Hearing aids can cost a lot of money. To keep them working properly, it's a good practice to learn how to take care of them and keep them clean. This way, you can also avoid having to repeatedly repair or replace them. Follow these steps to learn how to clean hearing aids.
How to Care for Hearing Aids
There are several kinds of hearing aids:
- Behind-the-ear aids: A small plastic case that rests behind your ear holds most of the parts. This is connected to an earpiece by a piece of tubing. This is usually the type of hearing aid chosen for young children.
- Mini BTE aids: This is a newer type of hearing aid that’s much smaller than a regular behind-the-ear aid. The tubing that connects it to the earpiece is very thin and almost invisible.
- In-the-ear aids: This hearing aid fits in your ear.
- In-the-canal aids and completely-in-the-canal aids: These fit partly or completely in your ear canal and are the smallest hearing aids available.
Every type of hearing aid has these parts that need to be cared for regularly:
- The shell
- The receiver
- The microphone
Talk to your audiologist to find out what's the best way to clean your model of hearing aid.
How to Clean the Hearing Aid Shell
The shell is the outside of your hearing aid. You can clean it in the following ways:
- Dampen a tissue or cloth slightly to remove wax buildup.
- Use the brush that comes with your hearing aid to brush away stubborn buildup.
For behind-the-ear hearing aids, you can clean the earmold with these steps:
- Remove it from the earhook.
- Place the hearing aid in a dry, safe place.
- Use warm, soapy water to gently wash the earmold.
- Shake out excess water.
- Allow the earmold to dry overnight.
- You can also use an air blower to remove water from the tubing.
- Make sure that the tubing and earmold are dry before reattaching them to the hearing aid.
How to Clean the Hearing Aid Microphone
Clean the microphone of your hearing aid with care, as it’s one of the most delicate parts:
- Turn the hearing aid upside down when cleaning the microphone. This will ensure that any debris will fall out of the microphone, and not into it.
- Use the brush provided with your hearing aid to brush across the microphone port.
- Don’t poke anything into the microphone port, as this might damage it.
How to Clean the Hearing Aid Receiver
The receiver is the hole that carries the sound from the hearing aid speaker to your ear. The most common cause of hearing aid failure is when there’s ear wax buildup in the receiver.
Here’s how to clean the receiver of your hearing aid:
- Be gentle when cleaning the receiver. Too much force may damage it.
- Clean it daily with the brush provided. This should be enough to remove most buildup.
- Use the small wire loop (wax pick) provided to clean the receiver. Insert the wax pick into the receiver opening until there’s resistance. Then scoop it back out. Repeat until there’s no more wax.
How to Disinfect Hearing Aids
You may use a hearing aid sanitizing solution to clean your hearing aid. Use only the sanitizer recommended by your audiologist. Don’t use other cleaning agents or alcohol, as this may damage your hearing aid.
Spray the solution on a soft paper towel or tissue. Use it to wipe down the hearing aid and earpiece.
How Often Should Hearing Aids Be Cleaned?
Earwax, debris, and dust can build up on your hearing aid. To keep it from getting clogged up, your hearing aid should be cleaned every day.
If your hearing aid is the type that has a wax trap or wax guard, replace it regularly. Talk to your hearing aid specialist or audiologist about how often you should replace it and how. You may be able to buy replacements online or from your audiologist.
Tips for Hearing Aid Maintenance
Keep your hearing aid in. If possible, try to wear your hearing aid all day. If you take it out and put it in your pocket, you may accidentally put it in the laundry.
Use the right hearing aid storage. When you’re not using your hearing aid, turn it off and open the battery door. This will help the batteries last longer.
The best place to store your hearing aid at night is in a dry box or dry storage kit. This could be an electronic device that circulates air, or it could just be a regular container with a desiccant inside.
If your hearing aid gets wet, put it in the dry box to dry it. Don’t dry it with a hair dryer or put it in the microwave. This will damage your hearing aid.
Don't store your hearing aid near sources of cold or heat. This includes the car on a hot day, near a sunny window, and in the refrigerator.
Don’t keep your hearing aid in the bathroom. Steam from the shower can get into your hearing aid. There’s also a higher risk of dropping it in water when you keep it in the bathroom.
Avoid cosmetics and toiletries. Some toiletries and cosmetics can build up debris on your hearing aid or clog the microphone. These include aftershave, shaving cream, hair spray, cologne, and perfume.
Before applying these products, take off your hearing aid or cover it.
Don’t wear your hearing aid when you’re using a hairdryer at home or at a hair salon.
Keep it away from pets. Put your hearing aid away from the reach of any pets. Your pets may chew or play with it.
Replace the batteries. If your hearing aid seems full of static, that may mean the batteries have moisture in them. Try changing the batteries to see if there’s an improvement.
Go for regular ear checkups. Experts recommend that people who use hearing aids have their ears checked every three to six months for built-up earwax.
Don’t get it wet. Moisture can destroy the microphone and receiver, or cause corrosion. To avoid the damage that moisture can cause, follow these tips:
- Don’t wear your hearing aid when showering or taking a bath, swimming, or spending time in a sauna or steam room.
- Use an umbrella or wear a hat when you're outdoors in wet weather.
- Remove your hearing aid when at a hairdresser or barber.
- Make sure your hair and ears are dry before inserting your hearing aid.
- If you tend to sweat a lot, try not to wear your hearing aid during vigorous activity or when it’s hot and humid.