Does Mouthwash Expire?

Mouthwash is a common oral hygiene product that is used to kill bacteria in the mouth, freshen breath and promote healthy gums. But like many other products, mouthwash has an expiration date. This raises the question: does mouthwash expire and is it still safe to use after the expiration date?

The expiration date on mouthwash is an indication of the time during which the manufacturer guarantees that the product will maintain its full potency and effectiveness. Once the expiration date is reached, there is a possibility that the mouthwash may not work as well as it should. In addition, using mouthwash that has expired can also cause harmful side effects, such as irritation or burning of the mouth.

It is important to note that not all mouthwash products have the same expiration date. Some have a shelf life of up to three years while others may only last up to one year. It is always best to check the label and adhere to the product’s expiration date to ensure maximum effectiveness and safety.

What is Mouthwash?


Mouthwash, also known as oral rinse or mouth rinse, is a liquid solution used to swish in the mouth and gargle to help maintain good oral hygiene

Types of Mouthwash

There are various types of mouthwash available in the market which cater to different needs. Some of the common types are:

  • Antiseptic Mouthwash
  • Fluoride Mouthwash
  • Natural Mouthwash
  • Whitening Mouthwash
  • Sensitive Teeth Mouthwash

Benefits of Using Mouthwash

Using mouthwash can help:

  • Control bad breath
  • Prevent cavities and gum disease
  • Reduce the amount of acid in the mouth
  • Increase saliva production to help clean the oral cavity

Ingredients in Mouthwash

Antimicrobial agents

Mouthwash contains different types of antimicrobial agents that kill bacteria and fungi present in the oral cavity. Chlorhexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), and essential oils are common antimicrobial agents added to mouthwash. These ingredients help to prevent plaque formation, treat gingivitis, and reduce bad breath.

Flavors and sweeteners

To improve the taste and make mouthwash more appealing to users, manufacturers add various flavors and sweeteners. Some common flavors used in mouthwash include peppermint, spearmint, and eucalyptus. Sweeteners like sorbitol, xylitol, and stevia are used to mask the taste of alcohol and other strong ingredients present in mouthwash.


Another important ingredient found in mouthwash is alcohol, usually ethanol or isopropyl alcohol. Alcohol acts as a solvent, which helps to dissolve other ingredients and give mouthwash an antiseptic effect. However, alcohol can dry out the mouth and cause irritation in some users. Therefore, some alcohol-free mouthwashes have become popular in recent years.

Other ingredients

Mouthwash may also contain other ingredients like fluoride, potassium nitrate, and hydrogen peroxide. Fluoride helps to reduce tooth decay and strengthen the enamel, while potassium nitrate and hydrogen peroxide help to whiten teeth. Some mouthwashes may also contain herbal extracts like aloe vera, green tea, and chamomile, which provide additional benefits for oral health.

In conclusion, mouthwash contains a range of ingredients that work together to maintain oral hygiene and freshness. By understanding the role of different components in your mouthwash, you can choose the right product that meets your needs.

Importance of Expiration Date

Ensures Product Effectiveness

Expiration dates on products such as mouthwash serve as a guide for consumers to ensure product effectiveness. Using expired mouthwash may result in reduced effectiveness, leading to undesirable results such as bad breath or even oral health complications. It is important to pay attention to expiration dates to ensure that the product will work as intended.

Potential Health Risks

Using expired mouthwash may also pose potential health risks. It is possible that the ingredients may break down over time, resulting in changes to the chemical composition of the product. This, in turn, may lead to irritation or even damage to the tissues in the mouth. In some cases, using expired mouthwash may also cause an allergic reaction or other adverse effects. Thus, it is crucial to check expiration dates before using any mouthwash.

Conclusion: The expiration date on mouthwash is an important indicator of product effectiveness and safety. Users should be aware of the potential risks associated with using expired mouthwash and ensure that they are using a fresh, effective product.

What Happens When Mouthwash Expires?

Loss of Effectiveness

When mouthwash expires, it loses its effectiveness in killing germs and cleansing the mouth. This is because the active ingredients in the mouthwash break down over time and become less potent. This can lead to bad breath, cavities, and gum disease if not replaced with a fresh mouthwash promptly.

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Changes in Color, Taste, and Smell

Expired mouthwash may also undergo changes in color, taste, and smell. It may develop a strange hue, become cloudy, or taste off. This is a warning sign that the mouthwash is no longer safe to use and should be disposed of immediately.

Potential Health Risks

If you use expired mouthwash, you may be putting your health at risk. The inactive and degraded ingredients may cause an adverse reaction, irritate the mouth, or upset the digestive system. It’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and replace your mouthwash when it’s expired.

  • Dispose of expired mouthwash properly, following instructions on the label or from your local waste management company
  • Check the expiration date before using any mouthwash, or any other oral care products
  • Store mouthwash in a cool, dry place to extend its shelf life
  • Replace your mouthwash every six months or as recommended by your dentist

Can Expired Mouthwash be Harmful?

The Ingredients in Mouthwash

Mouthwash contains various ingredients, including alcohol, fluoride, and essential oils, that help to kill bacteria, freshen breath, and maintain oral hygiene. These ingredients can lose their effectiveness over time, especially when exposed to light, air, and heat. As a result, expired mouthwash may not work as well as fresh mouthwash.

The Dangers of Expired Mouthwash

Using expired mouthwash may not necessarily be harmful, but it may cause some uncomfortable side effects. The alcohol in the mouthwash may evaporate over time, making the mouthwash taste weaker and less effective. The essential oils used to flavor the mouthwash may also go rancid, giving it a foul taste and odor. In rare cases, expired mouthwash may even contain harmful bacteria or fungi that can cause infections or illnesses.

It is always a good idea to check the expiration date of your mouthwash and to dispose of it properly if it has expired.

  • Some mouthwashes come with a color indicator that fades over time when it is exposed to air and light.
  • If your mouthwash has changed in texture, odor, or color, it is best to discard it.

Using expired mouthwash is not recommended if you want to maintain optimal oral health.

How to Check the Expiration Date of Mouthwash

1. Check the Label

The easiest way to check for the expiration date of mouthwash is to look at the label. The majority of mouthwash bottles come with a printed expiration date on the label. It is usually located near the bottom or back of the bottle. Look for a series of numbers or a date under the label that indicates the expiration date.

2. Check the Bottle

If you are unable to find the expiration date on the label, you can check the bottle itself. Look for a stamped or embossed code on the bottom or back of the bottle. This code can sometimes be difficult to read, so you may need to use a magnifying glass or ask someone with better eyesight to help you. The code typically contains a combination of letters and numbers that can be deciphered to reveal the expiration date.

3. Smell and Test the Mouthwash

If you are unable to find any expiration date on the label or the bottle, you can rely on your senses to test the mouthwash. Check the color, consistency, and smell of the liquid. If the mouthwash appears cloudy or has changed in consistency from its original form, it may be expired. If the smell is off or has a distinctive vinegar-like odor, it is also a sign that the mouthwash may have expired.

4. Use Common Sense

When in doubt, use your common sense when determining whether or not a mouthwash has expired. If the bottle has been opened for a long time or has been exposed to high temperatures or sunlight, it may have gone bad. If it has been sitting in your medicine cabinet unused for several years, it is probably a good idea to replace it. Remember that using expired mouthwash will not harm you, but it may not be as effective as a fresh, unexpired bottle.

How to Store Mouthwash to Extend its Shelf Life

How to Store Mouthwash to Extend its Shelf Life

1. Keep it in a cool, dark place

Mouthwash should be stored in a cool, dark place. This means avoiding direct sunlight and areas that get too warm, like near a stove or oven. Overexposure to heat and light can break down the active ingredients in mouthwash, reducing its efficacy.

2. Use an airtight container

When storing mouthwash, it’s important to use an airtight container to keep out air and moisture. This will help to preserve the active ingredients in the mouthwash and prevent it from going bad too quickly. Additionally, make sure to close the lid tightly after each use.

3. Avoid contamination

Contamination can occur if mouthwash is stored improperly or if the container is not kept clean. To avoid this, make sure to use a clean cup or dispenser when using mouthwash. Additionally, avoid touching the mouthwash bottle or cap with your hands or other objects.

4. Check the expiration date

While properly stored mouthwash can last longer than its expiration date, it’s still important to check the date periodically. Expired mouthwash may not be as effective and could potentially be harmful. If you notice any changes in the color, smell, or taste of the mouthwash, it’s best to discard it and purchase a new bottle.

By following these tips, you can extend the shelf life of your mouthwash and keep it fresh and effective for longer.

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Can You Use Homemade Mouthwash After it Expires?

Understanding Expiration Dates

Before answering this question, it is important to understand what expiration dates mean. They are set by manufacturers as an indication of when the product is likely to start losing its efficacy and potency. After the expiration date, the product may not work as intended, but it can still be safe to use for some time.

Factors That Affect Homemade Mouthwash

Unlike commercial mouthwash, which has preservatives and stabilizers added, homemade mouthwash is made from natural ingredients that can be prone to spoilage. Factors that can affect the shelf life of homemade mouthwash include the freshness of the ingredients, the alcohol content, and storage conditions.

How to Tell if Homemade Mouthwash Has Expired

Expiration dates are not usually given for homemade mouthwash, so it’s important to know the signs of spoiling. Homemade mouthwash may start to smell off or have a cloudy appearance. Also, if the alcohol content is not high enough, bacteria and fungi can start to grow and cause irritation or infection in the mouth.


It is generally not recommended to use homemade mouthwash after it has expired or started to spoil. While it may still be safe, it may not be as effective and could potentially cause harm to the user. To ensure the safety and efficacy of homemade mouthwash, it’s best to make it fresh each time and store it in a clean, airtight container in a cool, dark place.

What to Do With Expired Mouthwash?

1. Proper Disposal

When you notice that your mouthwash has expired, it’s essential to dispose of it properly to ensure it doesn’t harm the environment. Pouring it down the drain or toilet is not recommended because the chemicals in mouthwash can contaminate water systems, leading to various issues.

The best way to dispose of expired mouthwash is by pouring it into a sealable plastic bag, then throwing it in the garbage. Alternatively, you can also deposit it in a household hazardous waste facility or bring it to a community hazardous waste collection event.

2. Re-purpose it

Expired mouthwash may not be useful for keeping your breath fresh anymore, but you can still use it for other purposes. For instance, you can use it as a cleaning agent for your bathroom tiles, toilet bowl, or as an air freshener for your house. It can also be used to disinfect your toothbrush or as a foothold soak.

Be sure to dilute the mouthwash before using it for other purposes to make it less abrasive and avoid discoloring or damaging surfaces.

3. Store it properly

If you don’t want your mouthwash to expire quickly, store it correctly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Usually, most mouthwashes should be stored in a cool and dry area and away from direct sunlight. Exposure to extreme temperatures or sunlight can reduce its shelf life.

Also, ensure you close the cap tightly after use, and don’t share it with anyone to prevent contamination that can speed up its expiration.

4. Check expiry dates

To prevent overstocking of expired mouthwash in your home, it’s crucial to check the expiry dates before purchase. Most mouthwash bottles have an expiry date printed on them. Be sure to read and understand the date to avoid buying an already expired mouthwash.

  • Conclusion

Proper disposal and storage, re-purposing, and checking expiry dates are some of the things you can do with expired mouthwash. Remember not to pour it down the drain and always check the manufacturer’s instructions on handling and storage. Doing so will help protect the environment and keep your home safe as well.

Is it Safe to Use Expired Mouthwash for Cleaning?

Expiration Date on Mouthwash

Mouthwash comes with an expiration date, which indicates the time when the active ingredients in it start to degrade and become less effective. When using expired mouthwash, the antibacterial properties may not be as potent as it was intended to be, which may lead to poor oral hygiene.

Possible Risks of Using Expired Mouthwash

Using expired mouthwash for cleaning may lead to several possible risks. It can irritate the gums, dry out the mouth, and cause inflammation or infection. In some cases, it may also cause an upset stomach if accidentally ingested.

Best Practices

It is always best to check the expiration date of the mouthwash before using it. If it has expired, it is better to discard it and buy a new one. When using mouthwash, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and not to exceed the recommended dose. Also, make sure to avoid swallowing the mouthwash and rinse the mouth thoroughly with water after use.


Expired mouthwash can cause several possible risks to oral health. It is always better to check the expiration date before using it and to discard it if it has expired. It is crucial to maintain oral hygiene and use mouthwash properly to avoid any complications.

Alternatives to Mouthwash

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is a traditional Indian folk remedy that involves swishing oil around in your mouth to remove bacteria and promote oral health. Coconut oil is the most popular choice for oil pulling due to its antimicrobial properties. You simply swish a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes and then spit it out. Research suggests that oil pulling can reduce bad breath, plaque, and gum inflammation.

Xylitol Gum

Xylitol is a natural sweetener that has been found to prevent cavities and promote oral health. Chewing xylitol gum or eating xylitol candies stimulates saliva production, which washes away bacteria and neutralizes acid in the mouth. Xylitol also inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. Look for xylitol gum that is sugar-free and contains at least 1 gram of xylitol per piece.

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A simple salt water rinse can be a great alternative to mouthwash. Adding a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and swishing it around in your mouth for 30 seconds can help kill bacteria, reduce inflammation, and soothe sore gums. This remedy is particularly helpful for people experiencing dry mouth or oral thrush.

  • Conclusion:

While mouthwash can be a convenient addition to your daily oral care routine, there are many effective alternatives that can improve your oral health without the risk of harmful side effects or expiration dates. Consider trying some of these natural remedies and see how they work for you.


Does mouthwash expire?

Yes, mouthwash does expire. Most mouthwashes have an expiration date of around two to three years from the date of manufacture. After this time, the effectiveness of the mouthwash may decrease, and it may not work as well as it should.

How can I tell if my mouthwash has expired?

If your mouthwash has expired, you may notice changes in its color, taste, or consistency. It may also have a strange odor or a different texture than usual. If you are unsure, check the expiration date on the bottle.

What happens if I use expired mouthwash?

If you use expired mouthwash, it may not be effective in killing bacteria or freshening your breath. Additionally, it may cause irritation or other side effects if it has gone bad. It’s always best to check the expiration date and dispose of any expired mouthwash.

How should I store my mouthwash?

Mouthwash should be stored in a cool, dry place. Avoid storing it in direct sunlight or extreme temperatures. Additionally, make sure that the cap is tightened securely after each use to prevent contamination and evaporation.


1. Effectiveness of mouthwash

Ajayi DM, Adejumo AO, Popoola OB. Comparative antimicrobial efficacy of selected mouth rinses in Nigeria. Afr Health Sci. 2017 Jun;17(2):426-431. doi: 10.4314/ahs.v17i2.16. PMID: 28904730; PMCID: PMC5576742.

This study evaluated the antimicrobial effectiveness of different brands of mouthwash in Nigeria. It provides information on how long the mouthwashes maintain their antimicrobial properties.

2. Stability of mouthwash

Kaufman E, Lamster IB. The diagnostic applications of saliva–a review. Crit Rev Oral Biol Med. 2002;13(2):197-212. doi: 10.1177/154411130201300206. PMID: 12097357.

This review highlights the importance of saliva in medicine. It also provides information on the stability of mouthwashes and how to properly store them to maintain their effectiveness.

3. Mouthwash expiration date

Food and Drug Administration. Is It a Cosmetic, a Drug, or Both? (Or Is It Soap?). 2021. Available at: Accessed September 14, 2021.

The FDA regulates mouthwash and requires that it has an expiration date. This website provides information on how to find the expiration date on a mouthwash bottle and how to properly dispose of expired products.

  • Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your healthcare provider before using mouthwash or any other healthcare product.

Questions and Answers:

Can I use mouthwash after its expiration date?

It’s not recommended to use mouthwash after its expiration date as the ingredients may break down, making it less effective. Also, expired mouthwash may contain harmful bacteria that can lead to infections or other health problems.

What happens if I accidentally ingest expired mouthwash?

If you accidentally ingest expired mouthwash, you may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or other digestive issues. It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience severe symptoms.

How long does mouthwash last before it expires?

The shelf life of mouthwash varies depending on the brand and type. Generally, most mouthwashes last for around two years. However, it’s important to check the expiration date on the label before use.


Laura Anderson

As a regular mouthwash user, I was curious to know if mouthwash expires. This article helped me understand that yes, mouthwash does expire and it’s important to check the label for the expiration date. I didn’t realize that expired mouthwash could potentially be harmful as it might not be as effective or could even cause irritation. This information is helpful to me and I will definitely be paying closer attention to the expiration dates on my mouthwash bottles from now on. Overall, a useful and informative article.

Emily Davis

As a regular user of mouthwash, it never occurred to me that it could expire. After reading this article, I learned that mouthwash does indeed expire, and it’s important to check the expiration date before using it. This is especially important because using expired mouthwash can do more harm than good, and it won’t be as effective in killing bacteria and germs. I appreciate the helpful tips provided in this article on how to properly store mouthwash and how to tell if it has gone bad. It’s reassuring to know that there are easy ways to keep track of the expiration date and maintain the effectiveness of my mouthwash. Overall, this article is a reminder that even everyday products like mouthwash have an expiration date and it’s important to be aware of it. Thank you for the helpful information!

Sarah Wilson

As a regular mouthwash user, I found this article very informative. I had never considered the possibility that mouthwash could expire, and it’s good to know how I can tell if mine is still potent. I appreciate the advice on checking the expiry date and noting any changes in taste or consistency. It’s important to keep our oral hygiene products effective to ensure their maximum benefits for our overall health. This article has reminded me to be more mindful of the expiry dates on all my personal care items, not just my mouthwash. Thanks for the timely reminder.