Homemade mouthwash recipes range from extraordinarily simple to more complex multi-ingredient formulas.
The absolutely simplest "recipe," and one that costs nothing at all, is to rinse your mouth with plain water! Even plain water, when swished around your mouth, is useful for rinsing food from your teeth, and for breaking up the plaque a bit. In fact, dentists recommend swishing with water at the end of every meal if you are unable to brush your teeth at that time. You can even do that while you're still sitting at the table, by swishing water from your glass and then swallowing it.
Another very simple mouthwash is salt water. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of lukewarm water, or for a stronger solution, use 1 teaspoon of salt. After swishing the mixture around your mouth, spit it out and then rinse with plain water.
Another simple, inexpensive mouthwash can be made by mixing equal parts water and 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Swish for 30 seconds, then spit it out -- don't swallow it. Use three times a week. This hydrogen peroxide mouthwash has anti-bacterial properties.
Another simple mouthwash can be made with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Mix 1/2 teaspoon of the baking soda in an 8-ounce glass of water, swish, and spit it out. The baking soda neutralizes acidic bacteria in your mouth, which will freshen your breath.
A more unusual suggestion is to use unsweetened cranberry juice as a mouthwash. Use it full strength, and after swishing, you may either spit it out or swallow it. This is reputed to have anti-bacterial properties, and to help break up plaque.
More exotic mouthwashes, recommended by alternative health advocates, can be made from combinations of herbs, spices, essential oils, and/or teas.
Here are two exotic recipes to try:
1. Boil one cup of water, and remove from the stove.
Add two tablespoons of angelica seeds (available at health food stores), and a dash of either peppermint oil or lemon verbana;
Let the mixture sit for ten minutes, then strain off and discard the solid stuff, saving the liquid. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
2. Boil one cup of water, as in the first recipe, and remove from the stove.
Add 1 teaspoon each of whole cloves, ground cinnamon, and peppermint extract, and 2 teaspoons of parsley.
Let it sit, strain it, and save and store the liquid, as in the first recipe.
These mouthwashes can freshen your breath. But always remember to let your dentist know if you are having long-lasting problems with bad breath, because bad breath is sometimes a symptom of other underlying problems that need professional attention.