How To Clean Retainers : Tips you should not miss 2022

A retainer is a dental device that sits inside your mouth and the food and plaque on your retainer. Brushing keep your teeth clean and of course, your retainer needs to do that too.

If you are facing problems such as difficulty cleaning your retainers. And the question about how to clean retainers seems to be stuck in your head and you do not know how to solve it.

Don’t worry too much, this blog is for you. We will help you answer this question through simple explainations.

Now, here are some instructions to know how to clean retainers

How to Clean Retainers

Why Do You Have To Wear a Retainer?

There are many answers to this question but we will discuss them as easily as possible. When your braces have been removed, your teeth need support to stay in their new place. And the retainer will help you to do that. It will sit inside your mouth to help minimize movement for at least 12 months.

When a retainer is located in your mouth full time for a while, of course, it will attract a lot of bacteria and plaque and now your retainer can be considered as a home for them to accumulate.

If you do not know how to clean and take care of your retainers, you will get into trouble with this. And here’s more about the different types of retainers and the way to clean them.

How Many Different Types of Retainers? 

Retainers come in a variety of forms, including:

Hawley retainers

Hawley retainers are removable retainers made of hard plastic or acrylic plate connected by a thin metal wire. This retainer is very simple to clean and remove.

Clear Essix retainers

Essix retainers are a type of orthodontic retention device made of a clear material. When compared to Hawley retainers, it is easier to remove, but the durability is not as good as the former.

Hawley retainers & Essix retainers

Permanent or fixed retainers

A metal wire is bonded to the tongue side of your teeth to form permanent or fixed retainers. When you use this retainer, you can reduce the likelihood of your teeth shifting, but you can’t remove it until the time is right – which could be a few months or even years.

Permanent or fixed retainers

How to clean your retainer

Hawley and transparent plastic retainers

Hawley and plastic retainers can be easily removed and cleaned in the same manner. Here are some simple steps you can take to keep your retainer clean:

  1. To make sure that you can take it out of your mouth quickly. You don’t want to witness food or any debris be stuck and hardened in your retainer.
  2. You can use a brush that you use for your teeth and lukewarm water to brush any debris and plaque, and food after each meal.
  3. For a deeper clean, you can mix mild dish soap with lukewarm water and brush your retainer with this. We highly recommend you use a soft/denture toothbrush to make it cleaner.

Note: Do not use the toothpaste to brush your retainers to avoid damage from the abrasive ingredients in toothpaste.

  1. Use a soft cotton swab or denture brush to get into the deepest grooves and ridges
  2. Ask your dentist to gain more information about soaking your retainer in a denture cleaner. If they tell you that you need to soak, you might also be able to use them but read carefully and follow the instructions for timing.

If you have any problems with debris, ask your dentist to know more. They will have special solutions to help you.

Fixed retainers

Permanent retainers are attached to your teeth for months, even a year. So you have to follow instructions and take care of them carefully.

Because you can not remove your retainers so the only way to clean them is by flossing and brushing. You can use a piece of dental floss or floss threaders and use them to clean.

However, we receive a lot of feedback about the difficulty to clean retainers by flossing and brushing. If you have any problems, you can ask for help from your dentist. They can give you advice and provide tips that are suitable for your teeth.

How To Clean Retainers

6 tips for removable retainer care

1. Avoid heat

To keep your retainers in good condition, you should prevent them from heat. Heat can be created from many things in your home such as microwaves, dishwashers, dryers, etc.

2. Avoid the chemicals

Some people believe that using chemicals can easily eliminate bacteria and help retainers. In reality, in a study, many experts discovered that chemicals are not as efficient as customers think. The number of bacteria didn’t reduce more than using the traditional way – brushing.

3. Time your soak

As we mentioned above, you should soak your Hawley retainer at an appropriate time. Because some ingredients such as alcohol in your mouthwash can harm your retainer’s plastic.

Furthermore, to avoid factors that could harm the retainers and increase their durability, we highly recommend you mix equal mouthwash and lukewarm water when you want to clean it or make it fresher.

4. Clean your case

It’s important to clean your case twice a day every day. . This will remove any dust on your case. Just scrub all the surfaces in warm water and rinse them off. A clear case will help your retainer better.

5. Keep watch

Pets can touch anything they can see. Be sure that they can not find and play your retainers. If any part of your retainers is damaged, it can not be used and you will fail to wear it. They not only harm your retainers but also harm themselves. Pets such as dogs can eat and they may chew or choke on it.

Protecting your retainers means protecting your pets. Just keep them in the case and make sure that they will be safe somewhere from your dogs or your pets can find them.

6. Replace as needed

Retainers like Essix retainers may use for six months to a few years. When the plastic tends to wear out, it may be replaced. If you do not know the retainers’ condition, you might ask your dentist to asset it and give you a piece of advice.

The Best Recommendation Ingredients for Cleaning Your Retainer

Many people do not know what are the best ingredients for their cleaning retainers. Here are some of the best recommendation ingredients for making your retainer clean.

How to Clean Retainers with Baking Soda

Baking soda is not the best solution for your retainers but it is quite easy to find at the supermarket. Although this method has some disadvantages such as containing a lot of the ingredients that could harm the soldered metal parts in Hawley or fixed retainers, It is a good option for cleaning polyurethane or plastic retainers.

Because it won’t have any metal solder, and there are no chemical reactions between the baking soda mix and it.

Soaking your retainers for at least 15 minutes in a mix ( lukewarm water + baking soda) helps you inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and also reduce the odor associated with retainers.

The salt in the saline solution can help you draw out any debris that is stuck inside your retainers but we highly recommend you guys that don’t soak the retainer in this solution daily.

How to Clean Retainers with Baking Soda

How to Clean Retainers with White Vinegar

White Vinegar is just a gentle disinfectant that will keep your retainer clean and disinfected. Using it for a 15-minute soak once and rinsing your retainer to scrub away any mineral debris are recommended by a lot of dentists to help you reduce the time for your retainers.

However, because vinegar has a strong odor, please choose a disposable dish if you do not want to smell that.

How to Clean Retainers with White Vinegar

How to clean retainers with Water

Many people believe that the easiest way to remove any debris in your mouth is just to soak it in warm water for a few minutes but we think that you should add some Castile soap into the water to make sure that it is less toxic ingredients. And of course, try not to use ordinary soap to protect your retainers.

Another method that you can apply is to keep the retainers in your mouth and wash them by water. Fill your mouth with lukewarm water and soak for a minute. Finally, swish the water around and spit it out.

Squirt water out of a syringe and then blow it out with air pressure. This will aid in the removal of any food particles that have become lodged between the wires.

After cleaning the retainer, remove it and allow it to dry naturally or with a clean cloth.

FAQs- How To Clean Retainers

Can I Clean Retainers with a UV Sanitiser? 

For this question, we highly recommend you guys not to use this method. UV light can cause cell oxidation and it can harm the acrylic.  So our advice is that you should stay away from this method.

Are the Hydrogen Peroxide a good option for cleaning retainers? 

There are many recommendations to tell you guys that Hydrogen Peroxide is a good option for your retainers. Wrong, hydrogen peroxide should never be used. Why do we say that? It is the main factor in lead-free radical reactions and it is also a toxic ingredient.


The question about how to clean retainers will be solved if you follow our instruction above. It is not difficult for you to solve the problem how to clean retainers but you should read every single step carefully.

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