Can Mouthwash Act as a Disinfectant? When Clean is What You Need

Picture this: it’s the end of the world and everyone is running low on hygienic supplies. Everyone knows staying clean is the key to maintaining decent health during any crisis. Whether it’s the end of the world, natural disasters, or just encountering a shortage of necessities, it’s important to stay aware and be resourceful. One unexpected product can serve multiple hygienic solutions and may even save a life — mouthwash.

Why Mouthwash?

Mouthwash goes beyond the habit of something to rinse your mouth after brushing your teeth but, can mouthwash act as a disinfectant?  Mouthwash not only cleans your mouth, but it has the ability to sterilize. It carries antiseptic properties much like the ones found in wound care products.

Has Mouthwash Always Been Used for Something Other Than Cleaning Your Mouth?

The concept of mouthwash originated in the 1800s, however, it did not consist of alcohol at that time. Romans, Greeks, Chinese, and Egyptians used human pee to clean their teeth. In addition, boiled cow urine was utilized to clean wounds and prevent infections. Other notorious ingredients in the past for mouthwash consisted of tortoise blood – later found not effective – vinegar, wine, and ammonia. Despite these unorthodox methods, all aspects seemed to be somewhat effective for killing bacteria. Without question, mouthwash endured growing pains in its early development. You can get mouthwash cheaply at your look discount retailer or on Amazon (check here for current pricing)

When Did Mouthwash Become Modernized?

Listerine was invented in the late 1870s; however, it was not quite like the mouthwash product that is well-known today. Listerine was originally created to serve as an oral cleaner and a sterilizing agent for surgical incisions. It was also convenient for cleaning floors. The evolutionary product was invented by Robert Wood Johnson, James Wood Johnson, and Edward Mead Johnson — inventors of the company, Johnson & Johnson. Dr. Joseph Lister was the first surgeon to use Listerine in order to perform surgery in a sterilized operating theater.

What is the discovery of this invention? Antiseptic is antiseptic, regardless of the way it is presented. It works to aid injuries to soft tissues and open wounds. As mouthwash progressed over the years, it began to carry more than just antiseptic qualities. For example, mouthwash today may contain an excessive amount of sugar or undesirable additives; which increases the probability of limiting its cleaning and sanitizing properties. To gain the most antiseptic properties from mouthwash, try to avoid the ones labeled as “alcohol-free” or contains great amounts of sugar.

What Kind of Properties/Ingredients Does Mouthwash Have?

Ingredients found in mouthwash are designed to clean, sterilize, and fight germs. The most common elements of mouthwash consist of antimicrobials, antibiotics, antiseptics, anti-inflammatories, and antibacterial properties. Not sure what these terms mean? Read below:

  • Antimicrobials: These are agents that destroy microorganisms and prevents growth. These microorganisms consist of bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and fungi (such as mold and mildew). Simply put, these work to fight germs and viruses that can be easily overlooked by the human eye.
  • Antibiotics: An antibiotic is a type of antimicrobial. This is the most vital antibacterial agent when it comes to fighting off bacterial infections. Antibiotics serve to permanently kill bacteria. For example, parasites and fungus are forms of bacterial infections.
  • Anti-inflammatories: Anti-inflammatories primarily reduce inflammation and swelling. However, evidence has shown that these chemicals may also contain antibiotic properties.
  • Antibacterial: Antibacterial is a general term that describes anything that rids bacteria. For example, hand sanitizer is antibacterial.
  • Antiseptic: An antiseptic is a type of antimicrobial. These substances slow the growth of bacteria, rather than killing it permanently.

Why Should I Know All of This About Mouthwash?

As the saying goes, knowledge is power. If disaster strikes, your chances of survival will increase significantly. It never fails, the most unexpected things have the potential to save your life. If a crisis occurs, mouthwash will most likely not be the first product to disappear. A lot of people will more likely focus on gathering food, hygienic supplies, first aid kits, and other medical supplies. However, knowing and understanding the numerous benefits of mouthwash will create a better chance of maintaining your health. Regardless of any circumstances, you should not feel limited to use mouthwash as only a refresher after brushing your teeth.

You don’t have to go through a natural disaster, or a zombie apocalypse to use it for multiple purposes. It’s okay to use mouthwash for more than just rinsing your mouth. Unless you have a chemical sensitivity, mouthwash is safe to use on skin. Running low on deodorant one day? Apply a pinch of mouthwash (keep in mind, it may not have the antiperspirant qualities you want). Being aware of its multiple uses can also be as beneficial as simply saving money. Mouthwash not only carries properties to clean and sterilize the human body, but it can also be used a household cleaning product. It can clean tile, tubs, and even toilets.

Are There Other Options Besides Mouthwash That Can be Used to Clean/Sterilize?

Yes! There are plenty of other household items that can aid in killing bacteria. You may be surprised by the items sitting in your kitchen cabinet or refrigerator. Items such as baking soda, mineral oil, coconut oil, turmeric, activated charcoal powder, colloidal silver, peppermint/cinnamon oils, ginger, cumin, limes/lemons, rubbing alcohol, and vinegar can help with cleaning and fighting germs!

DIY Options for All Purpose Mouth and Wound Antiseptics

  • Salt: Salt is extremely useful for cleaning various surfaces. This includes skin and soft tissue. Keep in mind, dilute the salt before using. Be aware, using salt as an antiseptic can result in a stinging sensation.
  • Baking soda: Baking soda can do all kinds of things, such as bake cakes, remove odors, and serve as the ultimate cleaning product. The powder can be an adequate substitute for mouthwash and even go-to temporary wound care.
  • Mineral oil: Whatever you do, don’t swallow mineral oil. It probably won’t kill you, but may act as an undesired laxative. If a disaster is taking place, this would be a major inconvenience for you. Mineral oil has been proven to benefit skin and hair. It’s especially good for treating dry skin. As for open wounds, mineral oil has the ability to sustain moisture, which can seal off germs.
  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil contains numerous benefits. It’s mainly known for cooking and moisturizing. Another less-known perk is its ability to cure wounds and provide improved oral hygiene.
  • Turmeric: Although it is not FDA approved, turmeric can be extremely beneficial for your health. Turmeric is useful for its antibacterial elements, but it also reduces swelling and stops bleeding.
  • Activated charcoal powder: This active ingredient can quickly minimize the size of wounds. Evidence suggests it also helps your teeth and can fight infection.
  • Colloidal silver: This silver can contribute to sustained health in numerous ways. Colloidal silver can help heal wounds, improve the immune system, heal your skin, and even act as an alternative to antibiotics. Despite these multiple benefits, swallowing too much can alter your skin tone to a creepy shade of grey. Yes, seriously. That’s probably not the best idea if the world is ending due to a zombie apocalypse.
  • Peppermint/Cinnamon oils: Before using these oils, make sure to dilute. These essential oils are natural healers and help kill biofilms (slimy bacteria). Despite its known benefits, be sure to use at your discretion. Chemical burns may occur, especially if you have sensitive skin.
  • Ginger & Cumin: These spices are used for more than just cooking. This dynamic duo improves your skin’s health and promotes healing. This combination can also benefit aging skin.
  • Vinegar: While apple cider vinegar is typically the best, all vinegar possess cleansing agents. Before using, dilute the liquid to avoid damage. Too much of a good thing is never a good idea!
  • Lemon/Lime: Lemons and limes are high in vitamin C; which has the potential to enable quicker healing time for the body.
  • Rubbing alcohol: Rubbing alcohol is most commonly known for sterilizing wounds/cuts. Never use rubbing alcohol for oral care. If absolutely needed, choose a clear, white alcohol with no added sugars or flavors. This will create the best results. For shallow scrapes, hydrogen peroxide is the best choice. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide for deep cuts/wounds.

Now That I Know All of This, I Should be Prepared, Right?

Learning the history and understanding how everyday items work can save your life. More importantly, YOU could save someone else’s life. You never know when SHTF (sh*t hits the fan). Knowing what’s useful and being prepared will always be the best skill you can have. But also consider though having mouthwash around is important,  all emergency experts would suggest to also have a first aid kit handy. One of the best first aid kits you can get that I recommend and is the highly rated Surviveware Small First Aid Kit which can be purchased on Amazon.


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