DIY Mustard Bath For Muscle Relaxation and Better Sleep

Heather Dessinger

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DIY Mustard Bath Recipe

Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin swears by them

. . . but once jokingly added that she hasn’t “tried to bathe in ketchup or soy sauce or anything.” (source 1, source 2) What on earth is she talking about? Why, mustard baths, of course!

If the thought of putting mustard in your tub instead of on, say, your grain-free burger has your brain doing flip-flops, here’s what you need to know: Mustard baths have long been used in England as a comfort measure for colds and flus, achy muscles, and stressful days. Even before that, this spice was used therapeutically in ayurvedic and Egyptian traditions for similar complaints.

So how does it work?

If you’ve ever bitten into a jalapeno and felt beads of sweat form on your forehead, you’ve already experienced one of the primary benefits associated with mustard. It contains several compounds that are thought to stimulate circulation, warm the body and soothe muscles.

The recipe below is an adaptation of a common traditional one, which usually includes mustard, essential oils and benzoin resin in a base of sodium carbonate or baking soda. In addition to mustard, here’s what we’ll be using:

Magnesium – Because it is well-absorbed through skin, bathing in magnesium-rich water is one of the best ways to raise our magnesium levels. Magnesium is vital for over 300 metabolic reactions within the body, including ones that help with detoxification and relaxation, which is why it’s  often used in homemade bath salts. In the recipe below, use either epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) or magnesium flakes (magnesium chloride). This is my favorite brand.

Essential Oils – This recipe includes essential oils of eucalyptus, thyme and rosemary, which are all types of monoterpenes. These oils have long been considered helpful for opening nasal passages and supporting healthy respiratory function, and they smell amazing when blended with wintergreen, which is considered helpful for relaxing muscles. However, none of these oils are generally considered appropriate for children, so I’ve included alternate suggestions below if you’re planning to add this to your little ones’ baths.

Ascorbic Acid or Sodium Ascorbate (Optional) – If your bath water contains chlorine, you can add ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate to neutralize it. Though chlorination levels vary in different municipalities, the United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 1 gram is enough to neutralize roughly 100 gallons of water. That’s about 1/4 teaspoon per 100 gallons.

Timing Your Mustard Bath For Deeper, More Restful Sleep

As I mentioned in my post on getting better sleep, you may be able to time your bath to improve overall sleep quality. While our bodies are designed to sleep best in a relatively cool environment (usually 65-72F), one study found that a hot bath 1.5 hours before bed decreased sleep fragmentation (aka sleep disruptions) in older adults suffering from insomnia.

Whenever you decide to take it, I hope you love this aromatic bath as much as I do.

Glass jar of homemade mustard bath powder

Mustard Bath Recipe


* Essential oils are wonderful, but they must be used safely. Because wintergreen contains naturally occurring salicylates, which is the blood-thinning compound found in aspirin, it is not recommended for children, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, individuals taking anticoagulant medications, individuals who have major surgery planned, or individuals who have hemophilia or other bleeding disorders. The dilution in this recipe is so small that a certified aromatherapist I consult with said it is not likely to cause an adverse effect, but I wanted to mention it anyway.

Kid-Friendly Mustard Bath Recipe

This recipe is appropriate for children and pregnant/breastfeeding women:

To Make

Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Store in an airtight jar, preferably in a dark cabinet to keep the essential oils from oxidizing.

To Use

Dissolve 1/4 cup in bath water and soak for 15-30 minutes.

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

Leave a Comment

18 thoughts on “DIY Mustard Bath For Muscle Relaxation and Better Sleep”

  1. I have alot of aches in the winter months. I’m going to try this bath soak.Thanks for posting this information.I’ve only heard of bath salts before.

  2. This sounds wonderful but I didn’t see where it said how much to add to your bath. Also, will the mustard irritate the skin and should you rinse with plain water after bathing? Thanks!

    • **blush** That would be because I totally forgot to include that info. I just updated the post, but here it is so you don’t have to go hunt for it:

      “Dissolve 1/4 cup in bath water and soak for 15-30 minutes.”

      At this dilution the mustard powder is not likely to cause irritation unless you’re allergic to mustard. I personally don’t feel a need to rinse after using it 🙂

  3. I loooove this. I made it following the recipe carefully. ( even ordered the magnesium bath flakes) I used it right after making it and it was wonderful!! Now the next day I went to use it and it is hard and does not want to disolve. Can you help? Is this normal?

      • Mix only dry goods to store for future use and add a few drops of each essential oil directly to the bath. Once most dry powder goods become moist, they will harden especially Epsom salts or magnesium flakes. (I learned this quickly) 🙂

  4. mustard baths are so healing! I use one whenever I feel a cold, flu, sore muscles etc. Have been having them the last few days for an inflamed tendon in my neck from a fall. Will try this recipe.

  5. I dont have any allergies what so ever. Is it OK to use mustard bath on a daily basis?
    I used it once and IT FELT SOO GOOD >.<

    • We too, are wondering if it is OK to soak in a hott mustard bath every day for a few weeks in winter. Did you find any info? Love love looove mustard baths! Soaking in one now ??

  6. Would you personally steer away from putting “Vitamin C ascorbic acid powder” in the bath or on the skin of a small child?
    We were going to put it in the bathtub to neutralize our chlorinated Dallas (Addison) water for our 23mo, and make a skin lotion with it for going in her first chlorinated swimming pool.
    But reading several of your posts that mention questionable sources for producing it, I’m not so sure. Would you be less concerned, with it being external and not ingested? My girl has sensitive skin & some issue with small breakouts of eczema on her elbows/arms/hands, if that matters.
    We were going to get some from our local healthfood store (‘now’ brand:, but I’ve read it’s likely made from european non-gmo corn or something…probably not as awesome as the whole-food cherry powder or the NutriBiotic brand you link to.

    How would you feel about this, used in these external ways, for your littles?

    • Hi I’ve heard that any citrus fruit peel to dry out on a windows sill on some paper for a few days then crush it once it’s dry to produce vitamin c plus it’s appernatly better than shop brands as it still has the live enzymes? Maybe an idea, also Manuka honey has great healing property’s for eczema, hope this maybe of help

  7. I have heard of mustard baths for femine infections too. I am trying just mustard seed powder right now and I am anxious to see the results. I have had some very irratating female issues lately and i read a post from a lady that said mustard seed powder works to relieve itching and irratation. I will let you know who it goes. Your recipe sounds like it would work great too.

  8. The kid friendly mustard bath is NOT SAFE for children! Many essential oils are not safe for children’s thinner skin. Lavender oil can be very dangerous for children. I have not checked the other essential oils, but I would not chance it on children.