I finally did it!
I've been planning a homemade Listerine alternative for quite some time now, and I just never got around to actually making it. Most of the recipes I found either sounded way too complicated (I just don't have myrrh handy, for example), involved ingredients that I didn't think sounded all too tasty (like baking soda in water), or looked like you'd have to mix up a batch each time you wanted to use it (absolutely out of the question). So I settled on vodka for a base, since alcohol is the germ-killing agent I'd prefer and vodka won't give me eyebrow-raising breath. And since I couldn't find a simple vodka and peppermint recipe, I made it up.
I have what is essentially the slightly watered-down version of peppermint oil from Trader Joe's (peppermint oil would work, and you'd need less). We bought the cheapest vodka the state store had to offer and poured about a cup of it into a small jar (well, I say "we," but what I mean to say is that I made Owen actually buy the vodka, a much-preferred scenario to me dragging the three kids into the state store, and I did the rest). I then added a little bit of the peppermint oil, a few tablespoons, until it was nice and minty. The actual mouthwash we're using is about 3 parts water to one part minty vodka. But my understanding is that you don't want to store it long periods of time once the water's been added (I haven't read that specifically, but most directions I found called for making just one "dose" at a time). So I'm keeping the minty vodka jar on a shelf in the bathroom, and then pouring a few inches of that into the old mouthwash container (small-sized) and filling that to the top with water. That will only last about two weeks, so I can just keep refilling the mouthwash container with minty vodka and water as it runs out.
Our vodka and mint oil purchases, at the rate we're using them, should last about a year, I'm guessing. So while the initial investment was a little more than a bottle of Listerine, I figure we'll save a fortune in the course of a year. I'm not sure if our mouthwash will be as scientifically reliable as Listerine to reduce cavities, etc., but I just can't look at the neon orange or blue bottle without my eyes straying to the long, long list of sketchy ingredients. We have now eliminated the last of our name-brand personal hygiene items.
Here's our list of changes we've made over the last year or two:
- soap-- castille soap Dr. Bronner - Organic Unscented Baby-Mild Pure Castile Soap., 8 fl oz liquid
- shampoo-- castille soap (both have to be watered down)
- toothpaste-- Trader Joe's (no sweetener or color added)
- deodorant-- Pitt Putty (an unfortunate name, my mom feels)
- lotion-- shea butter 100% Organic West African Shea Butter 16 oz
- hair gel-- shea butter (Owen only, for the most part)
- after-shave-- rubbing alcohol (not exactly "natural," but better than the scented and chemical-filled alternatives
- sunscreen-- Purple Prairie botanicals
- lip balm-- Western family all natural (I found it at Giant in the check out lane for really cheap)
- detergents for laundry and dishes (not exactly personal hygiene)-- Trader Joe's
- perfume-- a solid perfume by Pacifica Pacifica I Love Fragrance Five Solid Perfumes Set ($45 Value) I Love Fragrance - Five Solid Perfumes Set
- mouthwash-- vodka, peppermint oil, and water