Herbs make wonderful allies for treating tired, sore, red, or infected eyes. You can use an eye soak or an eye compress to deliver herbal healing to your eyes. One minor caution to keep in mind when doing an herbal eye soak or compress is you should keep your eyes closed during the procedure to prevent particles from coming in contact with your eye. The healing properties of your herbs will be absorbed safely and effectively through your eyelids.

The difference between an eye soak and an eye compress is in how you deliver the herbal infusion to your eyes. When you do an eye soak, you fill a small cup or eye cup with the infusion and carefully hold it up to your closed eye so the liquid comes in contact with your eyelid and the area surrounding your eyelid. When you do an eye compress, you apply a cloth or tea bag soaked in the infusion to your closed eye. In either case, it’s a good idea to plan to do the compress or soak for about 10 minutes each time. Depending on the condition you’re treating, you may do the compress or soak as few as once or twice a day or as much as once every hour or two.

For more information, see How to Use an Herbal Eye Soak: Easy Herbal First Aid.

A General Procedure for an Herbal Eye Compress

This is a basic procedure, not a recipe. I haven’t included specific measurements but have instead described the process and what to look for as you’re working. For specific recipes using this technique, see The Practical Herbalist Recipes.


  • Lint-free cloth, tea bag, or other small, absorbent compress
  • Shallow bowl or glass large enough to hold the liquid, compress, and to allow you space for squeezing excess water out of the compress


  • Herbal infusion or other liquid with healing properties


  1. Pour your cooled infusion or compress liquid into a shallow bowl or glass.
  2. Submerge your compress in the liquid until it’s completely soaked.
  3. Remove the compress from the liquid, and wring it out so it’s not dripping.
  4. Close your eye (or eyes) and place the compress on your closed eye lids. It helps if you can lay back while you let the healing properties of your infusion or liquid soak into your skin.
  5. Re-soak and wring your compress as makes sense then re-apply it to your closed eyelids.