What is Needed for a Homemade Eyewash?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

With many turning to home remedies for minor afflictions, those suffering from eye irritation are interested in ingredients used in homemade eyewash. Homemade eyewash can be used to treat allergic eyes, or to stop itching associated with pinkeye. Some practitioners of holistic medicine also tout homemade eyewash as a way to relieve tired or strained eyes, or to make eyes seems refreshed in those who are tired.

Diluted green tea can make an effective eyewash.
Diluted green tea can make an effective eyewash.

The most important aspect regarding homemade eyewash is to not contaminate the eye by using tap water. Since tap water can contain numerous chemicals, it may not be particularly helpful to an irritated pair of eyes. Also, any additional ingredients may possibly be contaminated with tiny bacteria that can cause serious eye infection.

1 teaspoon of salt mixed with 1 cup of boiling water can be used as an eye wash and nasal rinse.
1 teaspoon of salt mixed with 1 cup of boiling water can be used as an eye wash and nasal rinse.

Most recipes for homemade eyewash recommend using distilled water, since it is free of chemicals. As well, any preparations should be boiled, and then set aside to cool before using. This tends to eliminate possible contamination of the eye by bacteria or irritating chemicals.

Distilled water should be used when making eyewashes.
Distilled water should be used when making eyewashes.

A very simple recipe for homemade eyewash is to boil one cup of water with one teaspoon of salt. This liquid can then be used alone as both an eyewash and a nasal rinse. Some recommend adding herbs or tinctures to the liquid. One should be cautious when adding herbs to homemade eyewash as sensitivities to certain herbs can create more problems than they cure. As well, all herbal parts must be filtered out of the homemade eyewash prior to applying the wash to the eyes. Many recommend using a coffee filter and filtering the liquid several times.

A simple saline solution can be used for a homemade eyewash.
A simple saline solution can be used for a homemade eyewash.

Another homemade eyewash is a simple mixture of green tea and distilled water. One adds two parts of brewed green tea to one part of water. This is thought to make the eyes feel refreshed and cooler if they are itchy or irritated. Some also advocate using tea bags directly on closed eyes to reduce swelling of the skin and dark circles.

None of these homemade products should be kept for more than a day or two, since they have no natural preservatives and may introduce bacteria to the eye. Some herbal preparations are available in stores and may be more convenient for use than homemade eyewash.

Final consideration when preparing homemade eyewash is whether the condition you plan to use the eyewash for may need medical treatment. While eyes that are perpetually dry or itchy due to allergies may benefit from homemade eyewash, pinkeye caused by bacteria will not improve. Such a condition requires antibiotic drops and should be brought to the attention of a physician. As well, chronic dry eyes may indicate other conditions and should be addressed by a medical professional.

One should consult a physician before using homemade eyewash to be certain that one’s ingredients will not cause irritation. Usually physicians readily sanction the use of saline homemade eyewash and may even give you a guide on how to prepare it. The medical community less frequently studies additions of herbs or tinctures and doctors may caution patients to avoid them completely.

Green tea bags can refresh the eyes.
Green tea bags can refresh the eyes.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


No, nobody can use plain distilled water and no child should use a tea bag on their eye. Please people, use common sense and stick with safe, tested and approved items you have to buy.


The pharmaceutical trolls are here posting recommendations for boric acid rat poison is good for you, but why isn't it good for rats? I have to ask.


I got gasoline in my eyes. What is a good rinse for this?


@Post 11: It may not be great to treat problem eyes with tap water, but -sheesh- every day millions of people take showers under tap water and I haven't heard of any number of them going blind from this practice.


Please do not put any tap water in your eyes! It is okay to use water over a closed eye, but putting tap water, or any non-sterile solution in your eyes, especially if they are already irritated, is a set-up for infection.

All tap water contains small amount of dangerous bacteria, and even more dangerous organisms, such as Acanthoamoeba.

You do not want to risk getting these infections. Acanthoamoeba keratitis is one of the most difficult infections to treat, often taking months of very strong treatment, and not infrequently leading to corneal transplantation or worse (permanent blindness or removal of the eye).


I just ran across this in a search but I have some insights on these subjects. My father was a veterinarian, my step sister is an MD, etc., but here it is from me.

Most precautions and medical advice are to promote sales of retail medial products, to avoid lawyers and such. Having said that, your eyes are very valuable. Saline solutions (.05 percent) should be quite safe with boiled tap water or retail distilled water.

If you think about it logically, our eyes get a lot of unknown materials all day every day and some are quite toxic, depending on your job. Light saline or boric acid mixes should have no problems or side effects.

Boric acid is the the only ingredient in Roach Proof and other similar products, but for personal use I would recommend ordering it from your pharmacy. It's about $2 a bottle and a bottle would make several gallons of eyewash.


I checked with the vet on the homemade saline of boiled water and salt. He said this solution should be no stronger than one tsp of salt to three cups of distilled water.

Glad I spoke with him before dousing my horse's eye. The vet said it would have burned pretty bad. He suggested I try it in my own eye before putting it in the eye of the animal. If it's OK for me, then it's OK for the animal. I love my horses!


boric acid solution was used for a rinse when I was a little girl. That would be some years ago. Not sure how to make it, so ask at your local pharmacy.


As for the boric acid solution, it's very hard to find it to make it. My Mom used the same. Asked my Pharmacist and there's an eye wash that has it in there. Even sold @ Walmart. It's inexpensive and does the trick.


re blepharitis: my optician recommends using a solution of dilute baby shampoo with a little distilled witch hazel in. I make this up in a small (2 oz) bottle, diluting with boiled water. The eyelashes are then cleaned using a small piece of cotton wool or bud, one for each eye, at least twice a day. He recommends applying a hot compress first to melt the waxy encrustation.


I use plain distilled water to rinse out my eyes. But a saline solution would be best.


I remember as lad many moons ago, that mom use to make a solution out of over the counter boric acid.

Does anyone know the recipe? Seemed to work well with us boys whenever our eyes were ailing us.


Hello, my husband has Blepharitis. The eye wash he uses becomes very expensive at the end of the week. Was told to make either saline or a bicarb mix at home.

Could you please tell me how to do this? He also uses Systane eye drops 1 drop 5 times per day each eye. Thank you -- Jill


I had heard a friend used this on her daughter's eye (tea) but she was using black tea (lipton), is this advisable to use on a child?


Can one just use distilled or purified water to rinse away foreign objects. After all the eye and the human body has their own way of returning proper balance of the fluids in and around the eye?

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