How to Clean Invisalign Aligners: Dos & Don’ts

How to Clean Invisalign Aligners: Dos & Don’ts

 Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH🔬 Evidence Based

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How to Clean Invisalign Aligners: Dos & Don’ts

Invisalign trays are great, because unlike braces, they’re removable and easy to clean. You don’t have to have special tools to clean your teeth or worry about getting demineralized white spots around your brackets. But you still need to know how to clean Invisalign trays. Otherwise, the clear aligner can get buildup inside of it, may collect stains, and can even trap bacteria or food particles against your teeth. The good news is that with a clean aligner, you’re still changing it out every two weeks, so the chances there’s heavy buildup or yellowing are slim to none.

Cleaning vs. Disinfecting vs. Rinsing

I hate to say it, but not everyone’s interpretation of “clean” is the same. Some people just rinse their Invisalign trays off and say their aligner is clean. Others use special tablets to soak their aligners and a toothbrush, which is more of an actual “clean” clean. (please don't use mouthwash!) And then, there are the instances where the aligners need to be disinfected. Like if you have strep throat and are taking antibiotics but can’t toss your Invisalign trays the way you would a toothbrush. In those instances, you’ll need to know how to disinfect the aligners each day until you’re not sick anymore.

How to Clean Invisalign

Whenever it’s time to clean your Invisalign trays, make sure you’re using lukewarm or slightly cool water. Hot water can cause the material to warp.

Here's the best way to keep your aligners clean:
  • A soft or extra-soft toothbrush is perfect for loosening and removing plaque or food buildup on your trays. Try to use a separate brush for your aligners than you do your teeth.
  • Clean the inside and outside of the aligners and rinse them thoroughly. While tap water is fine, most dentists will tell you that you can also use antibacterial hand soap or a non-abrasive toothpaste.
  • Make sure you clean your teeth before putting your aligners back into your mouth.
  • There are also additional products you can use for a deeper, more intense clean when that’s needed (see below.)

Invisalign Cleaning Products

cariPRO™ ULTRASONIC CLEANER + UV Light Sterilizer

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This ultrasonic cleaner is an at-home product that enables you to clean and sanitize your Invisalign aligners using special light technology. The ultrasonic cleaner utilizes vibrations and ultraviolet (UV) light to eliminate 99.99% of bacteria, ensuring that your aligners are always fresh and clean. It's the most effective method for cleaning your oral appliances without the need for additional chemicals or harsh additives.

Related: Find The Best Ultrasonic Dental Cleaner Here

Invisalign Cleaning System

The Invisalign Cleaning System is a complete solution for keeping your aligners clean and clear on a day-to-day basis. It includes a special cleaning solution and a small tub that makes it easy to soak and clean your aligners. Even though you need to wear your aligners at least 22+ hours a day, you’re still removing them during meals (which is the perfect time to soak them clean!)

Invisalign Cleaning Crystals

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Finally, the Invisalign Cleansing Crystals are another effective option for cleaning your aligners. These crystals dissolve in water to create a powerful yet gentle cleaning solution that loosens and helps remove plaque and bacteria. Think denture cleansing tablets, but for aligners. After soaking them, brush and rinse your aligners clean.

How Often Should You Clean Your Aligners?

Make sure you brush your aligners at least a couple of times each day with a soft toothbrush and lukewarm water. As far as using an official cleaning system like the Invisalign crystals or soaking solution, you probably want to do that at least once or twice a week, but it’s safe enough to use it on an everyday basis.

Keep in mind that no matter how well you clean your Invisalign aligners, you’ll need to clean your teeth too. Otherwise, you’re just re-contaminating your aligners when you put them back over your teeth.

Even though Invisalign trays aren’t teeth, they can still get plaque and tartar buildup. If you don’t recall, it takes about 24 hours for plaque to calcify into that hard, rocky texture we call tartar or calculus. So regularly cleaning your Invisalign trays will help prevent that from happening. You just need to be physically removing the soft buildup before it has a chance to calcify in the first place.

As a side note, it can be helpful to rinse and lightly brush your aligner right before you store it in a case when you’re going to eat. If it goes straight into the case during your meal, any plaque or bacteria on it may start to harden up a bit quicker than normal.

Any Cleansers To Avoid?

Don’t attempt to make a DIY Invisalign cleanser at home; most of the time, those methods are way too rough on your trays. Rough, harsh, or gritty textures can cause your clear aligners to warp, crack, or develop micro-scratches that simply catch more bacteria and stains.

Avoid hot water to clean your Invisalign aligners, it could melt and warp.

For example, don’t soak your clear aligners in mouthwash that contain alcohol or strong colors, such as pink, blue, or green. You don’t want to stain your tray or dry it out to where it cracks.

Similarly, avoid soaking your Invisalign trays in bleach. While bleach or vinegar can be diluted in water to disinfect your orthodontic aligner, it should only be done as needed and at the direction of your dentist or orthodontist. Making too strong of a mixture will break down the materials in your aligner. The last thing you want to do is be responsible for paying to replace it.

Hydrogen peroxide on its own can be a bit too potent for disinfecting trays. If you decide to use it, make sure to dilute it by more than half with warm water. I recommend using a specialized aligner cleaner brand if you opt for a chemical solution.

Avoid textures like baking soda or gritty toothpaste. The harsher texture can scratch your Invisalign trays so that they trap more bacteria and discoloration.

Finally, while antibacterial hand soap is normally fine to use, try to avoid any that are heavily scented (it can make your clean aligner taste a little bitter.)

Best Way To Clean Your Aligners And Teeth

Depending on your daily routine and personal preferences, the main goal is to thoroughly clean your Invisalign trays daily. Whether you choose to clean them in the morning or evening is up to you, sort of like deciding which part of the day you want to floss. But you still need to rinse and brush them at other times, too. 

Here’s a typical home care routine for someone who wants to keep their Invisalign aligners clean:

  • Every morning, take your aligners out, rinse them off, clean them with a soft toothbrush, go eat breakfast, and then put them back in after brushing and flossing your teeth.
  • During the day, if you snack or after lunch (assuming you don’t have a toothbrush handy,) be sure to rinse your mouth well with water before putting your Invisalign trays back in. If you do have a brush, brush your teeth before wearing your aligners again.
  • As part of your evening routine, clean or soak your aligners with the cleansing method of your choice, then brush and rinse them off. Make sure you brush and floss thoroughly before putting your aligners back in and going to bed.

Keep in mind that if you aren’t brushing your teeth well or often enough, it doesn’t matter if you know how to clean your aligners. Putting them on will just trap the plaque and food debris that’s still on your teeth. To prevent cavities, you need to be brushing at least twice a day, if not more, when you wear Invisalign.

Talk With Your Dentist or Orthodontist

Some dentists will give you an Invisalign home care kit once you begin your treatment, with specific instructions on how to clean your Invisalign aligners. They might even have tablets you can buy to soak your aligners in. If you ever have questions about disinfecting or sanitizing your Invisalign trays, definitely call your dentist’s office and follow their specific recommendations. Keep in mind that not every office will tell you the same thing, because just like making a cake, there are different options out there. Do be sure to bring your aligners with you during your dental checkups to have your dentist or hygienist make sure you’re cleaning them well enough.

Cleaning Your Invisalign Trays Recap

Knowing how to clean Invisalign trays will help prevent you from getting bad breath, stains on your teeth, gingivitis, and cavities. Plus, a clean aligner just looks better. Always follow your dentist’s recommendations; don’t use harsh abrasives, chemicals, or hot temperatures, as those can ruin your aligners altogether. When in doubt, use an official Invisalign cleaning system or cleansing crystals to soak your aligner and then brush and rinse them clean. You should be cleaning your Invisalign trays every day; if you aren’t, it’s like going a day without brushing your teeth!

 Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH"Teeth Talk Girl," is a registered dental hygienist. She started her dental health journey on YouTube, educating the public through videos.
Last updated onJanuary 17, 2024Here is our process

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