Best mouthwash for sore throat

This blog post will answer the question, “best mouthwash for sore throat?” and cover topics like the different types of mouthwash and choosing the right one for a sore throat, what research says about the effectiveness of mouthwash against sore throat, what a sore throat is, types of sore throats, signs and symptoms of a sore throat, various causes of sore throat, home remedies for a sore throat, when to call your doctor, diagnosis of a sore throat and medicines for a sore throat.

Best Mouthwash For Sore Throat

Chlorhexidine containing mouthwash and Betadine mouthwash containing povidone-iodine are considered best mouthwash for relieving the painful symptoms of sore throat.

Other mouthwash may be highly effective against plaque and cavity-causing bacteria but not against viruses causing sore throat.

Types Of Mouthwash And One Which Is Best For Sore Throat

Mouthwashes are categorised as Cosmetic and Therapeutic type by the FDA and American Dental Association (ADA).

Cosmetic Mouthwash: 

Cosmetic Mouthwash is only to mask the bad breath and does not correct the dental condition causing bad breath.

Therapeutic Mouthwash: 

Therapeutic mouthwashes as the name suggests have therapeutic action and control dental conditions like gingivitis, tooth decay and periodontal diseases. 

They also help remove halitosis and have been found effective in relieving sore throat symptoms.

Therapeutic Mouthwashes contain ADA listed active ingredients such as fluoride, peroxide, essential oils, cetylpyridinium chloride, and chlorhexidine, all regulated by the FDA.

All mouthwashes are different. Some mouthwash have alcohol, preservatives or antimicrobials as their main ingredient while others do not. 

Categories of therapeutic mouthwash:


Ethanol is the main ingredient in most alcohol-based mouthwashes.

Ethanol kills germs and bacteria and helps to reduce plaque and gingivitis by dissolving and dispersing essential oils like thymol or menthol.


Mouthwashes may contain both antimicrobials and alcohol or only antimicrobials. Chlorhexidine, a main antimicrobial ingredient, helps reduce and prevent plaque and gingivitis.

Studies have also found chlorhexidine to be effective in relieving the symptoms of sore throat.


Parabens are the most common type of preservative used in mouthwashes. 

Parabens help to prevent infections and also to keep a mixture stable. 

According to a research paper published in 2004, parabens can enter the body through skin and cause hormonal changes leading to cancer. 

Therefore, it is advised to avoid mouthwashes containing parabens or consult your dentist before using such products.


Natural Mouthwashes are gaining popularity due the rising concerns associated with chemicals and their harmful effects on the body.

According to a research article published in the International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences, herbal or natural mouthwash plays a significant role in fighting against sore throat causing bacteria and is thus recommended in cases of sore throat.

Are Mouthwash Effective Against Sore Throat: What Does Research Say?

A recent 2021 study concluded that daily use of phthalocyanine derived mouthwash reduces the clinical symptoms of COVID-19 such as sore throat, cough and ulcers in the mouth.

A 2017 published review paper reports chlorhexidine mouthwash to be a broad-spectrum antimicrobial and thus to be effective against a wide variety of infections including sore throat.

A 2015 study reported ketamine mouthwash to significantly reduce the risk of postoperative sore throat.

According to an article published in the International Journal of Oral-Medical Sciences, mouthwash was found to significantly reduce the incidences of oral dryness, halitosis and sore throat.

What Is A Sore Throat?

Dry, painful, or itching and scratchy feeling in the throat is a sore throat with pain being the most common symptom. 

Depending on the part of the throat they affect, sore throat can be divided into following types: 

  • Pharyngitis – area right behind the mouth is mostly affected
  • Tonsillitis – swelling and redness of the tonsils mostly in the back of the mouth.
  • Laryngitis – swelling and redness of the voice box, also called larynx.

Sore Throat Symptoms

Sore throat symptoms may vary depending on the cause. A sore throat can feel:

  • Scratchy and itchy
  • Burning and dry
  • Tender and irritated

Symptoms of a sore throat aggravate on swallowing and the tonsils appear red. Area of pus may also form on the tonsils.

Secondary symptoms associated with sore throat are:

  • nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Sneezing and cough
  • Fever or chills
  • swollen glands in the neck and hoarse voice
  • body aches and headache
  • Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) and appetite loss

Causes Of Sore Throats

Causes of sore throats range from colds, flu, viral and bacterial infections to allergies and injuries. Some of the most common causes of sore throat are: 

1. Viral infections

Viruses cause about 90 percent of sore throats. Viruses that cause sore throats are:

  • Common cold
  • Influenza — The Flu
  • Measles
  • Chickenpox

2. Bacterial infections

Bacterial infections can also result in sore throats. 

Group A Streptococcus bacteria causes the most common infection of the throat and tonsils, called Strep Throat, most commonly in children.

3. Allergies

Allergens like pollen, grass, and pet dander triggers the immune system to release chemicals that cause symptoms similar to that of a sore throat. 

4. Dry air

Dry air, mostly during winters, can vapour off moisture from the mouth and throat. This leads to a dry and scratchy feeling in the throat that resembles sore throat symptoms.

5. Smoke and chemicals

The following may irritate the throat leading to symptoms similar to that of a sore throat: 

  • cigarette and other tobacco smoke
  • air pollution
  • cleaning products and other chemicals and irritants

6. Injury

Any injury, continuous talking or yelling or singing, strains the vocal cords and muscles in the throat, leading to symptoms of a sore throat.  

7. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which stomach acid returns back into the oesophagus, burning the oesophagus and throat, causing symptoms like heartburn.

8. Tumour

A tumour of the throat, voice box, or tongue is a rare cause of a sore throat. 

The signs and symptoms of sore throat in such cases are persistent and do not go away in a few days. 

Home Remedies For A Sore Throat

Most sore throats are treatable at home with plenty of rest and following home remedies to lessen the pain of a sore throat:

  • Warm water and 1 teaspoon salt mixture gargle
  • Drink warm, throat soothing liquids like hot honey tea, herbal tea, soup broth, or warm water with lemon.
  • A piece of hard candy or a lozenge may prove to be beneficial.
  • Adding moisture to the air using a humidifier can reduce the pain of sore throat.
  • Be quiet and let your voice relax to get relief from symptoms of sore throat.

When To Call Your Doctor

Sore throats due to a viral infection usually get better on their own in two to seven days. 

If it persists even after seven days and symptoms worsen, it is time to call your doctor. 

How Is A Sore Throat Diagnosed?

Doctors diagnose sore throat based on symptoms, a throat exam, and a strep test to rule out the possibility of strep throat.

For a sore throat, you might need to visit an ENT (ears, nose and throat) specialist.

Medicines For A Sore Throat

Pain is the most common symptom of a sore throat and can be relieved by taking over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen etc.

A sore throat spray, menthol or eucalyptus based cooling syrups or throat lozenges may also help reduce the discomfort from sore throat. 


This blog post addressed the question, “best mouthwash for sore throat?” We understood about the different types of mouthwash and choosing the right one for a sore throat, what research says about the effectiveness of mouthwash against sore throat, what a sore throat is, types of sore throats, signs and symptoms of a sore throat and various causes of sore throat. The article outlined home remedies for a sore throat, when to call your doctor, diagnosis of a sore throat and medicines for a sore throat.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs): Best Mouthwash For Sore Throat

Is mouthwash good for a sore throat?

Yes, mouthwash is good for a sore throat as it kills bacteria responsible for causing sore throat. However, sore throats caused by viruses or chemical irritants are not much affected by antimicrobial mouthwash.

Mouthwash under any circumstances does help maintain good oral hygiene and thus plays an important role in relieving the symptoms of sore throat.

What is a strep throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by Group A streptococcus bacteria, affecting children and adults of all age groups.  

It causes a sore throat that makes your throat feel sore and scratchy. 

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the Group A streptococcus bacteria, if left untreated, can lead to scarlet fever and rheumatic fever. 

How do you know if you have a bacterial infection in your throat?

The common symptoms of strep throat, a bacterial infection in your throat, resembles that of a sore throat and include:

  • a sudden high fever
  • a sore, red throat with white patches and pus around tonsils
  • a headache or chills
  • a loss of appetite
  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Difficulty in swallowing

How do I know if my sore throat is viral or bacterial?

To know whether your sore throat is a result of viral infection or a bacterial one, you must focus on the symptoms.

Symptoms of a virus-caused sore throat mainly includes coughing with running nose and throat swelling whereas the symptoms of a bacteria-caused sore throat will not include cough and mostly shows signs of nausea, vomiting and stomach pain.

How do you get rid of a viral throat infection?

Warm salt water rinses, used multiple times in a day helps to get rid of viral throat infection. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like paracetamol helps in fever control and mouthwash daily along with brushing twice a day and dental floss once helps maintain good oral hygiene.

Other FAQs about Mouthwash that you may be interested in.

Can Mouthwash Cause A Sore Throat?

Can mouthwash stain teeth?

Can mouthwash replace brushing teeth?


Sore Throat – Betadine (Povidone-iodine)

Jones CG. Chlorhexidine: is it still the gold standard? Periodontology 2000. 1997 Oct;15:55-62. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0757.1997.tb00105.x. PMID: 9643233.

Which mouthwash is more effective in killing oral bacteria. (2016)

Sore Throat, (2020)

Is Mouthwash Bad for You? Effects, Risks, Who Shouldn’t Use It

Chlorhexidine, (2021)

Strep throat. (2015).

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