Should I Keep My Plastic Retainer in Water?
Oral Health Blog

Should I Keep My Plastic Retainer in Water?

Maintaining your plastic retainer is essential for ensuring its longevity and effectiveness. One common question that arises among retainer users is whether they should keep their plastic retainer in water when it's not in use. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the benefits and drawbacks of storing your retainer in water, as well as other important care tips to keep your retainer clean and functional.

Why Proper Retainer Storage is Important

Prevents Warping and Damage

Proper storage of your plastic retainer prevents it from becoming warped or damaged. Warping can affect the fit and effectiveness of the retainer, which can hinder your orthodontic treatment.

Maintains Hygiene

Storing your retainer correctly helps maintain its cleanliness and prevents the accumulation of bacteria and plaque. This is crucial for oral hygiene and overall dental health.

Enhances Longevity

Proper care and storage can significantly extend the life of your retainer, saving you from frequent replacements and additional costs.

Should You Keep Your Plastic Retainer in Water?

Benefits of Storing Retainers in Water

Prevents Drying Out

Plastic retainers can become brittle if they dry out, especially if they are made from certain types of plastic. Keeping them in water helps maintain their flexibility and prevents cracking.

Reduces Bacterial Growth

Water can help to keep the retainer moist, reducing the risk of bacterial growth that thrives in dry, warm environments. A moist environment can be less hospitable to bacteria compared to a dry one.

Minimizes Odors

Storing your retainer in water can help minimize odors caused by bacteria and plaque build-up. Adding a small amount of a retainer cleaning solution to the water can further enhance its freshness.

Drawbacks of Storing Retainers in Water

Risk of Contamination

If the water is not changed regularly, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. It’s important to use fresh, clean water each time you store your retainer to prevent contamination.

Not Suitable for All Retainers

Some plastic retainers may not need to be kept in water. Always check with your orthodontist for specific care instructions tailored to your type of retainer.

Best Practices for Storing Your Retainer

Use a Retainer Case

Invest in a high-quality retainer case to protect your retainer from damage when it's not in use. A case also keeps it clean and reduces the risk of loss.

Clean the Retainer Before Storing

Always clean your retainer thoroughly before storing it. This helps to remove any food particles, plaque, and bacteria that could cause odors or infections.

Change Water Regularly

If you choose to store your retainer in water, make sure to change the water daily. This prevents bacterial growth and keeps the retainer fresh.

Use Distilled Water

Consider using distilled water instead of tap water to store your retainer. Distilled water is free from impurities and minerals that could accumulate on the retainer.

Avoid Hot Water

Never use hot water to store or clean your retainer as it can cause the plastic to warp. Always use cool or lukewarm water.

Additional Retainer Care Tips

Regular Cleaning

Clean your retainer daily using a soft toothbrush and a mild soap or non-abrasive cleaner. Avoid using toothpaste, as it can be too abrasive and cause scratches.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

Do not use bleach, alcohol, or other harsh chemicals to clean your retainer. These substances can damage the plastic and affect its fit.

Weekly Deep Cleaning

In addition to daily cleaning, perform a weekly deep cleaning using a retainer cleaning solution. This helps to remove any stubborn build-up and ensures thorough disinfection.

Handle with Care

Always handle your retainer with clean hands and avoid bending or twisting it. Mishandling can cause damage and affect its fit.

Regular Check-Ups

Visit your orthodontist regularly to ensure your retainer is in good condition and still fits properly. They can provide professional cleaning and address any concerns you may have.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Leaving Retainer Out

Never leave your retainer out in the open when it’s not in use. This exposes it to bacteria, dust, and potential damage.

Using Toothpaste

Toothpaste can be too abrasive for plastic retainers, causing scratches that can harbor bacteria. Stick to mild soap or specialized retainer cleaners.

Ignoring Bad Odors

If your retainer develops a bad odor, it’s a sign that it needs a more thorough cleaning. Do not ignore it, as it can lead to oral hygiene issues.


Keeping your plastic retainer in water can be beneficial, especially to prevent it from drying out and becoming brittle. However, it’s crucial to maintain proper hygiene by changing the water regularly and using distilled water when possible. By following the best practices and tips outlined in this guide, you can ensure your retainer remains clean, functional, and effective for your orthodontic treatment. Always consult with your orthodontist for personalized care instructions and to address any specific concerns you may have.

Are you currently using or thinking about using retainer cleaning tablets? It's important to be aware that certain cleaner brands have the potential to cause toxic reactions.

It's crucial to be aware of harmful ingredients hiding in common cleaner brands. One such persulfate, which can pose SERIOUS health risks and is found in almost all leading retainer cleaners brands. Moreover, persulfate's health risks potentially impact respiratory health and skin sensitivities in your family, especially in teens and sensitive individuals. Learn more about the risk of persulfate HERE. 



The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider before making any changes to your health regimen. The author and publisher do not take responsibility for any consequences resulting from the information provided in this article.