Introduction: 14+ Unusual Uses for Mouthwash

About: Community Manager for Instructables and Tinkercad.

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!