How to Clean Clear Retainers

Once you get those annoying braces off your teeth, your dentist will likely recommend you wear a retainer for some time to help keep the teeth in place. A clear plastic retainer goes over your teeth, which means it’s exposed to plaque, tartar and bacteria from your mouth. This can lead to the retainer starting to smell, which then leads to bad breath. Break this nasty cycle by cleaning your retainer each day.

If your retainer develops an odor that isn't removed by cleaning it, see your dentist for causes and remedies. (Image: dolgachov/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Rinse the retainer under warm water every time you remove it from your mouth.

Step 2

Scrub the retainer with a toothbrush and mild dish soap. Don’t use the same toothbrush you use on your teeth; instead, designate a toothbrush specifically for cleaning your retainer. Brush all along the inside and outside of the retainer with the toothbrush and dish soap. Rinse well under warm water before placing it back in your mouth.

Step 3

Use baking soda as an alternative cleaner for a clear retainer. This is especially effective if your retainer smells foul. Wet a toothbrush with water, and sprinkle baking soda onto the brush. Scrub the inside and outside of the retainer with the baking soda. Rinse the retainer well with warm water.

Step 4

Soak your retainer in a glass with 10 parts water and one part chlorine bleach as another alternative. Let it soak for five to 10 minutes, then rinse it very well under warm water before placing it back into your mouth.

Things You'll Need

  • Toothbrush

  • Mild dish soap

  • Baking soda

  • Glass

  • Chlorine bleach


Don’t let your retainer dry out. If it’s not in your mouth, leave it soaking in a glass of distilled water to keep it moist. When the retainer dries out, tartar bonds to the retainer and is difficult to remove.

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