How to Clean Retainers

Cleaning retainers is essential in keeping them fresh and odor-free, and the best way to do it is with a soft-bristled toothbrush and warm water.

Using toothpicks and scouring pads with sharp points to scratch retainers, abrasive materials such as toothpicks can degrade and warp their plastic fabric over time. Hot or boiling water should also be avoided as this could bend its structure.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the best cleaners to keep retainers free from bacteria. It is non-toxic and easy to use with any toothbrush or bristled brush. Mix baking soda to clean a retainer with water until paste forms; use a soft-bristled toothbrush with this paste to scrub over all areas where bacteria might collect. After brushing thoroughly, rinse your retainer under warm running water to complete its treatment.

Boiling water should never be used to clean retainers made of clear plastic Essix, as its heat can warp their shape and render them ineffective at protecting teeth from shifting. Toothpaste should also not be used on retainers due to being too abrasive a material, which could leave behind microscopic scratches on its surface and residue, which makes removal more difficult.

Just as important as brushing and soaking, another way to keep your retainer clean is using mouthwash or an equal mix of white vinegar and lukewarm water as a solution. Also necessary are regular soaks to kill bacteria and prevent plaque build-up; additionally, it’s wise to store it in a container of distilled water or one with both refined and baking soda when not being worn in your mouth.

White Vinegar

Vinegar is an effective natural cleaning agent for retainers that can disinfect and deodorize them while eliminating odors and residue. Vinegar’s natural components make it safe and easy to use; it can whiten yellowed retainers over time! However, remember not to immerse your retainer in hot water, as this could distort it, rendering it unfitting or distorting its shape altogether.

Baking soda is another natural cleaner that can disinfect retainers thoroughly. When mixed with water, baking soda forms a paste, which can be applied directly onto the retainer and scrubbed gently with a toothbrush before being rinsed off and whitened as with vinegar. Baking soda also disinfects retainers to help prevent bacteria formation in your mouth and whiten yellowed retainers by disinfecting.

Lemon juice offers an alternative cleaning solution that may reduce odors and decrease calcium deposits on your retainer, though its effectiveness may not match that of vinegar-based solutions.


Along with regularly cleaning your teeth, it is also essential to ensure your retainers are clean. Failure to do so could result in the accumulation of food and bacteria, eventually leading to gum disease and tooth decay.

Alternatively, consider investing in a quick and convenient disinfecting spray that can eliminate bacteria in just 60 seconds. Ideal for aligners, braces, dentures, and mouth guards alike, this non-water solution doesn’t require rinse water to cleanse it either!

Cleaning your retainer with baking soda is another alternative: combine equal parts baking soda and water until a paste forms; apply this paste directly onto your retainer, scrub gently using a soft bristle brush, then rinse off thoroughly under cool running water.

Avoid immersing your retainer in hot water, as this could warp its plastic material and alter its original form, eventually shifting your teeth out of alignment over time. Soaking can also change its fit; excessive use may warp it further and make your retainer ineffective over time.

If you don’t have time to soak your retainer but still need it thoroughly cleaned, numerous commercial cleansers on the market can assist. Retainer Brite’s bubbling tablets and Fresh Guard’s five-minute soak offer easy solutions, while for an alternative approach, consider using UV sanitizer, which kills bacteria quickly with just one quick zap of its UV light beams.

Liquid Soap

Consider adding liquid soap if regular brushing alone isn’t enough to keep your retainers clean. Clear liquid soap works best as it won’t cause an unpleasant taste in your mouth when reinserting them back in. In addition, use a soft-bristled toothbrush – not one used to brush teeth- as brushes too abrasive can gouge through plastic parts and allow bacteria to thrive.

Cleaning retainers regularly is vital to keeping them odor- and germ-free, and one effective way is to make a habit out of it – make it part of every time you remove them from your mouth, cleaning right afterward and wiping down all surfaces with soapy water when done removing from the mouth. Doing this makes removing food debris easier and lessens any chance that debris hardens into hard-to-manage rubble that becomes hard to clear away later. Also, ensure they’re stored correctly while not in use; this may protect them from being misplaced or lost or even increase their longevity!

If regular washing with warm water and soap doesn’t altogether remove all forms of bacteria on your retainers, try soaking them once every week in denture cleaner tablets or equal parts warm water and white vinegar solution – be sure to rinse very thoroughly afterward before placing them back in your mouth again! Additionally, never store plastic retainers in napkins or pockets; doing so could warp and discolor them over time.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Retainers can become breeding grounds for bacteria, plaque, and food debris, contributing to bad breath, gum disease, and other dental health concerns. To keep your retainer clean and prevent any issues arising from this build-up, regularly clean it using different methods like brushing, soaking, or scrubbing – and avoid pouring hot or boiling water into it as this may damage it!

Hydrogen peroxide is an organic disinfectant and natural cleaner that keeps retainers looking their best. You can find hydrogen peroxide in most medicine cabinets as a natural remedy against cuts and scrapes, but its most widely known use is in cleaning retainers. To use hydrogen peroxide effectively for retainer cleaning, place some solution into a bowl filled with warm distilled water and submerge your retainer into it for several minutes before brushing gently with a soft bristle toothbrush and then rinsing afterward.

If you don’t have hydrogen peroxide handy, alternative products like mouthwash, white vinegar, and baking soda may suffice as alternatives to hydrogen peroxide; just be careful using it on plastic retainers, as hydrogen peroxide may dissolve or degrade their plastic components. Castile soap may also help protect it from chemicals used to clean retainers.


Employing too many harsh chemicals when cleaning a retainer regularly may damage its material and hasten its degradation, as well as possibly being inhaled during wear, leading to oral infections and irritations.

Cleaning your retainer with water immediately after every use is vital to keeping it germ- and odor-free. It will prevent food particles from adhering to it, making it more easily brushable while brushing teeth.

Store your retainer in an appropriate soaking solution to protect its lifespan if not in use. Some varieties require dry storage while others should be submerged in vinegar-based solutions; to learn more about your specific retainer’s storage needs, speak with an orthodontist.

When soaking your retainer, only use lukewarm water to avoid warping or deforming it – hotter temperatures may require a new retainer! Never boil it, as this can permanently harm its plastic material components.

Various products on the market are designed to make cleaning your retainer more straightforward and practical, from Retainer Brite’s bubbling tablets and Fresh Guard’s quick five-minute soak-up to UV sanitizers. There’s something out there that can keep your retainer fresh and odor-free!

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