Whether a person wears an orthotic--brace or splint--to treat a structural problem with a part of the body or an injury, the orthotic can become dirty over time. Additionally, many orthotic devices acquire distinctly unpleasant odors from staining substances and/or accumulated perspiration. Getting rid of orthotic odor isn’t difficult and only requires that you clean the various materials that make up the orthotic, such as fabric, foam, plastic, gel, synthetic rubber, and/or metal.
Fabrics and Foam
Remove any fabric-containing pieces such as straps from your orthotic. If the orthotic is made primarily of fabric or doesn't have removable fabric pieces, skip this step.
Sprinkle baking soda on any fabric or foam areas, and wait 8 to 12 hours for the baking soda to absorb the odor.
Attach a crevice tool or brush head to your vacuum’s hose, and vacuum away the baking soda.
Wipe the material with a damp cloth and wait for the fabric to dry completely, or dry with a hair dryer set to the "Low" setting (fabric) or "Cool" setting (foam), 5 to 6 inches from the surface.
Smell the fabric or foam to check for remaining odors. If odors remain, soak the pieces or entire orthotic in a sink of warm water with salt (3 tbsp. per quart of water) or mild laundry detergent (enough to make the water soapy) for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of the salt or soapy water, squeeze out the excess water, and air-dry.
Plastic, Gel, Synthetic Rubber and Metal
Clean away surface dirt or stains that may have caused the odor by rubbing the areas with a slightly soapy, damp cloth.
Wipe the areas with clean cloths thoroughly until you have removed all residues, then rub dry with a clean cloth or air-dry.
Check the material for odors. If you can still smell an odor, dampen a cloth with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. These can get rid of odor-causing bacteria, toxins, oils, or other substances while sterilizing. Blot or rub the orthotic with the alcohol or peroxide. Air-dry when finished.
If your doctor or the orthotic manufacturer advises against washing any fabric or foam materials on your orthotic, dampen a cloth with hydrogen peroxide and blot the odoriferous areas, wait 15 to 20 minutes, and smell the fabric again. If an odor remains on the fabric or foam or on any plastic, gel, or synthetic rubber pieces, spray the areas with a deodorizing spray and wait 10 to 20 minutes before reuse.
If dealing with a dental orthotic, brush your teeth after meals and before use (if a removable orthotic) to remove odor-causing substances. In addition, wash the orthotic regularly with mouthwash or dental orthotic cleaner, scrub gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and then rinse thoroughly to remove all residues.
Always test your cleaning method on an inconspicuous area of your orthotic before use. Some methods can damage (for example, stain, melt or weaken) different orthotic materials. Never dry your orthotics with direct heat, because this can also damage orthotic materials.
Never use harsh chemicals or abrasives to clean your orthotics.