How To Clean Retainers

In this post, we are going to dicuss extensively on how to clean retainers. Retainers are custom-made orthodontic appliances that your orthodontist will have you wearing for a year or so after you have completed your braces treatment. Retainers can be removable, unlike braces, and they ensure that your teeth remain in place after wearing braces. 

There are different types of retainers and they may be completely transparent or of any color of your choice. What many do not know is that as much as you brush your teeth, you should also clean your retainers. Why is that? How do you go about cleaning your retainers?


You should clean your retainers for the same reason you brush your teeth. For as long as you will be using retainers, you should treat them in the same way you treat your teeth. Retainers sit inside your mouth against your teeth, so the same bacteria that builds up on your teeth can also grow on your retainer. 
So just as you brush your teeth every day, you should also clean your retainers because wearing an unclean retainer is the same thing as applying bacteria to the teeth and gums even after you may have brushed.


Many people need to wear their retainers full time for a while, while some may need to wear their retainers even at night to indefinitely keep their teeth in place. So when is the best time to clean your retainers?

Some suggest always rinsing off the saliva on it whenever you take it out. Many experts say that cleaning retainers at night before going to bed is the best time. You should clean your retainers every day, but it helps to do a more thorough clean-up of your retainers at least once a week to prevent the build-up of bacteria, plaque, or tarter.

Here are some signs that warn you that you need to clean your retainers:

  • The retainer begins to smell or tastes bad and feels uncomfortable to wear.
  • You may notice a film or white spots that could be tarter or plaque.
  • The retainer looks cloudy.
  • The retainer begins to break or crack, which is due to bacteria build-up.
  • Sudden tooth inflammation or any dental problems while using retainers. This would not only require thorough cleaning of the retainer, you may need to visit your orthodontist or dentist to check that the retainer fits properly and go over ways to care for your retainer.
How To Clean Retainers


If you don’t clean your retainer over time it will keep collecting bacteria, plaque, and tarter from your mouth while you wear it. Retainers can harbor dangerous bacteria like Streptococcus, Lactobacillus, and Veillonella, but although you brush your teeth regularly, some bacteria are normally found in the mouth.

When you don’t clean your retainers, bacteria build upon them and when there is too much bacteria build-up, they can cause illness. You may even be exposed to infection by Candida albicans -a detrimental yeast normally found in the mouth, but when it builds up on your retainer, it causes an infection.


It does matter what type of retainer you have because the process for cleaning is not the same for all, based on the different materials uses in making them. You could ask your orthodontist for a specific way on how to clean your retainers.

Meanwhile, here are some general tips you could use to keep your retainers clean, no matter the type.
4 easy ingredients can be used to clean retainers:-

  • Distilled water
  • Baking soda
  • Castile soap
  • Retainer cleaner

DISTILLED WATER: Using water to clean retainers is one of the best and easiest cleaning solutions. While wearing your retainer, if you feel it has become dirty, you could swish some water into your mouth a few times. Also, always stay hydrated, and drink plenty of water. Keeping your retainers moist will help prevent damage from dryness. Soak your retainers in warm distilled water anytime you take them off, do not let them dry out.

BAKING SODA: Baking soda is a safe all-purpose cleaning and whitening agent. Using baking soda to clean your retainers may help whiten them if they have started getting discolored. Baking soda has no harsh chemicals which makes it a safe cleaning option. It controls bacteria build-up and prevents retainers from developing an imbalance in pH that could harm your teeth.

To use baking soda in cleaning your retainers, make a thick paste of it by mixing an equal amount of it with water. With the help of a toothbrush, apply the paste to the retainer and gently brush. Rinse off the retainer thoroughly afterward to take residues of the paste off the retainer.

CASTILE SOAP: Castile soap is the most gentle cleaning product for retainers, might even be the best. Although you could get them at most stores, you can also decide to make yours with a solution of olive oil and coconut soap.

How to clean retainers with castile soap

The first thing you need to do is to add a small amount of warm water, then soak your retainers into the mixture for 2-3 minutes, and scrub it with a toothbrush. Rinse off your retainer properly before putting it back in your mouth.

RETAINER CLEANER: If you do not have the time to make a retainer cleaner yourself, there are so many retainer cleaners available in shops and they are affordable. Depending on your needs, your orthodontist may recommend a suitable retainer cleaner. It is important to follow the instructions on the packaging. Some retainer cleaners should not be used on certain types of retainers, some require overnight soaking of the retainer, and some might be too sensitive for your gums.


You should go for whatever retainer cleaner your orthodontist recommends, but if none is recommended, here is a list of some very good retainer cleaners you could try:

Retainer Brite: This remainder cleaning solution is recommended by a lot of dental personnel. It comes in the form of dissolvable tablets, it is inexpensive and easy to use. Soak your retainers into the dissolved tablet for a few minutes, remove, brush out any debris with a toothbrush and rinse. It doesn’t cause any form of discoloration, but rather keeps your retainers staying fresh and clean.

OAP Foam Cleaner: This is another easy-to-use retainer cleaner. It comes in the form of a gel or foam which you apply on the retainer, scrub, and rinse. No soaking is required, it is sulfate-free and great for people with sensitive gums.

DentaSoak: Another great retainer cleaner is the DentaSoak. It is great for cleaning any type of retainer and any dental appliances. You just mix it with cold water and soak your retainer for 15 minutes. It kills bacteria and eliminates any tarter or plaque build-up.

Signs You Need A New Retainer

“With the daily use of a retainer, they will naturally wear down over time. Most retainers last 1-2 years with proper care. When the time comes to replace your retainer, there are a few signs to look for. Yellow and white spots growing on your retainer are signs of bacteria that can be difficult to get rid of.

Some bacteria will be a challenge to remove, making the decision to buy an online retainer easier. Retainers that have been left out on a nightstand and have long-term exposure to sunlight will gradually weaken. If your retainer feels flimsy the material may be defective, making them useless in holding your teeth in place. When you need a replacement retainer, you can purchase a SportingSmiles retainer online.”


Yes, you can. White vinegar in particular is a gentle disinfectant that can remove odors and bacteria residues. To clean your retainer using vinegar, mix equal parts of both vinegar and warm water and soak your retainer in it for 20 minutes. You could use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the retainer if it is covered in a film or has white spots on it.


There are a lot of mixed opinions about this. Some people recommend brushing retainers with toothpaste, just as you brush your teeth, but most kinds of toothpaste contain abrasive compounds that though may be good for scrubbing the enamel, it is not great for retainers.

Your enamel is tough, but retainers are made with delicate materials and when toothpaste is used on it, it will damage the retainer. However, if you must use toothpaste to clean your retainer, it is best and safe to use non-whitening toothpaste.


Aside from cleaning your retainers with any of the cleaning tips provided in this article, there are other ways to care for your retainer.

Avoid the heat: The materials used in making retainers are delicate, so when exposed to heat, you could ruin them. When cleaning your retainer, use warm water, do not soak your retainer in boiling or very hot water.

Don’t use harsh chemicals: Cleaning agents such as bleach can be too harsh on your retainer and this can ruin it. Also, the harsh chemical may get absorbed by the retainer and dry out, so when you wear it back on you are causing more harm to yourself than when you didn’t clean the retainer.

Clean your retainer case: It doesn’t make any sense that you clean your retainer but do not clean your retainer case, because even your retainer case can accumulate bacteria and dirt. Try cleaning the case of your retainer at least once a day before putting your retainer away.

Replace retainers: Dentists recommend changing your toothbrush once every 3 months. There is no particular fixed deadline for retainers

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