How Do You Clean a Retainer? Tips and Tricks to Keep It Fresh

There are many different types of retainers and they can cost up to thousands of dollars. Retainers are used when braces are taken out to retain the correct position of your teeth.

If you want to retain that new smile then you want to make sure know how to clean a retainer and how to take good care of it so that it lasts. The fact that retainers are not all the same means that keeping them clean is not one solution fits all.

All retainers will wear out and need replacing eventually. However, if you clean your retainer in the right way you will save money in the long run and that will help keep a smile on your face. Here you will find tips and tricks that show you how to clean a retainer in the best way and stay fresh.

Quick Note - Retainer Types

All retainers have the same aim and that's to apply pressure on the tissues around your teeth. This pressure stops your teeth from returning to their old positions once your brace has gone. Retainers are made from several materials such as thermoplastics, acrylic, and metal.


Some retainers are permanent. This is not the same as a brace, however, part of the retainer has a metal wire that attaches to the back of the teeth. Permanent retainers are harder to clean as you cannot remove them yourself.


Removable retainers are the easiest to clean thoroughly. They're worn all day and night or for a set period of hours. There are numerous ways to clean this type of retainer.

Invisalign retainers are designed to be as discreet as possible. In fact, it would be hard for anyone to know you are wearing one because clear plastic is molded to fit your teeth. There are many cleaning methods for these retainers.

Some people wear a combination of both these types in which case you will benefit from knowing all of the cleaning tips below.

How to Clean a Permanent Retainer

If you have a permanent retainer then the best way to get it cleaned is by your dentist. If you want to limit the frequency of your visits and keep your retainer as clean as possible then you need to follow the tips below.

Tip 1 – Right Tool for the Job

Brush your teeth as normal but don’t stop there. Give extra attention to your retainer by getting a toothbrush designed to clean retainers. They will reach the spots your normal brush can't reach.

Tip 2 – Stop to Floss

Floss your teeth and retainer at least once a day. Flossing your teeth enables you to clean the difficult parts that you can’t reach with a toothbrush. This does involve a bit of time but if you want a clean retainer make sure you don’t skip flossing.

If you hate flossing then try products designed to make flossing as easy as possible such as Superfloss.  Superfloss will help you thread the floss through the retainer and your teeth as easily as possible.

Tip 3 - Interdental Brushes

If you have never heard of interdental brushes then this tip will change your life. The areas hardest to reach around your teeth are called interdental spaces. These interdental brushes reach those spaces due to the design of the bristles being so fine and small.

Interdental brushes are popular as they're so easy to use and carry around with you. Some people consider this method more effective than flossing.

How to Clean a Removable Retainer

There are both professional and home methods to clean your removable retainer. Check out the following 3 tips.

Tip 1 – Invest in a Ready to Go Solution

If you're always short on time and you're looking at how to clean a retainer then buy a professional solution. This may cost more but it will save you time. These cleaning solutions come in tablet, powder, or liquid form.

These professional cleaners are of different strengths. Some are for daily use, others are for deeper cleaning. So choose what's right for your lifestyle.

Tip 2 – Wipe and Go

Cleaning wipes and spray specifically designed for retainers are a very popular option. They're convenient and easy to use. Some people prefer them because you do not have to rely on being near the sink or using water.

Tip 3 – Cheap and Natural

Some people want to know how to clean a retainer naturally. If that's you, this tip is what you need.

Take warm water and vinegar in two equal parts. Let your retainer soak for between 10 and 30 minutes, then remove and brush with a soft brush. This is a natural and inexpensive way to clean your retainer.

How to Clean a Retainer that's Clear

To clean a retainer that's clear, you can use some methods mentioned for the permanent and removable retainers. Yet, there are some things you shouldn't do. Here are 2 tips for things to avoid when cleaning a clear retainer, like the Invisalign retainers, or other similar orthodontic retainers.

Tip 1 – Don't Scratch

The reason people choose a clear plastic retainer is that it's very hard to see you're wearing it. If you clean your clear retainer with a brush you will cause small scratches in the plastic. Over time those scratches will cause your retainer to lose its transparency.

Stay away from rough brushes, baking soda, and strong cleaning solutions to prevent this from happening. Mild dish soap or a specific clear retainer cleaning solution is best.

Tip 2 – Don't Boil the Water

Instinctively we might think using building water is the most hygienic option. If you plan on using water as part of your cleaning method, only ever use lukewarm water. Boiling water will damage the shape of your clear retainer. 

The shape of your clear retainer is unique to your mouth and is part of the secret to its low visibility. So make sure you use water at the right temperature and preserve this aspect of its design.

Time to Smile

In this article, you have read about some tips and tricks to clean a retainer no matter what type you're using. Not only that but you have learned about somethings you shouldn't do so as to protect your retainer.

If you follow these tips, you will be able to use your retainer to its fullest life potential and it will do the job is was designed to do. You will also feel less self-conscious and have the confidence that comes with oral freshness!

Check out some more articles on our site that support you in living a healthy lifestyle.