking soda (equal parts of each) since last spring with wonderful results. I soak 20 minutes or longer sometimes 3-4 times a week. I add essential oils, lavender, rose and store them in a huge glass jar in the bathroom. I noticed it has helped quite a bit with my fibromyalgia and arthritis. Sometimes I will use bentonite clay aka Montmorillonite for other baths. I found a little book on amazon called "Not Just a Room With a Bath" by Dr. Keith Souter published in 1995. I found it helpful. It lists the different things that can be added to a bath and what the benefits are as well as bath remedies. I am still searching for that perfect bath book that lists everything for every aliment!

Turmeric Baths

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Sunita (Clovis, California) on 10/13/2011
5 out of 5 stars

Here's another help turmeric provides, I was given turmeric baths for the duration of measles outbreak as a child and gave my own four children turmeric baths when they had chicken pox, helps heal quicker and cools body so it doesn't itch as much.

Have used turmeric powder mixed with fresh lemon juice as a face mask for as long as I can remember. Needless to say, I am reaping the benefits.

No wonder the Hindu's rub turmeric all over the bride and the groom's body in preparation for marriage. I am not sure exactly what the benefits are but it's been done for centuries. I find that interesting, would like to know why it is done.

Replied by Jack Sparrow

As turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties it is applied for detox purpose as well as turmeric enhances the beauty.

It makes the skin glow and helps to reduce breakouts. it is a daily ingredient in our lives. if you mix turmeric in your food it can help you fight Alzheimer's.