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. Dos & Don’ts.
  4. Frequently Asked Questions

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 aligners: Dos & don’ts.

Understanding how to clean your aligners is almost as important as avoiding common cleaning mistakes.

 Here’s what you should do when you’re cleaning aligners:

  • Use a soft tool (like a gentle toothbrush).

  • Stick with approved cleaning agents.

  • Brush very gently.

  • Rinse the trays with cool water.

  • Store your trays properly after cleaning (if you’re not going to wear them).

 Here’s what not to do when you’re cleaning aligners:

  • Don’t use hard or scratchy implements (like firm toothbrushes), as they will scratch your trays and lead to bacteria buildup.

  • Steer clear of denture crystals and toothpaste, as they could cloud your trays.

  • Don’t use anything scented or dyed, as they might stain your trays or cause digestive upset.

  • Scrubbing hard can lead to deep scratches.

  • Rinsing with hot water could warp trays.

  • Leaving your trays outside of their case when you’re not wearing them can lead to damage, loss, and bacterial contamination.

This comparison chart can help you understand what cleaning agents are good (and which are not):

Good to use


Unscented, undyed soap

Scented, dyed soap

Cleansers (like BrightByte) from the manufacturer


Vinegar/water solutions

Denture crystals

 Let’s dig into all of this information in detail, so you know just what to do.

how to clean your aligners

Clean your aligners in a few easy steps.

Cleaning your aligners is quick and easy. After a few days of practice, you’ll be a pro! Here’s what you need to do to protect your trays from grime and bacteria.

Your cleaning process should involve the following steps:

  1. Rinse your trays with cool water.

  2. Grab a soft-bristled toothbrush you’ve dedicated to aligner care.

  3. Place a small amount of clear, non-colored, unscented soap on the toothbrush.

  4. Gently brush your aligners.

  5. Rinse your trays.

What other tools can you try?

You don’t need fancy tools to clean your aligners. However, some products can make cleaning your aligners a little easier (and more effective).

These are a few additional cleaning tools to consider:

  • BrightByte: Our BrightByte™ whitener/aligner cleaner is 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.

  • Cleansing solutions: The next-best way to clean your aligners would be to mix 50% vinegar and 50% water, andto allow the aligners to soak in the solution for about 20 to 30 minutes. Then, rinse them off before wearing them again.

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Avoid These Cleaning Tools for Cleaning Aligners

Don't use these tools on your aligners.

Your aligners are strong enough to move your teeth, but they can be delicate and easy to break, especially if you subject them to harsh chemicals.

Steer clear of tools such as these:

  • Hard-bristle toothbrushes: Firm bristles 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.

  • Colorful or scented 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.

Clean aligners & whiten teeth with BrightByte™

Get intense whitening and clean your aligners while you wear them with BrightByte—our 3-in-1 foam cleanser, whitener, and breath freshener.

4 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.

Your dentist can help you learn more about how to protect your teeth and keep your smile as stunning as it can possibly be. The following steps will help too:

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.

Take your aligners out, clean them, and place them in their protective case. Then, brush your teeth carefully, as instructed by your dentist.

Dental floss allows you to reach nooks and crannies between your teeth that could capture food and plaque. Flossing is especially critical for people who wear aligners, as the trays reduce your saliva’s ability to move stuck food naturally.

Run your floss around all of your teeth, paying close attention to areas that seem tight or tender. It might be uncomfortable, but with practice, you’ll become a flossing pro.

Mouthwashes can reduce the size of bacterial colonies in your mouth, and that could lead to lower levels of gingivitis and gum disease. After you’ve brushed and flossed, give your mouth a quick rinse as outlined in the product’s instructions.

If possible, look for dental rinses that aren’t brightly colored. Small amounts of rinse left on your teeth could lead to discolored trays. When you’re shopping, look for products that are white or clear.

Your oral health routine will become an important part of your morning and evening routines. Taking out your trays is the only way to access all of your teeth and provide them with the care they need. Ensure you’re protecting your aligners during this process.

When your aligners have been cleaned, place them in their protective case and close it. They’ll be protected from breakage. They’ll also be protected from bacterial damage while they’re safe in their case.

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.