Introduction: 14+ Unusual Uses for Mouthwash

You probably have a bottle of mouthwash sitting around, but did you know you can use it for more than just oral care? Its antiseptic and antifungal properties make it helpful for a handful of things you do every day. When you're in a pinch and are missing the product you need, why not pull out your mouthwash and see if it does the trick!

Step 1: What Is It About Mouthwash?

Before I get started, I want to talk about mouthwash.

For my experimentation, I chose to use Listerine Ultra Clean Artic Mint. You can use whatever you have, but in some instances it is good (and sometimes necessary) to use mouthwash that has less color (to avoid staining) and is sugar-free such as the Original Listerine mouthwash.

You may need to check out the label on your mouthwash before you use it. It is the antiseptic and antifungal qualities that make it possible to have these unusual uses.

Mouthwash, or at least specifically Listerine, was originally promoted as a germicide and surgical antiseptic in about 1881. It wasn't until years later in 1895 that it was pushed towards dentists to be used as mouthwash. Because of the antiseptic qualities it still has, mouthwash, while intended simply for oral care, can be used, in a pinch, for other unusual things.

Active Ingredients in Listerine and what they do:

  • Eucalyptol - fresh smell, cooling taste
  • Menthol - local anesthetic and counterirritant
  • Methyl salicylate - multiple uses including antiseptic and anti-inflammatory
  • Thymol - antiseptic


For some of these unusual uses, you may need cotton balls, paper towels, or measuring spoons/cups.

Step 2: Prevent Dandruff

The anti-fungal properties of mouthwash can be helpful in preventing dandruff.

Premix some mouthwash and water. I used a 50/50 ratio, but you can make it more diluted or stronger if you have bad dandruff.

First, wash and rinse your hair as you normally would. Once your shampoo and conditioner are all washed out, take a mixture of mouthwash and water and pour it onto your scalp and let it sit for a few minutes. Then rinse it out of your hair.

If you tip your head forward (which I ended up doing) make sure your eyes are closed! It will get all over you and I advise keeping it out of your eyes.

I don't really have dandruff, so I'm not sure if it worked, but my hair was minty fresh!

If you have very dry hair, be careful using this as it can further dry out your hair.

Step 3: Treat Nail Fungus, Athletes Foot, and Foot Soak

Since all of these relate to your feet, I decided to put them all together.

Mouthwash can be used to help treat nail fungus, athletes foot, or just as a nice foot soak.

For nail fungus, use 50/50 mouthwash and vinegar on a cotton ball. Apply it to your toe nails 2 - 3 times per day. It could take a few weeks to see any results.

For athletes foot, just use straight mouthwash on a use a cotton ball. Apply 2 times a day. You should hopefully see results in a few days.

For just a refreshing feel, you can soak your feet in a mixture of mouthwash and water. I didn't find any specific ratios on the internet, but I would start with less and add more as works for you.

Step 4: Facial Astringent and After-Piercing Care

It would be good to have sugar-free mouthwash for these uses.

You can use a cotton ball to apply mouthwash to piercings to help prevent infection. CapnHowdy recommends using alcohol-free and to use for oral piercings.

Use a cotton ball or paper towel to apply to your face for a very refreshing feeling. Rinse your face with water after applying mouthwash.

Step 5: Clean Toothbrush

Unsurprisingly, mouthwash can be helpful in disinfecting your toothbrush. You can simply rinse your toothbrush with some outwash, dunk it, or put it in a container of mouthwash overnight.

Step 6: Sanitize Laundry

Use about a cup of mouthwash instead of laundry detergent when you're in a pinch. I highly recommend using a more colorless and sugar-free mouthwash for this. I used what you see and didn't have any problems, but I avoided washing any whites or nice close just in case. I did wash a tan towel and it still came out tan.

Step 7: Freshen Garbage

Put some mouthwash on a cotton ball or a paper towel and put it in your garbage to help keep it fresh. If you throw a lot of compostable things in there, though, I'm not sure how well it will work. I threw it right in the bottom of the bag I put in my garbage, but you can also put it right in the garbage container.

Step 8: Reduce Body Odor

Use a cotton ball to apply mouthwash on your armpit to use for deodorant. It seemed to work okay, but I wouldn't use it if I was going to be exercising.

Step 9: Clean and Freshen Toilet

Pour one cup of mouthwash in your toilet and let it sit for an hour. After it has sat for a while, use a toilet brush to scrub your toilet as normal.

Step 10: Clean Wounds and Heal Blisters

Now, I wouldn't try this with really bad gashes, but if you have a cut or scrape that needs some extra treatment and you don't have any antibiotic ointment, mouthwash will do in a pinch. Just apply some mouthwash to your cut (you could use a Q-tip or cotton ball to apply it), dry it, and use a bandage as needed.

Use a cotton ball to apply mouthwash to blisters daily. This should help numb the pain and help with healing.

Step 11: Sooth Bug Bites and Poison Ivy

Use a cotton ball with mouthwash and apply it to bug bites and poison ivy.

It should help relieve inflammation and itchiness.

Step 12: Treat Bruises

If you bruise a lot, try applying mouthwash to your bruise using a cotton ball. It should help diminish the appearance of bruises.

Usually I'm always getting bruised, but I actually didn't have any to test this on. It sounds like it has worked for others, though.

Step 13: Hand Sanitizer and Get Rid of Garlic Smell

In a pinch, put some mouthwash right on your hands and rub it in as best you can to use it as sanitizer. Mine had sugar in it, so I don't know if it made a difference, but it left my hands feeling weird, but they were minty smelling.

You can also rub it on your hands to get rid of strong smells like garlic.

Step 14: Keep Flowers Fresher and Help Houseplants

Mix about 2 tablespoons of mouthwash per gallon of water in cut flowers to help them stay fresh longer. If yo have the special food that florists give out, use that, but if not, this should do in a pinch. I suggest using sugar-free mouthwash for this.

You can also mix 1 part mouthwash with 3 parts water in a spray bottle to spray on plants around the home. It should help kill mildew and fungus that can form on the leaves.

Step 15: Clean Glass

Okay, this did not work for me, but it wasn't until after I tried this that I realized my mouthwash had sugar in it. I think if you use a sugar-free mouthwash, this should work nicely.

Take a damp rag and add some mouthwash to it. Use it to wipe down windows and then wipe it dry.

It seems to work okay, but after it dried, I tried to re-wipe the window and it just smeared it badly. I think if you have a sugar-free mouthwash, you should be good to go, but test on smaller windows or a section of a window first.

I've also read you can do this with your monitor screen (not if it is a LCD), but I wasn't brave enough to try especially after my window fiasco.

Step 16: Other Uses?

There are a few other uses out there I read about, but didn't get a chance to try. Feel free to see if they work for you!

  • Spray 1 cup of water with 3 tablespoons of mouthwash on areas that your cat tends to pee that you don't want them to. The minty smell should deter them from repeating this.
  • Mix 2 cups of water with 1/2 cup of mouthwash and use it to scrub tiles using a sponge to get them clean and shiney.
  • Keep your dehumidifier from getting mildew-y when not in use. Put in some water and a few tablespoons of mouthwash to deter anything from growing and gross smells.
  • More suggestions
    • iloveminpins15: mix mouthwash and water 50/50 and spray it around mouse holes to discourage them from coming back.
    • parisusa: Use in your hair and scalp to deter lice (not necessarily remove lice).
    • Flenters: Put mouthwash in spray bottle and spray to keep mosquitos away.
    • rittzzz: Deodorize steel or polycarbonate water bottles. Tested using 50/50 water and mouthwash mixture. Removed water and black tea stains and odor.
    • BeccaB00: Possibly use a 50/50 mixture of mouthwash and water and spray to keep ants away, sugar-free would be necessary.
    • struno: Use for cradle cap. Use a bath visor to prevent getting any into your child's eyes and avoid using on kids under 2 years old.
    • Yonatan24: Kill ants by pouring right on them.
    • meeshuhhE: Refresh the output from water filtered vacuum cleaner.
    • DavidS925: Clean Camelback pouches and tubing, or polyethylene cycling water bottles.
    • emit: Clean a wet dry electric shaver.
    • charlesp4: Sore throat treatment. Gargle 3 times a day or as needed.
    • salguzman517: Water, Listerine, and a little bit of Dawn dish soap kills bugs, especially roaches.
    • dawndowd: Freshen up your dog when you don't have time for a bath. Use sugar-free and apply using a sponge. Avoid eyes, cuts or sores. Won't work on skunk :(
    • MLenhart: Mix 50% amber Listerine and 50% baby oil (or olive oil?) and spray on any itchy spots on your dog's skin.
    • Katy in Nerja: 1 cup of Epsom salt, 1 cup of mint mouthwash, 1 can of cheap beer, spray on plants and around the garden; good for the plants and keeps mosquitos away.
    • bferron: Deodorize puke buckets. First, wash it and spray it with H2O to sanitize and then rinse it with mouthwash.
    • gzatto: Mix Dawn, water, and a bit of Listerine and spray it on your plants to kill aphids.
    • jwhyman: When passing a bowel movement is painful due to size and hardness, mouthwash will numb the area and pre-sanitize any tearing.
    • PareshK11: Use 1 part sugar-free mouthwash to 4 parts water in a spray bottle for a safe pesticide.
    • Donqui: Soak gum guards.
    • AnnJ28: For mosquito repellent, mix 1 large cheap bottle of mouthwash + 1 -12oz can stale cheap beer, dissolve in 3 cups Epsom Salt and put in a spray bottle.

Any other ideas? Please share your unusual uses in the comments below!


Wrrr+10-G made it!(author)2017-07-13

Dear Penelope,

Thank you for your well meant instructable. I love your photo with that cute baby at your side. Please consider the following:

Many experts believe that for normal maturation, the immune system of the growing child must be stimulated by 'normal bacteria exposure', to acquire a heallthy balance of the immune system. Individuals with allergies and eczema are more likely to have an imbalance. Some experts are concerned that there may be an association between too much hygiene and allergies. It has been speculated that if there is an association between infections in early childhood and a decreased incidence of allergies and asthma, it is possible that the excessive use of antibacterials in the home may predispose children to the development of allergies and asthma.

Kind regards, WtG

ElizabethB231 made it!(author)2017-07-11

Excellent instructable! I have used some of these and others I will try like the window cleaner today.

BetsyS3 made it!(author)2016-08-29

Only thing I've found to remove armpit odor from the used tapestry coat I fell in love with, and then couldn't "get the stank out." I had already spot cleaned it by hand, had it professionally dry-cleaned, and tried baking soda. I was delighted and amazed that the odor came right out with a diluted solution of Target mouthwash and water.

VictoriousVixen made it!(author)2016-09-15

I've never tried Target mouthwash - is it minty smelling? What dilution did you use? Did you just spray it and let it air dry, or did you wash it immediately after spraying (or after letting it sit awhile)? I wonder if this would work on clothes that have an off smell in the laundry load itself. I can't think of how else to get the smell out of an entire garment, and I don't want to waste that much mouthwash completely spraying them. I've also bought some cute pillow cases from a second hand store, and didn't realize until laying on it (after washing) that they had a B.O. odor, and washing with different types of detergent hasn't made a difference. :(

BernadetteO10 made it!(author)2017-07-10

I found to remove odors from fabrics use Arm and Hammer washing soda; not baking soda. I had some kitchen towels that had a bad odor that wouldn't wash out, even tried bleaching them; soaked them in this and then into the washer. Odors were gone. I now use it on a regular basis in my laundry on things that are likely to hang onto an odor, like work out gear or bath towels.

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2016-09-16

I haven't tried to fix anything like this, but I wonder if soaking the pillowcases in a mouthwash/water solution before washing would do anything. Of course, you'd want to make sure the mouthwash didn't dye the pillowcases.

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2016-08-29

That is awesome to hear! I didn't think of using it on clothes to remove armpit odor. I'm going to have to keep that in mind. Thanks for sharing :)

AF6YS made it!(author)2016-10-09

Great ideas I've never heard of, but the dog one, well beware!

Sugar-Free on dogs isn't a good idea as they lick their coats. Even if it dries. Check the label to make there isn't any Sorbitol, Maltitol any of the (itol family of sweeteners) are poisonous to dogs and cats.

azizkres made it!(author)2016-10-03

Good to know! Thanks

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2016-10-03

You're welcome :)

inspecter+gadget made it!(author)2016-09-16

Excellent instructable... Probably make a good car deodoriser also - I was thinking shoes too, but I could see some kind of problem with an even worse odour? I'm not sure.....I G

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2016-09-16

Yeah, I'm not sure. It would be interesting to know if it would work :) Maybe just spraying a bit in the shoe between uses or just once in a while.

VictoriousVixen made it!(author)2016-09-15

jwhyman is seriously suggesting you put Mouthwash on your bum hole? I can't think of *any* mouthwash off hand that would not burn like a muther when applied to that area, esp if it gets inside. Even without alcohol in it, just the minty stuff in any would sting. That is just ridiculous. I've also never come across any mouthwash that "numbs" anything. Who would want a numb mouth? And if your poo is hard, and hard to pass, use a laxative or softener. There are a bunch of different ones to try - and suggestions for natural ones online if you don't want to buy any. I'm actually surprised the owner of this Instructable listed that one. :\

Niii+Pawww made it!(author)2016-09-06

Nice ibble!!

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2016-09-06

Thank you :)

Ma+Kettle made it!(author)2016-07-16

Several articles about fresh cut flowers suggest that regular, white sugar helps cut flowers last longer so I'll be adding several pinches from the sugar bowl together with some Listerine to my vase-water.

CindyP55 made it!(author)2016-08-02

my florets told me to use Sprite with water to keep my flowers fresh it works great!

Londonlisa made it!(author)2016-08-12

I've used sugar water and sprite to keep cut trees and plants alive much longer. I've never used mouthwash but I'm curious, I would think that the alcohol content would make it in effective, but that could be the biology degree I have, so I will try this.

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2016-07-18

Good to know!

Dwargh made it!(author)2016-08-08

Just great! I will try one or the other hint with mouthwash ;) Thanks!

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2016-08-08

Sounds good :)

Kunstlabor made it!(author)2016-07-29

Dandruff is usually the result of very dry skin. Particulary in wintertime, when rooms are heated, the air in the room gets quite dry. This is even worse in offices. Dry air dehydrates the skin and causes dandruff.

Now, mouthwash contains appr. 26% alcohol, which is quite a lot, and although this ingredient is listed as "inactive" it is the one which provides the desinfecting function. However, alcohol also dehydrates skin. Good cosmetics have a maximum of 15% of alcohol in order to reduce this effect while at the same time keep the product fresh. In other words: Using Listerin as a treatment for dandruff will result in the opposite effect, and you'll end up with a completly dehydrated skin.

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2016-08-01

I did read that it was bad to use mouthwash if you have very dry hair and skin. I used it and while I'm not sure if it prevented dandruff, it didn't dry out my scalp which was nice. I think it also depends on how often you use it. The more often you use it, the more likely it will leave your skin feeling dry and flacky.

nancyjohns made it!(author)2016-07-29

That's what I was wondering... I have some pretty bad dandruff(only because I didn't know I was accidentally washing my hair with body wash for about 6 months straight. LOL!) and was thinking about trying this. Now I see that surely this doesn't work.

elcru1 made it!(author)2016-07-21

Does this treat finger nail fungus or just toe nails?

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2016-07-21

I am not sure. I would think if it could treat one it could treat the other. I guess it would depend on how different the fungi are from each other.

rittzzz made it!(author)2016-07-12

steel or polycarbonate water flask/bottles de-odorizartion (not tested yet)

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2016-07-12

I was actually wondering about this myself! It would be really nice if this would work since it would be a nice way to clean them without worrying about leaving harmful chemicals behind in the bottle :)

rittzzz made it!(author)2016-07-14

one of my flask is going to be smelly these days(esp. a steel one), and will write here about results (stain/ink?, odor ? colour change? new "listerine-a-like" odor? water taste after rinse ? re-odoring time? etc. whatever I detect)

rittzzz made it!(author)2016-07-18

Report for above:

half /half water and mouthwash (another brand ) on two different size steel thermoflask (actually same mix for two bottles)

remove water and black tea stain and odor for first attempt,

two full of flask tap water for rinsing for both =>it still a bit listerinish smell,no bad!

but I think this odor prevent re-odorization since testing day (5 days and go...)

water taste change => no detected

I go on that method for this ,it is ok for me !!

thanks again for this intractable

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2016-07-18

Yay! Thank you for reporting back! I was hoping to try this too, but, luckily, my water bottles are all non-smelly at the moment :)

TamaraT10 made it!(author)2016-07-17

I'm still stuck on "make sure it's sugar-free".
I didn't even know some mouthwash varieties have sugar! Wouldn't that defeat the purpose? For cavities anyway?
Great instructable anyway.

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2016-07-18

I know, right!

AnnJ28 made it!(author)2016-07-15

For a really good mosquito repellant. Mix....

1 large cheap bottle of mouthwash

1 -12oz can stale cheap beer

3 cups Epsom Salt

Dissolve salt into two liquids and put in spray bottle... It really works great.

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2016-07-18

Thanks for sharing your recipe for it :)

Flenters made it!(author)2016-07-11

Mouthwash in a spray bottle keep mosquitoes away. Just spray when necessary and they stay away for a good while.

eva3 made it!(author)2016-07-15

Does any brand of mouth wash work ? Or just the expesive brand/listerine..are you spraying it on your skin or in the room..?? Please help

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2016-07-18

The brand doesn't matter, usually it is all about the ingredients.

chrisspy47 made it!(author)2016-07-14

Thanks for the tip. I always get ate up a lot every year during the bug season. And I don't like smelling like those pesticide sprays. I don't mind smelling like a big minty lifesaver. That's much better. Lol

RobinS144 made it!(author)2016-07-14

An entymologist once told me to take B1 to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. I started 100mg daily and have not been bitten since. It has been amazing.

DonnH1 made it!(author)2016-07-14

That's interesting about Vitamin B1. It has worked for my cat and my dog who both had fleas at one time. The B vitamin we get out of flake yeast you can get at the health food stores. It's amazing. It takes about a month. Just start sprinkling it over their crunchy munchies every day and you will never again ghave flea problems. If you mention that to a vet they will tell you it's an old wives tail, here buy this $80 dollar package of pills or here I'll give your dog or cata shot for $100. On top of that those medications are not nutritional they are toxic to your pet.

RobinS144 made it!(author)2016-07-16

That is true. And the B1 is neither toxic nor expensive.

DianneC17 made it!(author)2016-07-14

Sorry, but all the research on B1 rejects the idea that it is a repellent for mosquitoes.

RobinS144 made it!(author)2016-07-14

You go ahead and believe it. But I got bitten by every mosquito in a 10 mile radius before starting the B1. Have not been bit since. And I know at least 5 other people who will say the same thing. I don't believe everything I read. I prefer to believe what I see work with my own eyes. Not everything is for everyone, but I have yet to meet someone who started taking B1 who does not say the same thing.

chrisspy47 made it!(author)2016-07-14

I am most definitely gong to try taking B1. I thought I was the only one that the mosquitoes waited around all year to bite. I'm really relieved to know that it is not just me this happens to. Thanks for the tip.

DianneC17 made it!(author)2016-07-16

Just a single 12-ounce bottle of beer can make you more attractive to the insects. But even though researchers had suspected this was because drinking increases the amount of ethanol excreted in sweat, or because it increases body temperature, neither of these factors were found to correlate with mosquito landings, making their affinity for drinkers something of a mystery.

5 human scents that attract mosquitoes

  • Carbon dioxide – mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale, both the scent and the amount. There are many sources of CO2 in nature, so it isn’t just the carbon dioxide that attracts mosquitoes. Every time we exhale, we release chemicals like lactic acid, octenol, uric acid and fatty acids that combine with CO2 to form our own unique carbon dioxide cocktail. This combination of scents is what clues mosquitoes that there is a human target nearby. And some of these particular combinations are more attractive to mosquitoes. Additionally, the more CO2 we emit, the easier we are to recognize. The scent and amount of carbon dioxide you exhale is unique to you and your genetics, and unfortunately there isn’t much you can do to change your attractiveness other than mask your scent. Larger people exhale more CO2, which is why adults are more likely to be bitten than children. Pregnant women also exhale above average amounts and are therefore more attractive to mosquitoes.
  • Body odor – Bacterial colonies combined with sweat generate that sweet (if you’re a mosquito) human scent we call body odor. Without the bacteria, our sweat would be odorless; with the bacteria, our sweat is one of the more attractive scents for mosquitoes, particularly the malaria-carrying Anopheles gambiae, which prefers to bite humans. There are measures you can take like washing regularly to reduce body odor; however be careful of fragrant perfumes and scents that can also draw mosquitoes. Fresh sweat is not as attractive because it has not combined with bacteria.
  • Secretions – About 80% of us are “secretors” or people who secrete compounds known as saccharides and antigens through their skin and indicate blood type. Mosquitoes are magnets for secretors. Once again, your classification as a secretor or non-secretor is determined by your biology and there isn’t anything you can do to put yourself in the non-secretor category.
    • Blood type – Depending on the type of blood you have, you secrete different scents. Studies have shown that mosquitoes are most attracted to Type O blood and least attracted to Type A. No changing your blood type either.
  • Lactic acid – Lactic acid is emitted through your skin when you are active or eating certain foods. Mosquitoes are more attracted to people with a greater build-up of lactic acid on their skin. You can reduce lactic acid by washing with soap after exercising and thoroughly drying.
    Scent is the primary indicator for mosquitoes that a human target is within striking distance. There are also other indicators like body heat, moisture, movement and color that attract mosquitoes’ highly attuned receptors.
  • Mosquitoes landed on people with Type O blood nearly twice as often as those with Type A. People with Type B blood fell somewhere in the middle of this itchy spectrum

  • author
    ZekeP made it!(author)2016-07-14

    Wow never new that's better than spraying all the time pesky mosquitoes see me coming from a mile away it's like here comes dindin!

    DonnH1 made it!(author)2016-07-14

    So glad another thing is good for keeping mosquitoes at bay. Wow. When my wife and I made a trip to the Yukon we stopped in Canada Tire and got citronella mosquito repellent and it worked great. Just after that some one accused it of being a carcinogen. Now we know that was a big lie and so you can buy it again. I still have a can of it. I may try the moth wash though. I like peperminty sorts of smells.

    BlackMagickTi+ made it!(author)2016-07-14

    You can use a tincture (in spray bottle) of the herb yarrow and it's superior to anything else, and isn't poisonous to humans or the environment. You can even make it yourself. Repels ticks also.

    Callie+Lea made it!(author)2016-07-14

    is it safe for dogs?

    About This Instructable




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