How to Clean Your Teeth Aligners With Ease

Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
Last Modified:

Table of Contents

  1. Cleaning Your Aligners
  2. Recommended Cleaning Agents
  3. Alternative Protection Methods
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. References

Cleaning your aligners isn't just smart. It's recommended by almost every oral health expert out there.

Your mouth is home to a whopping 700 species of microbes. Some help to improve your health. But others secrete plaque that can harm your teeth and cloud up your aligners.

Cleaning is crucial, but you'll need to follow guidelines carefully. Clean the devices with the wrong tools or in the wrong way, and you could cause more harm than good.

how to clean your aligners

Clean your aligners in a few easy steps.

You don’t need fancy tools to clean your aligners. First and foremost, it’s key to rinse your aligners under cool (not hot!) water when you take them out. This prevents residue build up, and cloudy or discolored aligners.

If you have a bottle of our BrightByte™ whitener/aligner cleaner, it’s the best way to keep the aligners clean and fresh on the go. Simply squirt a dime-sized amount in your aligners, top and bottom, each time you replace them. Aligners should be worn only after brushing teeth whenever possible -- BrightByte does not replace basic oral hygiene. The next-best way to clean your aligners would be to mix 50% vinegar and 50% water, and to allow the aligners to soak in the solution for about 20-30 minutes. Then rinse them off, before wearing them again.

Using anything else on the aligners, such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, can cause little scratches over time that trap bacteria within the aligner. We want to make sure the aligners remain as clean as possible throughout your treatment, so keeping a solution like this on-hand in case you’re out of BrightByte is perfect!

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Avoid These Cleaning Tools for Cleaning Aligners

Don't use these tools on your aligners.

Read magazine articles and entertainment blogs, and you might walk away believing that you need to invest in cleaning solutions for your aligners. While it's true that some experts recommend cleaning agents for aligners, these tools aren't always necessary. And some can harm your aligners in nasty ways.

Steer clear of tools such as:

  • Toothbrushes. Toothbrush and toothpaste can cause little scratches over time that trap bacteria within the aligner.

  • Toothpaste. Since they are made to clean the hard, tough, enamel surface of your teeth, most toothpastes are much too abrasive for polymers used in aligners.

  • Soap. Detergents can leave an awful taste in your mouth, and they're not made for digestion.

  • Denture crystals. These fizzy powders can damage and cloud up your clear trays. Mouthwash. Dyes in these liquids can stain your aligners.

  • Hot water. High temperatures can bend your trays, and that means they won't fit into your mouth and move your teeth effectively.

Some aligner companies send home tooth whitening products that slide into your aligners to help brighten your teeth. Anything a company sends along with your trays is safe to use. But anything else could harm your investment in your smile.

3 more ways to protect your teeth.

Wearing aligners is a proven way to improve your oral health. In fact, researchers found that after wearing aligners for six months, people tended to brush more often, and they had less plaque on their teeth.

To protect your teeth:

A proper tooth brushing session should last for two minutes, says the American Dental Association. Every morning and every night, all of your teeth should get a proper brushing with toothpaste. Give your teeth a very quick brush during the day, each time you clean your aligners.

Flossing is very important to clean in between the teeth where it’s difficult for a toothbrush to reach.

Mouthwashes can reduce the size of bacterial colonies in your mouth, and that could lead to lower levels of gingivitis and gum disease.

Bacteria thrive on sugary soda and sweet snacks. Look for ways to limit your intake of these products.

Your dentist can help you learn more about how to protect your teeth and keep your smile as stunning as it can possibly be.

Aligner cleaning FAQs.

You should clean your aligners once per day. While this may not seem like enough since your dentist recommends you brush your teeth between two and three times per day, remember that most people wear their aligners for about 22 hours per day. If you opt for overnight wear, or about 10 hours per day, you only need to clean the aligners once — when you take them out.

You should also rinse your aligners in cool water whenever you take them out to eat or drink something. This helps reduce the residue that can build up inside the aligner. It also prevents your aligners from getting stained or cloudy.

No, you should not use toothpaste as an aligner cleaner. Since you use toothpaste on your teeth, this might seem counterintuitive, but toothpaste can warp the aligner.

Many toothpastes contain tiny grit, which helps to scrub stains and plaque off your teeth. But this grit can damage the aligner with microscopic scratches. Scrubbing your aligners with your toothbrush can also damage the plastic, allowing bacteria to collect inside the scratches and increasing the risk of tooth decay.

Even though you will only wear your aligner for about two weeks, preventing it from warping is important. This ensures you get the most benefits possible from each aligner.

Other solutions you should not use to clean your aligners include:

  • Mouthwash, especially those with alcohol.

  • Baking soda.

  • Denture cleaners or retainer cleaners.

  • Regular soap, especially soaps with perfume or scents.

No, using only plain water to clean your aligners once per day does not clean them thoroughly enough.

At byte, we recommend using a solution of 50% vinegar and 50% pure water. Leave your clear aligners to soak for 20 to 30 minutes before putting them back in. White vinegar is effective at killing many microbes, so this can keep your aligners clear and bright for the two weeks you need them.

You should also take your aligners out when you eat a meal or drink something like coffee that might stain them. When you do, rinse them off with just water after you take them out, and be sure to brush your teeth before putting the aligners back in.

No, using water that is warmer than room temperature can warp the plastic of the aligner. Only use cool water to clean or rinse your aligners.

Warm or hot water can warp the aligner, even in minor ways that you may not notice but could prevent them from being effective at aligning your teeth. You should also be careful of drinking hot beverages or eating hot foods while you have your aligners in.

Yes, you will receive instructions on how to keep your aligners clean in the package with your clear aligners. You can also get a special cleaning solution from us, to ensure your clear aligners remain clear. This solution can also help brighten your smile!

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.