summary This study evaluated the abrasiveness of four denture cleaners on the surface of denture base material and assessed their ability to remove Candida albicans. Acrylic resin discs 20 mm diameter and 2 mm thick were identically produced and polished. Four cleaners were evaluated: conventional toothpaste; toothpaste with stain remover; denture cleaning paste and an immersion type cleaner, and water were used as control. These were used at dilutions of 1:1, 1:2 and 1:3 with water. An electric toothbrush was used, and the discs cleaned to simulate 1 years’ cleaning. The surface roughness of the discs were then measured, before and after cleaning, using a stylus profilometer, then inoculated with 1·2 × 106C. albicans cells. The effectiveness of the denture cleaners to remove C. albicans cells was assessed following a single cleaning event. The immersion cleaner was significantly less abrasive than paste cleaners (P < 0·05). There were no significant differences between any dilutions for any cleaner used (P > 0·05). Immersion and paste cleaners removed almost all recoverable C. albicans from the discs, as cleaning with water alone was less effective (P < 0·05). An immersion type cleaner was found to be the most suitable cleaner because of its low abrasivity and effective removal of organic debris.