How long does mouthwash last?

How Long Does Mouthwash Last? Does Mouthwash Expire?

Hold that swish! Have you ever paused mid-gargle, staring at your bottle of mouthwash, and wondered, “How long does mouthwash last?”

This isn’t merely about freshening our breath but ensuring our oral hygiene routine is both safe and effective.

Together, let’s explore the lifespan of that minty liquid, delve into the importance of its expiration date, and uncover what happens when it whispers past its prime.

How Long Does Mouthwash Last?

According to Healthline, mouthwash typically lasts for a maximum of 2 to 3 years from the manufacture date. The longevity of mouthwash is often attributed to its content of alcohol or another astringent, which begins to dissolve after this 2-3 year period, potentially diluting the liquid.

This dilution may foster bacterial growth, rendering expired mouthwash potentially unsafe to use. It’s crucial to note that the effectiveness of the mouthwash might start to diminish once it’s opened and exposed to external elements.

Therefore, while it has a comparatively longer shelf life than some other perishable goods, ensuring it’s stored correctly and keeping an eye on its expiration date is vital for maintaining optimal oral hygiene.

Related: How Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush?

Understanding Mouthwash Expiration Date

You’ve probably noticed that little date stamped at the bottom of your mouthwash bottle. That’s your expiration date, a guideline indicating until when the product maintains optimal quality. But what does it really mean, and how strict is it?

According to the FDA, while there are no U.S. laws or regulations that require cosmetics to have specific shelf lives or expiration dates on their labels, it’s crucial for products categorized as drugs.

This includes certain personal care items, like some types of mouthwash, which are formulated to treat or prevent conditions. These products must undergo stability testing and are required to have an expiration date clearly printed on their packaging.

This expiration date serves as a guideline for consumers, indicating the period during which the product remains stable and effective.

Does Mouthwash Expire?

Yes, mouthwash does expire, and understanding this involves a peek into its categorizations and regulations by the FDA and the American Dental Association (ADA). Mouthwashes are broadly classified into two categories: cosmetic and therapeutic.

Cosmetic Mouthwash

Primarily aimed at masking bad breath, cosmetic mouthwash doesn’t target dental issues like gum disease or plaque buildup. While the FDA doesn’t regulate cosmetic mouthwashes, adhering to their expiration dates is prudent as their quality, especially in terms of freshness, may degrade over time.

Therapeutic Mouthwash

This variant, regulated by the FDA, contains active ingredients like fluoride, peroxide, and essential oils, aiming to address specific dental concerns such as tooth decay or gum disease. The expiration date here is crucial as past this point, the active ingredients may begin to lose their potency, diminishing the mouthwash’s effectiveness in addressing dental issues.

Unlike food items, therapeutic mouthwash doesn’t offer sensory cues like a change in smell or color to indicate expiration, making the labeled expiration date a key indicator of its efficacy and safety. Thus, using mouthwash, especially the therapeutic kind, post its expiration date might not deliver the expected results and optimal benefits for your oral health.

Signs a Mouthwash Has Expired

Ensuring your mouthwash is within its use-by date is subtle yet vital in maintaining effective oral care. While therapeutic mouthwashes might not always provide clear sensory cues of expiration like food items do, there are still some signs that can hint it’s time to replace your bottle:

  • Color Changes: A shift from its original color, even slightly, suggests it might be time for a new bottle.
  • Altered Scent: If the once-minty freshness has faded or altered, take note – it’s a warning sign.
  • Texture Variation: A mouthwash that was once smooth becoming clumpy or uneven in texture indicates expiration.
  • Past Expiration Date: Despite the subtlety of other signs, the expiration date on the label is a clear-cut indicator. If it’s past, it’s time to dispose of it.

Related: How Long Do Electric Toothbrushes Last? Insights on Battery Life and Lifespan

Can You Use Expired Mouthwash?

While it doesn’t necessarily become harmful, expired mouthwash does lose its punch in battling germs and maintaining fresh breath due to the breakdown of its active ingredients.

But there’s more to consider. Expired mouthwash can potentially become a breeding ground for bacteria and its once fresh ingredients might turn rancid.

Be on the lookout for signs that your mouthwash has overstayed its welcome, such as color changes, an off smell, or a shift in consistency. And if you’re using a natural mouthwash, be extra cautious as they often have a shorter shelf life and may require refrigeration.

While using expired mouthwash in a one-off situation might not be a big deal, relying on it for your regular oral care routine isn’t the best move. A fresh bottle ensures that you’re getting the full benefits to keep your mouth healthy and your breath fresh.

How to Store Mouthwash Properly

Ensuring your mouthwash maintains its effectiveness involves a bit of care in how you store it. Let’s dive into some straightforward tips to keep that bottle working its best for your oral hygiene!

  • Cool and Dry: Store your mouthwash in a place where it won’t be exposed to direct sunlight or heat, like a medicine cabinet or a pantry shelf.
  • Tighten Up: Always make sure the cap is screwed on tightly after every use to prevent any contamination and maintain its potency.
  • Child-Proof: If there are children in your home, ensure the mouthwash is stored safely out of their reach to avoid any accidental ingestion or spills.
  • Steady Temperatures: Avoid keeping your mouthwash in areas where it might experience extreme temperature changes, such as near a heater or in your car.
  • Stick to the Original: Keep the mouthwash in its original bottle to avoid introducing bacteria from other containers and to preserve its quality.

Alternative Uses for Expired Mouthwash

So, you’ve got a bottle of expired mouthwash and you’re not keen on tossing it – what now? While its days of freshening your breath might be over, that doesn’t mean it can’t still be quite the handy household helper!

Let’s explore some alternative uses:

  • Clean and Disinfect: Use it to clean your bathroom surfaces. Its antiseptic properties can help in disinfecting areas like sinks and faucets.
  • Laundry Freshener: Add a capful to your laundry to give your clothes an extra boost of freshness.
  • Flower Preservative: A dash of mouthwash into your vase water can help keep your cut flowers fresh for a longer period.
  • Glass Cleaner: Expired mouthwash can be used to clean your windows and mirrors, leaving them streak-free and shiny.
  • Foot Soak: Give your feet a refreshing soak. The antiseptic properties can help with foot odor and may provide a cooling sensation.
  • Toilet Cleaner: Pour it into your toilet bowl, let it sit for a while, and then scrub. It can help clean and deodorize your toilet.
  • Trash Can Deodorizer: Wipe down your trash can with a bit of mouthwash to eliminate unpleasant odors and kill bacteria.
  • Hand Sanitizer: In a pinch, it can be used to sanitize your hands, especially if it contains alcohol.

While expired mouthwash may have lost its effectiveness for oral care, it can still be quite useful around your home. So, before you think of discarding it, consider these alternative uses to get the most out of every last drop!

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer some common questions related to mouthwash shelf life.

How long does mouthwash last after using?

After using mouthwash, the fresh feeling and germ-killing action can last up to a few hours, although the exact duration can depend on what you eat and drink afterward.

Do you rinse again after mouthwash?

No, you should avoid rinsing, eating, or drinking for at least 30 minutes after using mouthwash to allow the active ingredients to work effectively.

Is it OK to use mouthwash once a day?

Yes, using mouthwash once a day, especially before bedtime, can be beneficial, but following the usage guidelines on the label or your dentist’s recommendation is always best.

Why do you have to wait 30 minutes after using mouthwash?

Waiting 30 minutes after using mouthwash allows the active ingredients enough time to work effectively, providing optimal oral health benefits and ensuring that your breath stays fresh.


What a journey it’s been, exploring the ins and outs of mouthwash and its lifespan! From understanding “How Long Does Mouthwash Last” to navigating through its post-expiration life, we’ve uncovered the mysteries together.

Remember, ensuring your oral care products are effective and safe is pivotal in maintaining that dazzling smile of yours. Until next time, keep smiling and exploring!


Does Mouthwash Expire? | Colgate®

Does Mouthwash Expire? Facts, Other Uses, and More (

Shelf Life and Expiration Dating of Cosmetics | FDA

Does Mouthwash Expire? – Lane & Associates (

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