Denture cleaning - Using homemade soaks.

Vinegar- and bleach-based solutions can be very effective.

You don't have to purchase a commercially-prepared soak for cleaning and disinfecting your dentures. Homemade solutions, which you can make for just a few cents, can be just as effective.

This page gives instructions for making and using bleach- and vinegar-based denture cleaners.

(Remember, chemical cleansing is only the second half of effective denture care. Proper brushing is required too.)

A) Bleach-based soaks -

A diluted-bleach solution can be used to clean and disinfect false teeth. In fact, this is the most commonly used homemade denture cleaner.


A solution of 1 part household bleach (Clorox®) to 10 parts water has been shown to kill microorganisms harbored on the surface of dentures. It will also help to remove discolorations and staining. A soaking duration of no more than 10 minutes is typically recommended.

This solution on its own is not effective in removing tartar build up. However, the addition of one teaspoon of Calgon® water softener (Calgon the calcium-chelating agent, not Calgon the soap or bath oil) per glassful does make it an effective tartar-removing agent.

Precautions to keep in mind when using bleach as a part of your denture care.

  • A denture must be thoroughly rinsed off after soaking. Any residual bleach that remains on it may irritate or damage the wearer's gum tissue.
  • Bleach-based solutions, especially when used over the long-term, may cause pink denture plastic fade. Not all people will find this change objectionable. In many cases, the degree to which this effect takes place may not be readily noticeable.
  • The metallic portions of partial dentures may corrode (darken) if placed in a bleach-based soak. This is more likely to occur in those cases where the duration of the soaking is more than ten minutes per day. Ask your dentist for their recommendation on this matter.

B) Vinegar-based soaks -

Household vinegar can be used to make a denture-cleaning solution. It has been demonstrated to be effective in killing microorganisms that reside on the surface of dentures, however, less so than the bleach solution described above.

The acid nature of vinegar makes it especially effective at removing tartar. In some cases, it may dissolve away all that is present. In those cases where it doesn't, it should at least soften up the remaining bit so most of it can be brushed away. Repeated soaking and brushing can help too.


A cleaning solution is created by mixing vinegar (household white vinegar, the stuff you find in your kitchen) with an equal amount of water. A soaking period of twenty to thirty minutes is typically recommended.

Precautions to keep in mind when using vinegar as a part of your denture care.

  • Most dentists don't recommend the use of vinegar with partial dentures (at least not for long-term soaks) because it may be corrosive to the metal portions of the appliance.

Consider using a multi-solution approach.

Wendt et al. (1988) compared a number of different soaks commonly used to decontaminate dentures and came to the conclusion that the best results were obtained when a combination approach was used.

While the list below is not the precise regimen that this study outlined, each step is similar in nature. Overall, the idea here is that it takes using a series of solutions to reach maximum denture cleanliness.

  1. A bleach solution (as described above) combined with enzymatic dishwasher soap (Cascade).
  2. A vinegar solution (as described above).
  3. A sodium bicarbonate solution (one teaspoon of baking soda to eight ounces of water).

While it's not expected that a person would take the time and effort to perform this routine each day, they might choose to use it on selected days. Another approach would be to continually rotate through each of these cleaning solutions, a different one each time.

Test before you soak: Precautions to keep in mind with any type of denture-cleaning solution.

Homemade denture cleaning solution.

Due to the variety of soaking solutions available and the number of materials that can be used to make a denture, determining which type of soaking solution is suitable for use with your appliance can be an issue of some concern.

Here are some of the issues of which we are aware. You may want to quiz your dentist about them when discussing the denture cleaner you plan to use.

a) Always run some test trials.

The plastics used to make false teeth are chosen, in part, because they typically don't absorb tastes and flavors.

This makes it unlikely that cleaning solutions that have a bad taste (i.e. bleach, vinegar) will create a problem. But because it is such a simple step to take, you should perform some short-term trial soaks just to make sure.

b) Beware of damaging soft-lining materials.

Some dentures have a "soft" (spongy) internal surface (the side that touches the wearer's gums.) This can either be a short-term treatment material or a permanent part of the denture.

It's possible that some types of these linings may be damaged by, or absorb the taste of, some denture-cleaning solutions. In all cases, you should ask your dentist for specific recommendations about what type of cleaner to use.

c) Some cleaning solutions may corrode metal parts.

Some false teeth have metal components. And it's possible that the oxidizing agents contained in a denture cleaner, either homemade or commercial, may corrode them.

As an example, the use of a bleach- or vinegar-based solution may cause metal staining. Some commercial products state this same type of precaution in their instructions too. Always ask your dentist for a recommendation about what type of cleaning solution is appropriate for use with your appliance.

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