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Drinking Habits

How To Get Rid of Alcohol Breath

Published:
July 5, 2023
·
8 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
July 5, 2023
·
8 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
July 5, 2023
·
8 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
July 5, 2023
·
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
July 5, 2023
·
8 min read

Picture this: it's karaoke night at your favorite local watering hole. You've belted out a not-so-flawless rendition of "Don't Stop Believin'" Your buddies are laughing, and you're all having a good time. But after a few shots, you realize that your breath could knock out a gorilla. Alcohol breath — it's a real buzzkill, isn't it?

Unraveling the Science: Does Alcohol Have a Smell?

Let's tackle the big question first: why does alcohol give us bad breath? The answer lies in how our bodies process it. 

When we sip that cocktail or chug a beer, it's absorbed into our bloodstream and then metabolized — or broken down — through oxidation. Most of this process takes place in the liver, but it can only metabolize a certain amount of alcohol per hour. The rest? Well, it gets excreted through our urine, sweat, and breath. Yep, you read that right — the body literally breathes out the excess alcohol. As a result, the byproduct of this process, acetaldehyde, can be detected when we exhale, leading to that distinctive odor we associate with alcohol breath. 

The effect is especially strong when it comes to hard liquor. One shot is only 37 to 44 ml in volume, but packs a strong punch — a typical spirit such as vodka or tequila contains about 40 percent alcohol. And if we have more than one, we’re sure to end up with booze on our breath.

Now that we know the culprit, it's time to uncover some easy ways to get rid of alcohol breath.

1. Hydrate

Now onto the how — what are some easy ways to get rid of alcohol breath? The first step is hydration. Drinking water not only helps dilute the alcohol in your bloodstream but also speeds up its metabolism. Plus, it fights dry mouth — a notorious accomplice in the crime of bad breath.

Not a fan of plain water? No worries. Fruit-infused water, herbal teas, or coconut water can be great alternatives.

2. Regular Brushing and Flossing

Next up, let's talk about oral hygiene. Regular brushing and flossing are your first line of defense against any form of bad breath, alcohol breath included. And here's a pro tip: also clean your tongue. Why? Because it's a happy hangout spot for bacteria that can add to the bad breath.

And remember dry mouth? Well, mouthwashes are a great way to keep your mouth moist and odor-free. Just make sure to choose an alcohol-free mouthwash — they aid saliva production instead of inhibiting it.

3. Eat the Right Foods

Turns out, your kitchen can also hold the secret to fresh breath. Fruits high in vitamin C, like oranges and strawberries, create an inhospitable environment for bacteria.

Other foods, like apples, celery, and carrots, boost saliva production. More saliva equals less dry mouth equals fresher breath. Win-win, right?

And remember when your mom used to tell you about the benefits of parsley? Well, she was right (of course)! Parsley contains chlorophyll, which has deodorizing properties. So, next time, don't just leave it on the plate!

4. Drink Green or Peppermint Tea

Both green and peppermint tea are known to have properties that help fight bad breath. Green tea contains polyphenols that can reduce bacteria and bacterial by-products in the mouth. Peppermint tea, on the other hand, has its fresh and strong fragrance that can help mask the alcohol odor. Better yet, it's a nice, soothing drink!

5. Chew Some Natural Breath Fresheners

Several natural breath fresheners are also easy ways to get rid of alcohol breath:

  • Cinnamon sticks. Cinnamon has essential oils that can mask the smell of alcohol. Plus, they're easy to carry around!
  • Fennel seeds. Commonly used in Indian cuisine, fennel seeds can freshen your breath, stimulate saliva production, and aid digestion. They have a slightly sweet and refreshing flavor.
  • Cloves. Chewing on a couple of cloves can help as well, thanks to their strong, pleasant aroma and antimicrobial properties.
Diagram about the 10 effective ways  to combat alcohol breath

6. Pop Some Sugar-Free Gum or Lozenges

Sugar-free gum and lozenges can stimulate saliva production and help wipe away any lingering smells after that tequila shot. The flavors can also help mask the smell.

7. Use an Oral Hygiene Accessory

Consider using a tongue scraper. It's an oral hygiene accessory that helps you clean your tongue more thoroughly, removing any potential sources of bad breath.

8. Eat a Full Meal Before and After Drinking

Before you start drinking, make sure to have a full meal. Foods with high protein content, such as cheese and peanuts, are particularly good at slowing down the absorption of alcohol. After drinking, try eating something with a strong flavor, like peanut butter or a spicy dish. This can help cover up the smell of alcohol.

9. Take Care of Your Gut

There's a strong connection between your gut health and breath. Making sure you have a healthy gut is an easy way to get rid of alcohol breath. Consider probiotics, either in supplement form or from probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut.

10. Don't Mix Your Drinks

Mixing drinks can make bad breath even worse. Does alcohol have a smell? It does, but the exact scent actually depends on the type. Different types of alcohol have slightly different odors, and the combination can produce a stronger smell. Stick to one type of drink.

In the end, remember that these are all just temporary solutions. Cutting back on alcohol and maintaining good oral and overall health will provide the best long-term results and is, in the end, the easiest way to get rid of alcohol breath. After all, less alcohol means less alcohol odor!

Picture this: it's karaoke night at your favorite local watering hole. You've belted out a not-so-flawless rendition of "Don't Stop Believin'" Your buddies are laughing, and you're all having a good time. But after a few shots, you realize that your breath could knock out a gorilla. Alcohol breath — it's a real buzzkill, isn't it?

Unraveling the Science: Does Alcohol Have a Smell?

Let's tackle the big question first: why does alcohol give us bad breath? The answer lies in how our bodies process it. 

When we sip that cocktail or chug a beer, it's absorbed into our bloodstream and then metabolized — or broken down — through oxidation. Most of this process takes place in the liver, but it can only metabolize a certain amount of alcohol per hour. The rest? Well, it gets excreted through our urine, sweat, and breath. Yep, you read that right — the body literally breathes out the excess alcohol. As a result, the byproduct of this process, acetaldehyde, can be detected when we exhale, leading to that distinctive odor we associate with alcohol breath. 

The effect is especially strong when it comes to hard liquor. One shot is only 37 to 44 ml in volume, but packs a strong punch — a typical spirit such as vodka or tequila contains about 40 percent alcohol. And if we have more than one, we’re sure to end up with booze on our breath.

Now that we know the culprit, it's time to uncover some easy ways to get rid of alcohol breath.

1. Hydrate

Now onto the how — what are some easy ways to get rid of alcohol breath? The first step is hydration. Drinking water not only helps dilute the alcohol in your bloodstream but also speeds up its metabolism. Plus, it fights dry mouth — a notorious accomplice in the crime of bad breath.

Not a fan of plain water? No worries. Fruit-infused water, herbal teas, or coconut water can be great alternatives.

2. Regular Brushing and Flossing

Next up, let's talk about oral hygiene. Regular brushing and flossing are your first line of defense against any form of bad breath, alcohol breath included. And here's a pro tip: also clean your tongue. Why? Because it's a happy hangout spot for bacteria that can add to the bad breath.

And remember dry mouth? Well, mouthwashes are a great way to keep your mouth moist and odor-free. Just make sure to choose an alcohol-free mouthwash — they aid saliva production instead of inhibiting it.

3. Eat the Right Foods

Turns out, your kitchen can also hold the secret to fresh breath. Fruits high in vitamin C, like oranges and strawberries, create an inhospitable environment for bacteria.

Other foods, like apples, celery, and carrots, boost saliva production. More saliva equals less dry mouth equals fresher breath. Win-win, right?

And remember when your mom used to tell you about the benefits of parsley? Well, she was right (of course)! Parsley contains chlorophyll, which has deodorizing properties. So, next time, don't just leave it on the plate!

4. Drink Green or Peppermint Tea

Both green and peppermint tea are known to have properties that help fight bad breath. Green tea contains polyphenols that can reduce bacteria and bacterial by-products in the mouth. Peppermint tea, on the other hand, has its fresh and strong fragrance that can help mask the alcohol odor. Better yet, it's a nice, soothing drink!

5. Chew Some Natural Breath Fresheners

Several natural breath fresheners are also easy ways to get rid of alcohol breath:

  • Cinnamon sticks. Cinnamon has essential oils that can mask the smell of alcohol. Plus, they're easy to carry around!
  • Fennel seeds. Commonly used in Indian cuisine, fennel seeds can freshen your breath, stimulate saliva production, and aid digestion. They have a slightly sweet and refreshing flavor.
  • Cloves. Chewing on a couple of cloves can help as well, thanks to their strong, pleasant aroma and antimicrobial properties.
Diagram about the 10 effective ways  to combat alcohol breath

6. Pop Some Sugar-Free Gum or Lozenges

Sugar-free gum and lozenges can stimulate saliva production and help wipe away any lingering smells after that tequila shot. The flavors can also help mask the smell.

7. Use an Oral Hygiene Accessory

Consider using a tongue scraper. It's an oral hygiene accessory that helps you clean your tongue more thoroughly, removing any potential sources of bad breath.

8. Eat a Full Meal Before and After Drinking

Before you start drinking, make sure to have a full meal. Foods with high protein content, such as cheese and peanuts, are particularly good at slowing down the absorption of alcohol. After drinking, try eating something with a strong flavor, like peanut butter or a spicy dish. This can help cover up the smell of alcohol.

9. Take Care of Your Gut

There's a strong connection between your gut health and breath. Making sure you have a healthy gut is an easy way to get rid of alcohol breath. Consider probiotics, either in supplement form or from probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut.

10. Don't Mix Your Drinks

Mixing drinks can make bad breath even worse. Does alcohol have a smell? It does, but the exact scent actually depends on the type. Different types of alcohol have slightly different odors, and the combination can produce a stronger smell. Stick to one type of drink.

In the end, remember that these are all just temporary solutions. Cutting back on alcohol and maintaining good oral and overall health will provide the best long-term results and is, in the end, the easiest way to get rid of alcohol breath. After all, less alcohol means less alcohol odor!

Ready for Fresh Breath — and a Fresh Start?

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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