Nail care

How to Soften Toenails

Mary Smith
By Mary Smith. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to Soften Toenails

Maintaining a good care routine for toenails is essential to keep them healthy and pretty, and to prevent ingrown nails and infections. They should be given as much care and attention as fingernails, even if they're usually out of sight.

Keeping them short, clean and well hydrated is the best trick to keep them healthy. However, this is not always easy, especially if they are not soft to begin with. To find out how to soften toenails and have a perfect pedicure, keep reading this OneHowTo article.

You'll need:

  • Basin or bowl
  • Warm water
  • Baby oil, bath salts, and/or alcohol
  • Towel
  • Nail clipper
  • Nail file
You may also be interested in: How to File Toenails

Steps to follow:


Our nails are easy to cut after showering, as the water softens them considerably. Thus, this is a very convenient time to cut them and settle your toenail care routine. This is something that you can do it everyday, but if you want to pay more attention and devote extra time to caring for your toenails, you can soften them separately without having to wait until your shower to do so.


Prepare your toenails before getting them wetting. Apply a moisturizer to your nails and cuticles, massaging the toes as you do so. This will begin the softening process even before soaking your feet in the water - and it feels really nice.

How to Soften Toenails - Step 2

Now it's time to soak them in warm water. For this, fill a deep basin of warm water and add a few drops of baby oil. You can also add coarse salt or bath salts with a little vinegar to enhance the softening effect, and also relax the feet.

Then submerge your feet in the water and let them soak for at least 15 minutes. Like that, the water will soften your toenails more than the scarce few minutes you take in the shower on a daily basis would. The water will make your toes wrinkly, but oil will soften and hydrate your feet and toenails.

How to Soften Toenails - Step 3

Another way to soften toenails is to get a bowl or basin of water to which you add some mild soap and a little alcohol. This will soften, clean and disinfect your nails all in one go. Note that toenails are hotbeds for infection, which should be kept at bay with good hygiene. You can leave them submerged for 15 or 20 minutes without a problem.


When you take your feet out of the basin, thoroughly dry your feet with a clean towel. Do not wait too long before cutting your toenails as you do not want them to harden again after having been left to dry for too long.

Now you can use a nail clipper to cut them and take advantage of the fact that they are nice and soft. Remember to leave them short, but not too short because this may be painful and could cause infection.

File your nails after clipping them for a smooth finish. It is very important that you follow these steps correctly and, to avoid leaving any jagged edges, as we recommend in the article about how to make thick toenails thinner, you should find a good polishing file - it's better if it has different sides and textures - and use it with firm and gentle movements to shape and polish off unevenness.

How to Soften Toenails - Step 5

Once you have finished clipping and filing your nails, apply a moisturizing lotion to your toenails to keep them well-nourished and perfect.


This has been a brief guide on how to soften toenails. Remember to follow this routine for clean and pretty feet. If you need more tips, check out our section on the care of nails.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Soften Toenails, we recommend you visit our Beauty & Personal Care category.

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How to Soften Toenails