19 Money-Saving Uses for Mouthwash

by Nora Dunn on 21 April 2011 23 comments

Mouthwash is useful for so much more than just rinsing plaque away! When it was first invented, it hailed as a surgical antiseptic, and as such it has unique properties that can save you lots of money. So before you head to the store for an athlete’s foot treatment, sanitizer, or astringent (or over a dozen other things), check out this list to see how you can replace them with mouthwash. (See also: 15 Wonderful Uses for Witch Hazel)

Note: For almost all the tips here, you want to use mouthwash that is alcohol-based (that’s one of the secret ingredients), and in most cases without sugar.

Health and Beauty

With its antiseptic properties, mouthwash is brilliant for cleaning and light medical uses. It's also great for travelers, since it's so multifunctional. Check out these creative uses for mouthwash that will keep you fresh — in more ways than one.

Nail Fungus Eradicator

Nail fungus problems can make your toenails or fingernails thick and discolored, and once you’re infected it’s incredibly difficult to eradicate. Make up a 50/50 solution of alcohol-based mouthwash and vinegar, and apply to the affected area with a cotton ball (use a new one each time) two-to-three times per day. Be warned — nail fungus is stubborn….you won’t likely see results for at least a few weeks.

Bruise Treatment

Did you go bump in the night? Waiting for a whopper of a bruise to appear? Rub some mouthwash on the affected area, and you can save yourself from a gaudy bruise (or at least reduce the appearance of it).

Poison Ivy Treatment

Stop scratching! Instead, apply some mouthwash, and not only will it relieve the itchiness and inflammation of a poison ivy attack, but it can also dry up the area and begin the healing process.

Hand Sanitizer

I once had a hand sanitizer that came in a small spray bottle, which I treasured for its convenience and sanitary properties. I’ve been searching (unsuccessfully) for a replacement ever since. Now I just use mouthwash, and I can freshen up any time. It’s also great for cleaning the kids’ hands in a pinch. (Again, make sure it’s alcohol-based and sugar-free, otherwise you’ll be a sticky mess).

Deodorant

Mouthwash makes an easy substitute deodorant in a pinch, with its bacteria-killing properties. Be warned though — if you just shaved your armpits, applying an alcohol-based mouthwash will sting!

After-Piercing Care

Part of the after-care process for tending to new piercings (or even caring for older ones that have become infected) is to apply a special disinfectant solution twice daily. Why not use mouthwash instead? Mouthwash is (obviously) especially handy in healing a tongue piercing.

Athlete’s Foot

In the same way that mouthwash treats nail fungus, it acts as an antiseptic for athlete’s foot. Soak a cotton ball in mouthwash and apply twice a day. You know it’s working if it stings a bit, and you should see positive results in a few days.

Foot Bath

Even if you don’t have athlete’s foot or some pesky fungus to tend to, soaking your tootsies in a mixture of mouthwash and water can refresh and soften them after a long day on your feet.

Garlic-Odor Killer

It would be stating the obvious to suggest that mouthwash — in your mouth — eliminates garlic odor. But it can also take care of the smell of garlic on your hands after you’ve handled it. Just pour some on your hands, rub them together, and let them air-dry.

Facial Astringent

Apply mouthwash (again, make sure it’s alcohol-based and sugar-free) to a cotton ball and wipe on your face after you’ve used your normal face wash. Rinse with water afterward, and you’ll have saved yourself the bulk — and cost — of a fancy facial astringent.

Clean Cuts and Scrapes

Remember, mouthwash was first used as a surgical antiseptic before people figured out its mouth-washing properties. Apply some mouthwash to your boo-boo, dry, and dress it with a bandage as necessary.

Dandruff Treatment

Not into expensive specialized dandruff shampoos? After shampooing, try rinsing your hair with a 50/50 mixture of mouthwash and water (1/2 a cup of each will do). You may have to repeat this process a few times to eradicate the dandruff completely. Bonus — your hair will smell minty fresh.

Around the House

Mouthwash cleans, sanitizes, and even revives. Here's how you can make good use of it around the house.

Keep Cut Flowers Fresh

By mixing two tablespoons of mouthwash per gallon of water and filling your flower vase with this mixture, your cut flowers will last longer (by killing the bacteria that accelerates decomposition).

Glass Cleaner

Apply mouthwash to a damp cloth and go to town on glass surfaces. Dry with a cotton cloth.

Computer Screen Cleaner

As long as your computer screen is glass (DO NOT use this technique on LCD screens!), you’ll save mad money on specialty computer screen cleaners by simply using the technique above to remove smudges and computer dust.

Laundry Sanitizer

In the same way that mouthwash removes bacteria from your mouth, you can remove it from your laundry as well. Add one cup to the regular cycle of a full load of laundry (make sure the mouthwash is sugar-free and alcohol-based).

This is especially handy for those stinky gym socks; mouthwash kills all the bacteria that is sometimes left behind in a regular wash.

Toothbrush Cleaner

Mouthwash cleans your teeth; why not your toothbrush as well? A rinse with or dunk in a cup of mouthwash before brushing will ensure your toothbrush is clean and free of the bacteria hanging around your bathroom. Eeeww.

Toilet Cleaner

Out of toilet bowl cleaner? No problem. Just pour a cup of mouthwash into the toilet, let it sit for half an hour, and give it a swish with the toilet brush.

Plant Rescue

A mixture of 25% mouthwash and 75% water sprayed onto your plant leaves rescues them from mildew and fungus. Don’t do this more than once per week, though.

Do you enjoy having items in the house that serve many purposes and save you money? Then check out these articles on how to make good use of vinegar, toothpaste, and even banana peels.

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Guest's picture
aa

You can do most of them with white vinegar for 80% cheaper.

Nora Dunn's picture

@AA - I'm a big fan of vinegar too, but I'm not sure it holds quite the antibacterial and antiseptic properties that mouthwash does.

Guest's picture
Hunter

This is a phenomenal list. I had no idea my Scope was so versatile.

My bike store did happen to mention that mouthwash can stop your seat from squeaking. It's an irritating problem on group rides that really upsets other cyclists. Spray on a little mouthwash and you're squeak free.

Nora Dunn's picture

@Hunter - Mouthwash as a lubricant? Now THAT I wouldn't have anticipated! Thanks for the tip.

Guest's picture
Anonymous Coward

Interesting that the article cautions you to use sugar-free, alcohol based mouthwash (Listerine (tm) comes to mind for me) but the stock photo that is associated with the article is Crest Pro Health Alcohol Free. (snicker)

Guest's picture
Guest

no it is listerine

Guest's picture
Guest

For anyone who just gleans these kind of articles -- contrary to the pic at the top, these tips are for alcohol based sugar free mouthwash

Guest's picture
Keri

As someone who has had 20+ piercings, I just wanted to warn readers that mouthwash may be too harsh for many piercings. Most professional piercers warn against using alcohol and alcohol-based cleansers because they are too harsh and drying.

Use an unscented, basic soap instead, and only once a day. Other than that, don't touch it at all, and it'll be fine.

Nora Dunn's picture

@Keri - Thanks for the tip! It hadn't occured to me that alcohol could be drying - to a fault. Cheers.

Guest's picture
Neil

I noticed that the article recommends an alcohol based mouthwash, while the guy in the photo is holding up a bottle of alcohol free mouthwash. I wonder how many people will go out and look for that particular brand without realizing they are using the wrong type? Hahaha!

Guest's picture
Damien

I fail to see how any of these ideas save money. Most of them would be better with a dedicated product, and the rest are more suited to people who have excess mouthwash that they need to get rid of.

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

@Damien - When you look at speciality products like athlete's foot and fungus treatments which can be very expensive, then mouthwash tends to be more economical. Combine that with the multi-funtionality of mouthwash, and there's value added. (At least for me as a traveler, its multi-purposefulness is very handy).

Meg Favreau's picture

Thanks to everyone who pointed out the photo discrepancy! The alcohol-free bottle has been removed.

Guest's picture
Brandon

These are very interesting and creative tips. I'm not sure if I'll actually use them but they are very educational.

Guest's picture
Seth

Reminds me of the running joke with Windex in My Big fat Greek Wedding.

Guest's picture
Guest

Wouldn't keeping a bottle of alcohol on hand be way more cost effective and not have any of the undesirable properties of mouthwash (staining, sugar, smell).

Guest's picture
Guest

Also, the "special disinfectant solution" piercers recommended is saline solution, a.k.a. salt water. Of course you can buy it prepackaged but it's at least as easy to just mix salt with water (your piercer will tell you this too). And if you choose to use a mouthwash with tongue piercings (you can use the saline solution as a mouthwash too) you'll need to make sure it's an alcohol free mouthwash, for the same reasons alcohol is too harsh for outside-the-mouth piercings.

Guest's picture
DeadlyDad

Here's one I came up with years ago for if you have a sore throat: place a small amount of alcohol-based mouthwash in your mouth, tip your head forward so you are looking straight down, pucker your lips, then breath in forcefully through your mouth. While I am not sure exactly why it works, I believe that the alcohol vaporizes and coats your throat.

Guest's picture
Shaynfaris

If you own a horse, you can also use it as a fungus treatment :) works great on rain rot and other nasty funguses on the legs. You have to use the antiseptic yellow listerine though. Just pour all over the effected area and let dry, it won't hurt their hair color :)

Guest's picture

Okay,
I liked all of them, well almost all of them. Something about mouthwash in the toilet just seems wrong, lol.

Guest's picture
scoutmaster

Heres a wild hint for campers...Use a spash of mouthwash to a washcloth (or rag) to clean cast iron pans out. It cleans without stripping the coating of the cast iron but cleans it so it sanitizes it enough for the nurse/mom in me to be happy with continual use on a trip......yes it is great for bug bites

Guest's picture
Neymorra

We purchased some mouthwash that we hate, and I don't think hubby or I will be able to use it again. I was hoping to find some other uses for it so it isn't just a waste, and this list is phenomenal! Thank you so much!

Guest's picture
Guest

I have mouthwash I hate that's why I was looking for another use of it. (to frugal to toss it)
I will definitely use the advice from the article to rescue my plants and clean all my toothbrushes.