Background: The role of alcohol-containing mouthwash as a risk factor for the development of oral cancer is a subject of conflicting epidemiological evidence in the literature despite alcohol being a recognised carcinogen. The aim of this study was to use in vitro models to investigate mechanistic and global gene expression effects of exposure to alcohol-containing mouthwash. Methods: Two brands of alcohol-containing mouthwash and their alcohol-free counterparts were used to treat two oral cell lines derived from normal (OKF6-TERT) and dysplastic (DOK) tissues. Genotoxicity was determined by Comet assay. RNA-seq was performed using the Ion Torrent platform. Bioinformatics analysis used R/Bioconductor packages with differential expression using DEseq2. Pathway enrichment analysis used EnrichR with the WikiPathways and Kegg databases. Results: Both cell lines displayed dose-dependent DNA damage in response to acute exposure to ethanol and alcohol-containing mouthwashes as well as alcohol-free mouthwashes reconstituted with ethanol as shown by Comet assay. The transcriptomic effects of alcohol-containing mouthwash exposure were more complex with significant differential gene expression ranging from >2000 genes in dysplastic (DOK) cells to <100 genes in normal (OKF6-TERT) cells. Pathway enrichment analysis in DOK cells revealed alcohol-containing mouthwashes showed common features between the two brands used including DNA damage response as well as cancer-associated pathways. In OKF6-TERT cells, the most significantly enriched pathways involved inflammatory signalling. Conclusions: Alcohol-containing mouthwashes are genotoxic in vitro to normal and dysplastic oral keratinocytes and induce widespread changes in gene expression. Dysplastic cells are more susceptible to the transcriptomic effects of mouthwash.