Effective Ways To Clean Retainers At Home

best ways to clean retainers

We all have grown up hearing that brushing the teeth twice a day is important to keep them healthy. Similarly, it is also important to clean your retirees to keep your teeth healthy and free of plaque. If you are wondering how to clean retainers, then you have come to the right place.

Many people need to wear retainers a full day after getting their braces removed to set their teeth in a rigid environment. If you want to learn the best way to clean retainers and keep them well-maintained, then this post has all the solutions for you.

How To Clean Retainers?

Here are some effective methods to clean your retainers and keep them bacteria and germ-free. 

Read More- Complete Guide On Different Types Of Braces

Water for on the go cleaning

Water cannot clean retainers on its own, but drinking a lot of water will prevent bacterial overgrowth. Keeping the retainers moist will control damage and tooth decay.

If you think your retainers are dirty, swish some water in your mouth a few times. Sugary drinks affect the retainers in the same way as they affect the teeth. Take out your retainers before eating or drinking something sugary.

Do not let your retainers get dry as it can damage them; instead of keeping them out all night, soak the retainers in distilled water; if you cannot find anything to store your retainers, cover them with a damp paper towel.


When you brush your teeth, make it a habit of cleaning your retainers as well. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush along with non-whitening toothpaste. After you remove the retailers for the day, do not forget to clean your teeth. This is the best and easiest way to clean retainers. 

Denture cleaner

Cleaning your retainers with denture cleaner from time to time is a safe bet. With regular use, retainers can become yellow. To keep them looking new, rinse retainers and soak them in deter cleaner for about 20 minutes. After you take them out, clean the retainers with a soft bristle toothbrush.

Baking soda

Baking soda is an all-purpose and safe disinfectant. It can help to whiten the retainers which have turned yellow. Baking soda is a great ingredient to control bacteria overgrowth without using any harsh chemicals. It can also prevent retainers from maintaining a harmful pH balance.

Make baking soda paste by mixing water. Keep the mixture thick enough to stick it to retainers. Scrub the retainers gently using a soft toothbrush and mixture. All the residue will be removed and then rinse under clean water. 


Using white vinegar is one of the best ways to clean retainers. White vinegar acts like a gentle disinfectant that removes residues and odors. You can make a mixture in a small bowl mixing warm water and vinegar in equal parts. Soak the retainers in the mixture for 20 minutes.

If the retainer is covered in mineral deposits or film, you can scrub gently using a soft bristles toothbrush. After you rinse them with clean water, soak them in vinegar solution again for 20 minutes.

Castile soap

Castile is less toxic as compared to any other cleaning product. You can make your own solution by mixing coconut soap and olive oil. If not, you can easily find them at stores.

To clean your retainers using castile soap:

Add them in warm water in small quantities.

Dip the retainers in the mixture and scrub using a soft bristle toothbrush.

Let them soak in for 2-3 minutes before scrubbing.

Rinse with cool water before putting it back in your mouth.


Mouthwashes are designed to combat bacteria, plaque, and other deposits in the mouth. It also helps to clean a retainer if you cannot source any other ingredient. 

However, using mouthwash every time to clean the retainers is not right because they contain alcohol that can dry out retainers and the mouth. 

You can dip the retainers in mouthwash for 2-3 minutes, rinse with cold water and scrub gently using a toothbrush.

Read More- Headgear Braces Uses, Risks and Benefits

Retainer cleaner

The best way to clean retainers when nothing else seems effective is using a retainer cleaner. When you are out of time or ingredients to make a retainer cleaning solution at home, retainer cleaners make the best affordable option. 

Follow the instructions mentioned in the packaging to clean your retainers. You can also consult with your orthodontist to recommend a retainer cleaner. 

6 Best tips to clean retainers 

Avoid heat

Exposing the retainer to high heat can ruin the shape. Make sure to keep your retainers away from

  • Microwaves
  • Boiling water
  • Dryers and washers
  • Dishwasher
  • Car dashboard

Note- wash the retainers with lukewarm water.

Avoid chemicals

You do not need to use harsh cleaners to make your retainers squeaky clean. According to experts, chemicals do not get rid of bacteria effectively as brushing does, and instead, it degrades the quality of retainers over time.

Time your soak

If you still choose to use chemical-based cleaners, remember to not soak the retainers for too long. It can corrode the metal components. Instead, you can do a quick mouthwash soak to freshen up the retainers and kill germs.

Mix equal parts of warm water and mouthwash. If the mouthwash contains alcohol, soak your retainers in such solutional only occasionally.

Clean retainer case

Always clean your retainer case at least once a day before storing your retainers. Scrub the surfaces gently using soapy water, and then rinse with clean water and pat dry. 

Keep watch

Keep your retainers away from pets so they don’t choke or chew. Always be mindful of the retainers while you eat food. You may accidentally toss it if you keep it on the napkin. 

Replace as needed

Retainers are like contact shoes and lenses. They get subject to daily wear and tear and may need to be replaced eventually. Essix retainers last for six months to a year, whereas the plastic retainers wear out. In contrast, Hawley retainers can last for 5 to 10 years if taken care of properly.

Retainer cleaning myths

You should not believe any of these myths associated with cleaning the retainers

  • Retainers stay clean as long as you do not eat with them on and regularly brush your teeth.
  • You should not use retainer cleaning solutions. They are bad for teeth.
  • Probiotics and supplements will keep your mouth and retainer healthy without requiring any cleanings. 
  • Allowing good bacterias to develop on retainers and cleaning them can disrupt the bacteria habitat.
  • Brushing the retainers can cause scratches.

Side Effects of Not Cleaning Retainers

Retainers collect plaque, bacteria, and tartar when we wear them. Over time they start developing a funny taste and smell if not cleaned regularly.

Retainers can become a thriving house for bacteria which are dangerous for teeth health and also your body. When these bacteria keep building up, they can cause serious illness. You can be exposed to Candida Albicans, a detrimental yeast found inside our mouth.

Inform your doctor if you notice any swelling, redness, or any other infection symptom in your mouth.

Read more- How Much Does A Tooth Implant Cost?

Final Words:

Cleaning the retainers is as important as brushing your teeth. You need to clean your retainers using the lukewarm water and mixtures mentioned above. Remember to clean your retainers at least once a day. It is best to brush them after every meal. Always consult with your orthodontist for any special instructions on the maintenance of retainers.