It's well known using the mouthwash Listerine is a great way to freshen your breath because it kills all those nasty germs in your mouth. What you may not know is the original purpose of the liquid wasn't mouthwash.

Listerine's inventor Joseph Lawrence developed the product not as a mouthwash, but as a general germicide and surgical antiseptic. The name Listerine is a tribute to an English doctor Joseph Lister who discovered antiseptics like carbolic acid, helped reduce post-surgical infection.

Following its initial use as a surgical antiseptic, dentists started using it for oral care. The product soon became available over-the-counter and thanks to a marketing campaign as a cure for chronic halitosis -- bad breath -- Listerine soon became a household name.

Curing bad breath wasn't the only use for Listerine. According to Freakonomics, in its distilled form, Listerine was sold as a floor cleaner and as a treatment for gonorrhea.

Think about that next time you're swishing some around in your mouth.

With that in mind, what exactly is Listerine? Of the active ingredients, many are essential oils including menthol, thymol, methyl salicylate and eucalyptol. Ethanol (alcohol), is the largest single active ingredient.

Call me crazy, but this sounds a lot like a combination of a muscle rub and a shot of whiskey. With that said, I guess it depends on what you think is worse, a mouth full weird ingredients that kill bacteria or bad breath.

[Wikipedia][Freakonomics]