Making your own mouthwash is easier than you think and in my opinion can be a great alternative to many store brands because it allows you to be more proactive in your personal healthcare. Besides, making your own mouthwash is kind of fun and you will always know exactly what has gone into it. (Don’t worry, I’ll include my Sage Herbal Mouthwash Recipe below so you can see how easy it is).
Artificial Colors, Flavors, Sweeteners, and Preservatives Found in Mainstream Mouthwash:
Many people are sensitive to the artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives commonly found in food and beverages today, but they may not realize these same ingredients are often used in our personal care products like mouthwash. If you are feeling brave you can check out the label on your current brand and do a little research to learn the origins and associated health risks that may be associated with those ingredients. I have seen mouthwashes containing many of the following ingredients, but I will spare you the health implications:
Artificial Colors: such as FD&C blue no. 1 (synthetic dye made from petroleum), and red #40 (derived from coal)
Flavorings and Sweeteners: Sorbitol, sucralose, saccharine
Chemicals and Preservatives: Sodium benzoate, quanternium-15 (formaldehyde), benzoic acid
Save Money with Homemade Herbal Mouthwash
I recently started making herbal mouthwash mainly because I wanted to see if I could create a healthier more natural mouthwash at home than what I was getting at the store with my limited budget.
Tip: If you can grow some of these herbs in your garden or purchase them in bulk, making your own herbal mouthwash is very affordable.
In addition, I chose herbs that I enjoy having on hand anyway. Herbs have many uses and health benefits, so if you are the kind of person who enjoys a good cup of herbal tea, herbal mouthwash could be a gateway DIY adventure with far reaching possibilities!
My Sage Herbal Mouthwash Recipe:
(Please tweak, improvise, and share your thoughts!)
½ cup dried sage leaf
¼ cup dried peppermint
¼ cup licorice root
1/8th cup anise seed
~2 Cups Vodka
Step 1: Combine Herbs: In a quart size mason jar, I combined the herbs listed above (sage, peppermint, licorice root, and anise seed)
Step 2: Create Your Extract. That is a fancy way of saying to cover the herbs with approximately 2 cups of vodka.
Step 3: Shake vigorously (after you have put the lid on, of course!)
Step 4: Wait.
Waiting is the hardest part. Set the jar aside on a shelf (or somewhere it will be left alone for a few days). Generally, the longer it sits, the more potent the herbal extract will become. I managed to wait 5-6 days before proceeding to the next step. It doesn’t hurt to give it a vigorous shake now and then to help speed things along.
Step 5: Strain out the herbs.
By now, the alcohol has stolen most of the beneficial properties away from the herbs, and it is time to get rid of the herbal remains. Retain as much of the liquid as possible by squeezing the crap out of the herbal guts. Some people use cheesecloth. I’ll do that next time. This time I just used a strainer and squeezed the herbs manually with my (clean) fingers. (For comparison purposes, I was left with about a cup of liquid).
Step 6: Add Water.
I added 2 cups of water to my one cup of herbal extract. The amount of water you add can vary significantly depending on your personal feelings toward astringency versus dry mouth and other health concerns (more below.)
Step 7: Swish and Spit.
Pros and Cons of Alcohol Content in your Mouthwash:
Commercial mouthwashes often contain 20-30% alcohol content. The one I just made is a little on the strong side. Alcohol is a great disinfectant, but it is also very drying. A dry mouth soon leads to bad breath, so keep that in mind. Also, some studies have even indicated that regularly using mouthwash with high alcohol content can increase your risk of oral cancers.
So, while I personally wanted to create a powerful herbal antiseptic mouthwash to replace the store kind, next I’ll probably look into making a less drying version to alternate with it. You can make an easy one using just 3 ingredients: water, sea salt, and peppermint oil.
Health Benefits of Herbal Sage Mouthwash
Sage is a tissue protecting, antiseptic germ-fighting herb with a long history of mouth freshening benefits. It offers relief for irritated gums, and is a great gargle for throat infections. As a tea, sage soothes the digestive tract, and helps clear the cobwebs out of your mind by acting as a circulatory stimulant. Caution: Avoid sage if you suffer from epilepsy.
Peppermint was traditionally used as an anesthetic for easing toothaches and mouth pain. Its antiseptic properties make it ideal for use as a gargle because it makes your breath “minty fresh” as it cleanses and may reduce other body odors as well.
I sometimes chew on a few pieces of licorice root to help clean my teeth. Licorice root adds a touch of sweetness and helps keep the mouth moist inhibiting bad breath. It can also soothe mild mouth injuries.
Anise seeds sweeten the breath, and provide soothing mucilage that is beneficial in the treatment of a dry cough. Anise supports digestion as well as oral health, and contains anethol, a volatile oil, which has antimicrobial properties and is frequently used in oral hygiene products.