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Cleaning Oral Appliances & CPAPs

We used to kid my grandfather (aka Dr. Bronner) that he included teeth brushing in Castile Soap’s original 18 uses only because he could take his teeth out of his mouth. He wore dentures during the years I knew him. While you can indeed brush your pearly whites effectively with the soap, it does taste like soap. Not harmful, but not my thing.

However, Castile Soap, with its olive/coconut oil base, makes a fantastic non-abrasive, effective cleaner for dentures and oral appliances. Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner, the inimitable all-surface cleaner, plays its part excellently, too.

It’s not just about keeping these items clean. It’s also about cleaning them in ways that are healthy for us and preserve the longevity of the device. You certainly can knock out all germs on them using bleach. However, the harm to people bleach causes is well-documented, and to keep it handy in your bathroom may be asking for trouble with little ones or pets. Further, bleach can weaken, discolor, or deteriorate materials over time.

I wore a retainer for about 20 years post-braces and have since switched to a nightguard. Perhaps TMI, but know that these recommendations are ones I have followed personally to good effect for a very long time.  

Castile Soap and Sal Suds work almost interchangeably for cleaning the items listed below. Both rinse cleanly and leave no taste behind. However, there are reasons which I share below that make me reach for one over the other depending on the job. If you are particularly drawn to either Castile Soap or Sal Suds, go with it. Both work for all of this.

Why Not Just Use Toothpaste?

As innocuous as toothpaste may seem, its slight abrasiveness that is awesome for polishing our teeth will polish the surface right off these appliances. They are not as durable as our teeth. While you may not care if your retainer loses its shine, you would definitely care if your dentures do. You need a gentler cleaner.  

Even baking soda, a hero of the green care arsenal, is too abrasive for brushing these devices, though you’ll see below a recommendation of a baking soda soak for dentures.

Nightguards, Retainers, Teeth Whitening Trays & Other Removable Oral Appliances

Brush daily with Castile Soap and a soft toothbrush:

  1. Wet the device.
  2. Add a drop or two of soap to a soft toothbrush.
  3. Brush gently but thoroughly.
  4. Rinse well.

Follow manufacturer’s recommendation on how to store if not worn immediately. Some need to be soaked, but most should be air-dried before storing. Do not store a device when wet as this encourages microbe growth.

As I’ve said, I’ve used the Castile Soap to clean my nightguard for years. I already have Castile Soap beside my sink for face washing. And handwashing. And makeup brush washing. You get the picture. It’s right there, and it washes everything. If Sal Suds is your preference, though, it’s just as easy to tuck a bottle under the sink for this purpose.

Headgear

I wore this, too, in my day. Depending on how much of it is washable, either submerge the whole thing in a sink with a squirt of Castile Soap or Sal Suds, or if only certain parts can get wet, use a wet washcloth with a few drops of soap and wash well. Rinse and let dry.

Dentures

Brushing: After removing dentures, rinse them under running water. Then put a couple drops of Castile Soap on a soft toothbrush and brush thoroughly. Rinse well.

Soaking: Most dentures should be soaked when not in use. Follow manufacturer’s direction on this. After cleaning, place them in a cup of water with a small squirt of Castile Soap, about ½ tsp. (2.5 mL). You can also add 1 tsp. (5 mL) of baking soda. When you’re ready to insert them, rinse them well. Remember not to brush dentures with baking soda as this can dull the finish over time.  

Partial dentures can also be cleaned this way. Partial dentures often have metal parts. These in particular can corrode with harsh cleaners. Gentle, non-abrasive cleaners like Castile Soap or Sal Suds are best.

CPAP Machines 

A continuous positive airway pressure device, used for treating sleep apnea and affectionately known as a CPAP machine, is not an oral appliance per se, but nightly use necessitates regular cleaning. Dr. Bronner’s can help with this, too.

Follow manufacturer’s recommendation on what parts to wash and how often. Likely you’ll need to wash the mask, tubing, and headgear.

  1. Submerge washable parts in a bowl or sink of warm water with a small squirt of Sal Suds, approximately a half teaspoon, or 2.5 mL. Make sure the solution has gone through the tubing so that no air bubbles are trapped.
  2. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Wash parts gently with a washcloth.
  4. Rinse all parts, running water through the tubing to rinse thoroughly.
  5. Towel parts dry and then allow to air dry thoroughly before reassembling. Hang the tubing gently over a towel rod, hanger, or shower so that moisture can escape.

I recommend Sal Suds over the Castile for CPAP parts because Castile Soap reacts with the minerals in hard water and leaves a harmless but unsightly film. However, you can still use the Castile if you prefer. If you have soft water, there will be no film, or with hard water, you can eliminate the film by doing an additional vinegar rinse: dilute ½ cup (120 mL) of vinegar in your bowl/sink of water. Rinse items through and air dry. Or you can just leave the film be. It is harmless.

Despite numerous online recommendations I’ve read that advise washing CPAP parts with vinegar and soap together, do not do this. Do not use vinegar with either Castile Soap or Sal Suds. Vinegar reacts with the Castile, producing goo, and does not improve the cleaning ability of the Sal Suds.

We pay a lot for these appliances, and they do important work. Further, they go in our mouths, which means anything on them ends up in us. This isn’t even a discussion of the permeability of our skin. This is about literally swallowing substances.

We want to be sure that what we use to clean these devices is effective and safe to ensure these appliances can do their jobs for a good many years.

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Pam says:

When you use Dr.Bronner’s castile soap to clean your dentures do you still need to disinfect them? I’ve used the castile sopa for everything for years & years. I wouldn’t be without it and I love reading the label, especially when I’m soaking in the tub.

Andrea Carmon says:

I use Dr. Bronner’s to clean my Neti pot after each use. I want to thoroughly clean anything that is shooting water into my head! Lol

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Andrea- Excellent! Our soaps are great for cleaning Neti pots and such!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Shellaine- To clean water flossers, fill the tank with warm water and a couple drops of Sal Suds or squirt of the Castile soap. Run solution through the tubing. The follow up with a run of clear water. Let air dry. Soak the various tips in a sink/bowl of warm water and Sal Suds or Castile. Wash with cloth and rinse well. Let air dry.

Jacqueline Santos says:

I just purchased a $15 bottle of Heal Earth. Smells good and I will post in the future how this soap will work for showering or bathing.

Suzy says:

Do you think using sal sud or dr bronners would help to clean electronic toothbrush heads?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Suzy – Yes, I think both would work well. Soak them in hot water with a dash of either product. Let them sit for a bit. Then scrub and rinse them. Let them air dry.

Adrian says:

Hi! Love the new look of the blog, it feels cleaner! I’ve always washed my nightguard with Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap mainly because it’s easier to find, the unscented one prevents me from feeling some taste or scent in it that I would get from other soap and it rinses better. But now that I’ve found an easier way to buy Sal Suds I’m curious if it would be the same or I’ll risk a small “taste”? What do you think?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Adrian- I’m glad you like the new look! Sal Suds is exceedingly clean rinsing, so there shouldn’t be any residue taste left behind. Both work equally well!

Debra says:

I don’t have a c-pap or dentures, but I do wear retainers, and I soak them daily, in my Dr. Bronners’ diluted, Castile liquid soap and a bit of distilled water. I have been using this mixture for about 5 years and I wouldn’t use anything else! My retainers are squeaky clean every morning!

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Lisa Bronner

Green means life. “Going Green” is living in such a way to promote vitality and vibrancy in every sphere of life. Grab an idea to make your days healthier, simpler, and more beautiful at their core.