Why does everything taste like soap? Reasons and remedies

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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.

A lathered bar of soap.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Disclaimer: This article should not be viewed as medical advice and is for informational purposes only. You should consult your physician before making any changes to your diet. 

Special thanks to Dr. Kevin Huffman, doctor of osteopathic medicine and CEO and founder of Ambari Nutrition, for contributing his time and expertise. 

Reasons behind a soapy mouth taste 

According to Dr. Huffman, there are four common causes for a soapy taste in the mouth, including consumption of certain foods or beverages, medications, health conditions, or too much flouride. Read on for more information about these causes and how to remedy them.

Food and drink 

Certain foods can prompt a soapy taste. The most common culprit is coriander, also known as 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 compounds in cilantro.

Brussels sprouts, carrots, grapefruit and even dark chocolate can also deliver that soapy mouth taste to some people. Dr. Huffman also notes that heavy alcohol consumption can prompt changes in taste, too. 

Remedy 

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.

Medications 

Various prescription and non-prescription medications can also alter your sense of taste. Dr. Huffman cites antibiotics, lithium and certain hypertensive agents as common offenders.

Remedy

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. 

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. 

Remedy 

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. 

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 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Drooling 
  • Irritated eyes 
  • Headache 
  • Irregular heartbeat 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Shallow breathing 
  • Weakness 

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

“In the majority of cases, a soapy mouth taste presents no cause for concern and, it can be managed at home. However — and this is vital to note — these remain only intermediate solutions: Medical consultation should undoubtedly follow.”

—Dr. Kevin Huffman, CEO & Founder, Ambari Nutrition

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 your mouth 

For temporary relief from a bad taste in the mouth, Dr. Huffman recommends: 

  1. More frequent brushing of your teeth
  2. Warm salt water rinse 
  3. Consumption of sour foods like citrus fruits or dill pickles 
  4. 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. 

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The contents of this article, made available via Food Drink Life, are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. The Content presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or dietary changes. Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk.

Catherine Brock is the blogger behind Blog Chef. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband and spends her free time riding horses and finding new ways to cook with green chiles.

This article originally appeared on Blog Chef.

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