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How to Clean Invisalign

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A young woman smiling and holding a clear aligner in her left hand.

One of the primary benefits of Invisalign is that they’re removable. This makes eating, drinking, and brushing easier and allows you to take a break from your aligners for special events.

Removing your Invisalign to practice your oral hygiene routine daily is critical for healthy teeth and gums, but cleaning the Invisalign aligners is necessary, too. Every time you remove your aligners to eat or drink, you should rinse your Invisalign aligner. When you rinse your aligners, use cold or lukewarm water—using hot water can distort them. And daily, you need a deeper cleaning to keep your aligners free from bacteria.

You can try several different methods to clean your Invisalign aligners, including rinsing, brushing, or soaking them. It’s important to follow your dentist’s recommendations and use gentle cleaning methods to keep your Invisalign in good working condition.

Why Cleaning Your Invisalign Is Important

You change your Invisalign every 1 to 2 weeks, so why does cleaning them diligently matter?

Your Invisalign aligners are designed to fit precisely over the teeth to guide them into the desired position with the right amount of pressure. This tight fit can trap food particles, bacteria and plaque between your aligner and the surface of your teeth.

Typically, saliva helps clear bacteria away from your teeth until you can brush and floss. Still, if you brush your teeth and put your aligners back into your mouth, saliva can not do its job of cleansing your teeth and gums. If you don’t clean your aligners, you are trapping bacteria against your teeth and gums. Plaque buildup on your teeth can damage the enamel and lead to cavities or tooth decay.

Wearing aligners that haven’t been cleaned enough can lead to:

  • Bad breath—the most immediate and common complaint of wearing oral devices
  • Stains on your teeth and aligners
  • Gum irritation, leading to potential gingivitis or gum disease
  • Cavities

How Often Should You Clean Your Invisalign?

Cleaning your Invisalign should be a natural part of your oral health routine. It’s recommended that you clean your Invisalign trays every night before bed to remove any food particles, plaque, and bacteria that accumulates throughout the day. Brushing your teeth and cleaning your aligners can refresh your mouth as the night winds down.

While you don’t have to clean your aligners every time you eat or drink, you should rinse your mouth and aligners every time you eat or drink to protect your enamel and reduce the risk of gum inflammation.

A man holding a clear aligner on his left hand and cleaning it with a toothbrush on his right hand.

Best Ways to Clean Invisalign

Cleaning your Invisalign is simple and doesn’t take a lot of time. Whether you choose to rinse, brush, or soak, there are methods to keep your aligners clear, fresh, and free of germs.

Invisalign Cleaning System

Invisalign has developed cleaning systems for its clear aligners to remove bacteria, plaque, and acids from the trays. They offer different cleaning options including solutions and cleaning crystals that you can order directly from Invisalign.

While you can be sure these products won’t damage your aligners, there are many other accessible and cost-effective cleaning methods you can use to clean your Invisalign.


A simple soft-bristle toothbrush and some water can easily clean your Invisalign with no fuss. Like brushing your teeth, you must ensure you reach every nook and cranny to remove irritants. Using lukewarm water and a light hand, brush your Invisalign as usual. You can also combine brushing with effervescent retainer tablets.

Retainer Cleaning Tablets

Fizzy cleaning tablets are an easy option if you prefer soaking your Invisalign. With lukewarm water, cover the entire aligner, drop in a tablet, and watch it dissolve. Let your aligner sit for the time directed on the package as you complete the other steps in your nighttime routine.

Some evidence suggests that using effervescent tablets alongside brushing is more effective, but using each method alone is only slightly less efficient.

White Vinegar

When you’re in a pinch or need a DIY option, using a white vinegar soak after brushing can remove bacteria safely and deodorize your aligners. A mixture of 1 part distilled white vinegar and 3 parts water is the ideal ratio for a 15-minute soak. Be sure to rinse entirely at the end to rid the Invisalign of a vinegar taste.

What Not to Use to Clean Your Invisalign

Perhaps more important than how to clean your Invisalign is how not to clean the aligners. Things you should never use include:

  • Toothpaste: The consistency is often too gritty and can scratch your aligners.
  • Hard toothbrushes: While you may prefer medium or hard bristles while brushing your teeth, they’re too harsh on the aligner’s plastic and can cause scratches. Scratches create more surface area for debris and bacteria to collect.
  • Hot water: Many assume that hot water kills germs more effectively, but using hot water for cleaning your Invisalign can warp the plastic and leave you with misshapen trays, which can delay your treatment plan.

Achieve a Straighter Smile

Invisalign is a popular road to a beautiful smile. The Southgate Dental Centre team carefully develops a treatment plan for your unique smile and monitors your progress to help you get straight, healthy teeth.

To talk to our dental team about Invisalign, schedule a dental exam to lay the foundation for positive oral habits and learn how treatment can help your teeth, jaw, and bite.

Written by Dr. Kevin Hamm

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