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Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Clear Aligner Trays or Retainer

clear retainers

Grayslake, IL – If you opted for clear aligner therapy to get the smile of your dreams, you probably did so because of the highly discreet nature of using a clear aligner system. The aligners are made of a clear plastic, allowing them to become virtually invisible when in place. But to keep them that way and to keep your treatment on track, it’s important to take proper care of them.

Once treatment is completed, you’ll be provided a retainer to ensure your new smile stays exactly where it should. The guidelines for carrying for your retainer are the same as caring for your clear aligners.

Dr. Michael Stosich of Stosich Consulting treats patients in Wilmette-Kenilworth as well as Grayslake and Round Lake area using both Invisalign and iD Clear Aligners by SureSmile. He offers these tips to keep your aligners and retainer clean and prevent them from becoming scratched or damaged.


Do’s of cleaning your aligners:

  1. Clean your aligners or retainer every day. Food and bacteria can build up on them just as they do your teeth, leading to the development of plaque. This film can make them become more visible in your mouth and can wreak havoc on your smile if not taken care of.
  2. Use the right type of cleaner to keep your aligners or retainer fresh. Retainer cleaners or a clear, anti-bacterial soap are great options.
  3. Soak your aligners or retainer. Retainer cleaner or special aligner crystals can work to remove any debris that has built up on them. A great time to soak them is during a meal, such as lunch or dinner, when the aligners or retainer are already out of your mouth.
  4. Brush your aligners or retainer using a soft-bristled toothbrush and clear, anti-bacterial soap.
  5. Rinse your aligners or retainer well and dry them before placing them back in your mouth.
  6. Brush and floss your teeth regularly, especially after meals and snacks. One of the best ways to keep your aligners or retainer clean is to stay on top of your oral health. If you aren’t taking the time to brush away the food debris left over after eating, it stays in place and even gets trapped under your aligners or retainer. Over time, this can lead to oral health issues.
  7. If your aligners or retainer happen to get stained, remove the stains safely and without using harsh chemicals. Gentle options to remove stains include soaking in a 50/50 mix of water and hydrogen peroxide or water and vinegar, or gently brushing with water and baking soda.


Don’ts of cleaning your aligners

  1. Never eat or drink anything other than plain water with your aligners or retainer in. Food and drink and stain or can cause damage to the plastic.
  2. When your aligners or retainer are not in your mouth, be sure they are in a secure container. Leaving them exposed can lead to bacteria, dirt or other debris getting on them. And you wouldn’t be the first patient to give the excuse “my dog ate my appliance!”
  3. Never use hot water to clean your aligners or retainer. High temperatures can warp the plastic, altering their fit.
  4. Don’t use toothpaste to clean your aligners or retainer. Toothpaste works great on your teeth but can damage your aligners or retainer. Toothpaste is intended to have some grit to it, which is excellent for removing stains and plaque build-up from our teeth but can scratch or damage your aligners or retainer.
  5. Avoid scented or colored cleaners to clean them. Colored soaps can tint your aligners or retainer, which will make them more visible and make your teeth look discolored. Scented soaps often leave behind residue.

Clear aligners are an excellent orthodontic treatment option for many patients, and retainers after treatment work to ensure your smile stays where it should. In order to keep your aligners or retainer clean so they can remain invisible in your mouth, it’s important to take proper care of them. Following these tips can keep them clean and fresh, and ensure your treatment stays on track.


  • Michael S. Stosich, DMD, MS, MS

    Dr. Michael Stosich is a board-certified orthodontist and the director of orthodontics at the University of Chicago Medicine. He is known for his extensive experience in leading clinical enterprises, publishing, and lecturing both in the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Stosich has expertise in starting, growing, and maintaining successful orthodontic practices, including those in pediatric dentistry, general dentistry, and multi-specialty clinics. He serves on the editorial board of several publications and has been involved in innovating patient care and education, focusing on the future of dental and orthodontic healthcare.

Stosich Consulting