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?