Make Your Own Salt Water Rinse

A Cost-Effective Saline Solution for Oral Health

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A salt water (saline) rinse can benefit your oral health by cleansing your mouth, warding off infection, and even relieving toothache pain.

You can make a salt water rinse at home by mixing a teaspoon of table salt with 8 ounces of lukewarm water. Simply gargle the mixture for 15 to 30 seconds then spit the salt water out.

This article provides step-by-step instructions on how to make a salt water rinse you can use at home. It also answers some common questions about when and how to use the rinse.

How to Make Salt Water Mouth Rinse
Verywell / Emily Roberts

Salt Water Rinse Uses

Traditional mouthwashes often have alcohol in them. They can irritate swollen mucous membranes in the mouth. That's a big reason why dentists instead suggest using a salt water rinse to relieve pain and swelling after a deep cleaning or other dental procedure.

Salt water rinses have been proven to:

  • Soothe oral ulcers or mouth sores
  • Reduce dental plaque and microbial count
  • Reduce bad breath

Dentists commonly recommend patients use a salt water rinse after having wisdom teeth removed or other oral surgery.

Baking soda is another ingredient often used in mouth rinses. Like salt, it can kill bacteria in the mouth, and it also reduces acidity than can irritate teeth and gums.

How to Make a Salt Water Rinse

You can easily make a good saline solution at home. You'll need two to three ingredients that almost everyone has in their kitchen. It's a good idea to make a fresh batch every time you use this rinse. You want to make sure you mix the right ratio of salt to water.


You'll need:

  • 8 ounces of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or half a teaspoon to start for sensitive patients)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda (optional)

How to Prepare the Rinse

Making a salt water mouth rinse is easy. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare. 

  1. Start by bringing 8 ounces of warm water to a rolling boil. (If you cannot boil the water, use warm tap water instead.)
  2. Turn off the heat.
  3. Let the water stand until it's cool enough to rinse with but still warm. The heat helps to dissolve the salt and baking soda.
  4. While the water is still warm, sprinkle in the salt and stir until it completely dissolves.
  5. As an option, dissolve the baking soda in the water along with the salt.
  6. Use the saline solution as directed and discard any leftover solution.

Make a fresh solution for each use.

How to Use

Unless otherwise directed by your dentist or physician, swish the solution around in your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit it out. Don't swallow it. Nothing will happen to you if you do swallow it, but it's not necessary.

For Toothache

A salt water rinse can help relieve toothache because salt is also a good toothache aid. Rinsing with warm salt water two to three times a day may help to relieve a toothache because salt water works as an antiseptic. It gently removes bacteria from the infected area.

Oral Baking Soda Paste

If you want to target a specific sore in your mouth, such as a canker sore, it's easy to create a paste. Mix baking soda and small drops of water gradually until the paste is about as thick as toothpaste. Cover the canker sore with the paste. Repeat as often as necessary.


Salt water rinses can be used to reduce pain and help with swelling if you've had a dental procedure or you have canker sores or a sore throat.

Making the saline solution is as easy as stirring a teaspoon of salt into 8 ounces of water that has been boiled and cooled a little. You can also add 2 teaspoons of baking soda to the mixture if you like.

Use the rinse while the salt water is still warm, but not hot enough to burn your mouth. Make it fresh each time you use it.

Follow your healthcare provider's instructions about how often to rinse with salt water.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is saline?

    Saline is a mixture of water and sodium chloride (salt).

  • What are the benefits of using a saline solution?

    Saline solution has many uses. People use it to soothe mouth sores and bleeding gums, heal sore throats, loosen food stuck between teeth, freshen breath, and relieve toothaches.

  • Can salt water rinse heal a gum infection?

    Salt water rinse can remove some bacteria from the area of infection and may help relieve pain, but it does not cure the gum infection. You should speak with your dentist or healthcare provider about treatment.

  • Should I use a salt water rinse before or after brushing my teeth?

    Use a salt water rinse before brushing your teeth. The rinse shouldn't be used after brushing your teeth since it can interfere with the protective fluoride in toothpaste.

  • Can a salt water rinse damage your teeth?

    Rinsing with salt water occasionally should not harm your teeth. However, regularly using salt water rinses may harm your tooth enamel. Be sure to follow your dentist's instructions for a salt water rinse.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Huynh NCN, Everts V, Leethanakul C, Pavasant P, Ampornaramveth RS. Rinsing with saline promotes human gingival fibroblast wound healing in vitroPLOS ONE. 2016;11(7):e0159843. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159843

  2. Aravinth V, Aswath Narayanan M, Ramesh Kumar S, Selvamary Al, Sujatha A. Comparative evaluation of salt water rinse with chlorhexidine against oral microbes: A school-based randomized controlled trial. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent. 2017;35(4):319. doi. 10.4103/jisppd.jisppd_299_16

  3. UK National Health Service [NHS]. Toothache.

  4. National Health Service (NHS). How to keep your teeth clean.

By Steven Lin, DDS
Steven Lin, DDS, is a dentist, TEDx speaker, health educator, and author.