What's the Best Way to Clean Retainers?

What's the Best Way to Clean Retainers?

Whether you have clear or wire retainers, cleaning them can seem tricky. You can run them under hot water or brush them with a toothbrush, but that won't remove all of the plaque and bacteria that get stuck in the nooks and crannies of your retainers each time you use them. You don't want bacteria to multiply and leave your retainers looking and smelling nasty — so what do you do?

The good news is that there are highly effective solutions for cleaning dirty retainers that are convenient and inexpensive. Cleaning your retainers is an extremely important part of your oral hygiene routine, and how you choose to clean them matters just as much as how often you clean them.

How Do You Clean Plaque From a Retainer?

Plaque is a deposit of bacteria that nestles itself around your teeth and can transfer to your retainers after you've worn them for a while. If you've ever looked at your retainers and seen yellowish or light brown spots, you've probably seen plaque. Cleaning plaque from your retainer is an essential part of keeping your mouth clean — but what's the best way to do it?

A surefire way to clean plaque from your retainers is to clean them immediately after you take them out of your mouth by running them under warm water and gently — and we mean gently — brushing with a soft-bristle toothbrush or a Q-tip in case any plaque is stuck in hard-to-reach places.

Can You Clean Retainers With Vinegar?

Speaking of at-home retainer cleaning methods, using vinegar and water has become a popular alternative to using tablets and other oral cleaners. However, you need to use this cleaning method properly and make sure you wash out all of the excess vinegar. If you don't, the acid from the vinegar can harm your enamel — not to mention the lingering vinegar taste!

Can I Soak My Retainer in Mouthwash?

Soaking your retainers in mouthwash is generally not recommended. Since most mouthwashes contain artificial coloring, soaking clear retainers in them can cause permanent discoloration. It's best to stick with soap and water, peroxide and water, or a cleaner designed specifically for retainers.

How Can I Clean My Retainer at Home?

There are several ways you can clean your retainers at home. These methods include:

  • Soap and warm water
  • Denture or retainer tablets and water
  • Peroxide and water
  • Baking soda and water
  • Vinegar and water

While the above list contains effective ways to keep your retainers clean, it's important that you incorporate these retainer cleaning methods correctly. Otherwise, you can run the risk of scratching your retainers and even damaging your teeth.

Vinegar, while an acceptable soaking agent, can end up hurting your teeth and giving you bad breath if you don't properly wash it off your retainers. Baking soda can also be hazardous for your retainers, given its abrasiveness, and its cleaning properties are more effective when paired with another cleaning agent such as hydrogen peroxide.

If you're looking for the best way to clean your retainers even when you're on-the-go, consider a product made just for that purpose. Check out EverSmile's collection of products today!

Review by Michael Florman, Oral Care Expert

Reviewed By Michael Florman, Updated on 12/8/21

New

Learn More

Related Articles

  • How to Tell if It's Time to Replace a Retainer

    How to Tell if It's Time to Replace a Retainer

    Retainers play an essential role in your post-orthodontic treatment plan. They help keep your teeth straight, maintaining the smile you invested in. Your orthodontist will likely recommend you wear a retainer for life because teeth are prone to shifting. Retainers usually only last a few...

    Read More
  • Why Does Having Straight Teeth Matter? 12 Health Benefits of Straight Teeth

    Why Does Having Straight Teeth Matter? 12 Health Benefits of Straight Teeth

    If you're one of 81% of adults that think their teeth are unattractive when they see them in photographs, it might feel good to know you're not alone. But it still doesn't change how you feel.  Many adults are self-conscious about their smiles because they don't...

    Read More
  • Breakdown of the Different Clear Aligner and Retainer Materials

    Breakdown of the Different Clear Aligner and Retainer Materials

    Confidence begins with a smile. If you look in the mirror and aren't happy with your smile, now's the perfect time to change it! Clear aligners and retainers are more accessible and affordable than ever before. They straighten your teeth over time while being discreet...

    Read More
  • What's the Difference Between Clear Aligners and Retainers?

    What's the Difference Between Clear Aligners and Retainers?

    On the surface, aligners and retainers seem pretty similar. Both are made of clear plastic and used for orthodontic treatment. However, they have two different goals — aligners are meant to move your teeth into new positions, while retainers keep your teeth in their final...

    Read More
  • The Do's and Don'ts of Wearing a Retainer

    The Do's and Don'ts of Wearing a Retainer

    You should always follow your dentist's directions for wearing a retainer to ensure the investment you put into having a straight smile lasts for years to come. Adhering to the do's and don'ts of wearing a retainer is vital to keeping your teeth straight and...

    Read More
  • 14 Tips for a Healthier Smile

    14 Tips for a Healthier Smile

    A smile is often one of the first things people notice about us, and many people take great pride in having an attractive smile. However, the importance of having a healthy smile goes beyond mere appearances. The health of our teeth and gums is directly tied...

    Read More
  • How to Get Rid of Yellow Staining From Braces

    How to Get Rid of Yellow Staining From Braces

    The moment your braces come off is a major high point in your life. You've spent a lot of time waiting and working to achieve the straight teeth and radiant smile you've always dreamed of. But sometimes when the braces come off, your smile isn't quite...

    Read More
  • How to Preserve Your Clear Retainers

    How to Preserve Your Clear Retainers

    Retainers are vital for straightening your smile. Even when you're done with aligners or braces, your retainers prevent your teeth from shifting back into their misaligned positions. Because these appliances are essential, it's useful to know how to preserve your clear retainers. You'll help them...

    Read More
  • The Science Behind Teeth Movement

    The Science Behind Teeth Movement

    Many people experience a moment where they notice something new about their physical appearance. This is especially true with teeth. You could smile at yourself in the mirror and realize that things are different than they were last time you checked. "Was that gap always...

    Read More
  • How to Get Rid of Aligner Smell

    How to Get Rid of Aligner Smell

    As a user of clear plastic aligners, you care about your teeth, and you want your smile to look great. The clear plastic makes the process discreet so you can wear your aligners with confidence while hanging out with friends and family or meeting people...

    Read More
  • Why Do Aligners and Retainers Get Holes?

    Why Do Aligners and Retainers Get Holes?

    You wear your aligners almost all day, so it's not surprising that they can become damaged. But, why do aligners and retainers get holes and other damage? There are a few different ways this can happen. Take a look at the guide below to learn...

    Read More
  • How to Clean Plastic Retainers

    How to Clean Plastic Retainers

    Retainers are an important part of your orthodontic treatment. Aligners do the heavy lifting by moving your teeth into a straighter position, but retainers are the devices that keep them from shifting back. Your teeth have a muscle memory that makes them want to go...

    Read More
  • Can Aligners and Retainers Lead to Cavities?

    Can Aligners and Retainers Lead to Cavities?

    Proper dental care is key to a healthy, happy smile. From a young age, people practice oral hygiene to reduce their risk of cavities and take care of their teeth. If you've started using aligners or retainers, you might be wondering how they affect your...

    Read More
  • How to Clean ClearCorrect Aligners

    How to Clean ClearCorrect Aligners

    Aligners are excellent alternatives to traditional wire braces. They discreetly straighten your smile, allow you to maintain your oral health more easily, and don't come with any food or drink restrictions. Because ClearCorrect aligners stay in your mouth for at least 22 hours a day,...

    Read More
  • Aligner Guide for New Users: Everything You Need to Know as a New Aligner Wearer

    Aligner Guide for New Users: Everything You Need to Know as a New Aligner Wearer

    Clear aligners have emerged as an exciting alternative to traditional braces. Brands such as Invisalign offer the benefits of straighter teeth with the addition of a discreet appearance to fit any lifestyle. You can enjoy more freedom when wearing clear aligners, and you can smile...

    Read More
  • The Do's and Don'ts of Wearing a Retainer

    The Do's and Don'ts of Wearing a Retainer

    You should always follow your dentist's directions for wearing a retainer to ensure the investment you put into having a straight smile lasts for years to come. Adhering to the do's and don'ts of wearing a retainer is vital to keeping your teeth straight and...

    Read More
  • How to Get Rid of Yellow Staining From Braces

    How to Get Rid of Yellow Staining From Braces

    The moment your braces come off is a major high point in your life. You've spent a lot of time waiting and working to achieve the straight teeth and radiant smile you've always dreamed of. But sometimes when the braces come off, your smile isn't quite...

    Read More
  • How to Preserve Your Clear Retainers

    How to Preserve Your Clear Retainers

    Retainers are vital for straightening your smile. Even when you're done with aligners or braces, your retainers prevent your teeth from shifting back into their misaligned positions. Because these appliances are essential, it's useful to know how to preserve your clear retainers. You'll help them...

    Read More
  • 12 Tips for New Invisalign Users

    12 Tips for New Invisalign Users

    Welcome to the world of Invisalign aligners! You've taken the next step toward straighter teeth and a more confident smile by subscribing to Invisalign treatment. But this is only the beginning. You'll be spending the next several months to a year wearing your aligners, and...

    Read More
  • How to Brush Your Teeth With Aligners

    How to Brush Your Teeth With Aligners

    Clear aligners are convenient and discreet ways to help straighten your smile. You can remove them whenever you need to, and they're more comfortable than traditional metal braces. It's essential to take care of your teeth, and while making sure they're straight is one way...

    Read More
  • The Facts on Funk: Why Is My Clear Aligner Yellow?

    The Facts on Funk: Why Is My Clear Aligner Yellow?

    You got clear aligners so that no one would notice them, but your invisible aligners are only invisible if they stay clear. Many things can stain your aligners or lead to your retainer turning yellow. Certain foods, such as dark-colored berries or sugary chocolates can lead...

    Read More
  • Navigating Contact Sports and Aligners

    Navigating Contact Sports and Aligners

    As an athlete, you have a lot on your mind when you're on the field or court. You're thinking about your opponent's next move, memorizing plays and doing everything you can to win. You don't want your teeth or aligners taking up valuable thought space...

    Read More
  • The Science Behind Teeth Movement

    The Science Behind Teeth Movement

    Many people experience a moment where they notice something new about their physical appearance. This is especially true with teeth. You could smile at yourself in the mirror and realize that things are different than they were last time you checked. "Was that gap always...

    Read More
  • How to Get Rid of Aligner Smell

    How to Get Rid of Aligner Smell

    As a user of clear plastic aligners, you care about your teeth, and you want your smile to look great. The clear plastic makes the process discreet so you can wear your aligners with confidence while hanging out with friends and family or meeting people...

    Read More
  • Why Do Teeth Come in Crooked?

    Why Do Teeth Come in Crooked?

    If you've ever looked at your smile in the mirror and noticed misaligned teeth, you've probably wondered why teeth come in crooked. Is there any way to correct this issue? Luckily, you have a few options for fixing your smile, but there are even more...

    Read More
  • How to Clean Plastic Retainers

    How to Clean Plastic Retainers

    Retainers are an important part of your orthodontic treatment. Aligners do the heavy lifting by moving your teeth into a straighter position, but retainers are the devices that keep them from shifting back. Your teeth have a muscle memory that makes them want to go...

    Read More
  • Can Aligners and Retainers Lead to Cavities?

    Can Aligners and Retainers Lead to Cavities?

    Proper dental care is key to a healthy, happy smile. From a young age, people practice oral hygiene to reduce their risk of cavities and take care of their teeth. If you've started using aligners or retainers, you might be wondering how they affect your...

    Read More