Will Mouthwash Stain My Clothes?

Many of us finish our teeth cleaning routine by using mouthwash to freshen our breath and improve our dental health. You probably use your mouthwash without giving it a second thought, but have you ever wondered if your mouthwash can stain clothes?

If so, you’re not alone and the truth is that some mouthwashes can stain clothes under certain circumstances. If you want to know why and how some mouthwashes can stain clothes, and how to prevent staining due to mouthwash, keep reading.

Does Mouthwash Stain Clothes?

The answer to this depends on the type of mouthwash you use and the ingredients that mouthwash contains as well as how fast you act to remove any spillages. You see, not all mouthwashes cause stains and the speed in which you act on removing the spilt mouthwash also plays a huge part in whether it leaves a stain on your clothes.

There are a few reasons why your mouthwash could stain your clothes which are;

  • The Pigments Used To Give The Mouthwash Colour
    If you use a mouthwash that has a particularly bright colour, like a deep blue or green, any spilt onto your clothes is likely to stain. This is because of the strength of the compounds used to make those colours.
  • Whether The Mouthwash Contains Alcohol
    If the mouthwash contains alcohol, it can act as a solvent which will make dyes and pigments spread further and more likely to stick to fabrics.

Which Fabrics Are Most Likely To Be Affected By Staining From Mouthwash?

Silk Fabric

There are certain fabrics that are more likely to become stained by mouthwash. Delicate fabrics like satin or silk for example are extremely porous which makes them more likely to get stained by mouthwash.

The same is true for synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester because the dyes typically used in mouthwash can bind to these fabrics more readily.

In many cases fabrics like denim or cotton are less likely to be affected by mouthwash stains. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

The takeaway from all of this is that you need to be careful with all of your clothes when using mouthwash.

What Type Of Stain Does Mouthwash Cause?

A stain on a white shirt

You need to be able to identify the type of stain that your mouthwash has made to remove it effectively. Let’s take a brief look at common types of stains caused on clothes by mouthwash. They include;

Stains Caused By Colours 

Colour stains or pigment stains are most likely to happen when a brightly coloured mouthwash is spilt onto clothes. These predominantly blue or green dyes are very easy to spot on lighter coloured garments.

Stains Caused By Alcohol 

If your mouthwash contains alcohol as one of its active ingredients, it can cause the colour of the fabric to fade. This then leaves an unsightly stain which is often lighter than the rest of the fabric.

Alcohol stains are more difficult to remove than colour stains.

Stains Caused By Oily Residue

Some mouthwashes contain oils which if spilt onto fabrics can leave behind a sticky, oily residue. These can be among the most difficult to remove.

Dried In Stains

If you don’t deal with the stain immediately, mouthwash stains can become dried in. Dried in stains are even more difficult to remove and unless action is taken as soon as the spillage occurs, that stain might remain forever.

Certain Fabrics React Differently To Mouthwash Stains

The same mouthwash can cause a different effect on different types of fabric. For instance delicate fabrics like silk can bleed their colour or discolour if mouthwash is spilt on them. 

This will need a specialised treatment to deal with the stain effectively. Likewise synthetic fabrics are also more likely to stain because synthetic fabrics can absorb dyes easily.

How To Deal With Mouthwash Stains And Remove Them From Your Clothes

clothes on a drying rack

As we have just said, removing mouthwash stains quickly is the only way to ensure they don’t become permanent. If the stain becomes dried in, it’s often too late to do anything about it.

To successfully remove mouthwash stains from your clothes just follow these steps;

Move Fast

As soon as you notice the spilt mouthwash, blot the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel. This removes any excess liquid, but be sure to only blot or dab the stain and don’t rub it. Rubbing the stain is only likely to spread it further.

As soon as all of the excess liquid has been removed, rinse the material inside out under cold running water.

Pre-Soak The Stain

The next step is to give the stain a pre-soak using the appropriate stain remover. Pour a small amount directly onto the stain and gently rub it in.

Check the container for details and allow the stain remover to work on the fabric for the recommended time.

Wash The Garment

Check the wash care label on the garment and wash at the recommended temperature using the detergent that’s appropriate for the fabric.

We recommend washing the stained garment on its own to prevent any possible spreading of the stain onto other clothes.

Check That The Stain Has Gone

Once the washer has finished its cycle, check the garment to see if the stain has gone. If the stain is still visible, don’t dry the garment as this will dry the stain in making it almost impossible to remove.

If the stain is still visible, give it another pre-soak and wash until the stain is completely gone.

Air Dry

Once you’re sure that all of the stain has been removed, allow the item to air dry naturally. Either hang the garment on the washing line or, if the weather is too bad, use an airer indoors.

Do not subject the garment to the intense heat produced in a tumble dryer because if there is any stain remaining it will literally get cooked into the fabric.

What Should Be Used To Clean The Mouthwash Stain?

There is a wide range of cleaning products available nowadays but you will need to use a type of cleaner that is safe for use on the fabric your garment is made from and the type of mouthwash that caused the stain.

Below are some of the more effective types of cleaners for removing mouthwash stains. These include;

Enzyme-Based Stain Removers

Active Enzyme Clothing Stain Remover, Fabric Stain Remover, Stain Remover, Enzyme-Based Stain Remover for Clothes, Laundry Booster and Stain Remover, All Purpose Stain Remover
  • Instant Water Unique foam control technology, so that the amount of foam is reasonable when washing, easy to rinse.
  • It also contains a stain removal enhancer to prevent stains from sticking back and remove them completely.

There are many enzyme-based stain removers available which are specifically designed to break down and remove organic stains. These can be effective against mouthwash stains on many different types of fabric.

Oxygen Bleach Stain Removers

Oxygen bleach stain removers are great for removing mouthwash stains from white or colourfast items. However, you should always test in an inconspicuous area like an inside seam before use.

White Vinegar

White Vinegar 5L - Food Grade Suitable for Cleaning, Cooking, Baking, Pickling, Marinating, Weed Killer
  • Natural and eco-friendly: Pure Chem's White Vinegar is made from natural ingredients, free from harsh chemicals and additives, and is a safe and eco-friendly alternative to traditional cleaning products.
  • Versatile cleaning agent: This vinegar's acidic properties make it a powerful cleaner, cutting through grease, grime, and stains on a variety of surfaces. It can be used to clean floors, tiles, countertops, and even as a natural fabric softener.

If you prefer to use a natural cleaner, try mixing equal parts of white vinegar and water. Then gently dab the stained area before rinsing and washing the garment as normal.

Using one of the above suggestions will help you to remove any fresh mouthwash stains from your clothes.

How Can You Prevent Mouthwash Stains?

person using mouthwash

There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of staining your clothes while using mouthwash. These include;

Dilute The Mouthwash

Most mouthwashes should be diluted before use (check the container for specific advice). A diluted mouthwash is less likely to stain as bad as a full strength one.

Keep Your Mouth Closed Tight

As you swirl the mouthwash around your mouth be sure to keep your mouth tightly closed. This will help prevent any mouthwash from spilling from your mouth onto your clothes.

Concentrate On What You’re Doing

If you’re in a hurry, it’s easy to make mistakes and early morning rushing is a major problem for many people. We recommend taking a few deep breaths and concentrating on what you’re doing when using mouthwash. 

When you take a swig of mouthwash, always lean over the bathroom sink to ensure any accidental spillage doesn’t touch your clothes.

Rinse Thoroughly

After use, carefully rinse your mouth with water to remove all traces of mouthwash. Then dry your face using a towel to prevent any residue dripping onto your clothes.

Use A Cover

If you’re particularly worried about staining your clothes, try using a towel or other form of bib to protect your clothes from any mouthwash spillage.

In the absence of anything else, try wearing an old t-shirt when using mouthwash or some other old top that you don’t care about potentially getting stained.

Select A Stain Resistant Mouthwash

When buying your mouthwash, look out for those that claim to be “stain free” or “stain resistant”. These have been designed specifically to reduce the risk of staining.

Are There Any Alternative Solutions To Oral Hygiene?


If you’re worried about staining your clothes when using a mouthwash, you should maybe consider an alternative way to maintain your oral hygiene. Alternatives include;

Using Water

If you’re worried about mouthwash staining your clothes, try rinsing your mouth just using water. After brushing your teeth, simply swirl water around your mouth for around 20 to 30 seconds to help remove any debris.

Using Natural Mouth Fresheners

There are a number of natural alternatives to mouthwash you can try. These include chewing on fresh herbs (mint, parsley, etc), using a natural mouth spray or using mints that are free from artificial colours.

Using Homemade Mouthwash

It’s possible to make your own mouthwash by mixing water, bicarbonate of soda and a couple of drops of essential peppermint oil. You can choose the ingredients to ensure they will not stain your clothes if an accident were to happen.

Speak To Your Dentist

If you have any specific oral hygiene concerns, you should ask your dentist. They will be able to give you advice on ways to keep your mouth clean and germ free as well as freshen your breath without using products likely to stain your clothes.

SEE ALSO: How To Use White Vinegar In The Washing Machine (and why!)

Frequently Asked Questions

Can mouthwash stain clothes?

Mouthwash can stain clothes especially if it is allowed to dry into the fabric.

How do you get mouthwash stains out?

To get mouthwash stains out of clothes, you need to dab the mouthwash with a clean cloth or paper towel, then rinse the stain inside out under running cold water. Then pre-soak ensuring the pre-soak gets into the stain. Wash in a regular wash and once the stain has been successfully removed, air dry the garment.

Do dentists recommend mouthwash?

Dentists do recommend mouthwash and many say that it is good for keeping your teeth clean and preventing unnecessary problems in your mouth.

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