Sustainable Haven Blog

DIY Mouthwash


I started making this mouth rinse awhile ago and have steadily tweaked the mix to my liking. I added a few worthwhile ingredients and wanted to take a minute to update the recipe below. Enjoy!


Personal care items are expensive and I just can't bring myself to buy an $8 or $9 bottle of mouth(burning)wash, made with who-knows-what. Over time, I've learned that I can make a natural version of many beauty and hygiene products. Best of all, I much prefer the natural versions to their chemical counterparts and think they work even better than commercial products.

There's a little upfront investment in the ingredients but each one has many practical uses around the home and will save you a ton in the long run. Repurpose a great glass bottle if you'd like to keep the rinse on display and want to add a decorative element. Liquor bottles are great for this because many of them have been really well-designed and their original content is a bonus!

We'll be using baking soda and mint oils to freshen, plus tea tree oil to kill germs. Calendula extract is a wonderful herb with excellent healing properties that speeds the recovery of gum irritations. Vegetable glycerine is a clear, sweet syrup used in many foods that adds sweetness without the dental damage sugar can cause. You can easily customize this recipe and add a drop of this or that to suit your tastes or add freshening/healing power.

It's best to make this recipe in small batches because it contains no preservatives and should be used within a couple of weeks. Your mixture will last a little longer if you're diligent about sanitizing your container and your tools.

You'll need:


1 1/2 c. Distilled Water

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Vegetable Glycerin (ensure the label says the glycerin is "food safe")

1/4 tsp Calendula Extract

10 drops Peppermint Oil or Spearmint Oil (or five drops of each)

5 drops Tea Tree Oil

  • First, sterilize your container. This is an important part of making your own products at home. If your vessel is glass, place it in boiling water for several minutes and dry fully before filling. If you're reusing a plastic container, use hydrogen peroxide (which acts like bleach) to sterilize your clean, dry container.
  • Note: As a general rule, you want to make sure that no tap water mixes with your DIY products because tap water has trace minerals and impurities that can encourage microbial growth and interfere with your ingredients. Distilled water has had these impurities removed, so it's best for making products, although not great for drinking since it's lacking any nutrients.
  • Place funnel in the neck of the container and add the baking soda first, following with all the liquid ingredients and oils. Replace cap and shake vigorously to mix.
That's it! So easy, right? Taste and tweak the recipe to your liking and start swishin'. Resist the urge to drink directly from the bottle so you avoid introducing any bacteria. I collect Depression-era glass and use this little green cocktail glass with our mouthwash.

This rinse really freshens and is excellent for healing if you've recently burned the roof of your mouth with hot food or have any gum irritation. Shake before each use to re-blend.

(Note: For those uncertain of where to find some of these ingredients locally, check your local GNC store, which usually has a limited selection of natural products but most everything you need to make this recipe.)


If you need a few more reasons to make the switch to DIY mouthwash, read on to be horrified. Courtesy of

Conventional mouthwashes are made from a concoction of chemicals that can negatively affect animals and ecosystems when washed down the drain. These chemicals, many of which are only cosmetic in nature, can also be irritating or cause long-term health issues when applied to the soft tissues of the mouth and gums. Some of these chemicals include:

  • Triclosan: An antibacterial agent that has been shown to act as an endocrine disruptor in humans and is an ecological pollutant, affecting animals living in waterways where triclosan is deposited after disposal down the drain. Triclosan has been found in 55 percent of streams examined in 2002 at levels high enough to disrupt the natural life cycle of frogs.[4]
  • Parabens: Preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria, parabens are found in about 75 to 90 percent of cosmetic and personal care products.[5] After washing down the drain, these chemicals are discharged through wastewater systems and end up in waterways, where they appear to have estrogenic effects on fish. In humans, parabens can affect the endocrine system, which produces hormones. Acting like estrogen in the body, they increase the risk of breast cancer, with recent studies finding parabens in breast tumors. Parabens have been found in breast milk, blood, and body tissues, and can enter a developing fetus.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfates (SLS): This chemical, which is used as a foaming and cleansing agent, is a suspected carcinogen.
  • Coal-tar colorants and synthetic dyes: Coal tar is a byproduct of the distillation of bituminous coal and is harmful to the environment, is a known carcinogen in animals, and can cause skin rashes and hives. In an ingredient list, if the color's name is preceded by FD&C, it's certified for use in food, drugs, and cosmetics. Common colorants found in mouthwashes include FD&C Blue 1 and FD&C Green 3, which are carcinogenic. FD&C Yellow 5 and FD&C Yellow 6 contain impurities that have been proven to cause cancer when applied to skin.
  • Synthetic sweeteners and flavoring: Chemically concocted, many flavor additives are petroleum derived, and the health effects of which are unknown. Methyl salicylate, a synthetic compound used to create the wintergreen flavor, for example, has been shown to cause health problems in animal testing.
  • Alcohol: Traditional alcohol-based mouthwashes are often highly acidic. High acidity has been linked to increased levels of enamel loss, which can lead to increased sensitivity in teeth. Conventional mouthwash brands can be made of up to 75 percent alcohol, which can also cause burning and irritation for the user.


  1. Ultimate Cosmetics - How to make homemade mouthwash?
  2. - Make your own mouthwash
  3. Pioneer Thinking - Dental Care
  4. TreeHugger - There's a Frog Disrupter in my Soap
  5. Winter, Ruth (2005) A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients. New York: Three Rivers Press: 41-555
  • Melanie says...

    Can I substitute a different essential oil? For example can I use lavender instead? Is the tea tree oil necessary?

    On January 20, 2015

  • Tina Lynn Johnson Brewer says...

    Thanks so much. I will in the near future be trying this out. You are great for sharing this with all of us. Thanks again.

    On March 20, 2012

  • Kellie says...

    So great to see this recipe! I have been trying to eliminate chemicals from my hygiene items and this recipe is perfect for that. Thanks so much for sharing!

    On March 11, 2012

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