This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Which alcohol-free mouthwash is the best?

People have tried just about everything to freshen their breath, from mint leaves to fruit and vinegar. For many consumers, the burning sensation from mouthwash alcohol means it is killing bacteria. For others, the burning feeling can be too harsh.

Contrary to what many think, it’s not alcohol but cetylpyridinium chloride that’s the active ingredient for freshening breath, so you can find an effective mouthwash without alcohol and its burning sensation. Listerine Total Care Zero Alcohol Mouthwash is a great option for those seeking a pleasantly refreshing alcohol-free mouthwash.

What to know before you buy alcohol-free mouthwash

Consider your diet

Although mouthwash creates fresh breath, to maintain a long-lasting pleasant scent throughout the day consider the food and drink you consume. Daily diet plays a part in oral health, and foods such as onion, garlic, meat and dairy can affect your breath if you do not eat them in moderation. Coffee, soda and juice can also contribute to bad breath. When possible, rinse after eating and drinking all of them.

Rinse time

Although the main ingredient necessary for fighting bacteria is in alcohol-free mouthwash, it requires a longer time swishing around in your mouth to be as effective as traditional mouthwash. The recommended time for swishing regular mouthwash is 30 seconds, so extending that time to around 40 seconds is best for optimal results.

What to look for in a quality alcohol-free mouthwash

Dry mouth

Alcohol-free mouthwash can be a relief for many people who suffer from dry mouth or have sores or irritation. When trying mouthwashes, take note of how moist or dry your mouth is for the rest of the day.


If your teeth or gums are sensitive after using traditional mouthwash, alcohol-free mouthwash may help decrease sensitivity. Often, just the flavoring of mouthwash without alcohol can cause teeth and gums to be sensitive, so look for flavorless options.


The ingredients in alcohol-free mouthwash should be gentle enough not to irritate. If your mouth is irritated after switching from traditional mouthwash to alcohol-free options, consult with your dentist.

Enamel erosion

Some harsh mouthwashes that contain alcohol do not protect enamel and can speed up erosion if used too frequently. Since alcohol-free mouthwash is much more gentle, it is far less hard on the enamel.

How much you can expect to spend on alcohol-free mouthwash

Alcohol-free mouthwash usually is slightly more expensive than traditional mouthwash. In most cases, expect to spend $12-$20 on multi-packs, depending on the brand.

Alcohol-free mouthwash FAQ

How often do you need to use alcohol-free mouthwash?

A. For the best results, rinse with it once in the morning and again at night.

Can mouthwash replace brushing?

A. No. Mouthwash should never replace brushing or flossing. All three routines must be combined every day for great oral health.

How do you know if you need alcohol-free mouthwash?

A. A crucial sign that you should use an alcohol-free mouthwash instead of traditional is if the skin in your mouth often peels off in thin layers. Other signs include having a dry or irritated mouth after using traditional mouthwash.

What’s the best alcohol-free mouthwash to buy?

Top alcohol-free mouthwash

Best Listerine Total Care Zero Alcohol Mouthwash

Listerine Total Care Zero Alcohol Mouthwash

What you need to know: Listerine is known for producing quality products that fight bacteria, which this product does.

What you’ll love: It has a pleasant, minty flavor that effectively cleans. The ingredients are gentle enough to avoid irritation and sensitivity while still freshening your breath and fighting bacteria.

What you should consider: If used too frequently, it may leave your tongue feeling slightly dry.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top alcohol-free mouthwash for the money

Best Colgate Total Pro-Shield Alcohol-Free

Colgate Total Pro-Shield Alcohol-Free

What you need to know: This spearmint-flavored alcohol-free mouthwash prevents decay, takes away bad breath and lasts up to 12 hours.

What you’ll love: Total has a great taste without burning and is safe if accidentally swallowed. It cleans teeth gently yet deeply, resulting in a smooth, hydrated feeling.

What you should consider: It may not last up to 12 hours depending on what you eat or drink and how long you swished.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Crest Pro-Health Multi-Protection Mouthwash

Crest Pro-Health Multi-Protection Mouthwash

What you need to know: This is a great alternative to safely whiten teeth and freshen breath without causing teeth or gum sensitivity.

What you’ll love: ProHealth not only battles bacteria and bad breath, it also fights stubborn stains. It’s a natural and gentle alternative to whitening strips.

What you should consider: To experience the full benefit, you must wait at least 30 minutes to eat or drink after using.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Mary Hicks writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2023 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.