How to use mouthwash: a step-by-step guide

Mouthwash, mouth rinse, oral rinse, you can call it whatever you want. But do you know how to use mouthwash? Yeah, we know it is not rocket science, but there is no harm in knowing. Whether you go to a pharmacy or a supermarket, you are sure to see different types of mouthwash. Let’s say you have decided on a mouthwash and bought it. If you do not know how to properly use your mouthwash what good does it do for you then?

To gain the most benefits from mouthwash, let’s go through the steps of how to use mouthwash!

Steps to use mouthwash

So, after you are done brushing your teeth and when you are ready to use mouthwash, you can follow these steps to get the best results and all the benefits of mouthwash.

  • Step 1: Pour 20 ml or 3 to 5 teaspoons of your preferred mouthwash into the cap. Usually, the caps on the bottles of mouthwash have measurements that can help you with that.
  • Step 2: Pour the mouthwash into your mouth and swish it around in your mouth for 30 seconds.
  • Step 3: Gargle the mouthwash and then spit it out. DO NOT SWALLOW!
  • Step 4: Do not rinse your mouth with water after step 3.
how to use mouthwash

Whatever type of mouthwash you are using, whether it is cosmetic mouthwash or prescription mouthwash, following these steps would give you the best results. If you need to follow additional steps for your oral health routine, talk with your dentist.

All questions answered on “how to use mouthwash”

Mouthwash hotline, how can I help you? We have tried to gather all questions related to using mouthwash, so hold the line please, we will connect you to your answer shortly!

How often to use mouthwash?

Part of “how to use mouthwash” is the frequency you use it. Whether you are using a cosmetic mouthwash or prescription mouthwash, the baseline for using mouthwash is twice a day. You can use it once in the morning and once in the afternoon. But if you have any specific oral health issues that require more frequent use of mouthwash, you can ask your dentist for instructions.

How much mouthwash to use?

Normally 20 ml or 3 to 5 teaspoons of mouthwash is enough for one session. You can easily use the cap of the mouthwash bottle to measure the amount of your mouthwash. Keep in mind that the recommended amount should be used twice in a 24-hour period.

Should you gargle mouthwash?

Not should but yes you can gargle mouthwash. When you gargle make sure you do not swallow it. But just gargling does not help your teeth that much. First swish your mouthwash then you can gargle it for a few seconds and then spit it out.

How long should you gargle mouthwash?

You shouldn’t gargle mouthwash for that long. Anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds is enough. 60 seconds should be enough for the mouthwash to reach all the places in your mouth.

Is it ok if I dilute my mouthwash with water?

No! The recommended dose of mouthwash on the bottle is for the product itself and not mixed with water. If you dilute your mouthwash with water, it will reduce the mouthwash’s effectiveness.

When to use mouthwash?

Having an oral care routine that includes daily brushing and flossing is important to your general health. But you want to add mouthwash to it as well. So we know it is best to floss before brushing your teeth, but how about using mouthwash? Here are how you can use mouthwash in your dental hygiene routine.

Before brushing

Well, most dentists say it is best to follow this pattern for your oral care routine: floss, mouthwash, and brushing. Using mouthwash before brushing can be beneficial because it can remove all the plaque buildup that you have loosened with flossing.

After brushing

Now on the other hand, there are some other dentists that say the steps to your oral care routine should go as floss, brushing, and mouthwash. What is important to remember here is if you brush your teeth before using mouthwash, you need to wait for 30 minutes to use any kind of mouth rinse.

After eating

So you have just eaten and you are wondering “How long after eating to use mouthwash?”. The answer is right after eating you can use mouthwash. Dentists actually recommend using mouthwash after eating. This will help with balancing the pH in your mouth and fighting cavities.

Should I floss first and then use mouthwash?

We know that is best to floss your teeth before brushing them. So, where does mouthwash come in? Most dentists recommend rinsing your mouth with mouthwash after you are done flossing. This way not only you are clearing out those bad bacteria that came out of those spaces between your teeth but also your mouthwash can work effectively in delivering fluoride to your teeth.

How long should you wait to use mouthwash after brushing?

Since most kinds of toothpaste nowadays are fluoride toothpaste dentists recommend waiting at least 30 minutes after brushing to use mouthwash. This is to prevent your mouthwash from rinsing away the concentrated fluoride in the toothpaste. Fluoride is what keeps your teeth away from tooth decay, keeps your teeth white, and strengthens your enamel. Using your mouthwash right after brushing your teeth will not do any good for your dental health.

Why can’t you eat or drink after using mouthwash?

Nowadays most mouthwashes are fluoride mouthwashes and that is what you need. Eating and drinking right after using mouthwash reduce the concentration of fluoride in your mouth. It might not seem like a big deal but the whole point of using mouthwash is to deliver fluoride to all the spaces in your mouth.  

How long should you wait to eat after using mouthwash?

It is best to wait at least 30 minutes. This is enough time for the fluoride to do its work on your teeth. Also if you eat right away after using mouthwash it’s going to taste horrible. Have you ever had an orange right after brushing your teeth? Pretty much the same experience! So save yourself a bad experience and just scroll through Instagram for 30 minutes.

How long after mouthwash can I drink water?

Same as eating! Wait 30 minutes after mouthwash to drink water. If you drink water after mouthwash you will dilute the leftover fluoride in your mouth. This will decrease the effectiveness of your mouthwash. 

What happens if you eat after using mouthwash?

The world will end! Just kidding! If you eat after using mouthwash nothing will happen. Maybe you will experience some bad taste like when you eat or drink something citrusy after brushing your teeth. 


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-Lemos CA Jr, Villoria GE. Reviewed evidence about the safety of the daily use of alcohol-based mouth rinses. Braz Oral Res. 2008;22 Suppl 1:24-31. doi: 10.1590/s1806-83242008000500005. PMID: 19838548. Link