Alcohol vs Non-Alcohol Mouthwash: Key Differences, Specs Comparison, Review

The key difference between alcohol-based mouthwash and non-alcohol mouthwash is in their composition, potential side effects, and overall efficacy. While they share similarities in their purpose, namely cleaning the mouth and fighting bacteria, the nature of their active ingredients sets them apart in multiple ways.

Both these products have the primary objective of maintaining oral hygiene and reducing bacteria in the mouth. Additionally, they both can provide a fresh feeling post-rinse and are easily available at various price points. So, with so many similarities, how do you choose between the two? Which one provides better value for money?

7 Key Differences

Alcohol vs Non-Alcohol Mouthwash
  1. Composition: Alcohol-based mouthwashes contain a certain percentage of alcohol, usually ethanol. Non-alcohol mouthwashes, on the other hand, use other antiseptic agents to kill bacteria.
  2. Burning Sensation: Using an alcohol-based mouthwash can often lead to a burning sensation in the mouth. If you’re sensitive, non-alcohol options might be more comfortable for you.
  3. Dry Mouth: Alcohol can lead to dry mouth, which is not ideal since saliva plays a crucial role in naturally cleaning our mouths. Non-alcohol mouthwashes can be less drying.
  4. Efficacy: Some studies suggest that alcohol-based options might be more effective in killing bacteria due to their composition. However, others argue that non-alcohol alternatives are equally effective without the side effects.
  5. Taste: Alcohol mouthwashes tend to have a stronger, sometimes harsh taste, while non-alcohol mouthwashes can be milder.
  6. Safety: There’s a risk of ingestion with alcohol-based mouthwashes, especially among children. Non-alcohol variants are generally considered safer in this regard.
  7. Price: While prices vary by brand and region, alcohol mouthwashes can sometimes be more affordable than their non-alcohol counterparts.

Comparison Table

FeatureAlcohol MouthwashNon-Alcohol Mouthwash
Active IngredientEthanolVaries (e.g., Cetylpyridinium chloride)
Dryness EffectCan cause dry mouthGenerally less drying
EfficacyHigh (Varies by brand)Comparable (Varies by brand)
SafetyRisk of ingestionGenerally safer
PriceTypically affordableCan be pricier (Varies by brand)

Review of Alcohol Mouthwash

Key Features

  • Contains a certain percentage of ethanol.
  • Known for its antiseptic properties.
  • Commonly available in most stores.


  • Effective against a broad range of oral bacteria.
  • Often more affordable than non-alcohol alternatives.
  • Provides a refreshing sensation post-rinse.


  • Can lead to a dry mouth.
  • Burning sensation can be uncomfortable for some.
  • Not always suitable for children.

Review of Non-Alcohol Mouthwash

Key Features

  • Uses alternative antiseptic agents.
  • Milder on the palate.
  • Increasing in popularity.


  • No burning sensation.
  • Suitable for those with sensitive mouths.
  • Less risk of dry mouth.


  • Can be pricier than alcohol-based variants.
  • Some may question its efficacy, though most are effective.
  • Taste might not be as refreshing for some.


Both alcohol and non-alcohol mouthwashes serve their purpose in maintaining oral hygiene. If you have a sensitive mouth or are concerned about the drying effect, non-alcohol mouthwash could be for you. However, if you’re looking for a robust, refreshing cleanse and are okay with a bit of a kick, an alcohol-based mouthwash might be up your alley.


  1. Is alcohol mouthwash dangerous if swallowed?
    Yes, especially in large quantities and especially for children. Always seek medical attention if a significant amount is ingested.
  2. Do non-alcohol mouthwashes kill bacteria?
    Absolutely, they use alternative antiseptic agents to do the job.
  3. Why does alcohol mouthwash burn?
    The ethanol content can create a burning sensation, especially on sensitive or inflamed tissues.
  4. Is one type better for people with gum disease?
    Always consult a dentist, but many recommend non-alcohol mouthwashes for those with gum issues as they can be gentler.
  5. Can I use mouthwash multiple times a day?
    Yes, but always follow the product’s guidelines or a dentist’s recommendation.

In conclusion, when picking between alcohol and non-alcohol mouthwashes, consider your personal needs and preferences. Both serve the purpose, but their attributes can cater to different individuals differently. Remember, the best mouthwash is one that you’ll use regularly!

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Last update on 2024-06-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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