Our recommendations are independently selected and dentist-approved. We may earn a commission if you buy something. Why trust us?

The best mouthwash for 2023

Person using mouthwash

Mouthwash is a misunderstood tool for looking after your oral hygiene.

Not everyone needs it, so you may even be wasting money if you buy it unnecessarily. And some of the manufacturer claims are over-hyped.

But mouthwash does have its uses — it can manage bad breath, ease pain and inflammation in the mouth and protect against tooth decay.

If you do need a mouthwash, below are my recommendations based on my experience as a dentist and research into the various products available.

Our recommendations

Best all-round: Listerine Total Care 10 in 1 Milder Taste

Best budget: Dentyl Dual Action

Best unflavoured: Ultradex Daily Oral Rinse

Best for bad breath: The Breath Co

Best for dry mouth: Biotene Dry Mouth Relief

Various bottles of mouthwash next to each other

10 useful things to know when choosing a mouthwash

  1. Mouthwash can be beneficial for those with specific dental issues, but it’s not essential for everyone.
  2. Mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing and flossing. Physical cleaning is more important.
  3. Use fluoride mouthwash in addition to fluoride toothpaste to reduce decay risk.
  4. Alcohol-free mouthwashes are recommended over those containing alcohol.
  5. Consult a dental professional if you have persistent bad breath.
  6. Avoid using mouthwash immediately after brushing.
  7. Always follow the usage instructions on the mouthwash label.
  8. Children under six should not use mouthwash due to the risk of swallowing.
  9. Mouthwash is normally considered safe for people who are pregnant, but this does depend on the ingredients list.
  10. Consider eco-friendly mouthwash options to minimize environmental impact.

Best all-round mouthwash

Listerine Total Care 10 in 1 Milder Taste

Listerine total care milder taste

Approx. £4 per bottle — Amazon, Boots.

Listerine is one of the most widely known mouth care brands, and can be found around the world.  It is widely available in stores and online, with a range of flavours and bottle sizes.

Why we chose it

Listerine’s large range can be somewhat overwhelming.

I recommend this option because it is one of their alcohol free options (many Listerine mouthwashes do contain alcohol), and has a milder mint taste. From personal testing I have found many Listerine options to be very strong!

Whilst there are many other listerine options I have picked this one specifically because it contains fluoride at 450ppm, which is at the higher end of the scale.

It has been approved by The Oral Health Foundation too.

Recommended use is 20ml twice a day. Although they recommend using after brushing, I would advise using it at a separate time of day. 

It comes in bottle sizes of 500ml, 600ml, 1L  and has a cost of approx 10p per rinse.


  • Value for money
  • Fresh taste
  • No burning sensation
  • Alcohol free
  • Contains fluoride


  • Not always recycled material bottles

Best budget mouthwash

Dentyl Dual Action

Dentyl dual action

Approx. £3 per bottle — Boots, Amazon.

More often than not, Dentyl it is the cheapest on the shelf, whilst still meeting the criteria of containing fluoride and being alcohol free.

Why we chose it

If you’ve ever walked down the mouthwash aisle, you’ll recognise the distinctive Dentyl bottles with the split colour mouthwash. 

Whilst doing my research I found out this is because there are two main ingredients in the mouthwash, which actually won’t mix together. There is oil-based essential oils which have an effect on plaque and gum health, and then there is the water based CPC (antimicrobial ingredients) and fluoride (at 225ppm).

I tried the mint and it was pleasantly refreshing whilst not burning at all during use.

The recommended dose is half a capful – which I measured to be 10ml. Using this twice daily, that’s a 25 day supply in a 500ml bottle. There are also 100ml and 1l bottles available. The cost per rinse works out at 4p – one of the best value options out there.

There are also three flavours available: smooth mint, fresh clove, and icy cherry – meaning these are a good alternative if you are looking for a non-minty flavour.


  • Affordable option
  • Contains fluoride
  • Alcohol free
  • No burning sensation
  • Different bottle size options
  • Choice of flavours


  • Lack of sustainability information

Best unflavoured mouthwash

Ultradex Daily Oral Rinse

Ultra dex daily oral rinse

Approx. £6 per bottle — Boots, Amazon.

Ultradex comes as an unflavoured mouthwash, but with a sachet available to add flavouring if you want it. As well as having no taste, there is no burning sensation as it is alcohol free.

Why we chose it

The benefits of this mouthwash include protection against caries as it contains 230ppm fluoride. The  iQ+ ActiveOxi Technology contains chlorine dioxide to help counteract VSCs which cause bad breath. This mouthwash is also recommended if you have bad breath.

Ultradex Daily Oral Rinse is alcohol free and SLS free, and is suitable for vegans. The bottles are available as 250ml, 500ml & 1000ml. 

The recommended use is 15ml twice a day, and works out at 24p per rinse. It is not a cheap option, but it is effective and one of the few unflavoured options available.


  • Alcohol free
  • Contains fluoride
  • No burning sensation
  • Different bottle size options
  • Vegan recipe


  • More expensive option
  • Lack of sustainability information

Best for bad breath

The Breath Co Alcohol Free Fresh Breath Oral Rinse

The fresh breath co mouthwash

Approx. £7 per bottle — Boots, Amazon.

I recommend this mouthwash as it has such positive feedback from thousands of customers. Whilst it isn’t a cheap, it’s worth a go as it comes with a money back guarantee.

Why we chose it

For those who really suffer with bad breath (halitosis) this is a good option because the sodium chlorite fights the cause of bad breath, whilst the minty flavour also gives a refreshing taste.

It is also alcohol free and SLS free.

It comes in 500ml bottles, and recommended use is to rinse with a capful and then gargle with a capful, and to do this twice daily. Unhelpfully the cap doesn’t give a measurement, but I measured it to be approx 35ml at home. This means a regular bottle would only give a 7 day supply.


  • No burning sensation
  • Alcohol free
  • Different bottle size options
  • Vegan recipe
  • Powerful taste, feels refreshing
  • Money back guarantee


  • No fluoride
  • More expensive option
  • Lack of sustainability information
  • Large doses for recommended usage

Best for dry mouth

Biotene Dry Mouth Relief

Biotene dry mouth relief

Approx. £8 per bottleBoots, Amazon.

I highly recommend Biotene Mouthwash for people who experience dry mouth symptoms.

Why we chose it

A dry mouth can be sore when eating, drinking, and cleaning your teeth. Sometimes a mouthwash can provide temporary relief.

This mouthwash is not necessary for most people. It’s aim is to rehydrate the mouth, and it does this by helping to retain water and moisture on the mouth surfaces (using ingredients called humectants).

The flavour isn’t all that pleasant, from our testing, but it does provide relief for people who do suffer from a dry mouth.

There is no fluoride in this mouthwash, but it is alcohol free and pH neutral.

The bottles come in 500ml options only, and recommended dose is 15ml, up to 5 times daily, depending on how dry your mouth feels. It works out about 24p per rinse.


  • Dry mouth relief
  • Alcohol free
  • Helps with things such as mouth ulcers as well as dry mouth


  • No fluoride
  • More expensive option
  • Lack of sustainability information
  • Large doses for recommended usage

Buyer’s guide: most people don’t need a mouthwash

Mouthwash is not necessary for most people.

Physical cleaning is most important. Brushing twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste and cleaning in between your teeth is enough to achieve good oral health.

However, mouthwashes can be beneficial in addition to this if there are reasons why physical cleaning is not good enough, or if additional doses of certain ingredients are needed. 

The advice of professional organisations around the world varies.

The National Health Service advises: “Using a mouthwash that contains fluoride can help prevent tooth decay, but don’t use mouthwash (even a fluoride one) straight after brushing your teeth or it’ll wash away the concentrated fluoride in the toothpaste left on your teeth.”

The American Dental Association says: “While not a replacement for daily brushing and flossing, use of mouthrinse (also called mouthwash) may be a helpful addition to the daily oral hygiene routine for some people.”

The Canadian Dental Association advises: “As part of your morning oral health routine, swish with an oral rinse (also known as mouthwash or a mouth rinse) once a day. This will help keep odour-causing bacteria at bay.”

Mouthwash being poured out of cap

These people do benefit from mouthwash:

  • Adults at high risk of tooth decay – to get an additional dose of fluoride
  • Children over the age of six at high risk of tooth decay  – to get an additional dose of fluoride
  • People with sore mouths due to infection, ulcers or surgery should use mouthwash – specific ingredients can help prevent infection of open wounds and ulcers, reduce inflammation, and help manage soreness in the mouth. 
  • People who struggle using a toothbrush should use a mouthwash – for example people who struggle to physically clean their teeth with brushing due to disabilities. The fluoride can protect against tooth decay whilst anti-plaque ingredients can help manage the inevitable build up which can’t be removed by brushing.
  • People with gum disease should use a mouthwash to help manage plaque levels.
  • People with sensitive teeth – by using mouthwashes containing desensitising ingredients to help manage sensitivity.
  • People with bad breath – to help mask the smell and to help manage the causes.

Choose a mouthwash with fluoride and without alcohol

Alcohol is added to mouthwash as a preservative. It has little effect on most people, other than a mild burning sensation.

But some people find the alcohol content can actually dry the mouth out and make bad breath worse. There is some conflicting evidence about whether or not alcohol in mouthwash can increase cancer risk.

Overall, there is nothing to suggest that alcohol containing mouthwashes are more effective than alcohol-free mouthwashes, so it’s best to avoid it if you can.

We do recommend opting for a mouthwash with fluoride, unless you are using it for another specific purpose such as pain relief. The additional fluoride can help to prevent tooth decay.

Person pouring Ultradex mouth rinse

Don’t use it more than twice a day unless told to by your dentist

Most mouthwashes will give you the most benefit if they are used twice a day. You are unlikely to get any extra benefits from using it more often.

If you are using mouthwash for a specific condition, or after oral surgery, your dentist might recommend it differently – such as three or four times per day. This is for a short amount of time – normally a week or two. Follow the advice given by your dental care professional.

Here’s why you should use mouthwash at a separate time to brushing

The basic message is don’t use mouthwash straight after brushing. Rinsing after brushing removes the toothpaste you have just used.

Using mouthwash at a different time to brushing leaves the toothpaste contacting the teeth to allow the fluoride to have maximum benefit.

Using mouthwash before brushing has few benefits

Using mouthwash directly before brushing has very few benefits – it is, essentially, a waste of money. This is because the act of brushing the teeth will remove any ingredients left by the mouthwash.

Using mouthwash after brushing creates a fluoride wash-out

Research has shown that using a non fluoride or low fluoride mouthwash after brushing reduces the anticaries benefit of toothpaste. This is a wash-out effect.

To prevent this wash out, wait at least half an hour after brushing before using mouthwash.

However, there are a limited number of studies showing that mouthwash with a high enough fluoride content might not have a negative effect if used straight after brushing. A mouthwash containing a minimum of 100ppm fluoride “should not interfere with the toothpaste’s anticaries protection”.

Ingredients in mouthwash and toothpaste can react with each other

The other reason to leave it at least 30 minutes after brushing to use a mouthwash is because some ingredients in mouthwash can interact with some toothpastes. This makes the mouthwash less effective. 

Some toothpaste ingredients (like calcium hydroxide or aluminium hydroxide) can form a complex with fluoride ions, which will reduce the effectiveness of a mouth rinse. 

Two studies looked at two specific ingredients: Chlorhexidine and CPC. Both remove less plaque if used in a mouthwash directly after using a toothpaste containing SLS, as a result of ionic interactions.

Even though some higher fluoride mouthwashes will not have a wash out effect if used straight after brushing, if these mouthwashes also contain chlorhexidine or CPC then they will not be as effective due to chemical reactions.

This is why it is best to use mouthwash at a different time of day.

Don’t rinse with water after brushing either

Rinsing your mouth with water after brushing your teeth rinses off the toothpaste you have used.

Before modern toothpaste was invented, gritty pastes made from ingredients such as eggshells and urine were used to cleanse the teeth. This is why it was common to rinse after brushing.

However modern toothpaste doesn’t contain these harmful or unhygienic ingredients. It is totally safe to leave on your teeth. In fact, it has many beneficial ingredients. Avoid rinsing to avoid washing these off before they can have maximum benefit.

People who rinse with water after brushing have more tooth decay than people who don’t.

The best mouthwash for 2023 1

5 interesting things about mouthwash from scientific studies

Clinical trials have extensively tested various products and ingredients under different scenarios. Here’s what the research says:

1. Mouthwash prevents tooth decay

Using a fluoride mouthwash reduces the risk of tooth decay (Marinho et al).

This is when it is used in addition to brushing with a fluoride containing toothpaste. It is estimated that correct use of mouthwash decreases decay risk by 26% more than toothpaste alone (however dentist applied fluoride gel has even better outcomes).

2. Mouthwash reduces levels of plaque

Some ingredients are able to act directly on dental plaque. This complex film on the teeth is made up of bacteria, their waste products, and food debris from the mouth.

3. Mouthwashes improve gum health

The fact that mouthwashes reduce plaque levels seems to also cause an improvement in gum health.

A 2015 publication by A Jose and team found “Chlorhexidine mouthrinse with or without alcohol as an adjunct to brushing with regular fluoride toothpaste significantly reduces bleeding scores, plaque and gingival inflammation compared to brushing alone.”

This better gum health is also found with other ingredients, with a Brazilian study finding that CPC and zinc lactate containing mouthwashes providing “significantly greater reductions in Plaque, Plaque Interproximal, Gingival, Gingival Severity, and Gingival interproximal index after 4 and 6 weeks of product use”.

4. Mouthwashes can help manage bad breath

Mouthwash can mask bad breath temporarily. The strong mint flavours cover up the smell of bad breath.

Some mouthwashes contain ingredients to soak up VSCs, the chemicals that cause bad breath for some people. These types of mouthwashes are one method to help manage bad breath. 

Research supports the use of a number of different mouthwashes containing different combinations of ingredients, with them all being more effective than not using a mouthwash.

Bad breath often has an underlying cause such as gum disease or tooth decay. Medical conditions like reflux can also cause bad breath, so it is important to talk to a medical or dental professional if this is an ongoing issue.

5. Essential oil mouthwash may be beneficial

There is some evidence to support the use of essential oil containing mouthwashes as being beneficial for oral health. One study showed essential oil mouthwash is more effective than floss at removing plaque from between the teeth.

About Gemma Wheeler

GDC number: 259369. Gemma qualified from Cardiff University School of Dentistry with BDS(Hons) in 2015. She went on to complete her Foundation Training and a further two years in the Armed Forces, primarily based around Wiltshire. She now works in a private practice in Plymouth.

Read More

Leave a comment or question

I accept the Privacy Policy

19 thoughts on “The best mouthwash for 2023”

  1. I can’t use it without adding water. It feels to concentrate for me. I do 1 part of the mouthwash and 5-6 part of water.
    What is an option to keep something always with you (in the car, gym, office etc) to wash the mouth after a snack, lunch? In my opinion less concentration 1 to 6-9 parts should be fine, isn’t it? TY

    • I understand your desire to dilute the concentration.
      We can’t advise on the best mix. Adding water to the mouthwash affects the mix and balance of ingredients and given each mouthwash is different how it lasts when diluted will differ.
      Have you perhaps considered a sugar free gum as a possible alternative?

  2. I hate the taste of the mint based mouthwashes, which seems to be all of them, but have found one for kids by colgate that’s a strawberry flavour that I quite like. Is there any downside to using this? I guess it’s better than none which is where I’ll end up with the adult flavours!

    • It should be fine to use Sally.
      The only thing to be aware of is if you have been given specific recommendations on using a mouthwash with fluoride in and checking that is present.
      It doesn’t hurt at your next checkup/dental cleaning to consult with your dental professional to get personalised advice.

  3. A very interesting and informative article. I regularly have hygienist sessions (every 4 mths) and want to minimise the build up of plaque through the day on my teeth. Could I use mouthwash after lunch to swill my mouth out reducing plaque build up? And if so, would any mouthwash do the job or would I need a specialist product? Thanks

    • Bernadette. Toothbrushing is really the most effective method for removing plaque and reducing future buildup. Rinsing the mouth can help but it isn’t as effective.
      The main benefit of the mouthwash is it will refresh the mouth and if using a fluoride rinse gives the benefits of the protection fluoride brings.
      It is well worth discussing with your hygienist at your next visit what steps you can take to minimise the plaque buildup based on your personal circumstances.

      • Thanks Jon for your informative reply, great to hear from you and I appreciate your words of wisdom. I’m already putting them into action.

  4. Is it a good idea to use mouthwash after flossing but just before brushing?
    Order: flossing, tongue scraped, then use mouthwash, and then lastly brushing teeth and spitting out without rinsing.

    • Hi Meron.

      You could do this, to rinse out any debris cleaned out by flossing.

      However, it seems like a little bit of a waste as part of the benefit of mouthwash is the freshness that it brings. If you brush your teeth after, you are not really getting any lasting freshness from the mouthwash as this will be replaced by the toothbrushing.

        • Personally, I see no reason to bother with the mouthwash.

          Order: flossing, tongue scraped, then lastly brushing teeth and spitting out without rinsing.

          If you do desire to rinse, maybe do so with water (before brushing). This way you get the cleaning effect without the higher cost.

          Of course, if you have been recommended a particular approach by your dentist, stick with this.

          • It wasn’t recommended to me by a dentist, I just thought it’s best to go in order:flossing,rinsing with mouthwash, then lastly brushing.
            But in this case do you think this is wrong, and how should i approach?

            • You can certainly use mouthwash in the order you suggest Meron, if you would like. It is not a case of your suggestion being wrong.

              I am suggesting using water instead as I don’t believe you are getting any real benefit from using mouthwash at this point.

              You can get a similar rinsing effect from water, and any freshness left behind by the mouthwash will be replaced by the toothpaste as you brush your teeth.

              I am trying to save you money really.

              I think you would get more benefit from the mouthwash, if used at other times of the day, for example after lunch, when you would not normally brush the teeth.

    • Leo.

      It comes down to a value for money choice. Cool Mint tends to be better value.

      The Total Care is a good choice too. One of its benefits is that it contains fluoride that can help protect the teeth, much like toothpaste does, although this is not essential in a mouthwash.

    • Hi Scott,

      This isn’t something we’ve looked at yet but I’ve just had a quick look into it and it does sound interesting, so we will try to take a look soon.

Leave a comment