Mouthwash Alternatives

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Mouthwash is a handy tool for freshening breath and disinfecting your mouth, but it has some disadvantages too. For one thing, some people like to avoid the alcohol contained in many commercial brands. Others want to avoid fluoride, artificial colors and other additives. Still others are just seeking a frugal alternative. These low-tech mouthwash alternatives are on the job.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild antiseptic that is often recommended as a gargle for minor mouth sores and throat complaints. Its antiseptic action also helps kill the bacteria that cause bad breath and its bleaching properties help whiten teeth. The main disadvantage of using hydrogen peroxide is its unpleasant taste. Use a small amount -- a capful -- of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and mix it with an equal amount of water. Make sure never to swallow hydrogen peroxide; large doses can be harmful or fatal and smaller doses can cause uncomfortable irritation of the stomach and digestive tract.

Baking Soda

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is also an antiseptic well-known for its odor neutralizing properties. As an extra bonus, it will also help whiten your teeth and unlike hydrogen peroxide, it's safe to ingest. Dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in an 8-ounce glass of water to make a do-it-yourself mouthwash alternative.


Apple cider vinegar is reputed to help all sorts of minor conditions, and halitosis, a.k.a. bad breath, is just one of them. Vinegar acts as an antiseptic, killing off odor-causing bacteria in the mouth. It's also safe to swallow a vinegar solution. Use half a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in an 8-ounce glass of water for your mouth rinse.

Peppermint Oil

Mint flavoring is a component of many a commercial mouthwash for good reason -- it makes the mouth feel cleaner thanks to the tingle of menthol and has a pleasant odor as well. For a quick homemade mouthwash, add a few drops of peppermint oil to an 8-ounce glass of water. Although this mixture is safe to swallow, ingesting is not recommended as the peppermint oil may irritate the stomach.

Salt Water

If all else fails, plain salt water can be used as a quick disinfectant and astringent rinse. Dilute a teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water.