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 Compress: Easy Herbal First Aid.

A General Procedure for an Herbal Eye Soak

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.



Strain your infusion with a fine strainer or cloth to remove all particles and sediment before you use it.

  • Eye cup or other shallow vessel with a lip that allows you to soak your eyelids


  • Herbal infusion or other liquid with healing properties


  1. Make a weak tea infusion using any eye soak recipe.
  2. Strain it, and allow the liquid to cool.
  3. Restrain the tea if extra sediment appears in the bottom of the container.
  4. Pour your cooled infusion or liquid into an eye cup.
  5. Close your eyes.
  6. Position the eye cup so it makes a seal around your eye and so your closed eyelids are submerged in the liquid.
  7. Empty and refill your eye cup as many times as makes sense then re-apply it to your closed eyelids.