- #1. Tom’s of Maine Wicked Fresh Mouthwash
- #2. Banyan Botanicals Daily Swish
- #3. Georganics Coconut Oil Pulling Mouthwash
- #4. Olas Marine Bio-Active Mouthwash
- #5. Lumineux Clean & Fresh Mouthwash
- #6. Tea Tree Therapy Mouthwash with Tea Tree Oil
- #7. The Dirt – Oil Pulling Mouthwash
- #8. Aesop Mouthwash
- What to avoid in a mouthwash (and what to look for)
Mouthwash or a mouth rinse is a great addition to any brushing and flossing regimen. These rinses can reach nearly 100% of the surfaces in your mouth, unlike brushing, which means you stand a better chance of busting bacteria and maintaining (or achieving) great oral health.
The trouble is, most conventional mouthwashes contain triclosan, alcohol, sulphates, and other chemicals that can irritate the delicate tissues in your mouth and even contribute to bacterial resistance. And, as these rinses get sent down the drain on the regular, they also run the risk of getting into waterways and harming wildlife.
There are better options though, so we’ve rounded up some of the best natural mouthwashes we could find and added a quick guide below on what to avoid in a mouthwash.
Tom’s of Maine has been making quality personal care products for more than 45 years using naturally derived ingredients. Their products are free from artificial colors, flavors, fragrances, preservatives, animal ingredients or animal testing. I’ve been using their Wicked Fresh mouthwash for more years than I can remember, and I have zero cavities (yes, totally anecdata!).
More importantly, Wicked Fresh is free from alcohol, sorbitol, and fluoride, and instead features zinc to help support oral health and blitz bad bacteria in the mouth. Wicked Fresh and other Tom’s of Maine mouthwashes are readily available for a great price in many stores.
The company maintains a Stewardship review process, which means every ingredient is assessed for its sustainability and is naturally derived and responsibly sourced. The products are not tested on animals and most are entirely free from animal ingredients. Some contain bee-derived ingredients such as propolis and beeswax. Tom’s of Maine prioritize the use of recycled and renewable materials, with packaging that is easily recycled or biodegradable. They are also careful about social responsibility along their supply chain, ensuring fair labor standards for workers.
Unfortunately, Tom’s of Maine is no longer an independent company, having been bought by Colgate-Palmolive in 2006. While their parent company’s track record on sustainability is… not great, Tom’s of Maine continues to donate 10% of profits to non-profit organizations and encourage employees to use 5% of their paid hours to volunteer.
Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin (vegetable derived), Sorbitol (corn derived), Aloe barbadensis leaf juice (Organic), Propanediol (corn derived), Xylitol (derived from birch trees or corn), Aroma (natural oils derived from mint leaves and other aromatic plants), Benzoic Acid (from apples or cinnamon), Zinc Chloride (derived from purified zinc), Menthol (from cornmint, AKA Mentha arvensis oil), Sodium Hydroxide (a pH adjuster derived from salted water).
Based on the Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling, this natural mouthwash from Banyan Botanicals is made using 100% certified organic ingredients and is super easy to use. It’s also vegan, relatively affordable, comes in a recyclable bottle, and is made in the US by a B Corp!
Daily Swish comes in two flavors: Mint and Cinnamon. To use, swish two to three teaspoons of the oil around your mouth for at least a few minutes (up to 20 minutes), then spit and rinse with warm water.
Ingredients: Refined Sesame Oil*, Refined Coconut Oil*, Guduchi*, Fennel*, Amalaki*, Haritaki*, Bibhitaki*, [Peppermint Essential Oil*, Spearmint Essential Oil*] or [Cinnamon Essential Oils*, Clove Essential Oil*]. *Certified Organic
This is a super eco-friendly oil pulling mouthwash made in the UK with simple organic ingredients – and it’s affordable!
Georganics Coconut Oil Pulling Mouthwash is sold in a recyclable glass jar with an aluminum lid and packaging made from compostable materials. It has a spearmint flavor to override the coconut taste, uses food-grade ingredients suitable for vegans, and is fluoride, glycerin, and SLS free.
The formula is available as antimicrobial English Peppermint or Tea Tree Oil, soothing Red Mandarin (which is safe to use in pregnancy and for young children), and Activated Charcoal. The latter has 1g/100ml of activated charcoal from coconut shells to give the mouthwash a mildly abrasive quality that can help with teeth whitening. The activated charcoal also helps trap bacteria.
Ingredients: Organic Fractionated Coconut Oil, Organic Spearmint Oil, Vitamin E, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
Olas Marine Bio-Active Mouthwash is eco-friendly, vegan, cruelty-free, and made with natural, responsibly sourced ingredients that do a great job looking after your oral health. The mouthwash comes in an attractive glass bottle and everything is made and packaged in the USA. It is free from sodium lauryl sulfate, fluoride, artificial colors or fragrances.
The Olas formula is a step up from conventional mouthwash as it contains a plethora of plant-based ingredients that help tackle plaque-causing bacteria, restore fresh breath, reduce oral inflammation, and even improve antioxidant levels and immune function in the mouth. These ingredients include naturally rich sea salts, blue-green algae extract, echinacea, organic essential oils (tea tree, rosemary, chamomile, myrrh, grapefruit seed, thyme, licorice root, cypress, frankincense, orange, echinacea, lemon), calcium, magnesium, and vegan CoQ10 (which supports gum health and heart health).
Ingredients: water (aqua), glycerin, sucralose, xylitol, sodium bicarbonate, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, anthemis nobilis flower oil, commiphora myrrha oil, citrus paridisi (grapefruit) peel oil, thymus vulgaris extract, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) extract, echinacea angustifolia extract, boswellia serrata gum extract, cupressus sempervirens (cypress) leaf extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) extract, cyanobacter (blue green algae) extract & marine seaweed collagen, saccharomyces/sodium ferment & saccharomyces/calcium ferment & saccaromyces magnesium/ferment & adenosine trifosphate, sodium bicarbonate, polyglyceryl-4 laurate/sebacate (and) polyglyceryl-4 caprylate/caprate (and) water, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf oil, citrus medica limonum (lemon) peel oil, l-menthol 100%, ubiquinone
Made by a BIPOC owned business, this SLS-free mouthwash is packed with natural ingredients to support oral health. There’s soothing aloe, Dead Sea salt, Holy Basil oil, and wintergreen and clove oil as well as zinc citrate. Some of the ingredients are certified organic, and all are naturally derived. It’s a little pricier than Tom’s of Maine but still relatively affordable as far as natural mouthwashes go.
Lumineux also offer a whitening mouthwash which is very similar but includes coconut oil, lemon, and sage.
Ingredients (Clean & Fresh): Purified Water (Aqua), Xylitol, Organic Aloe Vera Juice (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice), Dead Sea Salt (Maris Sal), Tulsi / Holy Basil Oil (Ocimum Basilicum), Organic Peppermint Oil (Menta Piperita), Spearmint Leaf Oil (Mentha Viridis), Organic Wintergreen Leaf Oil (Gaultheria Procumbens), Clove Flower Oil (Eugenia Caryophyllus), Zinc Citrate.
This alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash has a short list of natural ingredients and is free from artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives. Made in the USA by an Australian company that’s been around for a good 20 years or so, this mouthwash harnesses the power of the native tea tree plant as a natural antiseptic. It’s low-cost, simple, and vegan-friendly.
Quite a bit pricier than some other oil pulling mouthwashes, The Dirt offers an essential oil packed formula that includes turmeric, myrrh, and tea tree as natural antimicrobials, among a raft of other oils. Unfortunately, this one isn’t vegan (it contains ghee, or clarified butter), and it’s also not certified organic, though the company is woman-owned.
The Dirt also offer a Super Mint oil pulling mouthwash which does seem to be free of animal products. Both formulas are sweetened with stevia.
All in all, Banyan Botanicals is a better choice for an oil pulling mouthwash unless you’re specifically looking for something included in this formula.
Ingredients (Luscious clove, rose, and mint): Sesame Oil (Sesamum Indicum), MCT/Fractionated Coconut Oil (Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides), Grass-fed Ghee, Sea Buckthorn Oil (Hippophae Rhamnoides), Hexane Free Stevia (Stevia Rebaudiana), Natural Menthol, Essential Oils of: Peppermint (Mentha Piperita), Cardamom (Elettaria Cardamomum), Myrrh, Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia), Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) and Rose (Rosa Damascena), Rosemary Extract (Rosmarinus Officinalis)
Ingredients (Super Mint): MCT Coconut Oil (Cocos Nucifera), Sesame Oil (Sesamum Indicum). Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides) Essential Oils of: Proprietary Blend of Mint Oils, Clove (Syzgium Aromaticum), Tea Tree (Leptospermum Petersonii), Tumeric (Curcuma Longa). Stevia Extract (Stevia Rebaudiana), Natural Menthol and Rosemary Extract (Rosmarinus Officinalis)
If you’re looking for an aesthetically pleasing, mostly natural mouthwash that is alcohol-free and screams luxury, Aesop has you covered. Their minimalist, brown glass medicine bottle design looks great and it has a pleasing cinnamon flavor profile, with aniseed, clove, and spearmint too. Aesop Mouthwash is made in Australia and is paraben-free and vegan-friendly.
The problem is that this formula, entirely unnecessarily, includes PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil. While castor oil itself isn’t troubling in a mouthwash, this kind of processed castor oil poses a risk of being contaminated with.
The reason I include Aesop, then, is because the company is a B Corp and is Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free. Also, their glass bottle is arguably better for the environment than the plastic bottles used for most mouthwash (even if these are recyclable). The company also has a philanthropic arm, the Aesop Foundation, that focuses on literacy. Since 2017, the Aesop Foundation has committed over AU$4.656 m to charities in Australia.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Xylitol, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Benzoate, Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Pimpinella Anisum (Anise) Seed Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Sodium Chloride, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Flower Oil, Limonene, Eugenol
What to avoid in a mouthwash (and what to look for)
How did I choose the Leaf Score recommended natural mouthwash options above? In part by quickly dismissing products that contained ingredients best avoided in the delicate oral cavity. These include things like triclosan, sodium lauryl (and laureth) sulfate (SLS and SLES), parabens, ‘fragrance’, and alcohol.
Sure, alcohol can help give your mouth a refreshed feel and helps kill bad bacteria, but it also dries out your mouth, which leaves it vulnerable to the overgrowth of even worse bacteria. And that can lead to bad breath, gum disease, and even a greater risk of oral cancer.
Here are a few of the things you really want to avoid in a mouthwash:
- Chlorhexidine (an irritant that can cause an allergic reaction)
- Cocamidopropyl betaine (highly toxic to aquatic life)
- Poloxamer 407 (an environmental toxin and toxic to human health)
- Polysorbate 20 and polysorbate 80 (which can be contaminated with carcinogens)
- PEG-40 hydrogenated oils (ditto contamination)
- Triclosan (can contribute to antibiotic resistance)
- Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) (this can cause irritation and canker sore)
- Fragrance (a catch-all term that can cover any manner of nasty chemicals).
Natural mouthwash tends to rely on two main strategies for supporting oral health: essential oils and ‘oil pulling’. Commonly used essential oils include peppermint, cinnamon, and lavender, which have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. And, happily, these kinds of oils don’t pose a risk of creating resistant bacteria, unlike things like triclosan.
As for oil pulling, there’s still little conclusive evidence to support the oral health benefits of this traditional practice. In one 2020 review, including four randomized controlled trials and 182 participants, those that used oil pulling for between 7 and 14 days has significant differences in salivary bacterial colony count and plaque index scores. In one study, the practice also demonstrated a significant difference in teeth staining compared to the chemical chlorhexidine. That said, overall, the data was not sufficient to draw a firm conclusion and the risk of bias was high.
So, for now, if oil pulling is attractive to you, go for it! But perhaps pair it with natural essential oils and, of course, a robust tooth brushing and flossing regimen. For more, check out our top picks for eco-friendly toothbrushes and green razors.