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  7. 9 Best Retainer Cleaners in 2022 (Dental Hygienist-Reviewed)
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9 Best Retainer Cleaners in 2022 (Dental Hygienist-Reviewed)

If you’ve ever worn a retainer or clear aligner, there have definitely been times when you’ve noticed strange odors or unsettling build-up on it, no matter how well you’ve rinsed or brushed it. But it’s not your fault. Retainers are full of nooks and crannies that can be hard to clean, so it’s a good idea to look for a cleaner that’s specifically made to handle that task. But it can be hard to pick and find what will work for you

In this guide, prepared with Dental Hygienist Jaeyoung Yoo, we’ll go over the factors you should consider when choosing a retainer cleaner that’s right for you, plus a tip for keeping your retainers in tip-top condition. We’ve also got a list of our 9 favorites to help you get started, with guardClean's Mouthguard, Aligner and Retainer Cleaning Spray taking our number one spot. Read on to find out why!
Last updated 2023/01/16
Expert
Dental Hygienist
Jaeyoung Yoo

Jaeyoung is an oral health educator and dental disease preventer passionate about paving the way for patients to embark on their journey to proper oral hygiene. She graduated from UNC School of Dentistry in 2018 and served on the UNC SOD SPURGEON Student Government. She's always trying to keep up with new dental research articles and products to help her patients choose compatible products that work with their lifestyles. She's also a coffee lover and mom to two Bengal cats and multiple plants!

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Why Do You Need a Retainer Cleaner?

Dental Hygienist Jaeyoung Yoo evaluates what retainers are for and why you need to be careful when taking care of them.

Retainers Retain Teeth Shape

Retainers Retain Teeth Shape

There are three different types of retainers: Hawley retainers, clear plastic retainers (Essix, Vivera, or others), or fixed or bonded retainers. In this article, we will discuss how to keep plastic retainers clean.


After the long journey of orthodontics treatment, your orthodontist will make you a retainer that is needed to retain the shape and position of all your teeth. Some people also have retainers to wear at night to prevent jaw pain from clenching and grinding.

Clean Them to Maintain Fresh Breath

Clean Them to Maintain Fresh Breath

We all have bacteria in our mouths, but we keep our oral health in good shape by flossing and brushing. The retainers hug your teeth tightly, so your teeth can quickly build up bacteria and tartar. These bacteria, or plaque, will get into the grooves and buildup in the retainers while in usage and can lead to strange odors and gunk buildup. 


Retainers can also get stained easily. It's important that patients keep their retainers clean for fresher breath and a healthier mouth. Brushing the retainers alone or soaking them in mouthwash will not get rid of the stains and all of the bacteria.


In fact, soaking retainers in mouthwash that contains alcohol can harm your retainers' plastic structure. To effectively remove bacteria and stains in retainers, a retainer cleaner is needed. Another benefit of using a retainer cleaner would be to kill cocci bacteria.


According to a study on Essix retainers, researchers found that tablets were effective at removing Streptococcus bacteria which causes strep throat. Take a look below for suggestions on what kinds of products you can buy to clean your retainers!

How to Choose a Retainer Cleaner

Here, we'll be introducing the following three important points to check when you choose a retainer cleaner.

Points to Consider:

  1. Make Sure It's Compatible With Your Retainers
  2. Pick a Type Based on Convenience
  3. Avoid Persulfates When Possible

① Make Sure It's Compatible With Your Retainers

Make Sure It's Compatible With Your Retainers
Many people think that denture cleaners can also be used to clean retainers, and that’s true–sometimes. Denture cleaners that require scrubbing are usually too abrasive for retainers and could scratch them. Instead, look for cleaners that signify they’re made with retainers in mind to prevent any accidental damage.


As for differences between retainers, most retainer cleaners work well for both clear plastic tray retainers as well as the ones with the metal bar. As with the denture cleaners though, be sure to read the box to make sure that it’s compatible as some application types are more difficult to use on one type versus another.

Jaeyoung Yoo
Dental Hygienist
Jaeyoung Yoo's Comment

Just as there are many different types of toothpastes and toothbrushes, there are many different types of retainer cleaners in the market. It can get overwhelming to try to pick the right one.

② Pick a Type Based on Convenience

There are a few different types of retainer cleaners, and which one will be best for you largely depends on what’s the most convenient for you.

For Hands Off Soaking, Look for Tablets, Powders, and Concentrates

For Hands Off Soaking, Look for Tablets, Powders, and Concentrates
Tablets and powders are probably the most common. These require you to mix them with water and soak your retainer for up to 15 minutes before rinsing them off. They’re easy to travel with and take up very little space.


Concentrated pastes are also available and work in much the same way. However, you do have to be sure to remove them after the specified time, especially if the solution is on the stronger side.

Jaeyoung Yoo
Dental Hygienist
Jaeyoung Yoo's Comment

Hands off soaking, specifically the Brite brand, is my personal favorite option. One trick I have with the tablet is you can break the tabs apart and use them that way. For example, I use half of the Brite tab and soak my retainers in for 20 minutes. This saves money and, from my experience, it cleans just as well as using a whole tablet.

For a Faster but More Hands-On Cleaning, Look for Sprays, Pastes, and Wipes

For a Faster but More Hands-On Cleaning, Look for Sprays, Pastes, and Wipes
Sprays, pastes, and wipes are less common and more involved than tablets and powders but tend to work faster. With sprays, you spray your retainer, let it set for a few minutes, and give it a quick brushing before rinsing it off.


Pastes work much like a less abrasive toothpaste—just add it to your toothbrush and brush down your retainer. For sprays and pastes, how well they travel depends largely on the size.


Wipes probably require the least amount of fuss. Simply use it to wipe down your retainer and rinse. Naturally, they’re very easy to travel with.

Jaeyoung Yoo
Dental Hygienist
Jaeyoung Yoo's Comment

A less common method to clean retainers would be sprays and wipes, but they work on the spot as a temporary solution.

③ Avoid Persulfates When Possible

Avoid Persulfates When Possible
Persulfates are one of the main ingredients in many retainer and denture cleaners, but some people have issues with sensitivities and allergies. Should you be sensitive to it, it can lead to issues like sensitive gums, hives, and breathing problems.


While this can largely be avoided by rinsing your retainer thoroughly after cleaning it, you might also want to consider just getting a cleaner without persulfates for peace of mind.

Jaeyoung Yoo
Dental Hygienist
Jaeyoung Yoo's Comment

Persulfates do not belong in the mouth or in the body, but some retainers cleaners have them listed as their main ingredient. 


Gum tenderness and tissue damage could occur if persulfates make contact with the mouth or, even worse, if they are swallowed. If you have an allergy to persulfates I would actively look in the ingredient list and make sure that it is not listed.

9 Best Retainer Cleaners

Here are our top 9 picks for retainer cleaners that come in all different forms. It includes a lot of persulfate-free options, too!
Products
Image
Click to purchase
Points
1

guardClean

Mouthguard, Aligner and Retainer Cleaning Spray

guardClean Mouthguard, Aligner and Retainer Cleaning Spray 1枚目

Our Best Pick! An All-Natural Spray Cleaner With Peppermint Oil

2

DentaSOAK

Mouthpiece, Retainer, Denture, & Appliance Cleaner

DentaSOAK Mouthpiece, Retainer, Denture, & Appliance Cleaner 1枚目

Gentle, Non-Toxic Week-Long Cleaner

3

Regent Labs

Kleenite Multipurpose Dental Cleanser

Regent Labs Kleenite Multipurpose Dental Cleanser 1枚目

Adjust Amount and Time Based on Cleaning Needs

4

Fresh Guard by Efferdent

Soak for Guards, Retainers & Clear Braces

Fresh Guard by Efferdent Soak for Guards, Retainers & Clear Braces 1枚目

Convenient Powder for Retainer Nooks and Crannies

5

EverSmile

WhiteFoam Clear Retainer Cleaner

EverSmile WhiteFoam Clear Retainer Cleaner 1枚目

No Soaking or Rinsing Required for Easy Cleaning

6

OAP

Anti-Bacterial Cleaning Solution

OAP Anti-Bacterial Cleaning Solution 1枚目

Foaming Cleaner That Works in Just One Minute!

7

Smile Again

Retainer Cleaner and Disinfectant

Smile Again Retainer Cleaner and Disinfectant 1枚目

Candida-Killing Solution That Lasts for More Than a Week

8

Avistar

Retainer & Denture Cleaning Tablets

Avistar Retainer & Denture Cleaning Tablets 1枚目

5 Months of Easy-To-Pack Cleaning

9

Retainer Brite

Cleaning Tablets

Retainer Brite Cleaning Tablets 1枚目

Convenient Tablets for Everyday Use

Product details
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No.1

guardCleanMouthguard, Aligner and Retainer Cleaning Spray

$8.99

Our Best Pick! An All-Natural Spray Cleaner With Peppermint Oil

Features:
  • works in just 2 minutes to clean plaque, stains, odor, and food residue
  • sugar-, additive-, chemical-, alcohol-, peroxide-, and artificial ingredient-free
  • only contains ingredients that you might also find in foods and plant-based cleansers
  • peppermint oil to leave you feeling fresh
  • comes in a spray bottle to use easily and on-the-go
  • 1 bottle will last between 1 to 2 months

Recommended for:

  • fast-working, simple application, and leaves your retainers feelings fresh

This all-natural cleaning spray does require some brushing, so it’s a bit more involved than other methods, but it works fast and keeps you feeling fresh. Critical reviewers did not see a remarkable difference between using this product compared to cleaning with water. However, most reviewers liked how easy it is to use guardClean and how portable it is.

No.2

DentaSOAKMouthpiece, Retainer, Denture, & Appliance Cleaner

$19.95

Gentle, Non-Toxic Week-Long Cleaner

Features:
  • set of powder and liquid that you mix together
  • gentle, non-toxic ingredients and alcohol-, toxin-, persulfate-, and harmful chemical-free
  • kills candida albicans, other oral microbes, and infection-causing bacteria 
  • takes 15 minutes to clean
  • use for up to a week

Recommended for:

  • people who want to clean their retainers less frequently but still thoroughly

This cleaner might leave a slight blue tinge on clear aligners and some reviewers note that mixing the two packets together does require attention–though you do only have to do it once a week. But reviewers who like the product mention that it is easy to use and works well. Some of their orthodontists even recommended this brand to them!

No.3

Regent LabsKleenite Multipurpose Dental Cleanser

$8.95

Adjust Amount and Time Based on Cleaning Needs

Features:
  • can be used for retainers, dentures, mouth guards, and metal partials
  • comes as a large container of powdery crystals that you measure out by the capful
  • contains enough for 90 cleanings
  • measure the amount of powder yourself
  • gentle enough to leave your retainer in overnight
  • cleans very efficiently even when soaking for just 10 minutes

Recommended for:

  • regular, long-term use and for long, cleaning soaks for your retainers

While this may not be the easiest product to travel with, the measure yourself system makes it easy to adjust the amount added depending on how heavy your stains are. Reviewers like that you can leave your retainers in the solution for as long as you like without it having any damaging effects.

No.4

Fresh Guard by EfferdentSoak for Guards, Retainers & Clear Braces

$6.19

Convenient Powder for Retainer Nooks and Crannies

Features:
  • works within 5 minutes
  • comes in 24 pre-portioned packets—no crushing or spilling when traveling
  • solution turns from blue to clear to indicate when it's done
  • great at cleaning the small nooks and crannies in your retainer

Recommended for:

  • travel-friendly and convenient indicator of when to take out your retainers

This cleaning powder comes in pre-portioned packets that are easy to travel with. However, reviewers note that it does have a rather strong odor and that you should definitely rinse well before putting your retainer in your mouth after cleaning. Most reviewers do say the product works well as advertised and keeps their mouthguards and retainers feeling clean and fresh.

No.5

EverSmileWhiteFoam Clear Retainer Cleaner

$19.98

No Soaking or Rinsing Required for Easy Cleaning

Features:
  • works while you wear your retainer
  • formulated with teeth whitening powder
  • kills 99.99% of germs causing bad breath
  • hydrogen peroxide to sanitize your clear aligners
  • no need to soak or rinse—simply apply, wear, and go

Recommended for:

  • daytime use, and for being highly efficient and convenient by working while you use your retainer

Since this it works while you use your retainer, you can straighten your teeth and clean your retainers at the same time! Reviewers note that while it doesn’t really whiten your teeth, it does do a great job of keeping your retainer feeling fresh all day and preventing any unwanted odors.

No.6

Foaming Cleaner That Works in Just One Minute!

Features:
  • works within a minute, making it easy to fit into your schedule
  • 1 bottle lasts for 45 days
  • contains no persulfates
  • eliminates 99.9% of bacteria, germs, microbes, and viruses

Recommended for:

  • fast-cleaning on clear-colored retainers —they especially work well on Invisaligns

This retainer cleaner can technically work for any kind of retainer, but because you need to let the foam sit on the surface you want it to clean, it’s easiest for clear tray retainers. Reviewers were not fans of the bottle design—getting it open often caused leakage. However, they note that it comes in a small enough bottle for travel on planes and works very well.
No.7

Candida-Killing Solution That Lasts for More Than a Week

Features:
  • non-chlorinated
  • cleans, deodorizes, and removes stains, tartar, and plaque
  • powder that you add to water creates a cleaning solution that can be reused for up to 10 days
  • good at killing common mouth bacteria

Recommended for:

  • removing difficult stains, killing bacteria, and its reusable solution

Some people may not like the idea of reusing the same solution for several days in a row. This setup is also not ideal for those who travel often. But reviewers like that one package of Smile Again lasts a long time, works on stains, and cleans well. And if you want even more of a deep clean, you can get this sonic cleaner to help!

No.8

AvistarRetainer & Denture Cleaning Tablets

$17.97

5 Months of Easy-To-Pack Cleaning

Features:
  • cleans in 15 minutes
  • comes with 150 individually wrapped, crumble-resistant tablets
  • lasts nearly half a year of everyday use
  • leaves your mouth feeling extra fresh and minty with peppermint oil
  • fights bad breath, white plaque, stains, and tartar
Recommended for:
  • cost-efficient and easy to carry and use with no spillage—just drop one tablet in warm water to make the solution

Avistar cleans your retainer quickly in 15 minutes; but, for a deeper clean, leave them in overnight. However, aside from persulfates, this cleaner also includes artificial coloring (indigo), so if you’re sensitive to colorants, this might not be the best product for you. Reviewers like that the tablets don't crumble easily and work well on odors.

No.9

Convenient Tablets for Everyday Use

Features:
  • cleans in 15 minutes
  • kills 99.9% of bacteria
  • comes with 120 tablets for easy portability
  • designed for clear retainers, aligners, wire retainers, sports mouthguards, and nightguards (cannot be used with dentures)

Recommended for:

  • classic brand that's simple to use on the daily and cleans well, eliminating tartar, other residue, and odors

This cleaner isn’t as powerful as some other cleaners, though that makes it better for daily use. On top of that, you need to soak it for 15 minutes and 15 minutes only, which can make for an awkward time period that allows for forgetting. But many reviewers say this works very well, with some saying it works best in conjunction with a brush.

How to Properly Clean Your Retainer

How to Properly Clean Your Retainer
Aside from having a good disinfecting retainer cleaner, there are a few other steps you can take to ensure that your retainer isn’t causing bad breath or contributing to gum disease.


Clean your retainer as soon as it comes out of your mouth in order to prevent it from drying out and accumulating debris. If your retainer has metal, be sure not to soak it for too long. Doing so may cause the metal to break down. 


Also, don’t use hot water! Water that’s too hot can warp your retainer.

Try to keep your retainer wet at all times when it’s out of your mouth–allowing it to dry out can compromise the plastic. Finally, don’t forget to clean your case regularly. Even if your retainer is clean, if it’s in a dirty case you’re still exposing it to germs.

Jaeyoung Yoo
Dental Hygienist
Jaeyoung Yoo's Comment

Definitely avoid using hot water since it can change the shape and elasticity of the plastic retainer. As for cleaning and gunk out of the retainers right away when it comes out of your mouth, that will help to keep its longevity. Make sure that retainers are not dried out with stains and bacteria on them!

Extra Tips From Dental Hygienist Jaeyoung Yoo

Extra Tips From Dental Hygienist Jaeyoung Yoo

Orthodontists recommend that you clean your retainers every week when it's new. After a couple of weeks, it is recommended that retainers are cleaned using retainer cleaner products every few days.


Always read the instructions on these products. Retainers can be worn down from daily wear, clenching, grinding, and, depending on the amount of pressure and force that is put on it, they may need to be replaced every six months to a few years.


For patients who have just finished their orthodontics treatment, it's recommended that retainers are worn for the whole day for at least three months straight to create a rigid bone structure. Once the bone structure is more rigid, patients can then wear it only nightly.


If not done so, teeth will shift back to their original structure. Having more than one retainer case can help keep them clean. Some people may forget their case and end up wrapping it in napkins or paper towels which will be easier to accidentally throw away than having it in an actual case, so be very careful.

Keep Your Breath Fresh All Day Long!

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