Remedies for Sore Throats: Does Betadine Gargle Work?

Is a sore throat wearing you down? There are many remedies to help ease your pain and swelling, from gargles and OTC medications to herbal teas and plenty of rest. 

One of the most sought-after treatments for strep throat today is Betadine gargle—an antiseptic mouthwash that kills bacteria and prevents oral infections. But does it really work for sore throats, and how effective is it?

We’ll discuss the effectiveness of Betadine gargle for sore throats, its side effects, and proper use, and explore other alternative treatments available to help you find the best remedy. 

Is Betadine Gargle Effective for Sore Throats?

Yes, Betadine gargle has povidone-iodine, which breaks down the cell walls of sore throat-causing bacteria like Streptococcus pyogenes, reducing inflammation and pain. It’s also important to note that the solution isn’t effective against cold or flu-causing viruses.

What Is Betadine Gargle Made Of?

Here’s a table showing the ingredients in Betadine gargle and how each helps with treating sore throats:

Ingredient How it Helps with Sore Throats
Povidone-Iodine (Active) Acts as an antiseptic kills bacteria and viruses in the throat
Glycerin Soothes and moisturizes the throat
Sodium Citrate Helps maintain pH balance and soothes irritation
Citric Acid Acts as a preservative and can have mild antiseptic effects
Sodium Saccharin Adds sweetness without contributing to tooth decay
Non-medicinal Ingredients Flavoring, coloring, and stabilizing agents

Benefits of Betadine Gargle

Consider the following benefits of betadine gargle

  • Relieves pain and inflammation: The solution contains povidone-iodine, an antiseptic made of iodine and a stable polymer that kills harmful bacteria and reduces pain. 
  • Shortens the duration of a sore throat: Gargling with betadine flushes out bacteria and debris from your throat, reducing your recovery time by a day or two.
  • Prevents the spread of infection: Because iodine reduces inflammation and pain, you’re less likely to cough or sneeze, reducing the spread of infection. 
betadine gargle
betadine gargle

Side Effects of Betadine Gargle

Although Betadine gargle is safe for adults and children over 6 years, some people may experience specific side effects. Check them out: 

  • Burning Sensation: The iodine solution may irritate the delicate tissues in your mouth and throat, causing a mild burning sensation that goes away after a few minutes. But if the feeling persists or increases, stop using the solution and consult your doctor. 
  • Staining: Iodine may react with the proteins in your teeth and tongue, causing them to turn brown or black after extended use. The effects are mild, and you can reverse them by brushing your teeth and tongue regularly. 
  • Allergic reaction: Even though povidone-iodine in the solution is less likely to irritate your skin, it may cause an allergic reaction in some people, ranging from mild to severe. These symptoms include hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, wheezing, rash, and redness. If you experience any of these signs, stop using Betadine gargle and seek medical attention.
  • Dry mouth: The iodine solution may dry your mouth, causing irritation and possible tooth decay. If you’re using Betadine gargle, be sure to drink plenty of fluids, avoid sugary drinks and foods, brush your teeth, and floss regularly.

How to Use Betadine Gargle for Sore Throat

You should follow the label directions carefully when using Betadine gargle to avoid any side effects or complications. Here are the general guidelines for using this solution: 

  1. Dilute the solution according to the directions on the label.
  2. Rinse your mouth with water before gargling.
  3. Gargle with the diluted solution for 30 seconds.
  4. Spit out the solution without swallowing.
  5. Repeat up to four times a day.

Other Treatments for Sore Throats

There are many other alternatives to Betadine gargle available, from over-the-counter medications to home remedies. Take a look at the following options:

1. Over-The-Counter Medications

These drugs are bought from pharmacies, grocery stores, and other retailers without a doctor’s prescription and can help relieve sore throat symptoms. Consider the following options to help treat your strep throat:

Pain Relievers 

Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen blocks the production of pain and inflammation-causing chemicals like Prostaglandins, giving you fast relief from a sore throat. Their dosage and duration depend on how severe your age, weight, and how severe your sore throat is, but the usual dosage for adults is  400-800 milligrams every 4-6 hours.

Cough Suppressants

Coughing may irritate your throat, increasing inflammation and pain. Dextromethorphan and other suppressants block signals from your throat to your brain center, reducing the urge to cough. The normal dosage for adults is 10-20 milligrams every 4-6 hours, as needed, but you should only take them as directed by your doctor. You should also keep the suppressants away from children under 4 years. 


Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, block the effects of histamine—a chemical released by the body’s immune system during an allergic reaction or other triggers such as cold air or stress—relieving the itchy feeling that comes with a sore throat. Don’t give antihistamines to children under 6 years, as it may have adverse effects. The recommended dosage for adults is 25-50 milligrams every 4-6 hours, as needed.

2. Gargles

These are common and instant home remedies for sore throats that soothe the pain and inflammation. Here are some examples:

Salt Water

Gargling with salt water is a traditional home remedy for sore throats. The salt kills bacteria and viruses causing your sore throat, like Streptococcus pyogenes, Haemophilus influenzae, Rhinovirus, and Coronavirus. The solution also soothes pain and inflammation, keeps your throat moist, and loosens mucus, making it easier for your to cough. To make a saltwater gargle, mix 1 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and gargle for 30 seconds and spit it out.

Although saltwater is effective against sore throats, you should still avoid using too much salt, which can irritate your throat. Don’t swallow the solution, lest you get stomach problems, and see your doctor if symptoms persist after a few days.

Baking Soda

Baking soda solution is a natural antiseptic that helps soothe pain and reduces inflammation in your throat. It also moistens your throat and kills harmful bacteria responsible for strep throat, such as Moraxella catarrhalis. To make the remedy, mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of warm water and gargle for 30 seconds before spitting it out.

Be careful not to use too much baking soda, as you might irritate your throat, and try not to swallow the solution because you may end up with an upset stomach. If your sore throat worsens after a few days of gargling, consult your doctor for professional advice.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide gargle is a classic remedy for sore throat that kills bacteria and reduces inflammation. To make the solution, mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts water and gargle for 30 seconds, then spit it out.

Don’t swallow the solution or use undiluted hydrogen peroxide because it can have harmful side effects. You should also steer clear of the remedy if you have an open wound in your mouth or if you’re unsure about using it appropriately. Your doctor will guide you on picking the right hydrogen peroxide concentrate for your sore throat. 

3. Teas

If you prefer a more subtle and relaxing solution for your sore throat, you can drink special teas with antiseptic ingredients. Consider the following options:

Peppermint Tea

The drink has cooling and soothing properties that relieve pain and inflammation and loosen mucus and phlegm, allowing you to cough without pain. To make peppermint tea, mix 1 teaspoon of the leaves in a cup of boiling water. Here are the common ingredients in this drink

  • Tannins: It’s a type of polyphenol with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that reduces swelling and prevents infection.
  • Flavonoids: Antioxidants that protect your body from damage and reduce inflammation from sore throats. 
  • Eugenol: An essential oil with antibacterial and pain-relieving properties.

You can drink peppermint tea up to 3 times per day, but if you have a sensitive stomach, start with a smaller amount and gradually increase your intake. The remedy may also interact with some medications, so it is important to talk to your doctor before drinking it, and if you have diabetes, don’t drink too much, as it lowers blood sugar levels.

Chamomile Tea

It’s made from the chamomile flower, a medicinal plant with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant effects that reduce inflammation, kill bacteria and protect your throat tissues. If you want to enjoy the calming benefits of chamomile tea, mix one teaspoon of the flowers in 1 cup of boiling water. The following are helpful ingredients found in chamomile tea:

  • Apigenin: A compound with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects that reduces swelling and redness of the throat and kills infection-causing bacteria.
  • Chrysanthemum: This compound has antioxidant effects that protect your throat tissues from damage caused by inflammation and infection.
  • Flavonoids: They have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that boost your immune system, fighting off the infection causing your sore throat.

You can add honey to the tea to make it sweeter or lemon juice for an extra boost of vitamin C. The drink may also cause allergic reactions in some people, so if you have any allergies, start with a small amount to see how it affects your body. 

Echinacea Tea

This medicinal drink comes from the roots or leaves of the echinacea plant and has immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Drinking echinacea tea will reduce inflammation, kill bacteria, and boost your immune system, soothing the symptoms of your sore throat. To make it, mix one teaspoon of dried echinacea root or leaves in a cup of boiling water.

Check out the following herbal ingredients in your tea:

  • Alkylamides: Compounds with immune-boosting and antibacterial effects that kill the bacteria causing your sore throat. 
  • Polysaccharides: Anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce swelling and redness in your throat.
  • Flavonoids: Compounds with antioxidant effects that protect your throat tissues from damage when you have strep throat. 

Echinacea tea may react with certain medications, so it is important to consult your doctor before drinking if you have a drug prescription.

4. Honey

Honey is a natural sweetener and a good remedy for sore throat due to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties that reduce inflammation. It also coats the throat, providing a protective barrier against irritants. The following ingredients in honey can help ease your sore throat quicker:

  • Enzymes: Honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory enzymes that fight infection and reduce inflammation.
  • Flavonoids: The sweetener contains antioxidants that protect your delicate throat tissues from damage when you have a sore throat. 
  • Sugars: Strep throat can weaken you, but the glucose, fructose, and maltose in honey will energize your immune system and soothe your throat without irritating it. 

If you have diabetes, check in with your doctor before using honey as a treatment for sore throat because it has concentrated sugars that may raise your blood sugar levels. 

betadine gargle
betadine gargle

5. Cough Drops

These lozenges contain menthol, eucalyptus oil, or other ingredients that cool or numb your throat. They also loosen mucus and make it easier to cough up, giving you instant relief from congestion. Check out the common ingredients in cough drops that help with sore throats:

  • Menthol: A natural compound with a cooling effect on your throat that relieves pain and inflammation.
  • Eucalyptus oil: A natural antiseptic and expectorant that loosens mucus in your throat, giving you instant relief from congestion. 
  • Glycerin: This thick liquid moistens the cough drops, making them easier to swallow.
  • Sugar: It sweetens the drops, making them more palatable. 

The following ingredients will help you make your very own cough drops at home:

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of glycerin
  • 10 drops of menthol oil
  • 10 drops of eucalyptus oil

Follow these steps to make the drops:

  1. Mix sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the glycerin, menthol oil, and eucalyptus oil.
  3. Pour the mixture into a small loaf pan or other molds.
  4. Let the mixture cool and harden.
  5. Cut the cough drops into small pieces and enjoy.

These drops contain sugar, so if you have diabetes, use them moderately. Adults and children over 12 years can take 1-2 cough drops every 2 hours, up to 12 drops per day, while kids 4-11 can take 1 cough drop every 2 hours, up to 6 drops per day. 

Don’t give kids under 4 years cough drops, even if they complain of a sore throat. And since they contain essential oils, don’t chew or swallow them whole. Instead, let them dissolve slowly in your mouth like candy.

6. Humidifier

This device adds moisture to your environment, preventing your throat from drying and making you feel more comfortable. You can choose either a cool or warm mist humidifier to help relieve symptoms of strep throat. Cool mist humidifiers evaporate water into the air and are preferred because they don’t cause burns. Warm mist humidifiers heat water and release steam into the air, making them more effective at relieving congestion. 

Use the humidifier for several hours a day in your bedroom or living room, and ensure you clean it regularly to stop the spread of bacteria and mold. Don’t use the device if you have asthma or allergies because its moisture can trigger such conditions, especially if the machine is dirty.

7. Rest

Although rest isn’t a specific home remedy for sore throats, it’s an important part of recovery. When you have strep throat, your body weakens, producing inflammatory chemicals called cytokines that cause pain, swelling, and redness. Resting relaxes your body, allowing it to recover and reducing the production of cytokines.

Resting also minimizes muscle tension, which increases whenever you get sick, reducing pain and stiffness. And when you get enough rest, you conserve energy, allowing your body to focus on healing. 

How to Choose the Best Remedy

There are many treatment options for sore throats, from natural to OTC drugs, but you just can’t try all of them, hoping to find the most effective one. You may worsen your condition and create new complications that require severe medical intervention. So, consider the following factors when choosing a remedy for strep throat:

  • The cause: Viruses, bacteria, and dry air can all cause sore throats, and if you know the exact cause, you’ll find a remedy specifically designed to treat it. Your doctor can accurately diagnose your sore throat and recommend the best treatment options. 
  • The condition’s severity: If you have a mild sore throat, you may use home remedies like gargling with salt water or drinking chamomile tea. But if your sore throat is severe, you may need to see a doctor for prescription medication. 
  • Your age and health: Some remedies may be unsafe for children or people with certain health conditions. Ensure you read the label carefully before taking any OTC drugs, or better yet, see your doctor if you’re already under prescription medication. 
  • Your personal preferences: some people prefer herbal teas, while others prefer cough drops or OTC meds. There is no right or wrong answer, so choose the remedy you think will work best for you. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Check out the following FAQs to help clarify any concerns about Betadine gargle:

Is Betadine gargle safe for kids?

Yes, it’s safe for kids over 6 years. But you should dilute the solution as per the label instructions. 

Can I use Betadine gargle when I’m pregnant?

No, it contains povidone-iodine, which is unsuitable for pregnant or lactating mothers, unless prescribed by the doctor and should be kept at a minimum.

Is Betadine gargle safe for pets?

Yes, it’s harmless when ingested by dogs, cats, and other common pets. 

How long should I use Betadine gargle?

Up to two weeks, or as directed by your doctor or pharmacist. If your sore throat gets worse, consult your doctor.


Betadine gargle can be a good remedy for sore throat, so long as you use it correctly. As a matter of fact, every remedy has the power to ease your symptoms with the right prescription, but it also depends on your body’s reaction to the treatment. If you have a persistent sore throat, it’s always best to consult your doctor for a diagnosis and the best recommendation drugs. 

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