A quick shower in the morning or after working out has gained favor over a more leisurely soak with bathing ingredients carefully chosen to support internal cleansing, overall health and even to remedy specific ailments or injuries.
I first became familiar with the benefits of cleansing baths during my travels in Asia just before I launched into my corporate career after college.
What is a Detox Bath?
The Japanese in particular greatly value cleansing, detox baths, so much so that public baths remain popular even today. The Japanese favor using water as hot as a person can possibly stand with a special type of cloth used to exfoliate and thereby encourage detoxification via the body’s largest organ – the skin.
According to nutritional pioneer Dr. Hazel Parcells, 65% of body cleansing is achieved via the skin!
In America, bathing is viewed more for relaxation than detoxification as a general rule. The focus on bathing enjoyment can be observed at bed and bath stores where a plethora of artificially scented, hormone disrupting bubble bath concoctions are creatively displayed and are best sellers year round.
I would venture to suggest that health cannot easily be maintained over the long term without the regular incorporation of detox baths. If traditional cultures valued therapeutic cleansing baths back when our world was pristine with clean water, air, and unprocessed, additive free food, one can only imagine how important a gentle and regular detoxification bathing protocol is today given our toxic soup world with chemicals and other biologically disrupting agents nearly everywhere!
If the body is clogged up with toxins from the physiological stress of modern living and the chemical assault from every direction, it cannot properly utilize the nutrient dense food that is consumed.
How to Take a Detoxification Bath
The reason water as hot as can be tolerated is typically used is because this initially draws toxins to the surface of the skin, as described by Dr. Hazel Parcells in her book The Pioneer Nutritionist Dr. Hazel Parcells in Her Own Words. Then, as the water gradually cools down, the toxins are pulled into the water via the principle of osmosis – the weak energy from the cooling water draws from the strong energy from the body heated up initially by the very hot water.
How Often Should You Take a Detox Bath?
If the wisdom of cleansing baths appeals to you, below is a primer on seven different types of therapeutic bathing.
Generally speaking, a cleansing bath 2-3 times per week with only one per day maximum works well for most people. This works to keep elimination channels open and gently encourage the detoxification process on a regular basis.
Note that sometimes during or after bathing, you will notice the skin exfoliating. If you find this happening to you, try dry skin brushing before your next therapeutic bath. While not suitable for everyone, it can be a helpful step to encourage additional detoxification when done immediately before a cleansing soak.
Baking Soda Baths
A baking soda bath is one of the first types of cleansing soaks people try because they usually have a box right in their pantry!
Dissolve 4 cups of aluminum free baking soda (source) in a regular size tubful of water as hot as you can tolerate. Use more as needed if your tub is oversized. Stay in the bath until the water has cooled which will take approximately 45 minutes. Do not rinse after the bath. Simply towel dry.
This bath is beneficial for exposure to irradiated food, swollen glands, sore throat (including strep throat) or soreness of the gums and mouth. It is also beneficial for those with digestive impairment such as the inability to hold food in the stomach comfortably.
Epsom Salt Bath for Detoxing
Epsom salts are readily available at most drug stores and supermarkets. It is very affordable to try this detox bath next.
Dissolve 2 cups of epsom salts (source) in a regular sized bath. Use more as needed if your tub is oversized. The temperature should be comfortably warm but not overly hot. Soak for at least 12 minutes and up to 20-30 minutes. Rinse and towel dry.
The scientific name for epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. Magnesium and sulfur are both critical nutrients but surprisingly can be poorly absorbed from our food. Soaking in epsom salts overcomes this problem as these minerals both absorb readily via the skin.
According to the Epsom Salt Industry Council, a simple soak is beneficial to heart and circulatory health, can lower blood pressure, helps ease muscle pain and eliminates harmful substances from the body. It also improves nerve function by encouraging proper regulation of electrolytes.
Soak in epsom salts 2-3 times weekly for general health maintenance or to alleviate the discomfort of bruising and sprains. An epsom salts soak also encourages detoxification of drugs remaining in the body after surgery.
Sea Salt and Baking Soda Detox Baths
Dissolve one pound of sea salt or rock salt (source) and one pound of baking soda (source) to a regular sized tub of water (more if the tub is large) as hot as you can stand it. Stay in the bath until the water has cooled which will be about 45 minutes. If the bath is too hot, you can add some cold water if this is the only way you can manage to stay in for at least 30 minutes. Don’t ever add more hot water after entering the bath, however.
Do not rinse or shower but simply towel dry after the bath is complete. This bath will likely make you tired so do it in the evening before bed if possible.
This bath is therapeutic for any exposure to environmental radiation, x-rays, plane flights or airport screenings by TSA.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Detox Bath
Add 2 cups of store bought or homemade apple cider vinegar (source) to a regular sized tub of water as hot as tolerated. Use more as needed if your tub is oversized. Stay in the vinegar bath until the water has cooled which will be about 45 minutes. Towel dry and don’t shower for at least 8 hours.
This bath is a great overall detoxifier and for muscle aches and pains brought on by physical exertion. It is also helpful and the best detox bath choice for those with candida issues that affect the skin as it returns the skin to an optimal, slightly acidic ph which is a difficult environment for candida to thrive.
An ACV bath draws excess uric acid out of the body. Uric acid is created when the body breaks down substances called purines in certain foods and drinks. Most uric acid is eliminated via the kidneys in the urine, but some folks such as those with gout can have issues with excess levels. An ACV cleansing bath can provide welcome relief for those with joint problems, arthritis, gout, bursitis, or tendonitis. It also is very helpful for those with excessive body odor problems.
Note that you can use any type of vinegar if you don’t have any ACV on hand. But, watch out as most white distilled vinegar is made from GMO corn and likely contains glyphoste residue.
Hydrogen Peroxide Bath
While not officially a detox bath per se, a soak in water with a bit of H2O2 added is beneficial for healing skin ulcers and other infections of the dermis. This article on the benefits of hydrogen peroxide baths elaborates.
Fever Bath Benefits
Another therapeutic bath that hastens detoxification by raising body temperature by a couple of degrees is the fever bath. It works similarly to the benefits of infrared sauna by stimulating the immune system and encouraging sweating. This article on the benefits of fever baths explains more.
If a fever bath is too much to handle, a ginger bath is another option which encourages sweating with a more lukewarm water temperature as opposed to the very hot water required for a fever bath.
Contraindications and Why NOT to Mix Ingredients
Be sure to only do one bathing formula per day. Do not mix ingredients from different recipes for detox baths. This is because one ingredient may compete with another. For example, pushing nutrients into the body with an epsom salt bath versus pulling toxins out in a vinegar bath – acid versus alkaline.
One exception to this is the sea salt/baking soda detox bath as both ingredients are alkaline and do not compete with each other.
If you want to do a pregnancy detox, consult with your healthcare practitioner before commencing any cleansing bath routine.
Don’t Have a Bathtub? Do This Instead
If your residence doesn’t have ready access to a bathtub to take your cleansing baths, try one or more of these soothing recipes for a foot detox instead. All you need is a large bowl or basin about a foot deep.
Hint: skip those useless and expensive detox foot pads though!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
More Information on Healthy Ways to Detox
Coffee Enema: Unmatched Detoxification for Health and Recovery
Natural Deworming Methods that are Safe and Effective
Seaweed Wrap: Minerals In, Heavy Metals Out
Rebounding: A Great Way to Gently Detox
Juicing 101: Why Do It, Which Juicers are Best, Recipes to Try
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.