Why does everything taste like soap? There are serious and non-serious reasons why you might be experiencing a new and unsettling taste in your mouth. Read on below to learn the key causes of a soapy mouth taste, plus information on when to seek medical help and four safe remedies you can try at home.
Special thanks to Dr. Kevin Huffman, doctor of osteopathic medicine and CEO & Founder of Ambari Nutrition, for contributing him time and expertise.
Reasons behind a soapy mouth taste
According to Dr. Huffman, common causes for a soapy taste in the mouth are:
- Consumption of certain foods and drinks
- Health conditions
- Excessive fluoride intake
1. Food and drink
Certain foods can prompt a soapy taste. The most common culprit is coriander, aka cilantro. Cilantro’s soapy flavor has been the subject of more than one research study. Researchers from genetics company 23andMe found a genetic link among people who describe cilantro’s flavor as “soapy.” Specifically, two genetic markers are associated with detecting the soapy essence of aldehydes. Aldehydes are chemical compound in cilantro.
Heavy alcohol consumption can also prompt changes in taste, according to Dr. Huffman.
If you suspect your eating and drinking habits may be the issue, start by eliminating suspicious foods from your diet one at a time. (Guacamole lovers: You may want to see how to substitute for cilantro in guacamole.)
Once you’ve identified the problem food, you may be happy enough to leave it out of your diet completely. If not, you can try adding it back in small doses. Follow consumption with solid oral hygiene practices — the stuff your dentist would recommend — such as regular tooth-brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash.
By adjusting your consumption and oral hygiene practices, you can determine how much of the problem ingredient you can tolerate.
Various prescription and non-prescription medications can also alter your sense of taste. Dr. Huffman cites antiobiotics, lithium, and certain hypertensive agents as common offenders.
If you’ve started a new prescription recently and you think that may be the cause, don’t change your routine. This scenario warrants a conversation with your physician first. Until you can have that talk, keep taking the meds as prescribed.
3. Health conditions
Health conditions such as reflux disease, neurological disorders, and even pregnancy can also elicit a soapy taste in the mouth. Less commonly, burning mouth syndrome is another potential offender, according to Dr. Huffman.
Remedies related to health conditions are entirely dependent on the diagnosis. Solutions “could range from medical treatments to home care regimens, even counseling might be beneficial,” explains Dr. Huffman. “For example, gastroesophageal reflux disease — if identified as the culprit — may respond well to antacids; alternatively, modifying one’s diet could prove helpful.”
The takeaway here? Consult with your physician to diagnose the specific problem first. The diagnosis will likely point to the best potential solutions.
4. Too much fluoride
Excessive intake of sodium fluoride can lead to toxic levels of the fluoride ion in the body. Fluoride poisoning has a range of symptoms, one of which is a salty or soapy taste in the mouth. Other symptoms of fluoride overdose, according to Mount Sinai Health, include:
- Abdominal pain
- Irritated eyes
- Irregular heartbeat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shallow breathing
Fluoride toxicity in adults is rare, however. It can occur in areas where very high levels of fluoride occur in the water or to individuals who accidentally ingest too much fluoride via vitamins, supplements, or non-edible substances like etching cream. It’s not likely to arise from swallowing a bit of toothpaste or mouthwash.
If you suspect fluoride toxicity, call your local poison control center or go to the emergency room. Once diagnosed, this condition can be treated with fluids, medication, calcium, laxatives, and/or breathing support.
When to see a doctor
The persistence of unusual tastes in the mouth should dictate when you see a doctor. If your taste buds produce a soapy flavor once after eating salsa with cilantro, you can likely manage the condition with the at-home remedies described below. But if everything tastes like soap, get medical assistance.
A medical evaluation is also necessary if you’re experiencing other symptoms such as weight loss or fatigue alongside a soapy or metallic taste in your mouth.
At-home remedies for soapy taste in mouth
For temporary relief from a bad taste in the mouth, Dr. Huffman recommends:
- More frequent brushing of your teeth
- Warm salt water rinse
- Consumption of sour foods like citrus fruits or dill pickles
- Stress management techniques like deep breathing, yoga, and meditation can also provide indirect relief
Why your mouth tastes soapy
There are various possible explanations as to why your mouth tastes like soap. The most common of them are not serious. The odd taste may be related to a food ingredient or a short-term course of antibiotics, for example. When the cause of the symptom is temporary, you can usually manage it with good oral hygiene and warm salt water rinses.
If you have a persistent soapy taste or other symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
About Dr. Huffman
Kevin D. Huffman D.O., a board-certified bariatric physician, has treated over 10,000 obese patients in his bariatric medical career and trained and mentored hundreds of physicians and allied healthcare providers. A nationally recognized leader in the bariatric medical community, Dr. Huffman has been called upon by medical/surgical societies, pharmaceutical/surgical companies, patients and hospitals to lecture and consult in the art, science and business of bariatric medicine.
Dr. Huffman is the Founder and President of American Bariatric Consultants, and draws upon nearly two decades of developing treatment protocols, writing training manuals, inspecting doctors’ offices and hospital programs. He also mentors and prepares physicians for board certification in bariatric medicine in order to help physicians, surgeons and hospitals enter the bariatric treatment community.