Skip to content

Get More Out of Mouthwash Than Just Fresh Breath

8 unusual ways to put your mouth rinse to work

a woman holds s cup of mouthwash

Getty Images

Make sure you use a mouthwash that is alcohol-based to benefit from its antiseptic qualities.

Surprise, surprise — mouthwash is more useful than one might expect. Mouthwash has been around since 1879 and originally was used as an antiseptic for surgical procedures. Today we know it’s great for killing germs in your mouth and freshening breath, but mouthwash also can come in handy for a variety of unusual uses. For example, it can be used to treat dandruff or even keep cut flowers alive longer.

Here are eight unexpected uses for mouthwash. Just make sure you use a mouth rinse that is alcohol-based.

Toothbrush Cleaner

Studies have found that a toothbrush sitting in a cup or brush holder in the bathroom can get disgustingly dirty. According to one study by the University of Manchester in England, the average toothbrush is full of bacteria, 10 million or more, including E. coli and staph due to splash-back from the sink and toilet. This is where mouthwash can be extremely useful. It can kill bacteria in your mouth as well as your toothbrush. Place your brush in a cup of mouthwash for about 10 minutes. Rinse the brush with water before you brush your teeth. The antiseptic qualities will kill the germs and make your toothbrush fresh and clean.

Toilet Cleaner

Using mouthwash to clean your toilet may not be your first thought, but — again — its antiseptic qualities can work wonders. Just pour a cup of mouthwash around the sides of the bowl and let it run down into the toilet water. Let it sit for about an hour before using the toilet brush to give it a good scrub before flushing. You can also pour a couple of caps full of mouthwash in the toilet water and leave it to keep the fresh scent in the room.

Laundry Freshener

Disinfect your laundry with mouthwash.  If you have gym clothes or socks with stubborn odors, mouthwash can kill the bacteria in laundry and remove those heavy smells. Before you add the laundry, as the water fills take a cup of mouthwash and add it to the washing machine when you add your detergent.

Cut Flowers

Beautiful cut-flower arrangements rarely stay fresh looking longer than a few days before they begin to wilt. Mouthwash is the surprising key to making them last longer. Create a mixture using two tablespoons of mouthwash with a gallon of water. Use as much of this mixture as needed to fill the flower vase. The mouthwash kills the bacteria that form in the water of cut flowers, which quickens their decay.


Ever get caught without deodorant? Mouthwash can be your alternative. Just saturate a cotton ball or use a paper towel and dab it under your arms. It will kill the bacteria and leave a pleasant scent. Just don’t use mouthwash after shaving. The alcohol in its base will definitely burn.

Nail Fungus

There are many treatments for toenail fungus, including prescription, over-the-counter and home remedies. Toenail fungus can be hard to get rid of, but because it’s an infection the antiseptic properties in mouthwash can work to kill it off. You can use straight mouthwash on a cotton ball or soak your toes and feet in it because it’s also good against athlete’s foot. If the fungus is particularly strong, mix one-part mouthwash and one-part vinegar and again apply with a cotton ball or soak that toenail fungus away.

Dandruff Treatment

It’s not contagious or infectious, but dandruff can get worse. Dandruff is commonly caused by a fungus called Malassezia that produces excess skin cell growth on the scalp, causing inching and flaking. Use mouthwash to combat dandruff. Mix a half-cup of mouthwash with a half-cup of water. After shampooing, rinse your hair with this mixture. Do it every time you shampoo and you should see improvement in a few weeks.

Hand Sanitizer

If you run out of hand sanitizer, mouthwash can be a great alternative. Put it in a travel-size spray bottle to keep it handy, and enjoy the minty fresh smell. A tip from the financial advice website Wise Bread says: "Make sure your mouthwash is alcohol-based and sugar-free, otherwise you’ll be a sticky mess.”