How to Clean Invisalign® Retainers

Girl smiling while holding Invisalign aligner Thoroughly cleaning the aligning trays should be part of anyone’s daily routine who has Invisalign®, but using the wrong cleaning method can potentially ruin the trays and cost you hundreds of dollars. Our staff here at Coastal Dental in Point Pleasant, NJ have compiled a list of the best and worst ways to clean Invisalign® retainers to help you maintain a healthy smile

How To Clean Invisalign® Retainers

Using Invisalign® to straighten your teeth requires a lot of responsibility. Not only do patients need to take care of the aligners, but properly care for their teeth before aligners are put back in after eating. Keeping Invisalign® trays clean is a vital part of maintaining a healthy mouth and keeping the trays discreet. Failure to properly clean them will cause bacteria to build on them and may lead to cavities or periodontal disease.

How To Clean Invisalign® Retainers (at Home!)

Patients have several options for cleaning their Invisalign® aligning trays. Some options are slightly more time-intensive, so keep that in mind when choosing a method, as rushing could result in inadequate cleaning.

Invisalign® Cleaning Crystals

While there are several retainer cleaners on the market, we recommend using the Invisalign® cleaning crystals since they are safe and won’t damage the aligning trays. In addition to proven success, these cleaning crystals are an easy way to clean the retainers. Since they come with detailed instructions and single-use packets, there is no guesswork required when creating an effective mixture. Using these is as simple as pouring a crystal packet into the specified amount of water and letting the trays soak in the solution for about 15 minutes.

Toothbrush and Mild Soap

Using a toothbrush and a mild soap is one of the quickest ways to clean Invisalign® retainers, but not just any toothbrush and soap will suffice. A soft-bristled brush and non-abrasive clear soap must be used to prevent scratching the aligners. Put the soap on the brush like toothpaste and lightly brush the aligners all over. Even with a soft-bristled brush and non-abrasive soap, brushing too hard will put tiny scratches on the trays and reduce their transparency. Additionally, colored soap may also affect transparency as it could stain the trays. This cleaning method will take about five minutes.

White Vinegar & Water Soak

White vinegar is a great way to clean and disinfect Invisalign® retainers without staining them. Because white vinegar is clear, it won’t stain the aligners like apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. To effectively clean Invisalign® aligners with white vinegar, dilute with water. The recommended mixture consists of between 25% and 50% vinegar, so the acid in the vinegar does not damage the trays. For the best results, use lukewarm or room-temperature filtered or distilled water in the mixture, and let them soak for about 20 minutes as part of a nightly routine.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Due to its disinfecting properties, hydrogen peroxide is a great way to thoroughly clean Invisalign® aligners. Mix a 50/50 ratio of hydrogen peroxide and room temperature or lukewarm water, then soak aligning trays for 20-30 minutes.

How Not To Clean Invisalign® Retainers

While there are many great ways to clean Invisalign® retainers, there are also a few things you should avoid using. The items below could affect the transparency and fit of your Invisalign® aligners.
  • Denture Cleaner – Denture cleaner is too harsh to use on Invisalign® trays and can cause them to take on a hazy appearance
  • Toothpaste – Most toothpaste has an abrasive ingredient to help scrub away plaque from teeth, but the plastic used in the retainers is much too soft to use this type of abrasion
Using toothpaste on them will create tiny scratches on the trays and cause them to be less clear, which creates areas where bacteria can more easily grow
  • Scented Soap – Mild and scent-free soaps are recommended because scented soaps can leave a very bitter taste and encourage patients to keep them out of their mouths longer than they should
  • Mouthwash – Most mouthwashes are colored and a lot contain alcohol. Both are things to stay away from when cleaning aligning trays. The color in the mouthwash can very easily stain the trays, while the alcohol can have a similar effect on them as denture cleaner
  • Hot Water – Most aligners, including Invisalign®, are made from a thin plastic that can warp with heat. If this happens, the retainers will no longer fit correctly and may even cause negative progress in the aligning process

How Often Should I Clean Invisalign® Aligners?

It’s best to clean your Invisalign® aligners every day, just like you’re supposed to do to maintain good oral hygiene. You can clean them while you brush your teeth or when you’re eating.

How Can I Get Stains Out of Invisalign® Aligners?

If your aligners got stained either from not properly brushing your teeth after eating teeth-staining foods, or from improper cleaning techniques, some of the methods above may work to get the stains out. For example, white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide solutions can work well as stain removers. However, you may have stained your aligners to a point where it’s not possible to get them fully transparent again. In this case, you’ll either have to wait it out until it’s time for your next set of aligners, or ask your dentist if they could make you a new set of your current aligners.

Invisalign® In Point Pleasant, NJ

If you want to achieve the smile of your dreams, schedule a consultation and join the millions that have trusted Invisalign® to help them regain their confidence.

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Zicchino provides a wide array of cosmetic dentistry services, including Invisalign® Clear Aligners, at his practice in Point Pleasant, NJ. He earned his dental degree from NYU Dental School and established Coastal Dental Group in 2004. For more information call (732) 714-1030 or to schedule an appointment!