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Fight Illness Naturally with a Garlic Poultice

Written by contributor Stacy Karen of A Delightful Home.

Garlic has such a great reputation that you probably already know of it’s powerful abilities.

A natural antibiotic, garlic is useful in fighting viral and bacterial infections.

Getting garlic into our system is easy for most adults; simply eat a few cloves or swallow a capsule. But another way to take advantage of its power is by way of a poultice (which is a soft, moist mass of cloth, bread, herbs, etc, applied hot as a medicament to the body).

A garlic poultice is helpful when taking garlic by mouth is not an option (read: upset stomach). It is also an easy way to administer garlic to kids who dislike the taste or are too young to swallow pills or chew garlic cloves.

How to Make a Garlic Poultice

You will need:

Fresh garlic, 2 or 3 cloves
Knife, fork  or garlic press
Cheesecloth, large washcloth, or other thin fabric
Warm water (not boiling)
Optional: bandage (to keep poultice in place at awkward angles)
Olive oil or non-petroleum jelly


Crush the garlic so it is nice and juicy. You can do this with the back of a fork, a garlic press, or cut with a knife.

Lay out the cheesecloth and double it over. (For my kids I triple fold it to be sure no raw garlic is coming into contact with their sensitive skin).

Place crushed garlic into the middle of the cheesecloth.

Fold up the cheesecloth like a burrito, folding two opposite sides over the garlic and then the two other sides over the top of that.

Place poultice in a bowl of warm water and leave for a few seconds.

Squeeze out the excess water and lay poultice on desired spot; generally on the chest or bottom of feet. It is a good practice to apply some olive oil or non-petroleum jelly to the skin before applying a garlic poultice (this helps protect the skin form irritation).

When and How to Use a Garlic Poultice

A garlic poultice aids most illnesses. I like to use one when my child has a cold or flu, especially if there is a lot of wheezing or coughing going on. A small poultice can also be used on external wounds and held against the ear during an ear infection.

It is best to use a garlic poultice on the specific body part that is infected. If there is chest congestion present, lay the poultice on the chest (and so on).

Procedure for applying a garlic poultice:

1. Apply oil or non-petroleum jelly to skin

2. Dip poultice in warm water and squeeze out excess water.

3. Apply warm poultice to affected area.

4. Remove after a minute or two and allow skin to rest or apply to another area of the body.

5. Re-warm poultice as necessary by dipping into warm water.

Children who are extremely sensitive to smell will not like having a garlic poultice on their chest (since it’s so close to the nose).  In this case, just put the poultice on the bottom of their feet.  If necessary, wrap with a bandage to keep it in place.

The bottom of the feet is a great spot for a garlic poultice as it draws infection from anywhere in the body. Just be sure to protect the skin by applying oil or non-petroleum jelly first.

The poultice can be moved from one position to another giving the skin a chance to rest and minimizing any risk or irritation. For example, hold the poultice on the chest for a minute or two, move to the feet and then to the back.

It is generally recommended to use a garlic poultice on one specific area for a few minutes at a time (60 seconds for young children).

In the book, 10 Essential Herbs, Lalitha Thomas suggests leaving the poultice on for a minimum of 30 minutes and states that it can be left on the skin overnight. I have never used a garlic poultice overnight and would be interested to hear the experience of any readers who have.


Garlic can cause skin irritation and burns when left for too long. Check skin regularly and remove the poultice at the first sign of irritation. Also make sure that garlic is not coming into direct contact with the skin.

If skin does become irritated, wash immediately.

A garlic poultice is one of the first natural remedies I made and used. Even though it seemed a little out there, I remember feeling very accomplished and brave as I placed it on my sick child’s chest. I am now convinced that a garlic poultice is a simple and effective way to fight illness naturally.

Have you ever made a garlic poultice? If not, is this something you might try?

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  1. Pam M.

    I haven’t made a garlic poultice, but I just began using garlic oil. It’s basically the same principle. You steep the crushed garlic in olive oil and rub the oil on the bottom of the feet before bed. I’ve used this on my son a couple of times recently with pretty good results.

    • Stacy

      Thanks for this info. I have been reading a lot about garlic oil recently and want to make some soon. I’m glad to hear you have had good results with it.

  2. Heather

    I had never heard of this before! What a great idea! My kids don’t seem to like the vinegar/garlic/spices health drinks I make for us in the winter, so this sounds like a good solution!

  3. Rana

    I too just made some garlic oil over the weekend for my little one and it has seemed to help quite a bit. I need to invest in some cheesecloth, I would like to try the poultice. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Stacy

      Another garlic oil maker! So glad to hear that has worked well. It’s on my to-do list now.

      I like using cheesecloth for the poultice, but you can use a regular washcloth if you don’t have any on hand.

  4. Jonathan

    Garlic is amazing, but I have some doubts about drawing an infection out through the feet. There is definitely scientific data backing the health benefits of garlic, but there is no evidence that toxins/infections can be drawn out through the feet. This belief probably stems from the foot detoxification pads and baths that are nothing more than a clever way to part you from your money. If you have anecdotal evidence that garlic on the feet is helpful, it’s probably because the garlic still works its way into the circulatory system, or maybe just the placebo effect. Long story short, garlic does its job by getting IN to your body, not pulling stuff OUT. Pulling stuff out is the job of your liver and kidneys.

    • Stacy

      You raise some good points, Jonathan. Thanks for sharing.

      • Nina

        while it may not draw anything out (though I wouldn’t completely disbelieve that either) the feet are such an important part of the body I can see how putting anything on them could be very effective. think of the reflexology points and how touching specific parts can help with different areas of the body. I would say there is more then anecdotal evidence backing up how the feet and their health and wellbeing affect many parts of the body.

        I am definitely going to try this. I have old baby washcloths and towels my son has outgrown that I think would work just as well. also if you had old receiving blankets and/or diapers, this could work provided they are not super thick, right? I have found there to be a great help when I merely cut up an onion and put it near our bed when sleeping. its a natural decongestant. apparently long ago people used to keep one in the house all winter. many felt it worked best when it turned black (thinking the black was the poison it was drawing in) but I think that’s just gross.

  5. Tamara

    This couldn’t have come at a better time! My five year old has had a horrible cough for a while, and the pediatrician always prescribed breathing treatments, and my son reacts badly to them. I’m going to try this tonight and see if it will help.

    • Nina

      Tamara my son has recently developed asthma and none of the breathing treatments nor the allergy meds are working. so frustrating! I did see that some people have success getting their 4 yr old and up to use a neti pot but mine (just turning 4 tomorrow) tried it once and won’t again. may be something you could check out. there are you tube videos with kids doing it. I’d use the one they squeeze up into their nose rather then the teapot shaped one.

  6. Bree

    Thank you so much for this post! My daughter and I are battling sinus infections, and hers has started to cause some coughing mostly at night or when she’s running like a wild indian. I will definitely be trying this tonight as I bought some garlic yesterday at the store! I’m up for anything that will help us get better, and I’m not a newbie to hearing about natural medicine, I was raised on ecinechea{sp?} and garlic pills!

  7. Karylle Lynch

    This post is really amazing and very health informative! I’ve heard a lot about the good benefits of garlic. Your post about its natural remedies convinced me to give this garlic poultice a try! I also love that the steps are pretty simple. Thank you for sharing!

  8. karen

    This is very helpful and useful tips thank you for sharing it..I might try this some day..

  9. jessica

    i’ve never made one myself but would be interested…my son is sensitive to smells, though….i guess i’m still a bit nervous to try it, but thank you for the information. i’ll make sure to reference it! you never know, i might get braver!

    • Stacy

      You can do it 🙂

  10. Nirob

    I have just been excited to read that details about. It has not made by my hand before but I had listened about its benefit from my elder member of my family like grand’ma !
    I know that, some ready-made products that are made by this main idea is available in market yet. Me and many people are also using for a great result even feeling well by using this. Its really a great natural pack for specially every single kid.
    Thank you so much for sharing this important information here with us !

  11. Stefani

    What a great post! I’ve never tried a poultice but am trying to get my husband to try this today. He has a wicked cough that isn’t going away.

    Garlic is so healing. When I was young, with earaches, my mom would put garlic oil in my ear before bedtime. When I woke up the next morning, my ear was totally healed…every time! The only problem now is that I’m not a big fan of garlic…..

    • Stacy

      I loved reading about your mom using garlic oil for ear infections! Especially that is worked so well.

      A pity you don’t like garlic so much anymore 🙂 Does it bring back ear infection memories?

  12. Debbye @ The Baby Sleep Site

    I love these ideas! Like others, I too am guilty of having no cheesecloth, but would like to try making garlic oil immediately! 🙂

  13. Krissa

    I’m definitely going to try this next time one of the kids is sick…I’m always excited to learn of any new safe and effective natural remedies, thanks for the great info!

  14. locksmiths basingstoke

    You might like my recipe, I remember that my mum used it. Prepare garlic paste. Boil some milk until it is very hot, add some garlic paste and a teaspoon of honey. You hardly can trace a smell/taste of garlic once its mixed with other ingredients. It is a brilliant remedy for kids once they get flu.

  15. Talina (@TalinaN)

    Thanks! I am considering giving this a try. Someone else recommended something similar and I was starching for more specific info.

  16. Kiki

    This is a great and simple one. Thanks. For an internal infection such as viganal or uterine, do you have any suggestions on how to use garlic? Any response will be greatly appreciated.

  17. Brenda Scott

    I truly agree! Garlic has a good health benefits…one is for curing high blood and toothache.

  18. amanda

    Just a quick one…i crush two cloves in chicken broth, soup, noodle soup and have it for tea/supper, then i cut a clove in half length ways and rub it onto the bottoms of my feet, hubbys feet, little tiny bit on kids feet and then socks on an off to bed….wake up feeling much better.

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