If you have just received your first set of clear aligners, then your cosmetic or general dentist--someone from a place like Crest Hill Family Dental--has likely informed you about the importance of keeping your aligners as clean as possible. This means thoroughly brushing and rinsing them whenever they are taken out of the mouth. However, it is not a good idea to use normal toothpastes with the braces. Toothpaste can scratch the aligners and leave openings where bacteria can gather. Thankfully, there are several things around your home that can be used successfully to clear the aligners of all debris.


White vinegar has been touted as one of the most useful cleaners inside the home. Not only can vinegar clean your counters and sinks, but it can successfully clean your clear aligner braces as well. Vinegar specifically does a good job of eating away at the plaque and tartar on the aligners. Plaque is a biofilm made up of water, bacteria, protein, and sugars. Tartar is made from similar materials as plaque, but it is the calcified or hardened version of plaque. 

When vinegar comes into contact with the plaque and tartar, it kills the bacteria. It also dissolves the calcified material and breaks up the protein and sugar. This allows you to rinse the debris off from the aligners.

If you want to use vinegar to clean your trays, then you should stick them in a small glass of diluted vinegar for about 10 to 15 minutes. Vinegar will kill bacteria, but it will not do so instantly like bleach. If you want to enhance the antimicrobial power of the vinegar, then add a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to the solution. Rinse your aligners with warm water afterwards before you stick them back in your mouth.

Dish Soap

If you do not have enough time to soak your aligners or if you want to give them a good scrub before slipping them back in place, then skip the vinegar and reach for your dish soap instead. Dish soap will contain a surfactant ingredient that breaks down oils and food debris. The surfactant will also grip onto the debris so water can wash it away. Not only is this useful in getting your dishes clean, but the surfactant can also work the debris off your aligners fairly easily. 

You can apply dish soap to your aligners with a washcloth, toothbrush, or a scrub brush. If you do decide to use a brush, then choose one that will not scrape the plastic aligners. Soft brushes made with nylon bristles are best. Nylon scrub brushes can work well too. Make sure to place light pressure on the brush when cleaning the trays though or the bristles may end up scraping the thermoplastic material.