Does Vinegar Clean Retainers?

Sharing is caring!

Home » Blog » Natural & Non-Toxic » Does Vinegar Clean Retainers?

Retainers often collect plaque, tartar, and bacteria. Hence, you must clean and store them properly when not using them. But how can you clean and sanitize your retainers? Does vinegar clean retainers? 

You can clean and sanitize your retainers with vinegar. To do so, you can soak your retainers in the solution. Vinegar will not only clean and remove bacteria on your retainers, but it is also one of the safest cleaning solutions out there.

Here’s a guide to cleaning your retainer with vinegar to keep them at their best.

Does Vinegar Clean Retainers Effectively?

Vinegar cleans retainers well. It has acidic properties that can clean away stains, dirt, and germs. It is also a gentle disinfectant that can remove residues and odors. For vinegar to work effectively, soak your retainer in a bowl of white vinegar for at least 15 minutes.

Does Vinegar Clean Retainers Overnight?

Yes! It is advisable to let your retainer clean overnight. Leave your retainer soaking inside a bowl of vinegar to keep them squeaky clean. This method will also remove bacteria buildup on your retainer.

However, leaving your retainer soaking in water overnight is prohibited. Retainers tend to break down when exposed to moisture for a long time. Thus, the best way to clean your retainer is to cleanse them with a vinegar solution.

If you wear a retainer full-time, quickly rinse them with cold water. This will prolong the life of your retainer and keep it clean.

Does Vinegar Clean Retainers Quickly?

As previously mentioned, it is best to soak your retainer in vinegar overnight. However, when this is impossible, you can clean it quickly – about 15 to 30 minutes. Cleaning tablets or retainer solutions can clean between 5 to 10 minutes. However, vinegar solutions may take longer to clean your retainer. 

How Can You Clean Away Calcium Deposits From Retainers with Vinegar?

If you notice white, powdery spots in your retainers, it is probably calcium deposits. You can use a vinegar and baking soda mixture to remove calcium deposits from your retainers. To do so, fill equal parts of vinegar and water in a bowl, then add one tablespoon of baking soda.

Put the retainer in the mixture and let it soak for around 15 minutes. Then, brush off the white spots with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Once done, rinse your retainer with cold water.

This method will remove calcium deposits from your retainers, making them look brand new.  

Can You Let Retainers Air Dry After Cleaning with Vinegar?


When drying your retainers after cleaning them, some people air-dry them. However, air drying exposes the retainer to growing germs such as bacteria.

Make sure, though, that your retainer is dry before storing them. Instead of air drying it, you can use a clean towel to pat any moisture from your retainer. This will ensure that your retainer is safe and in good condition for an extended time period.

How Often Should You Clean Retainers with Vinegar?

It is vital to clean your retainer regularly when they are not in your mouth. Generally, it is ideal to clean your retainer at least once a day. This way, you can maintain your orthodontic result and prevent any bacteria or plaque buildup on your retainer.

If you are using a retainer full-time, it should be cleaned with vinegar often. After you clean your retainers with vinegar, rinse them off with cold water before putting them in your mouth again.

What Other Non-Toxic Products You Can Use to Clean Retainers?

If you’re skeptical about using vinegar to clean your retainers, fret not. There are a lot of non-toxic cleaning products that you can use to clean them. In fact, you don’t need to buy them in local stores as some are probably available at your home now.

Here are some natural alternatives you can use to clean your retainers.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the most affordable and safest ways to clean your retainers. It also works better than other retainer cleaners you can find in supermarkets. Baking soda stabilizes the pH from your mouth, preventing bacteria from growing in your retainers.

Castille Soap

Some people complain that after they stop using harsh cleaners for retainers, natural cleaning solutions, however, don’t make them smell fresh. To achieve freshness, you can add Castille soap to the solution you use to clean with retainers. 

Castille soap contains coconut and olive oil. Hence, it can do a wonderful job of moisturizing while cleaning your retainer. Brush your retainer and make sure to rinse your retainer thoroughly before putting them back in your mouth.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has acetic properties like vinegar. Hence, you can use them as an alternative to vinegar. Lemon juice can soften calcium buildup, making your retainers easier to clean with a brush. 

What Retainer Cleaning Methods Should You Avoid?


If vinegar is unavailable and you want to avoid chemical-based cleaners completely, you should not experiment with other cleaning solutions as they may do more harm than good. For instance, some dental professionals mention hydrogen peroxide to clean retainers.

The problem with using hydrogen peroxide to clean your retainer is it has some drawbacks, like it kills all the bacteria in your mouth, including the good bacteria, and it also causes free radical reactions.

If you choose to use hydrogen peroxide to clean your retainer, use the 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and only use 50% water and 50% hydrogen peroxide.

Here are other popular cleaners you should avoid:

  • Dishwashers
  • Boiling water (as it may deform your retainers)
  • Mouthwash
  • UV light sanitizers
  • Rubbing alcohol, bleach, and other harsh chemicals


It’s essential to clean your retainer to prevent bacteria, calcium build-up, and bad breath. After cleaning it, avoid air drying your retainer to prevent bacteria growth.

To keep your retainers clean, soak them in a vinegar solution (or clean them with baking soda, lemon juice, or Castille soap) overnight or if you’re in a hurry for 15 – 30 minutes.

Avoid cleaning your retainer with harmful chemicals or mouthwash, bleach, boiling water, etc. They could harm and deform your retainers, causing you to have to get a new one. Using non-toxic cleaners instead will keep your mouth healthy.

To learn more about vinegar’s cleaning properties, read our article – Is Vinegar a Cleaning Agent?