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Cleaning Your Hearing Aids

Cleaning a hearing instrument is a service generally provided by a hearing healthcare professional 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.

Special tools to consider when cleaning a hearing aid

There are numerous options available to help keep your hearing device clean. While these can be purchased online or over-the-counter, it is advised to consult your hearing healthcare provider as to which tools will be most beneficial for a particular device.
The following is a list of the more common tools available to keep hearing aids in pristine condition:

  • 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 are sometimes sold separately or can be included on a hearing aid cleaning brush. This tool is designed to help remove wax and other debris from hearing aid nooks and holes.
  • MultiTool: these tools 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.

The hearing aid multi-tool has a wire loop, magnet and brush all in one. This is an important tool for cleaning your hearing aids.

Daily hearing aid upkeep

While sometimes more thorough forms of maintenance are needed, it is good practice to use a dry cloth or tissue daily to remove any dust, earwax or moisture from your device.

There are proper tools that should be used 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.

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.

It is generally advised to clean the device at the end of the day, when 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.

Cleaning ITE (in the ear) hearing aid models

ITE hearing aids are custom fit based on an impression or cast taken of the ear canal and outer ear. The hearing aid will fill up a portion of the ear canal and outer ear, depending upon the size. If made properly, ITE hearing aids should not cause discomfort or pain while in the ear. Often people choose theses styles for the discreteness they provide.

When cleaning an ITE model, you’ll want to concentrate on cleaning the holes in the device, in addition to the microphone ports. While there are specific tools created to help with this type of cleaning, some individuals choose to use a soft-bristle toothbrush. To clean the aid, 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. After thoroughly cleaning the build-up off, a wax pick or hook should be used to clear anything out of the inner holes.

Once the device and inside holes have been cleared out, you should finish by wiping the entire device with a clean, dry cloth or tissue. This will remove leftover debris from the hearing aid.

Cleaning BTE (behind the ear) hearing aid models

BTE hearing aids sit behind the ear and send sound into the ear canal via plastic tubing and either a custom earmold or plastic dome depending upon the type of the BTE hearing aid. Open fit hearing aids are very popular due to the natural feeling and fit of these hearing aids. Instead of using a full custom earmold, open fit hearing aids use a plastic dome inside the ear canal which allows the ear canal to remain open. These are a popular choice because they feel less invasive due to the location behind the ear.

To clean a BTE hearing aid, 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. You should use a blower or dryer to force water out of the tube and then place the tubing in a safe spot to dry overnight.

It may be worthwhile investing in a hearing aid dehumidifier. While these aren’t requirements, they 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.

In addition to the above steps and methods, it is good practice at nighttime to open the battery compartment of your hearing aid, remove the batteries and brush the compartment with the cleaning brush. Once you’ve replaced the batteries, you can leave the compartment open while storing overnight. Any moisture from the day will be able to dry overnight.

For specific questions about cleaning a particular device, individuals should contact a hearing healthcare provider for further information.

References

  1. Keeping your hearing aids clean, Oticon, http://www.oticon.com/support/hearing-aids/care-and-maintenance/cleaning.aspx
  2. Care and Maintenance of Hearing Aids, Better Hearing Institute, http://www.betterhearing.org/pdfs/e-Guides/eGuide_Care_Maintenance_Hearing_Aids.pdf

This content was last reviewed on: July 24th, 2013

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