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How to Clean Your Retainer by Yourself

How to Clean Your Retainer by Yourself
With proper care, your retainer should last about 5 years. To ensure that your retainer will last as long as possible, you’ll want to clean it properly on a regular basis, typically at least once per week and as often as once per day if you’re using it often throughout the day (i.e., if you’re talking with it in). Luckily, cleaning your retainer by yourself is simple and doesn’t require much more than vinegar and warm water to get the job done right!

Find what you need

When cleaning your retainer at home, you’ll probably need a few tools. For example, if you have a wire retainer, be sure to have some wire cutters on hand. You’ll also want to get a soft toothbrush and a small cup of hot water (to warm up your retainer). If your retainer has removable trays, clean them separately with soap and water before putting them back in place. Finally, it’s important that you don’t submerge any part of your retainer in water. Always just dip it in hot water for 10 seconds or so. Let it dry completely before putting it back in!

Rinse your retainer with soap and water

Rinse your retainer under warm water after each time you wear it. Make sure you get rid of all residue, as bacteria can build up on your retainer if not cleaned properly. In order to thoroughly clean your retainer, it’s a good idea to use soap. Using a non-abrasive toothbrush is also a helpful addition; just remember that you don’t want any of these items coming into contact with parts of your teeth that are exposed—and especially not with rubber! Rubbing alcohol can also be used; just make sure you rinse it thoroughly before wearing again. Remember: cleaning your retainer regularly and carefully will help prevent issues like cavities or gingivitis from developing.

Use peroxide to disinfect it

If you really want to clean your retainer at home, start with a mild toothpaste and warm water. Brush off any food or debris you can, then soak your retainer in warm water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of salt for about 10 minutes. Next, scrub it gently with an old toothbrush (hard-bristled brushes can scratch) using a circular motion. Finally, rinse and dry it thoroughly. To disinfect your retainer: After cleaning your retainer, soak it in a small bowl filled with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide for about five minutes; hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria and breaks down plaque buildup inside your mouth—two things that are known to make retainers smell bad over time. Rinse well and air dry completely before putting it back in your mouth.

Keep track of your retainer’s cleaning schedule

You might be tempted to clean your retainer in your dishwasher, but that could damage it. It’s also a good idea to avoid cleaning it with toothpaste or mouthwash (as tempting as that might sound). Rather, soak your retainer in a solution of two cups water and one tablespoon baking soda for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and air dry. For an extra-thorough clean, take a toothbrush and some denture cleaner (or Listerine) and scrub away at all those hard-to-reach places where bacteria likes to hide. Don’t forget about rubber retainers—they need love too!

Clean your retainer regularly

While you don’t need to take your retainer out every night, it’s a good idea to clean your retainer at least once a week. You can do so using hydrogen peroxide or baking soda and water. Just be sure not to overdo it—if you use too much elbow grease, you can actually damage your retainer. Most dentists recommend that their patients clean their retainers under supervision once or twice a year. Whether you decide to clean at home or in a dental office, make sure you know how do it properly.


A retainer is a plastic device worn in your mouth that keeps your teeth in their right place. For some people, wearing a retainer 24/7 isn’t an option. If you can’t wear it during certain times of day or when doing specific activities, cleaning your retainer is especially important. Here are a few tips on how to clean retainers by yourself.


If you wear a retainer on your teeth to correct your bite, it’s important to know how to clean it and take care of it. Cleaning it can be done in the comfort of your own home, and can be done in just a few minutes! Following these steps above will ensure that your retainer stays as clean as possible, while also making sure you don’t damage or lose it in the process. 

If you want to avoid more appointments with your orthodontist, it’s important to keep your retainer clean. Fortunately, cleaning your retainer doesn’t require any special tools or products—just some time and attention. Follow this how-to guide on how to clean your retainer by yourself and keep your retainer in good shape.

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