History | Did You Know

Listerine Wasn't Always A Mouthwash and How It Started Will Leave A Bad Taste In Your Mouth

Engineer Mommy / Angie's List

It was probably only a few hours ago that you swirled a capful of Listerine mouthwash to help keep your mouth clean and smell fresh.

Listerine is said to kill germs that cause plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath, which is why millions of people around the world use it. It kills all the things we don't want, because going to the dentist and paying thousands of dollars is just not something we like to do.

We all love this product, some of us love it so much that we can't fall asleep without our mouths smelling cool and minty fresh. I always have two bottles, one on my bathroom counter, and one in the cabinet under the sink.

Listerine has been around since 1879, so you'd think it would be good for you because it's been around for so long. Wrong.

According to Grunge, Listerine isn't as amazing as we think it is, in fact, we've been "lied to our whole lives."

You're definitely going to think twice before you raise another cup of this mouthwash to your mouth...

The Ugly Truth

Before the blue mouthwash went anywhere close to your mouth, Listerine was originally made for surgeons to keep their hands bacteria-free.

Then the company decided to brand the product as floor cleaner, and then later as a cure for gonorrhea.

This was a time when everyone wanted to patent a product to "cure" some kind of illness, so there was a lot of potential for the product to reach a bigger market.

The company marketed the product as a remedy for colds and sore throats and to prevent "infectious dandruff." They really tried everything, which probably wasn't a good idea in the long run. In the mid-70s, they got in trouble by the Federal Trade Commission for misleading consumers.

But their brilliant idea came when they focused their attention on another issue. They tried to scare the living daylights out of people by telling them that their smelly breath is an "illness."

They called it "chronic halitosis." This trick actually worked, thanks to their aggressive ad campaigns that made young people looking for love think they're unlikable because they have bad breath. The company raked in millions in just a few years!

You'd think a bit of toothpaste and vigorous brushing would be good enough, but advertisers always have a way to make you doubt yourself.

Although there's a lot of debate on how effective this heavy-alcohol-based mouthwash really is, it seems to have been working for more than a century now.

After reading this article, if you're still obsessed with Listerine, check out "13 Amazing Uses For Listerine That Every Woman Should Know" to read all the other crazy things your go-to mouthwash can do for you.

[Source: Grunge]

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at moojan@shared.com.