How to Use Mouthwash

Last Updated February 2023

We’ve all seen brightly coloured bottles of mouthwash lining the shelves of supermarkets, but you might not realise how to use mouthwash or what the benefits of doing so are.

Mouthwash is a liquid product you rinse your mouth with after brushing your teeth. Brushing just your teeth only targets 25% of your mouth*, whereas mouthwash targets virtually 100%. Using a mouthwash that contains fluoride – such as LISTERINE® Total Care 10 in 1 – can help to:

  • Strengthen enamel to protect against tooth decay
  • Freshen breath
  • Reduce plaque and prevent tartar.

When you rinse your mouth with a mouthwash, it reaches the areas of your mouth that brushing often misses, including the teeth, gums and tongue.

Here, we’ll talk you through how to use mouthwash and provide a quick summary of things to remember when using it to help keep your mouth clean and fresh.

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*From study representing teeth surface area measurements

A step-by-step guide on how to use mouthwash

The key to getting the most out of mouthwash is knowing how to use it properly and effectively. While this can vary between brands – and some may need expert advice from your dentist – most tend to follow the same rules. For example:

  • How much mouthwash to use – the ideal amount of mouthwash varies depending on the brand and type of mouthwash you are using. Always refer to the bottle label for instructions.
  • How long to use mouthwash for – swish and gargle mouthwash for between 30 to 60 seconds each time you use it. This can vary though, so always check and follow the instructions on the labelling.
  • Spit out mouthwash – you should not swallow mouthwash, so make sure you always spit it out after use.

Remember, no matter how effective mouthwash is, it’s not a replacement for brushing and flossing. It should be an additional step in your oral hygiene routine.

When to use mouthwash

You should use mouthwash or a mouth rinse as part of your everyday oral hygiene routine to get the most out of its use. After you’ve finished brushing your teeth, spit out your toothpaste, but do not rinse your mouth with water immediately after. This helps avoid removing fluoride from your toothpaste.

We recommend rinsing with a fluoride containing mouthwash like LISTERINE® Total Care 10 in 1 after brushing to help clean the areas your toothbrush can’t reach, strengthen your tooth enamel, and help fight bacteria that can cause tooth decay.

How often to use mouthwash

Most mouthwash brands recommend twice daily usage, although it’s always best to check the label for brand-specific advice. Using an essential oil containing mouthwash, such as LISTERINE®, as part of your everyday routine can have several benefits, including:

  • Protects against cavities and tooth decay 
  • Kills bacteria to reduce plaque
  • Prevents tartar
  • Cleans between the teeth
  • Protects the gums
  • Freshens breath
  • Some mouthwashes can also remove stains to help whiten teeth.

Find out more about the benefits of using mouthwash.

Things to remember about mouthwash

Using mouthwash correctly is key to ensuring you use it safely and effectively. Here are some of our dos and don’ts for using mouthwash:


  • Use mouthwash alongside brushing and flossing, and not as a substitute.
  • Always read the label before using mouthwash.
  • See your dentist if you experience persistent bad breath or bleeding when brushing or after using mouthwash regularly.
  • Swish or gargle mouthwash for the time advised on the product label.
  • Use a mouthwash specifically for children as part of your child’s oral hygiene routine.


  • Swallow mouthwash.
  • Rinse your mouth with water immediately after brushing.

Mouthwash Frequently Asked Questions

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