Portrait of a cheerful young woman with bea utiful white-teeth smile

DIY Teeth Whitening—It’s Safe, Cheap, Easy!

According to a study by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most important thing people want to change about their smiles is the whiteness of their teeth.

young woman big smile white teeth blue background


There are plenty of ways to achieve beautifully white teeth with over-the-counter kits, whitening products, and whitening procedures at dental offices—all good ways to get white teeth. And that can get expensive.

But here’s the deal: Bright smiles and white teeth were desirable long before there were whitening kits, strips, trays, pens, toothpaste, mouthwash, and professional treatments. Homemade whitening pastes are cheap to make, easy to use, and remarkably effective.

Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda

Baking soda releases free radicals that break down stain-causing molecules on tooth enamel. Combine that with hydrogen peroxide, which has a natural bleaching effect, and you get a great teeth-whitening result.

Mix two parts baking soda with one part hydrogen peroxide, i.e. 2 tablespoons baking soda, 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide. Stir it into a paste. Use immediately as you would toothpaste, to brush your teeth. Let the paste stand for about one minute, then rinse thoroughly with clear water until none of the paste remains.

It is important to use fresh hydrogen peroxide that has been stored in a dark cupboard because it breaks down quickly, rendering it ineffective when exposed to light. Stored this way, hydrogen peroxide is good for about six months once opened.

Apple cider vinegar and baking soda

Whitening paste is one more thing you can add to the list of amazing uses for apple cider vinegar (ACV).

Mix two parts apple cider vinegar with 1 part baking soda and stir into a paste. Use this to brush your teeth. Allow to stand for a minute or so, then rinse well.


To make an effective whitening mouthwash, mix one teaspoon ACV with one cup of water. Swish this around your mouth and either spit it out or go ahead and swallow. ACV is good for you.

2 to 3 times a week

Because baking soda has a sight abrasiveness, limit the use of these homemade recipes to two or three times a week. More frequent use could potentially damage the surface of your teeth. Once you’ve achieved a level of whiteness you’re happy with, use once a week for maintenance.

What to expect

Don’t expect overnight results with either of these homemade solutions. It might take a week or two, so be patient.

How to prevent discoloration

According to the folks at Colgate Oral Care Center, these are practical steps you can take to maintain your whiter smile:

  • Avoid stain-causing foods and beverages like coffee, tea, wine, sports drinks, tomato sauce, and berries.
  • Use a straw when drinking beverages to keep the stain-causing dyes away from teeth.
  • Stop smoking. Tobacco causes discoloration and stains on teeth.

Professional care

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is for information only. Always seek the advice of your dentist or another qualified healthcare provider regarding a medical condition or treatment.

Original: 4-24-17; updated, republished: 5-28-13

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  1. Kathy says:

    Crushed strawberries are also a natural whitener. Make a paste that includes baking soda to raise the acidity, spread over the teeth with a toothbrush and let sit for 5 minutes. The malic acid in the strawberries whitens teeth. pH of Strawberries 3.00-3.90 as opposed to ACV at pH about 2-3. Regardless of which method is used don’t do it very often as either of these methods do break down tooth enamel. Generally speaking, the pH of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide is about 5.9 so it too is on the acidic side. Dilute it 50% and you can still see visible signs of whitening over time. Tooth whitening involves acids to remove the top layer of enamel–if you’re patient diluted hydrogen peroxide works the best and can be used more frequently than any of the other methods just by brushing with it.

  2. Margaret says:

    Someone mentioned the importance of only medicinal grade peroxide. What happens if using the non-medicinal kind we can buy at a regular grocery store or Walmart, and where should we buy medicinal grade?

    • Tami says:

      Certainly it will. Apple cider vinegar has a pH of 2-3.4. Essentially she is telling you to brush or rinse with an acid. Tooth enamel erodes at a pH of 5.6 and exposed root surfaces at 6.2.

  3. Jhc says:

    Mary –
    Is your bright white smile achieved by using on of he recipes above ?
    I just now tried the first one – baking soda and peroxide. It was kind of watery instead of toothpaste-like so I will modify the 2:1 mix next time.

  4. nina says:

    I had a bad discoloration issue that was so embarassing. Now I use a toothpaste with activated charcoal, the brand is called Hello and I get it at Sprout’s. I love the difference that it has made with my smile. There are other brands, too, but I have not tried them.

  5. Sheryl says:

    This came just after I brushed my teeth this morning and was thinking…I think I’ll ask my dentist to whiten my teeth. You have probably saved me $200! Thanks so much for all your great tips. I can’t wait to start whitening my teeth myself!

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