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How to Make an Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal baths are both relaxing and soothing, especially when your skin feels itchy (such as during a bout of chicken pox or poison ivy rash),[1] or when it is inflamed (for example, as a result of allergies, insect bites, or sunburn).[2] Oatmeal is excellent for your skin, smells good, and leaves your skin feeling soft. With an oatmeal bath, you might wish you could just sit there forever. As an added advantage, there are limitless variations on the traditional oatmeal bath, some of which are described here. Follow these steps to prepare an easy but effective oatmeal bath to soothe your skin in the comfort of your own home.


  • Plain, unflavored, (preferably whole-grain) oatmeal; finer oatmeal is best
  • Small lavender buds (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) (optional)
  • Lavender (or other) essential oils (optional), for a relaxing bath, check for all usage precautions
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of buttermilk or regular milk, for a relaxing, softening bath (optional)
  • Epsom salts, for a rejuvenating bath (optional)


  1. Image titled Make an Oatmeal Bath Step 1
    Pour about 1/3 to 3/4 cup of oatmeal into a measuring cup. The amount used will depend on how large your coffee filter or muslin piece is.
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    Pour the oatmeal from the cup into a bowl.
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    Push down on the dry oatmeal with the back of a spoon. This is to get rid of any clumps that might have formed in storage.
    • You can skip this step if your oatmeal is already in smallish pieces.
    • If the oatmeal pieces are really large, place them into a plastic bag and turn them into smaller pieces by running a rolling pin over the bag and mashing them.
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    Add extras to the oatmeal, if you wish. If you are having the bath for relaxation purposes, feel free to add additional elements. If you are using the oatmeal bath to treat itchiness, rashes, inflamed or sore skin, however, it is probably advisable to either avoid this step or to be very cautious, as these additions could aggravate the condition. Additions to consider include:
    • Lavender buds. If you don't have lavender buds, take a stalk of dried lavender and break the individual buds off the branch and into the bowl.
    • Add a few drops of your preferred essential oil to the bowl. Be sure to choose a safe essential oil for bath use. Although this step is optional, it does heighten the enjoyment of the bathing experience. If you are suffering from a skin condition, skip this step.
    • Mix all additions in well with the spoon until the contents are evenly distributed.
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    Spoon the mixture into the coffee filter bag or muslin piece. The filter bags used in the images for this tutorial were size 4 filters (suitable for 8-12 cups of coffee), and required four level soup spoons of mixture to fill.
    • Tie it off with a rubber band, string, or ribbon. A rubber band is probably the easiest to use unless you have a friend to hold the bag for you while you tie it with string or ribbon.
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    Fill the tub with relatively hot water. If adding milk as well, pour the buttermilk or regular milk into the tub under the running water from the faucet.
    • Another optional step - add about 3/4 cup of Epsom salts to the buttermilk when you pour it into the tub to ease sore muscles and help achieve softer skin. Skip this step if you are treating your skin for any itchiness or soreness.
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    Throw the oatmeal/lavender bag in the back of the tub, away from the bath end with the running water. Allow to cool. As the tub cools to a tolerable temperature, the heat will cause the essences of oatmeal and lavender to disperse.
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    Step into the tub when it is tepid. Once in the bath, you can gently squeeze the oatmeal sachet to release more of the oatmeal liquid through the bath; don't squeeze too hard if you're using the filter paper version though, or it will break, leaving oatmeal in your bathtub. Enjoy the bath for as long as wished, although if you are treating a skin condition, don't stay longer than 10 minutes to avoid aggravating your skin condition.
    • Light some pleasant vanilla or lavender candles for an even more relaxing setting.
    • If you have a skin condition, dry with care, using gentle blotting actions with a soft towel over the itchy or sore parts of your skin.
    • Repeat as needed. The beauty of oatmeal baths is that they are gentle enough to be enjoyed daily if wished.


  • To make an oatmeal exfoliant, mix fine salt with ground oatmeal and lavender oil.
  • Colloidal oatmeal is very finely ground oatmeal that can be added direct to the bath without encasing in a bag. This can be purchased from the pharmacy; follow the instructions accompanying it.
  • Since the coffee filter is made out of paper, you can easily dispose this later without having a cooked-oatmeal mess all over the place. Muslin or cheesecloth will compost well, although you can also simply rinse it off, allow to dry and reuse until it is no longer useful.
  • Pop the oatmeal in a clean sock; it's much easier! Tie it off with rubber band on top! It helps soothe sunburn too.


  • Don't put the bag under the running water - the pressure will tear the paper bag open and you'll have a mess of cooked oatmeal to clean up.
  • Do not get into a bath of hot water with a skin condition; always check that the water is tepid.
  • Use common sense around hot water to avoid scalding.
  • This is not a substitute for any medical treatment of any kind - it is merely a nice way to relax or to soothe the skin.

Things You'll Need

  • Oatmeal, instant or regular.
  • Lavender or other relaxing oils
  • A relatively sturdy paper coffee filter (or many not-so-sturdy ones); if you can't get coffee filters, look for generic filter paper, or use muslin or cheesecloth. If using cloth, pre-cut into a circular shape prior to undertaking this project.
  • Some ribbon, string, or a rubber band (to tie the bag)
  • Scented candles (optional)

Sources and Citations

  1. Better Health Channel, Chickenpox treatment, at, accessed 25th May, 2010
  2. Elizabeth Forester, How Oatmeal Baths Work, at, accessed 23rd May 2010

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