DIY Retainer Cleaner (for Hawley, Metal, & Invisalign)

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DIY Retainer Cleaner

I’m a huge advocate for using oral healthcare products that are safe, effective and support your health and well-being. Sometimes that means making your own. Here is a retainer cleaner recipe that will clean your retainer without compromising your health (and it’s easy on your wallet).

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Unfortunately, the common “fizzy,” effervescent tablets used to clean retainers, like Polident and Efferdent contain a known allergen called persulfate. Persulfate residue can stick to your retainer and cause allergic reactions. Don’t take the risk of exposing yourself to this toxin that can land some people in the emergency room.  Instead, try this simple and inexpensive retainer cleaner recipe to effectively clean your retainer. You’ll be making a better choice for your health and will extend the life of your retainer when you opt out of using harsh chemicals.

Read Next: How to Clean Retainers Without Harsh Chemicals Print

DIY Retainer Cleaner

Want to ensure your teenager uses this safer, chemical-free alternative to traditional retainer cleaners? Why not have her mix up the solution herself? It’s a fun way to get into the kitchen and takes so little time to prepare!

  • Author: Dr. Burhenne
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: Cleans one or a pair of retainers 1x


  • 2 tablespoons White Vinegar
  • 3/4 cup warm (not boiling) Distilled Water
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda


  1. In a jar or bowl mix together the vinegar and retainer cleaner
  2. Add baking soda.
  3. Soak for 10-15 minutes and then rinse the retainer to remove any tartar that has accumulated. You don’t need to soak it very long, so don’t use this cleaner overnight.
  4. Rinse with cool water. To extend the life of your retainer, let it soak in distilled water if you aren’t planning on using it right retainer cleaner


Add the baking soda after you’ve mixed the water and vinegar together.  Adding baking soda to straight vinegar will create a mini volcano (you may remember that from science class!).

Never use boiling or really hot water to clean your retainer as the high temperature can melt the plastic and deform it, resulting in an improper fit.

This is not a cleaner to use overnight, every night. I recommend soaking your retainer for 10-15 minutes maximum, about once a week.

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Leave a Comment

  1. Can this be used with Invisalign retainers?

    • Mark Burhenne, DDS says:

      Yes it can!

  2. Joan Lind says:

    I like all your tips! I am now using baking soda as a guard cleaner! I have a terrible habit when I sleep. I clench. I’m 74 and have had two fractured roots, now with implants. I am hoping the night guard I’ve been using will help with that problem. On two other implants I had 11 years ago, #s14 and 15, with bone grafts; they are now deemed only “fair” due to a lot of bone loss. I am ready to start the turmeric supplement and wonder if that will help. I wish I was near your location. I would have a new DDS! Thanks again for all you do.

    • Mark Burhenne, DDS says:

      Hi there, Joan.
      So sorry to hear all this trouble you’ve had.
      Have you looked into a sleep study to fix the grinding issue? That may be the best option!
      Dr. B

  3. Hi Mark,

    Just found your blog recently and have already done your DIY spirulina mouthwash. Also purchased some Boka toothpaste 🙂 For this recipe, do we need distilled water? I am a tap girl through and through!


    PS I am burning through your articles. Thank you for sharing all of this information about dental care that has been difficult to find elsewhere.

    • Mark Burhenne, DDS says:

      Hi Sam!

      Thank you so much for letting me know. It’s nice to connect with my readers.

      Distilled water is great because bacteria and dissolved solids have been removed that can cause the DIY to go bad. I urge you to check EWG’s Tap Water Database to see how clean your tap water is. I was shocked about my own.

      Dr. B

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