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The Importance of Aligner Cleaning and How to Clean Your Aligners

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Taking care of your aligners is a must for both your oral health and the success of your teeth-straightening treatment. When aligners aren't cleaned well, they can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

This can result in issues ranging from unpleasant bad breath to more serious conditions like tooth decay and gum disease. Dirty aligners also have the downside of becoming stained or smelly, which can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. Thankfully, aligner cleaning doesn't have to be a complicated task.

With a few easy-to-follow methods, which include both over-the-counter products and homemade solutions, you can keep your aligners in top shape. This article serves as your comprehensive guide to maintaining your aligners, ensuring they remain effective and hygienic throughout your treatment journey.

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The Importance of Aligner Cleaning and How to Clean Your Aligners

Smilesaver: Aligner Cleaning Made Easy

Smilesaver is an innovative cleaning spray that simplifies the process of keeping your aligners or other oral devices clean and fresh. You just remove your aligner, give it a thorough spray on all sides, and then wait a short 30 seconds.

During this brief pause, Smilesaver goes to work, efficiently killing 99.9% of bacteria and effectively eliminating odors and any unpleasant tastes. After that, you can confidently put your aligner back in your mouth and go about your day, assured that your breath is fresh and your device is clean.

Unlike other methods, there's no need for scrubbing, rinsing, or soaking. Smilesaver is also formulated to be gentle and safe, with zero sugar, alcohol, or preservatives, and it only contains natural flavors. You won't find any warning labels or harmful chemicals here. It's an excellent option for those looking for an easy and effective solution for maintaining their oral hygiene.

The Basics: Soap and Water

Cleaning your aligners with soap and water stands as an effective and straightforward method. Several times a week, opt for a clear, unscented liquid soap. This helps you sidestep any potential staining issues.

Grab a soft toothbrush and apply the soap gently, scrubbing every nook and cranny of the aligner. After scrubbing, it's essential to rinse off all the soap under lukewarm water. Make sure the water isn't hot; you wouldn't want to alter the shape of your aligners, as that could throw off their fit and compromise your treatment progress.

Many people prefer this method for its simplicity and effectiveness. It's a routine that quickly becomes second nature, and it doesn't require any special products or extra expenses. Plus, you can easily integrate this cleaning routine into your daily life without hassle.

Store-Bought Cleaning Solutions

Store-bought cleaning solutions designed for aligners offer a convenient and effective way to maintain your oral appliance. You can find these products in almost any drugstore or pharmacy. Usually, they contain ingredients that specifically work to get rid of bacteria and any stubborn stains that may have formed on your aligners.

Because each brand has its own unique formula, it's crucial to read the guidelines on the package. Following the instructions will help you get the best cleaning results and avoid any accidental damage to your aligners. These solutions often require you to soak your aligners for a period of around 15 to 20 minutes for optimal cleaning.

After soaking, it's important to rinse the aligners well under cold or lukewarm water to remove any leftover solution. In just a few easy steps, you'll have aligners that are clean, hygienic, and ready to wear again.

Dental Cleaning Tablets

Dental cleaning tablets offer a convenient and effective way to clean your aligners. Generally, these tablets are a blend of ingredients designed to remove bacteria, stains, and plaque from dental appliances.

You start by filling a bowl with enough warm water to cover your aligners. Drop one tablet into the water and watch it fizz. Once it's dissolved, place your aligners in the bowl and make sure they're fully submerged. Let them soak for the time recommended on the tablet's package—typically between 15 and 20 minutes.

When the time is up, remove your aligners from the solution. It's essential to rinse them well under running water to wash away any leftover cleaning solution. This rinse ensures that no chemicals linger on your aligners before you put them back in your mouth.

Hydrogen Peroxide and Water

Hydrogen peroxide and water make for a great cleaning combo for your aligners. You don't need to be a chemist to get this right; just mix equal parts of water and 3% hydrogen peroxide in a bowl. (Consult your dentist just to be safe).

This cleaning agent is excellent at killing bacteria and getting rid of any lingering stains on your aligners. Soak your aligners in this solution for about half an hour. During this time, the hydrogen peroxide gets to work, breaking down any germs and discolorations.

When the time is up, just take out your aligners and give them a good rinse under cold water. It's important to rinse well to ensure all the hydrogen peroxide is gone, making your aligners clean and safe to put back in your mouth.

Vinegar and Water

Using a vinegar and water solution is an easy and cost-effective way to clean your aligners right at home. Simply mix equal amounts of white vinegar and water in a bowl or a glass. Then, soak your aligners in this mixture for about 20 to 30 minutes.

The vinegar serves as a natural disinfectant, helping to kill off bacteria that might be lingering on your aligners. It's a straightforward method that doesn't require any special products or equipment.

However, one downside is that vinegar can leave a bit of an after-smell. To avoid this, make sure you rinse your aligners thoroughly with cold water after you take them out of the vinegar solution.

Toothpaste: Proceed with Caution

Using toothpaste to clean your aligners might seem like a straightforward idea, but it's essential to be cautious. Toothpaste is primarily designed to clean teeth, not plastic aligners. The issue here is that many types of toothpaste contain abrasive components. These harsh elements can scratch your aligners, making tiny grooves where bacteria can thrive.

Over time, this could lead to aligner discoloration and even foster an environment for bacterial growth that can affect your oral health. If you're leaning towards using toothpaste as your go-to cleaner, make sure it's a non-abrasive formula. Always opt for a soft-bristled toothbrush to minimize the risk of scratching your aligners.


Maintaining the cleanliness of your aligners is a simple yet crucial task that can make a world of difference in your oral health and the effectiveness of your orthodontic treatment. Whether you choose a homemade solution like vinegar and water, a store-bought specialized cleaner, or a straightforward method like soap and water, what's important is consistency. A routine cleaning not only keeps bacteria at bay but also ensures that your aligners remain effective and comfortable to wear. So, take those few extra minutes each day to clean your aligners properly; your smile will thank you for it.


Why is aligner cleaning important?

A: Properly cleaning your aligners helps maintain oral hygiene, prevents plaque buildup, and ensures the effectiveness of your treatment.

Q: How often should I clean my aligners?

A: You should clean your aligners at least twice a day, preferably after meals, to keep them fresh and free from bacteria.

Q: Can I use regular toothpaste to clean my aligners?

A: It is not recommended to use regular toothpaste as it may contain abrasive ingredients that can scratch or damage the aligners. Instead, use a non-abrasive cleaning agent specifically designed for aligners.

Q: Are there any specific cleaning methods for aligners with attachments?

A: Aligners with attachments require extra care during cleaning. Gently brush around the attachments using a soft toothbrush to remove any residue or buildup.

Q: What should I do if my aligners get stained?

A: If your aligners become stained, you can soak them in a denture cleaner or a mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide. Avoid using colored mouthwashes or other staining agents while wearing aligners.

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