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A foot bath is more than just a luxury self-care item. Foot baths can be beneficial to your foot and toenail health, making them a practical purchase that can be regularly used.
“I recommend Epsom salt soaks [after] ingrown toenail procedures or simply for tired feet,” says Sidney Weiser, DPM, president of Quality Podiatry Group. “Soaking [also] helps with softening [hard fungal] nails and makes them easier to cut, and soften corns and calluses prior to debridement.”
In other words, you can use a foot bath to soothe your sore feet, but you can also use it as a therapeutic tool before and after podiatry procedures—skin and nails that have been soaked and softened will be more amenable to treatment. When shopping for a foot bath, take your specific needs into consideration first. Look for features like a variety of heat levels, jacuzzi settings, and massage settings. We researched dozens of foot baths and evaluated them based on whom they’re best suited for, as well as their size, added features, and price.
Here are the best foot baths on the market today.
For any and all foot bath needs, be they therapeutic or just for fun, the Niksa Foot Spa Massager with Heat has something for everyone. Vibration and rollers massage tired feet while temperature controlled heat and bubbles soothe away stress. It heats up fast and is easy to use, making it our top choice for everyday use.
If you want a slightly more deluxe, spa-like experience, we recommend the HoMedics Shiatsu Bliss Footbath with Heat Boost. With deep, acupressure kneading and a heat boost feature, you can get a luxurious foot bath in your own home.
How We Selected the Best Foot Baths
To find the best foot baths, we asked podiatrists to tell us what to look for and avoid when choosing an at-home foot spa product. They suggested a combination of features to consider, told us what types of things can be added to foot baths to maximize your experience, and made some important safety notes.
With that advice, we scoured the internet for crowd-favorite foot baths with features like vibration, massaging nodes, and temperature-controlled heating. We also tried to find a variety of foot baths for every budget, from simple-but-effective basins to luxurious, at-home spa machines.
What to Look for in a Foot Bath
Keep your own foot size in mind when choosing a foot bath; make sure you check the dimensions and measure your feet, if necessary, before deciding on a product. This isn’t just for comfort, either—a foot bath can’t be effective or give you the results you want if it’s too small for you.
“Foot baths need to be big enough to place both feet inside, and water should be able to cover above the ankle,” says Dr. Weiser.
Obviously, if you want even more coverage, you’ll have to keep the height of your foot bath in mind, too. Some are designed to be taller than others, allowing you to fill them more (and soak more of your leg) than shallow baths.
Water Temperature and Heating
No one wants to stick their feet into a chilly basin of water unless they’re icing an injury, so any electric foot bath you purchase should have a heating element to keep the water warmed up. But not all foot baths have the same type of temperature regulation, so make sure you know what you’re getting; for safety purposes and different types of therapy, it may be better to choose one that lets you decide how hot the water will get.
“Find a foot bath that allows you to regulate the water temperature—some let you control the water temperature and some don’t,” says Patrick McEneaney, DPM, of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists. “If you have muscle pain that’s not acute, a warm bath will be good [but] cold water will be better for joints.”
Most foot baths on our list have some added features like vibration, rolling massage, bubbles, and pumice stones, which may be particularly important depending on your personal needs.
“If you have healthy feet and are just looking to use [a foot bath] to relax, it comes down to what you prefer and how much you want to spend,” says Dr. McEneaney. “There are really basic foot baths on the market that could do the job you need it to do, and then there are really sophisticated, expensive ones.”
If you’re not planning on using your foot bath much but want to relieve occasional pain or pre-treat for procedures like nail debridement, a basic basin you fill yourself is probably all you need. On the other hand, if you have chronic foot pain and plan to use the bath frequently, it makes more sense to splurge on one that can give you the full spa experience at home.
Both doctors note that their recommendations only apply to people with healthy feet. You should not use a foot bath if you have open sores on your feet, or if the source of your foot pain is undiagnosed.
“If you’re using a foot bath to try to treat a foot or ankle ailment or injury, it’s best to see a doctor first because trying to treat things at home like this can actually make a problem worse,” explains Dr. McEneaney. “That way, you don’t risk exacerbating any injury or ailment by mistreating it—and you can be confident that the foot bath is actually going to be useful in addition to feeling good.”
Why We Don’t Recommend Ionic Footbaths
Without getting too much in the weeds here, proponents of ionic foot baths claim that these treatments can remove toxins with the use of a low-voltage electrical current; the ionization charges atoms in the water that attract toxins in your body and pull them out through your feet.
“The theory is that the ionization will detoxify the body, as opposed to a regular foot bath which has whirlpool jets that just moves the water around,” says Dr. Weiser.
There is no body of evidence proving these claims or widespread studies showing their effectiveness—and some people should definitely not use an ionic foot bath, says Dr. Weiser, including people who have pacemakers or defibrillators, people on blood thinners, and diabetics.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you put in a foot bath?
There are a lot of options when it comes to adding ingredients like salts and oils to your foot bath. This isn’t required, obviously, but can really boost your spa experience!
- Epsom salt. Both Drs. McEneaney and Weiser say that Epsom salt is helpful, especially if you have sore, achy feet.
- Ice (in non-electric foot baths). “Most people think the bath should be warm, but if you’re having joint pain, a cold foot bath can be helpful,” says Dr. McEneaney.
- Essential oils. Certain scents, like peppermint, can be soothing and add to the relaxation benefits of the bath.
One thing you shouldn’t add, at least without knowing its limitations? Tea tree oil.
“Some people add tea tree oil to their foot baths [and] while there’s no harm in doing this, studies have shown that tea tree oil isn’t enough to cure fungus, so don’t rely on that for any medical treatments,” Dr. McEneaney says.
Lastly, don’t forget to have a good moisturizer on hand for after the bath; Dr. McEneaney says people think soaking their feet also moisturizes them, but in reality, it dries them out because you’re essentially washing away the natural oils that your body produces to keep them hydrated. Follow up with a nourishing cream or lotion after your feet have been soaked and towel-dried.
How often should you do an ionic foot bath?
If you believe in the therapeutic value of an ionic foot bath, says Dr. Weiser, the general recommendation is to do it once every 72 hours for five to 10 treatments, and then monthly after that (for maintenance). But again, keep in mind that there’s not a strong body of evidence for the use of ionic foot baths at this point, and that some people should avoid their use entirely.
Can people with diabetes use a footbath?
Yes, with some caveats: “Ionic foot baths should not be used if you have open sores or if you are a diabetic,” says Dr. Weiser, adding that epsom salts should also be avoided for those with diabetes.
If you have diabetes but want to treat your feet to a foot bath, it’s better to stick to basic models: electric spas with gentle heat and massage, or plain basins you customize yourself.
“My recommendation is to soak your feet in a whirlpool foot tub with warm water, with white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to be safe from complications,” says Dr. Weiser.
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Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.