What Can I Soak My Retainer In?

Medically Reviewed on 11/17/2021

6 preparations for soaking your retainer

how clean retainer
Learn the 6 best preparations for soaking your retainer, which include vinegar solution, denture cleaner, and non-alcoholic mouthwash.

Like your teeth, your retainer is prone to plaque and bacteria buildup on it, necessitating the need to clean it frequently.

Household products and commercial preparations used for soaking and cleaning retainers include:

  1. Vinegar solution:
    • Put your retainer in a shallow cup and pour vinegar into it until the retainer is fully submerged.
    • Allow the retainer to soak in the solution for two to five minutes.
    • Take it out and clean it thoroughly with a toothbrush.
    • Rinse it with cold or warm water.
    • Use this method to clean the retainer one time a week.
  2. Denture cleaner:
    • You can purchase denture cleaners over the counter at most drug stores, which come in various forms such as cream, powder, liquid, or tablet.
    • Allow the retainer to soak in denture cleaner for about 15 minutes or look for the recommended time on the label.
    • Remove the retainer and rinse it to use it again.
  3. Non-alcoholic mouthwash:
    • There are two types of mouthwash in the market, namely, alcoholic and nonalcoholic. Avoid using alcoholic mouthwash for cleaning your retainer because it can degrade the plastic mold of the retainer.
    • Soak the retainer in non-alcoholic mouthwash for a minimum of 30 minutes.
    • After the retainer has been soaked for the allotted time, remove it and rinse.
  4. Castile soap:
    • Castile soap is a combination of olive oil and coconut oil, which is gentler than other soaps.
    • Make castile soap solution by dissolving a bit of liquid castile soap in warm water.
    • Submerge the retainer in the castile soap solution followed by cleaning it with a clean toothbrush.
    • Rinse the excess castile soap solution off with cold or warm water.
  5. Baking soda:
    • Make a paste of half-part baking soda and half-part distilled water similar to the consistency of toothpaste.
    • Scrub your retainer with this paste and rinse it off for using it again.
  6. Retainer cleaner:
    • If you do not have time to make your cleaning solution at home, you can ask your dentist about a store-bought retainer cleaner suited to your needs.
    • The store-bought variety often contains antibacterial agents that help keep the retainer clean. This antibacterial solution is best used only one or two times per week.

Important tips for cleaning your retainer

A retainer needs maintenance to prevent it from premature damage. Here are a few tips to remember:

  • Always keep your retainer moist. Drying will cause tartar and biofilm to build on the retainer. Keep it in your mouth or soak it in liquids such as distilled water. You must clean the retainer every day with plain water and a dentist-recommended solution.
  • You can take your retainer to your dentist if you think your retainer needs special cleaning. The dentist can disinfect it and use special sonic devices and cleaning solutions to clean it in a better way without using toxic or harsh chemicals.
  • Rinse or clean the retainer before placing it in your mouth. Avoid using toothpaste to clean the retainer because it may cause abrasions on its surface.
  • Never use hot water for soaking or cleaning your retainer. It may warp the plastic material.

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Medically Reviewed on 11/17/2021
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Chang CS, Al-Awadi S, Ready D, Noar J. An assessment of the effectiveness of mechanical and chemical cleaning of Essix orthodontic retainer. J Orthod. 2014 Jun;41(2):110-117.

Dental braces. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/braces/about/pac-20384607

Albanna RH, Farawanah HM, Aldrees AM. Microbial evaluation of the effectiveness of different methods for cleansing clear orthodontic retainers: A randomized clinical trial. Angle Orthod. 2017 May;87(3):460-465.