Cleaning a hearing instrument is a service generally provided by a hearing healthcare professional every time you visit after the initial fitting and consultation, but it’s also good practice to follow home. It’s important to keep your hearing aid in the best condition possible, which means following a few simple, but essential steps when cleaning the device.
Most professionals advise hearing aid patients to clean off and check devices daily to increase the longevity of the technology. In addition to keeping the hearing device in good condition, routinely checking the hearing aid enables the wearer to ensure there are no visible damages or issues.
Because a hearing aid is an incredibly tiny piece of technology, it’s important to understand what methods and tools are needed to help keep it clean.
Tips to maintain your hearing aids
While sometimes more thorough forms of maintenance are needed, follow these quick tips to maintain your hearing devices:
- Get the proper tools: There are special tools to use when cleaning hearing aids, like a wax pick and brush, which are designed to clear wax build-up at the end of the device where sound comes out. Large amounts of earwax can clog the microphone or receiver of a hearing aid, which can then create a static or feedback sound.
- Follow a daily routine: It’s also a good idea to apply hair products, such as sprays, gels or creams, before putting on the hearing device. Additionally, any face washing should be done while the hearing aid is out to avoid any unwanted moisture or product from getting on the device.
- Clean your device at the end of the day: It is generally advised to clean the device at the end of the day, because it will be removed for several hours. Cleaning wipes with chemicals or alcohol should be avoided when cleaning hearing aids as they could damage the device.
How to clean ITE (in the ear) hearing aids
When cleaning an ITE model, you'll want to follow the following steps:
- Concentrate on cleaning the holes in the device, in addition to the microphone ports using a soft-bristle toothbrush or tool recommended by your hearing healthcare professional.
- To clean off built-up wax, hold the device and gently, but vigorously, clean the openings with the brush. Angle the tool downward so that any particles will fall out of the hearing aid instead of inside the holes.
- Next, use a wax pick or hook to clear anything out of the inner holes.
- Finish by wiping the entire device with a clean, dry cloth or tissue. This will remove leftover debris from the hearing aid.
How to clean BTE (behind the ear) hearing aids
To clean a BTE hearing aid, it's important to follow the steps below:
- Examine the device for any earwax or debris and remove what you find with a wax pick.
- Remove the earmold from the hook and clean it with soapy water.
- Use a blower or dryer to force water out of the tube and then place the tubing in a safe spot to dry overnight.
Additional steps to consider
- Open the battery compartment of your hearing aid
- Remove the batteries
- Brush the battery compartment with the cleaning brush
Once you’ve replaced the batteries in the compartment, you can leave the the battery door open while storing overnight. Any moisture from the day will be able to dry overnight.
It may be worthwhile investing in a hearing aid dehumidifier. While this isn't a requirement, dehumidifiers are generally low-cost and can effectively dry internal components of a hearing device overnight while you sleep. Moisture naturally builds from daily hearing aid use and is one of the primary reasons for repair. Dehumidifiers can sometimes help prolong the life of hearing aids.
Special tools for cleaning a hearing aid
Hearing aid cleaning brush: These are specifically designed for certain types of hearing aids, like in-the-ear devices. They generally have a soft brush tip end to clean the body, faceplate or sound port of a hearing device. Also, some brushes can be purchased with a magnetic battery removal tool to ease daily cleaning of aids.
- Ear hook, wax pick and wire loop: These tools are sometimes sold separately or can be included on a hearing aid cleaning brush. They are designed to help remove wax and other debris from hearing aid nooks and holes.
- MultiTool: MultiTools are generally available through a hearing healthcare provider and are versatile because they usually provide all of the above options in one structure. It usually consists of a hearing aid brush, hook or loop and generally has a magnetic end to help with hearing aid battery removal.
When to see a professional
Hearing aids should be professionally cleaned once or twice a year, or more often if you produce a lot of earwax. Hearing care practitioners have specialized vacuums they use to clean hearing aids, as well as training and experience for cleaning vents, microphone screens and receivers without causing damage to your hearing aids. If you are having trouble getting your hearing aids cleaned at home, don't hesitate to call your provider and ask for an appointment to have it cleaned and checked. Many practitioners offer hearing aid cleaning as a walk-in service.
For specific questions about cleaning a particular device, individuals should contact a hearing healthcare provider for further information.