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Hearing Aid Cleaning and Care

Removable hearing aids are just one form of assistive hearing device for children and adults who have recent or long-term hearing loss. Whether one uses them regularly or only at certain times, they must be in good working condition when needed. One way to help ensure that they are functioning properly is to handle them cautiously and correctly and to clean them regularly. In-the-ear (ITE) and behind-the-ear (BTE) are two of the more common types of hearing aids, and while their care is fairly standard, it is important to understand how to clean both types. While one should always follow the cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer, there are some basic tips that can help make them easy to clean when necessary.

The delicate nature of hearing aids requires a great deal of care and consideration. Things such water and extreme temperatures, for example, can result in damage. Hats, rain caps, and umbrellas can help protect devices from rain and snow, while removing hearing aids before blow-drying one’s hair, taking a shower, swimming, or otherwise immersing oneself in water can protect them from heat and moisture. Covering or removing one’s aid will also protect it from certain cosmetics or other products that are used for grooming, such as hair spray, perfume, and shaving cream, for example. Other ways to care for hearing aids include never storing them near air conditioners, furnaces, or any other source of heat or cold. When handling one’s device, do so over a soft surface or a table covered with a soft towel in order to prevent major damage in case it is dropped. Pets are also destructive when it comes to hearing devices. Keep hearing aids in a location that will prevent dogs from chewing or cats from playing with them.

Most hearing instruments, or aids, have four common parts. These parts include a battery, microphone, receiver, and amplifier. Depending on the type of device, the parts may be contained in a case or shell that fits in the ear or behind it. Behind-the-ear aids also include an earmold that fits into the ear. This earmold is connected to the behind-the-ear casing by a plastic tube. Understanding the parts can help make it easier to care for the devices. Before each use, each hearing aid should be visually inspected for any damage or concerns. Verify that the volume controls, if applicable, work correctly and that earmolds on BTEs are free of moisture. Also inspect the tubing that leads from the hearing aid to the earmold. There shouldn’t be any holes or cracks, nor should the tube be bent or twisted. Additionally, it should also fit snugly into the hearing aid. If the tubes show signs of age, such as yellowing, they may need to be replaced. On all types of hearing aids, regularly check the batteries to ensure that they are not getting low on power.

Because hearing aids are located on the skin and in the ear, they are exposed to perspiration and earwax. On a daily basis, wipe the device down with a clean and dry tissue or cloth. Because moisture can damage a hearing aid, water, alcohol, or solvents of any kind should not be used unless recommended by the manufacturer or an audiologist. To remove wax or other debris from inside of the microphone opening, use a brush. The brush for cleaning out wax typically comes with the device; however, a small, soft toothbrush may also be used if necessary. If cleaning BTE hearing aids, also wipe down the earmolds daily and check that the tubing does not have a buildup of wax or moisture. To remove any moisture from the tube, use an earmold air blower, which may be recommended by an audiologist. Earmolds, unlike the actual hearing aid, may be washed weekly with warm water and a mild soap. Before washing the earmolds, they must be detached from the hearing aid, and they should be dried thoroughly once cleaned. Ideally, they should be dried overnight before they are used again.