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What's the Best Way to Clean Retainers?

A woman with brown hair and a white sweater smiling and holding up a clear aligner

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!

Quantity: 1 bottle

Volume: 50ml

Lasts: 60 days if used twice a day


  • Cleans Invisalign aligners and clear retainers
  • Removes aligner build up and freshens breath
  • Gradually whitens teeth with no tooth sensitivity
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