Do Detox Foot Pads Really Work?

Detox foot pads are an over-the-counter (OTC) product that claims to remove toxins from the body while you rest at night. The makers of these adhesive pads, which you stick to the bottom of your feet, also assert that they can improve various other medical conditions. These claims have never been proven, and the product is widely viewed as a scam.

This article will debunk some of the claims made by detox foot pad manufacturers and discuss the body’s natural methods of detoxifying itself.


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What Are Detox Foot Pads?

Detox foot pads are adhesive patches that are placed on the bottom of your feet before you go to bed at night.

The product is left in place while you sleep. It's claimed that ions in the pads draw toxins—like heavy metals—out of your body.

When you wake up in the morning, the pads are typically discolored and may be stained with a brown or blackish hue. The manufacturers of this product claim (incorrectly) that this is proof that harmful or toxic materials were effectively removed from your body.

Do Detox Foot Pads Work?

Unfortunately, many of the claims made by the makers of detox foot pads are both false and misleading. There is no evidence that the pads detoxify the body or that they can be used to treat any medical condition. In fact, not only might this product be both a waste of money and time, but its ingredients can actually cause harmful side effects, as noted below.              

Federal Trade Commission Ruling

In 2010, Kinoki, a manufacturer of detox foot pads, was penalized by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for falsely claiming that its product could detoxify the body and treat medical conditions. These supposed benefits were proven to be false and the company was barred from selling or advertising the patches.

Claims About Detox Foot Pads

In addition to drawing out toxins, claims by manufacturers of this product include that the foot pads are beneficial for other medical conditions.

For instance, Kinoki has asserted that its product is able to decrease headaches and insomnia, reduce the effects of depression, lower high blood pressure, and eliminate parasites from the body. The company also suggested that the patches could be used to treat arthritis, diabetes, and a compromised immune system.

Each of these claims has been found to be both false and misleading. To date, there is no research that supports the use of foot pads to treat any medical condition nor is there any proof that they detoxify the body.

Why Do Detox Foot Pads Change Color

Foot pad manufacturers often point to changes in the color of the patch as proof that toxins are being removed from the body. This claim, however, is also inaccurate.

The dark color that is often seen on these pads after use is actually a result of the wood vinegar that they are infused with.  When this substance is mixed with the perspiration from your foot, a color change occurs. In fact, the same blackish or brownish hue can also be seen if the patch is spritzed with tap water.

Risks and Side Effects From Detox Foot Pads

While they do not provide any actual benefits, detox foot pads are often viewed as being relatively harmless, but this is not necessarily the case. Most of the foot patches are infused with either wood or bamboo vinegar to provide the color changes while you wear them.

These substances contain pyroligneous acid, an ingredient that can cause a number of side effects, including localized burning or irritation of the skin. In addition, this acid can cause dizziness or difficulty breathing if it is inhaled.

Because of this, the use of these foot patches is not without risk.

Detox and the Body

While people spend large amounts of time and money trying to cleanse their bodies of toxins, in most cases body cleansing is unnecessary. This is because your body has its own natural methods of removing harmful substances, as described below. 

How the Body Detoxifies Naturally

The two types of toxins found in the body are:

  • Endotoxins are substances that are created as a byproduct during normal bodily functions. This includes things like lactic acid buildup after exercise or fecal matter production after digestion.
  • Exotoxins are toxic substances that are inhaled from the environment or consumed when you eat or drink.

No matter the type of toxin, your liver is designed to process and eliminate these toxins. It does this by filtering harmful substances from your bloodstream and converting them into waste products. It also transforms nutrients and medications into beneficial proteins. Keeping this organ healthy is the key to effectively detoxifying your body.            

Signs and Symptoms of Poor Liver Function

There are several telltale signs that can indicate your liver is functioning inefficiently and not properly filtering out toxins. These include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, indicating a bilirubin buildup)
  • Stomach pain or swelling
  • Itchy skin
  • Swollen legs or ankles
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stool
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Bruising easily

Paying attention to the presence of these symptoms can help alert you to a potential problem with this organ. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your healthcare provider to discuss any concerns you have about your liver.

How to Improve Liver Function Naturally

Instead of taking supplements or using detox foot pads, there are several steps that you can take to ensure that your liver is functioning effectively. These include:

  • Avoid excessive alcohol use.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Avoid recreational drug use or unprotected sex with multiple partners (which may increase your risk of contracting hepatitis).
  • Get screened for liver disease if it runs in your
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Avoiding unsafe detox practices.
  • Consult your doctor before taking supplements.


Detox foot pads are advertised as a natural way to remove toxins from the body as you sleep. They have been deemed useless and their manufacturers were penalized by the FTC for making deceptive health claims. The ingredients found in the patches may even be harmful. Keeping your liver functioning effectively is the most effective way to naturally detoxify the body.

A Word From Verywell

If you are feeling sluggish or under the weather, it may be tempting to give detox foot pads a try. Unfortunately, doing so is likely a waste of your time and money. Take heart, though, in knowing that there are easy steps you can take to ensure that your liver is properly detoxifying your body.

Following the guidelines detailed above and speaking to your healthcare provider about your concerns can help put you on a healthier path and maximize the natural effectiveness of your liver.  

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do detox foot pads really work?

    Contrary to the claims of their manufacturers, detox foot pads do not remove toxins from the body. There is no proof that they effectively treat any medical condition. The makers of this product have been fined and penalized by the FTC for these false assertions.

  • What comes out of your body when you detox?

    When your liver detoxifies the body, it removes potentially harmful substances from your bloodstream and converts them into waste products. The toxins that are removed may be chemical byproducts from activities like digestion or exercise. They may also be pollutants that are inhaled or substances in the food or liquids you ingest.

  • What are the benefits of foot detox?

    Foot detoxes have no known benefits and have been deemed a scam by the FTC. In fact, one ingredient in the patch (pyroligneous acid) may actually cause harm. This substance can irritate or burn the skin. It may also lead to dizziness or difficulty breathing if it is inhaled. 

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Beacon Health System. Detoxfoot pads: do they really work?

  2. Federal Trade Commission. At FTC’s request, judge imposes ban on marketers of detox foot pads.

  3. Harvard Medical School. Thedubious practice of detox.

  4. Cameo Chemicals. Pyroligneous acid(flammable liquid label).

  5. MD Anderson Cancer Center. 4 detox myths: get the facts.

  6. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Detoxifying your liver: fact versus fiction.

By Tim Petrie, DPT, OCS
Tim Petrie, DPT, OCS, is a board-certified orthopedic specialist who has practiced as a physical therapist for more than a decade.