How to Clean Your Invisalign Aligner Trays

Invisalign trays

As with any teeth realignment treatment, cleaning is an integral part of the upkeep. This involves cleaning both your teeth and any appliances that may be used as part of the treatment. With Invisalign, it’s vital to rinse and clean your aligner trays frequently and thoroughly. This Invisalign or braces comparison guide will help you decide which orthodontic method is best for you.

To ensure your Invisalign works in the best way possible, cleaning your retainers is fundamental. This article will outline everything you need to know about cleaning your Invisalign, with specialist advice and guidance from our cosmetic dentistry experts.

We’ll cover everything from cleaning routines to what cleaning products to use. So, if you’ve got any questions about caring for your Invisalign retainers, our comprehensive guide will help you find the answers. Although being less noticeable and easier to wear than braces, there are a few negatives to wearing Invisalign. This Invisalign or braces comparison guide will help you decide which orthodontic method is best for you.


Rinse your aligners with each removal

The first thing to remember about cleaning your Invisalign retainers is to rinse them every time you take them out. It’s not a hard process, but it’s an important one. Luckily, you won’t need to do this too often because you’ll have to keep your aligners in for a big portion of the day.

However, when you do take your Invisalign retainers out – for eating or drinking or special occasions – make sure you give them a thorough rinse each time. This prevents significant bacteria build-up which could cause tooth decay or other conditions that would require gum disease treatment.

So, although you won’t take your aligners out very much, it’s vital that you at least rinse them with lukewarm water every time. Warmer water cleans better, but if the water’s too warm it risks bending the retainer out of shape. A nice lukewarm rinse is all you need.


Cleaning vs rinsing your Invisalign retainers

In terms of Invisalign, cleaning and rinsing are very different things. It’s an important distinction to make if you want to keep your teeth happy and healthy during the course of your treatment.

The main difference between cleaning and rinsing is the depth of the process. Rinsing your retainers is good for short-term cleaning solutions, but you can’t rely on rinsing alone. Your aligners might appear clean, but a simple water rinse will neglect to rid them of potentially harmful bacteria.

If you don’t clean your Invisalign retainers thoroughly, the bacteria can build up and rot your teeth. As a result, cleaning your aligners is as important as cleaning your teeth. Make sure you both rinse and clean your Invisalign trays every day.


How often should you clean your Invisalign retainers?

To get the most out of your Invisalign treatment, make sure you regularly clean your retainers. You should do this twice daily, around the same time you brush your teeth and floss. This will help remove any lingering bits of food in your mouth and will significantly reduce the build-up of harmful bacteria.

But the cleaning routine isn’t just limited to this. In fact, it’s advisable to clean your aligner trays every time they appear dirty, such as after drinking something with staining capabilities. A thorough rinse is also advised each and every time you take your retainers out.

Failure to clean your aligners regularly may result in toothache, tooth decay, discolouration of the teeth, and bad breath.


Caring for your aligners

Even though your Invisalign retainers will need replacing every 2-5 weeks, you should still care for them like a valuable possession. Routine cleaning and rinsing is an important part of maintaining your aligners so that they function in the best way possible.

As part of this care, you must avoid eating or drinking with your retainers in. Take them out every time you do so and rinse the aligners with water each time. This is to avoid encouraging bacteria build-up in the retainers and staining the appliance.

If you’re a smoker, never smoke with your Invisalign retainers in. This will stain and potentially damage your aligners. Try to avoid removing them as much as possible, but where it’s unavoidable, rinse every time.


How to clean Invisalign braces with household ingredients

Are you unsure of what you can use to safely and effectively clean your Invisalign retainers? You don’t necessarily have to splash out on the branded cleaning products that Invisalign offer.

Instead, there are a number of household items you can use to clean your retainers just as capably. Most can be picked up very easily from your local supermarket, meaning you don’t have to break the bank to find effective cleaning solutions. Check out some of the household ingredients you can use to clean your Invisalign retainers below.


Antibacterial soap

Using a colourless, odourless antibacterial soap can clean Invisalign braces as effectively as toothpaste. In fact, many people use it in place of toothpaste, which divides opinions on its harmfulness to the plastic trays. Some sites say toothpaste is ok, while others advise steering clear of it. Generally, though, a non-abrasive toothpaste is safe to use.

But as an alternative to toothpaste, try using antibacterial soap. It’s relatively cheap to pick up from a supermarket and easy to apply. You only need a few squirts and then you can begin to clean your retainer with a toothbrush. Of course, you’ll want to rinse your aligners with warm water afterwards to avoid tasting soap for the next few hours!


Baking soda

Chefs, bakers, and those who enjoy cooking already know that baking soda works wonders when cleaning kitchen utensils. But did you know you can apply its cleaning properties to your Invisalign retainers too?

There are two ways you can use baking soda to clean your aligners. The first is by dissolving a spoonful of baking soda in lukewarm water and soaking your retainers in the solution for around 30 minutes. This should give the liquid enough time to eat away at the bacteria and plaque on your aligner trays.

The second method is by making a baking soda paste. Here, you’ll need far less water. Add a few drops of lukewarm water to a spoonful of baking soda and create a paste-like substance. Rub this into your retainers using a toothbrush in gentle circular motions, taking care to avoid brushing too hard. Once you’ve covered every surface, rinse thoroughly with water.



Vinegar – specifically distilled white vinegar – is a cheap yet effective way of removing plaque and bacteria from your Invisalign retainers. What’s more, it’s entirely safe to use, despite its high acidic content.

When using vinegar, always mix it with water to create a solution that’s one part vinegar, three parts water. Use lukewarm water and combine the two ingredients before applying the liquid to your retainers. You can then start to gently clean your aligners with a toothbrush, rubbing in the vinegar-water combo.

Once you’ve brushed it, soak your retainers in the mixed solution of vinegar and water for around 15-20 minutes. This would be a great time to eat a meal or have a cup of coffee. After the allotted time, thoroughly rinse your retainers with water.


Hydrogen Peroxide

Another method of cleaning your Invisalign retainers is to use a chemical called hydrogen peroxide. It’s a colourless, syrupy liquid that easily separates into water and oxygen, and is used as a cleaning agent or antiseptic for many purposes.

In a glass or bowl, mix together equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water. Drop your retainers into the solution and let them sit for around 20-30 minutes. Once you remove your retainers, be sure to rinse them thoroughly, as hydrogen peroxide is highly dangerous when ingested.



You can use mouthwash to clean your Invisalign trays, but there are so many things to avoid and remember that most people prefer to clean their retainers using another method. That said, if you find a suitable mouthwash, using a little with water and a toothbrush can be a good way to clean your aligners.

You should avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol, as this can be damaging to your retainers. Also, take care to avoid coloured mouthwashes, as the bright greens and blues can stain your aligners and leave a bad taste in there. Always rinse your Invisalign trays with warm water after using mouthwash.


A step-by-step guide to cleaning Invisalign retainers

It can be daunting being thrust into a strict cleaning routine for your retainers, especially when you aren’t used to it. Naturally, you’re bound to slip up from time to time, but don’t worry if that happens. If you forget any part of your routine, our step-by-step guide can help.

Below, we’ve outlined four important steps to remember when caring for your retainers to ensure they are cleaned in the most effective way possible.


Clean the trays twice daily

It’s important you get into a routine when cleaning your Invisalign trays, as this will help you to keep them in the best shape possible. We recommend cleaning your retainers twice daily, once in the morning and once before bed.

You can use a variety of products and methods to clean your retainers, including a toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, and effervescent tablets. However, dentists advise using a combination of brushing and tablets for maximum cleaning potential.


Remove the aligners when eating and drinking

But what about all the time in between the two main cleaning sessions? Naturally, you’re going to want to eat and drink during the day and when you do, remember to take your Invisalign trays out.

Never eat or drink with your retainers in, and always remember to rinse them each and every time you take them out. This will keep your aligners free from stains and remove any bacteria that accumulates inside them throughout the day.


Soak the trays

For a deeper cleansing method, it’s recommended you soak your Invisalign trays in water. You can do this while cleaning your teeth or when eating a meal, and it’s a great habit to get into.

But soaking your trays in lukewarm water alone won’t be enough, as this doesn’t do much to get rid of the bacteria infesting your retainers. As such, we recommend dissolving an effervescent tablet in water and soaking your trays in this.

The tablets are a specialised method for cleaning Invisalign trays – ask your doctor or dentist to provide you with them. They should contain sodium carbonate and sulphate crystals, which harmlessly yet thoroughly clean your aligners. Recently published research suggests this is the most effective way of cleaning your Invisalign retainers.


Keep your aligners safe

Treat your Invisalign retainers like a valuable possession. They are worth quite a lot of money, after all. If you lose your retainers, it can cost you more to replace them and delay the treatment process. This is why you should keep your Invisalign retainers safe whenever you’re not wearing them by placing them in their accompanying plastic case.


What cleaning products should you avoid with Invisalign?

There are many products that are unsuitable for cleaning your Invisalign retainers. Most of these you’ll be able to identify using simple common sense (you wouldn’t use bleach to clean your retainers, for example), but there’ll be a few on this list that you might not have thought of.

While it’s safe to use certain soaps and cleaning agents on your aligners, other brands – particularly scented ones – should be avoided. Certain toothpastes are also allowed, while others are not.

Here are some cleaning products you should avoid using on your Invisalign retainers:

  • Abrasive toothpastes
  • Coloured or alcoholic mouthwashes
  • Aromatic or scented soaps
  • Harsh soaps
  • Washing-up liquid and dishwasher soaps
  • Harsh denture cleaners

You should avoid using these cleaning agents because of the potential for discolouration and damage to your aligners. Anything scented or coloured can stain your retainers and leave you with teeth the colour of mouthwash! Not to mention the fact that your Invisalign trays will have a nasty taste to them after a while.


Invisalign on the go: Travelling with your trays

Invisalign is a practical treatment that gives you a lot of flexibility and comfort. However, your retainers will likely need replacing every 2-3 weeks, meaning you’ll have to plan ahead if you’re going away on a long trip. Backpacking and extended travelling is particularly difficult during Invisalign treatment.

As a result, a little foresight is necessary. If you’ve got a long vacation planned, make sure you can get access to your future Invisalign retainers. Either pack your new ones with you, or have them sent to you wherever you are in the world. This way, your treatment will have no disruptions or delays.


Book a complimentary Invisalign consultation today!

We hope this guide has been helpful in assisting you with any Invisalign cleaning queries you had. To find out more information on Invisalign, book a consultation with us today at Dentistry in Canterbury and we’ll arrange a complimentary meeting to walk you through the entire Invisalign process.

Still unsure of whether Invisalign is right for you? Contact us today or visit our Invisalign® open day to discover your way to a perfect smile!