Maintaining fresh breath, especially after consuming alcohol, is an essential facet of personal hygiene. Here, we dive into the most effective ways of eliminating alcohol odor from your breath.  Getting rid of the alcohol smell from your breath can be essential in many social and professional situations. It’s crucial to remember that while the following techniques can help mask the odor and avoid alcohol breath, they cannot decrease the alcohol level in your bloodstream. Therefore, responsible drinking should always be practiced.

Why is it so difficult to get rid of the alcohol smell?

The persistence of the alcohol smell is mainly due to how the body metabolizes alcohol. Once consumed, alcohol enters the bloodstream and is eventually processed by the liver. However, the liver can only metabolize a certain amount of alcohol per hour. The excess alcohol circulates through the bloodstream until it can be metabolized, affecting various bodily systems, including your breath and sweat.

When you exhale, alcohol that’s still unprocessed in your bloodstream can escape from your lungs into your breath, causing a distinctive smell. Moreover, the diuretic effects of alcohol can cause dehydration, leading to dry mouth, which can make the smell of wine more potent.

Also, certain compounds in alcoholic beverages, especially in darker and stronger ones, can linger in the urine, mouth and digestive system, contributing to a prolonged alcohol smell.

Therefore, completely getting rid of the alcohol smell often requires waiting until all the alcohol has been metabolized by the body, which can take several hours, depending on the amount of beer consumed.

Scientific Explanation Of Why Alcohol Makes Your Breath Smell

Now that we’ve discussed the ways to get rid of alcohol breath, let’s take a closer look at why alcohol causes bad breath in the first place.

Alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream and carried throughout your body when you drink. It reaches your lungs, and as you exhale, some alcohol evaporates and is released as a gas. This gas contains volatile compounds that contribute to the noticeable odor of alcohol on your breath.

One such compound is acetaldehyde. Your liver metabolizes alcohol into acetaldehyde before further breaking it down. Acetaldehyde has a robust, unpleasant smell that can linger, becoming detectable in your mouth and on your breath.

Acetaldehyde damages your DNA and prevents your body from repairing the damage.


Dehydration is another contributor to alcohol breath. Alcohol works as a diuretic, stimulating increased urine production, which can lead to dehydration. When you’re dehydrated, your mouth produces less saliva, leading to dry mouth, a common culprit for bad breath.

Beyond causing bad breath, excessive alcohol consumption can damage the tissues in your mouth and throat. This damage makes these tissues more susceptible to infection and inflammation, leading to a worsening of bad breath.

Understanding why alcohol causes bad breath allows us to take preventive steps and minimize its effects. By adhering to the tips mentioned earlier in this article, you can not only avoid the embarrassing situations caused by alcohol breath but also promote better oral health overall. In the long run, the best strategy against alcohol breath is responsible and moderate consumption, paired with robust oral hygiene practices.

10 Tips To Remove The Smell of alcohol From Your Breath

  1. Good Oral Hygiene Practices: According to the American Dental Association, regular brushing (twice a day), flossing, and using mouthwash are key for a clean oral environment [1]. “Good oral hygiene practices go a long way in ensuring fresh breath, regardless of what you eat or drink,” asserts Dr. William Harper, a well-known dentist, and oral hygiene expert.
  2. Hydration: Alcohol being a diuretic can cause dehydration, which exacerbates the smell of alcohol on the breath [2]. As Matthew Kadey, a registered dietitian, puts it, “Maintaining hydration is not just key for physical health but also for oral health. Drinking water can help dilute the strong smell of alcohol.”
  3. Eat Before and After Drinking: Eating before drinking slows the absorption of alcohol and reduces its smell [3]. Foods high in fat and protein are especially effective. After-drinking meals with strong natural odors like onions or garlic can mask alcohol breath.
  4. Lemon and Parsley: A 2017 study published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research noted that citrus fruits could effectively combat bad breath [4]. Similarly, parsley, rich in chlorophyll, is often used as a natural breath freshener [5].
  5. Mint and Cloves: Both these herbs have been traditionally used in different cultures to freshen breath due to their strong scents. Cloves, in particular, have antimicrobial properties that can help fight bad breath [6].
  6. Gum and Breath Mints: These on-the-go solutions can help, especially those containing xylitol, a natural sweetener that inhibits oral bacteria growth [7].
  7. Brush with Baking Soda: Baking soda can neutralize smells, including alcohol breath [8]. “A baking soda rinse can be an effective tool in your oral hygiene arsenal,” says Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a renowned physician and health expert.
  8. Green Tea: Green tea, known for its antioxidant properties, aids in detoxifying the body [9]. The natural aroma of green tea can also help mask the smell of alcohol.
  9. Coffee Beans: A lesser-known trick for eliminating alcohol breath, the strong aroma of coffee beans can effectively mask the smell of alcohol.
  10. Physical Activity: A study from Japan’s Meiji University shows that sweating can help the body metabolize alcohol faster, reducing the lingering smell [6].

FAQs About The Smell Of Alcohol

What Roll Does Metabolism Play In The Smell of Alcohol On Breath?

Alcohol is metabolized in the liver by enzymes, primarily alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), into acetaldehyde, a potent toxin. This is then further metabolized into acetate, a less active byproduct, and water. This process explains why alcohol lingers in the breath; until it’s entirely metabolized, traces of it remain in the bloodstream and are expelled through the breath. [6]

Do Different Types Of Alcohol Make It More Difficult To Get Rid Of The Smell?

Various types of alcohol can impact breath odor differently. For instance, darker liquors like whisky and rum tend to have a stronger odor than clear spirits such as vodka. Additionally, sugary, flavored, or spiced drinks can contribute to bad breath as they provide food for oral bacteria. [2]

What Are Myths About The Smell of Alcohol?

There’s a widespread myth that consuming coffee or smoking can mask the smell of alcohol. However, these can compound the issue by causing additional dryness in the mouth, leading to worse breath. Moreover, nothing can speed up the rate at which your body metabolizes alcohol, for example, not even ‘sobering’ cold showers or lots of caffeine. [3]

What Are Long-Term Strategies for Better Breath If You Drink A Lot?

For healthier breath in the long run, consider dietary changes such as reducing the intake of odor-causing foods like garlic and onions, drinking alcohol, and increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables that stimulate saliva production. Regular dentist visits for professional cleanings are also crucial. Using a tongue scraper to remove bacteria, and considering products such as therapeutic mouthwashes, can be beneficial.

What Role Does Alcohol Use Disorder Play In Oral Health?

Chronic alcohol consumption can have detrimental impacts on oral health. It can lead to conditions such as gum disease, tooth decay, and oral infections, which in turn exacerbate bad breath. [4] Therefore, while masking alcohol odor is beneficial, moderating drink alcohol consumption and maintaining good oral health practices are key to fresh breath.

How long does it take for alcohol breath to go away?

The duration can vary depending on several factors like the amount of alcohol consumed, the type of alcoholic beverage, your body’s metabolism rate, and your level of hydration. On average, the liver can metabolize about one standard drink per hour. Until all the alcohol is metabolized, it can still be detected on your breath.

How do I stop smelling like alcohol?

There are several strategies: maintain good oral hygiene, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, eat before and after drinking, use natural remedies like parsley or lemon, chew gum or mints, and engage in physical activity to speed up metabolism. However, the most effective way is moderate and responsible drinking.

What does an alcoholic breath smell like?

Alcohol breath usually has a somewhat sweet and sour odor, but it can also vary based on the type of alcohol consumed. Some might detect a scent similar to ripe fruits or fermentation, while others might perceive a scent similar to chemicals or solvents.

How do alcoholics hide the smell?

Some might try to mask it with strong-smelling foods, mouthwash, gum, or mints. Others might drink plenty of water, engage in physical activity, or even attempt to mask the smell with other odors like tobacco smoke or coffee. But these methods only conceal the smell and do not decrease blood alcohol levels.

What does alcohol smell like?

The smell of alcohol itself can vary based on the type. Some alcohols have a strong, pungent odor, while others might be more subtle. For instance, beer can have a yeasty and malty smell, wine might smell like ripe fruits, and hard liquors like whiskey or vodka have a more potent, sharp odor.

Can you smell alcohol on a person?

Yes, alcohol can be detected on a person’s breath, and sometimes through their sweat or skin, especially if large amounts have been consumed.

What is the smell of alcohol called?

There isn’t a specific term for the smell of alcohol. The odor produced when someone has been drinking is typically referred to as “alcohol breath” or “booze breath”. The smell of alcohol itself can range from sweet and fruity to sharp and pungent, depending on the type of alcohol.

Final Thoughts On Getting Rid Of The Alcohol Smell

Remember, while these methods can mask the smell of alcohol, they won’t reduce alcohol levels in your blood. Always avoid driving or operating heavy machinery after drinking. As Dr. Aaron White from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reminds us, “It’s important to understand that these tips are about masking smell, not reducing impairment” [10].

By applying these strategies, you can effectively manage alcohol breath, leading to enhanced confidence and comfort in social situations. If you are struggling with alcohol use disorder and are in need of detox, we can help. Contact us today.


  1. American Dental Association. “Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums.” Mouth Healthy.
  2. Palmer, B. “Does alcohol dehydrate you?” Healthline, 2019.
  3. “Alcohol and Nutrition.” – PubMed – NCBI.
  4. Chenniappan, M. “Oral Malodor and Remedies – A Review.” NCBI
  5. Zeratsky, K. “Get Rid Of Bath Breath” Mayo Clinic.
  6. Cederbaum, A. I. “Alcohol Metabolism.” Clinics in Liver Disease, 2012.
  7. Swift, R., & Davidson, D. “Alcohol Hangover: Mechanisms and Mediators.” Alcohol Health & Research World, 1998.
  8. Verster, J. C., & Scholey, A. “Alcohol Hangover: Underlying Biochemical, Inflammatory and Neurochemical Mechanisms.” Alcohol and Alcoholism, 2019.
  9. American Dental Association. “Alcohol, Tobacco and Oral Health.” Mouth Healthy.
  10. Alcohol smell in the workplace.
  11. 3 weird things about acetaldehyde