Oral Rinses: How to Make Homemade Mouthwash

This is the second part of a two-part blog series on oral rinses. If you missed the first post, click here to find the answer to the question, “To rinse or not to rinse?”

In the first part of this two-part blog series, we answered a crucial oral and dental health question. One should definitely rinse their mouth after brushing and flossing their teeth… provided they can find the right mouthwash that won’t send them into anaphylactic shock!

If you’re absolutely determined to have a clean mouth and a brilliant smile but you’re concerned about some of the downsides of store-bought mouthwashes, don’t worry. You can still have a smile that smells as fresh as a meadow. For those with severe allergies or an aversion to chemicals that they can’t pronounce, homemade oral rinses can provide a viable alternative to commercial mouthwashes. Let’s find out how they’re made and what’s in them.

Warm Salt Water Mouthwash

Oftentimes, the best solutions are the simplest ones—at least, that’s the case for homemade mouthwash. Warm salt rinses have quite a few benefits but we’ll focus on the ones that brighten your smile.

Kills Bacteria – If you read the first part of this series, then you know that commercial mouthwashes kill all of the bacteria in your mouth—the good and the bad alike. Warm salt water rinses on the other hand tend to leave the helpful bacteria behind. Saltwater has the effect of balancing out your mouth’s pH level, creating an environment that is friendly to good bacteria but inhospitable to bad bacteria.

Protects Teeth – Balancing out your mouth’s level of acidity also helps to prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.

Fights Bad Breath – An unscented cupful of warm salt water won’t leave you with minty-fresh breath but it will help protect against bad breath. Most often, bad breath is the result of bad bacteria so salt water’s ability to reduce bad bacteria can give you fresher breath for longer.

Heals Bleeding Gums – Even the mere idea of throwing salt on a bleeding wound is enough to make one cringe with the expectation of pain. Saltwater rinses can, however, have a soothing effect on swollen, inflamed, and bleeding gums.

Warm salt water rinses as an alternative to commercial mouthwashes offer these benefits and more. And they’re very easy to make. Simply dissolve a teaspoon of table salt into a glass of water and rinse away. For extra oral health benefits, add essential oils such as tea tree oil, neem oil, or coconut oil to this homemade mouthwash recipe. And if you’re after a brighter smile, you can throw in a teaspoon of baking soda—it’s clinically proven to whiten teeth!

Apple Cider Vinegar Mouthwash

It’s great for making salad dressings, it’s great for pickling vegetables… is it great for cleaning mouths? Believe it or not, if used correctly and sparingly, apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be an effective mouthwash.

Kills Bacteria – You’ve probably noticed a running theme in effective mouthwashes: they all kill bad bacteria! And now you can add apple cider vinegar to the list of bad-bacteria-killers. A 2019 study found that ACV had strong antibacterial properties at concentrations as low as 25%. However, the study stopped short of calling this improvised mouthwash a miracle cure.

Can Treat Oral Thrush & Gum Disease – At sufficiently high concentrations, ACV can be an effective home remedy for oral thrush as it contains enzymes that combat candida and excess yeast. Adding apple cider vinegar to your diet through salad dressings or oral supplements can even address underlying health conditions that contribute to periodontal disease.

Can Damage Enamel – Part of what makes ACV such an effective antiseptic is its high level of acidity. Unfortunately, that also makes it an effective enamel killer. ACV has a pH level of anywhere between 2-3—that’s comparable to undiluted lemon juice. If you’re going to use apple cider vinegar as a mouthwash, it’s important to do so sparingly.

Making ACV mouthwash isn’t quite as simple as a warm salt water rinse with added baking soda and essential oils. In order to protect your enamel from acidity, you’ll want to dilute one teaspoon of ACV into an 8-ounce glass of water. At that low level of concentration, it isn’t clear that apple cider vinegar provides much if any antiseptic benefits. Nevertheless, diluted ACV can be an all-natural mouthwash alternative to the store-bought options if used properly.

Hydrogen Peroxide Mouthwash

You’re probably more familiar with hydrogen peroxide as a teeth-whitening agent that your dentist uses. However, hydrogen peroxide can also be an effective mouthwash.

Hydrogen peroxide has antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties that can give you a cleaner mouth and a brighter smile. Furthermore, hydrogen peroxide can clean your gums and, if prescribed by your dentist, can even help treat gingivitis.

Much like apple cider vinegar, however, hydrogen peroxide can damage your teeth’s enamel. Even the relatively low concentration options sold in pharmacies—3% and 6%—are potent enough to damage your enamel if not administered with the supervision or instruction of a dentist.

If you want to use hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash, you’ll want to dilute it with water in a one-to-two ratio (i.e., one part hydrogen peroxide and two parts water). Swish your homemade mouthwash around your mouth as you normally would for not more than 30 seconds. Click here to learn more about hydrogen peroxide mouthwashes.

Always Talk to Your Dentist

Regardless of whether you opt for a store-bought mouthwash or a homemade concoction of salt water, baking soda, peppermint oil, and aloe vera extract, you’ll want to talk to your dentist. Any changes to your oral and dental care routine can have a huge impact on your oral health.

And remember, no mouthwash—store-bought or homemade—is a replacement for flossing and brushing your teeth twice daily. But it is a great complement to your dental care routine.