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Make your own mouthwash for an alternative that is green by nature, not just in color. It's not as time-consuming or difficult as you may think. By producing your own mouthwash with household ingredients and natural essential oils, you avoid the health- and environmentally endangering synthetic chemicals, such as dyes, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and anti-microbial agents, that are often added to conventional mouthwashes.

How to make your own mouthwash

Homemade mouthwash can be an extremely simple solution. A very basic antiseptic recipe, for example, calls for one Tablespoon of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and one cup of water. Other tried-and-true methods include dissolving a teaspoon of salt or baking soda in water and gargling. If you'd like to make a more flavorful concoction, try these recipes:

Recipe 1: Homemade Rosemary-Mint Mouthwash

  1. Bring 2 1/2 cups of distilled or mineral water to a boil.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon each of fresh rosemary leaves, mint leaves, and anise seeds to the water. Infuse for 20 minutes.
  3. Let cool and bottle.
  4. If making larger quantities, use 1 teaspoon tincture of myrrh as a preservative.

Recipe 2: Baking soda mouthwash for fresh breath

  1. Combine 2 ounces of water, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 drop of pure peppermint oil, and 1 drop of tea tree oil.
  2. Mix ingredients together in reusable container.[1]

Recipe 3: Herbal antibacterial mouthwash

  1. Place 1 ounce cloves or powdered myrrh, or 2 to 4 ounces of goldenseal or rosemary in a pint-sized jar.
  2. Pour boiling water on top of the herbs.
  3. Let steep overnight, then strain.[2]

Recipe 4: Lemon mint-free mouthwash recipe

  1. Combine 3/4 cup vodka, 20 drops lemon essential oil, and 30 drops bergamot essential oil in a bottle.
  2. Let the mixture sit for one week, shaking well once a day.
  3. When ready to use, dilute the mix with 3 parts water for every 1 part mixture.[3]

Making your own mouthwash helps you go green because…

  • By not purchasing mouthwash, you keep synthetic chemicals, artificial dyes and sweeteners, and anti-bacterial agents out of your body and the environment.
  • You avoid the use and disposal of plastic bottles that most mouthwashes are sold in.

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.

Footnotes

  1. Ultimate Cosmetics - How to make homemade mouthwash?
  2. Care2.com - 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