Hearing aids are an investment in your quality of life. As essential lifestyle technology, they need to function reliably 24/7, 365 days a year, so you can hear, talk, maintain relationships, and live independently. But as constant use is necessary, some wear-and-tear is inevitable.
One of the best ways to take care of any device and ensure their long-term function is by simply keeping them clean. Unlike other required maintenance, hearing aid hygiene can be practiced regularly at home and even on your own. But because many users wear their hearing aids almost non-stop, it’s nearly impossible to tell when they’re due for a maintenance check or tune-up until function or hearing ability starts to cause miscommunication. When these things happen, it’s worth asking — when did you last clean your hearing aid?
Hearing aid hygiene could be the difference between optimal hearing and a life of frustration due to half-heard sentences. Learn below how to keep your hearing aids clean and working properly:
Hearing Aid Hygiene Includes Hand Hygiene
Hand hygiene is often overlooked in keeping various items and surfaces clean, but it’s a key step that reduces the transmission of harmful germs, bacteria, oils and other debris. Before cleaning your hearing aid, make sure to wash your hands properly, and, as an extra precaution, you can also wear gloves. This necessary step guarantees a safer, more thorough hearing aid hygiene during the time they’re in use.
Clean Out Ear Wax
Did you know that a lot of reduced hearing capacity or temporary hearing loss is just ear wax build-up? While hearing healthcare experts discourage jamming Q-tips into the ear canal, as this only pushes ear wax further in, it’s still important to clean the outer ears of naturally passing ear wax. Or better yet, booking a regular professional ear cleaning appointment to remove ear wax, like you can at Living Sounds.
For hearing aid wearers, the threat of ear wax is twice as bad. Ear wax build-up is the single most common cause for hearing aid repairs, and is caused by a lack of regular hearing aid hygiene. Earwax build-up is normal, but it’s important to clean it out to prevent settling into the mechanical components of your hearing aid.
Here are a few ways you can maintain hearing aid hygiene and optimal hearing quality simply by removing ear wax build-up:
1. Remove ear wax
Make it a habit to clean your hearing aids every day to remove visible ear wax coating the outer shell. This prevents wax from jamming into the internal components of the microphone or receiver and damaging them. For optimal hearing aid hygiene, simply use tissues or cleaning cloths without aloe or lotions and wipe down the surfaces gently to avoid damage.
2. Avoid the microphone ports
It’s not enough to wipe down your hearing aids with alcohol-free wet wipes; it’s important to carefully avoid depositing debris into the microphone ports, inevitably damaging them.
3. Clean the hearing aid tubing
As a lot of earwax and other debris are prone to collecting in the earmold tubing, it’s important to keep it clean. Hearing aids often come with specialized tools for cleaning the tubing and preventing wax build-up, to preserve the quality of sound transmission.
Clean the Remote Microphone
The microphone ports of hearing aids are delicate — depending on handling, these can be easily permeable for ear wax deposits and other debris, which results in blockages and damage. To avoid these, make sure to keep the microphone inlet clear each time you handle your hearing aid.
To maintain hearing aid hygiene down to the remote microphone, wear gloves to avoid transmitting debris to the ports. When cleaning, carefully wipe the entire surface of the transmitter with a damp disinfectant wipe or towel, but avoid putting the microphone openings in contact with the excess liquid to prevent waterlogging the internal components. Once finished, let the transmitter dry for a few minutes before putting it back in.
When to Clean Your Hearing Aids
Hearing aid hygiene should be practiced regularly to remove ear wax build-up and preserve sound quality. But how often do hearing aids need to be cleaned? For optimal performance, basic hearing aid hygiene should be practiced every day and a more thorough cleaning done once a month.
For starters, try to clean your hearing aids every evening to prevent built-up wax from drying overnight, making it harder to remove. Make sure to gently brush the microphone cover to remove wax or debris, and wipe down the entire surface afterwards.
For your weekly clean, take the time to remove stubborn dirt and deposits using a wax pick or wire loop. Make sure to avoid jamming the microphone and receiver ports, or sending debris into the openings towards the internal components. If your hearing aids come with wax guards, check and replace these to clear any remaining ear wax build-up.
How to Clean Every Type of Hearing Aid
The basics of hearing aid hygiene are the same among hearing aid models: remove wax build-up by cleaning the ports and openings and turning the device upside down to dislodge deposits; open the battery compartment at night to air it out and extend battery life, cleaning the earmold tubing, and cleaning the remote microphone. Beyond these, each hearing aid requires specific cleaning to maintain long-term, optimal use.
For in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids, you can use a wax pick or wire loop to remove stubborn debris from the air vent or run a cleaner through the opening. Meanwhile, behind-the-ear (BTE) models require brushing the earmold clean and washing it in warm water and soap and drying them completely before reattaching to the hearing aid.
Finally, hearing aid hygiene for receiver-in-canal (RIC) models requires using your thumbs to massage the drome tip to push out stubborn deposits. In addition, replacing it when it wears out, becomes misshapen, or accumulates built-up wax that’s too stubborn to remove.
To learn more about how to keep your hearing aid clean, call Living Sounds Hearing Centre at 780-488-8100, or contact us here.