Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Your Invisalign Aligners

If you’ve begun orthodontic treatment with Invisalign, congratulations! You have taken the first step in transforming your smile for the better. You may know why Invisalign has become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional braces, but do you know how it works? One especially important rule is keeping the Invisalign aligners on your teeth for a minimum of 22 hours each day, but equally important is remembering to keep your aligners一and teeth一clean.

Invisalign aligner tray at patient's house in Hendersonville, NC

This is not just recommended for cosmetic reasons (no one wants to walk around with cloudy, sediment-filled trays, do they?), but also because Invisalign aligners are susceptible to bacterial buildup, which can negatively impact your oral hygiene and overall health.

Bad breath can afflict the best of us, but an aligner that has not been properly cleaned is especially at risk for germ and bacterial retention, which can cause a stink. Not good! The bottom line is that Invisalign aligners, much like teeth, need to be cleaned every single day to ensure good treatment. Below we detail a suggested daily routine, as well as plenty of at-home and store-bought methods to clean your trays and keep them sparkling.

Suggested Daily Routine for Best Care

What does a normal day look like for invisible aligner maintenance? Fret not if you haven’t got a clue一we’ve put together a routine just for you!

1) Clean Both Teeth and Invisalign Trays When You Wake Up

Since you’ll be sleeping with your aligners on, the first thing to do each morning is remove them, clean your teeth, and clean the trays themselves before placing them back in your mouth. A lot of bacteria can buildup while you sleep, so this step is especially important. It should be repeated before bed as well.

2) Rinse Your Aligners Each Time They Are Removed From Your Mouth

Make sure to rinse your invisible aligners with cold water every time you remove them to wash away dried saliva, and never leave trays out in the open if you’ve taken them out. Keeping your case handy is incredibly important to maintaining good oral hygiene. Never rinse with hot water as that can warp the trays and cause discomfort or bend them out of shape.

3) Always Brush and Floss Before Replacing Trays

Ideally, your trays should only be removed for eating or drinking. After such time, always remember to brush and floss before replacing the trays. If you don’t adhere to this step, you’ll have a much higher risk of trapping food particles in the trays, which can lead to cavities or other dental issues later.


4) Soak Your Trays Daily

The best way to ensure a clean set of aligners is to soak the trays daily in either Invisalign cleaning crystals or a denture cleaner. Never soak your trays in mouthwash or hot water, as they can damage your trays. After soaking, use a spare toothbrush to rid the trays of lingering plaque or food particles.

Tips to Keep Your Trays in Good Condition

Though the daily routine is important to follow, we’d also like to equip you with some suggestions so that you can take the best possible care of your aligners. The following are tips recommended by the doctors here at BRO.

1) Don’t Leave Your Invisible Aligners Out in the Open

Leaving your aligners exposed to open air when you’re not wearing them could lead to bacterial buildup, which is not only a source of bad odors but can also make you sick! Remember to bring your case with you always, just to be safe. If you do leave them out, make sure that you rinse, soak, and rinse again before putting them back in your mouth.

2) Take Your Aligners Out of Your Mouth Before You Eat or Drink

Whenever you are going to eat or drink anything that isn’t water, be sure to remove your trays first. This protects them from bacterial buildup and protects your teeth from trapped food particles, which can cause dental issues later on. These trays are not built for chewing, and the action can damage them inadvertently or stain them.

3) If You’re Traveling, Bring the Next Set of Aligners With You

An easy way to get off track with your treatment is to forget to bring your next set of aligners while travelling. It happens to people all the time, but it can seriously set you back. One way to avoid this is to have your next set shipped to the destination that you’ll be staying at. Due to the frequency of lost or delayed luggage, we recommend that if your traveling with your aligners, you keep your case in a personal bag that you’ll have with you at all times.

4) Don’t Use Toothpaste to Clean Invisalign Aligners

A common mistake made by many first time Invisalign patients is cleaning aligners with toothpaste, but this is a huge no-no! It can damage or discolor trays, or cause a dull sheen that makes them more noticeable in your mouth. The whole point of this option is discretion, so you won’t want to make this mistake if you can help it.

5) Don’t Clean or Soak Your Invisalign Aligners in Hot Water

We mentioned this above, but it bears repeating: hot water can severely damage trays, so never use it to rinse or soak your aligners. Cold water is a much better alternative to protect the special plastic that Invisalign trays are made from.

6) Avoid Colored or Scented Soaps when Cleaning Aligners

There are plenty of tried and true methods that you can use to clean your aligners, but one that you’ll definitely want to stay away from is any kind of scented or colored soap. They can stain your trays and leave a unpleasant residual taste一not ideal for something that needs to be kept in your mouth for 22 hours a day!

Proven Ways to Clean Your Invisalign Aligners

You may have noticed that cleanliness is important to those of us here at Blue Ridge Orthodontics. Follow up each of these methods with a quick scrub using a clean, soft bristle toothbrush. Maintain good tray hygiene with the following cleaning tips for clear aligners.

Woman with Invisalign aligners smiling in Asheville

1) Soap and Water

Use a bit of a gentle, unscented liquid soap in a cup of warm water and stir until you see suds, then soak your trays in the solution for 20-30 minutes. After which, you’ll want to brush and rinse your Invisalign aligners and probably the glass, unless there’s someone in your household that you feel like pranking.

2) Vinegar and Water

One of your parents has probably spoken of the merits of vinegar一add tray cleaner to the list! Using one part white distilled vinegar to three parts water, soak your aligners in the mixture for about 20 minutes before brushing, rinsing and replacing them in your mouth. You’ll want to make sure that you rinse thoroughly to avoid a residual vinegar taste.

3) Peroxide and Water

Mix together equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water, and soak for up to 30 minutes. Remember to brush and rinse before popping those bad boys back in your mouth!

4) Baking soda and Water

This may require a bit of elbow grease. Mix a tablespoon of baking soda into ½ cup water until the mixture is consistent. Place your trays inside the liquid for 60 minutes before a thorough brush and rinse to ensure no residue remains.

5) Retainer Cleaner

There are a number of quality, professional retainer cleaning products available on the market today. Most are a tablet or powder that is dissolved in water and becomes an effective cleaning solution that targets bacteria and stubborn plaque. There are also some options that come in a wipe form, which can be convenient for on-the-go cleaning. Though they will be pricier than the DIY versions listed above, they are still cheaper than replacing aligners that have become too embedded with plaque or bacteria.


The most important part of ensuring dental and oral hygiene during your Invisalign treatment is keeping your trays as clean as possible. Do so by establishing a routine. It will help you keep track of the recommended actions by trained orthodontists, and it will make the process of aligner care much easier to follow. If you’re interested in Invisalign or simply have questions about its care, get in touch with one someone from our team or come in for a complimentary consultation!