While oral rinses used for cosmetic purposes only do not necessarily have to be antiseptic, antimicrobial activity is required for medical indications, including oral and periodontal surgery. So the question arises-is the antimicrobial activity of oral rinses associated with any destructive changes in cell viability in vitro? To answer this question, we examined twelve oral rinses with respect to their antimicrobial and cytotoxic activity. Antimicrobial activity was screened against five bacterial strains using disc diffusion. Cytotoxicity was determined by mitochondrial reductase activity with primary gingival fibroblasts, L929 cells, and HSC-2 epithelial cells. Phase contrast microscopy and trypan blue staining were then performed to reveal cell morphology. Cells remained vital after exposure to oral rinses that were only used for cosmetic purposes. Moderate cytotoxic effects were observed for oral rinses containing 0.05% chlorhexidine, ethanol, or pegylated hydrogenated castor oil and sodium dodecyl sulfate. Other oral rinses containing 0.2% chlorhexidine and cocamidopropyl betaine exhibited strong cytotoxic and antimicrobial activity. Strong cytotoxic but moderate antimicrobial activity was observed in oral rinses containing cetylpyridinium chloride. The in vitro data show that oral rinses are heterogeneous with respect to their cytotoxic and antimicrobial effects. Based on their respective properties, oral rinses can be selected either to reduce the microbial load or for cosmetic purposes.