Your hearing aids spend a lot of time in and around your ears, where they can become clogged with ear wax, dead skin cells and dust/debris from the environment. Over time, the buildup on your hearing aids can impact their functionality and effectiveness. Without regular cleanings, your hearing aids may stop working properly. Eventually, lack of maintenance could even shorten their service life.
Proper maintenance can help your hearing aids last longer and perform at 100 percent. Knowing how to clean hearing aids can help you feel more in control of your own health and hearing. Whether you are new to hearing aid ownership or just hoping to brush up on your hearing aid maintenance skills, these tips can help you take care of your devices.
Keep Your Ears Clean
Cleaning your ears regularly can help keep your hearing aids clean. The more dead skin cells and earwax you can remove from your ears before wearing your hearing aids, the less cleaning of your hearing device you will have to do. Remember that wearing hearing aids will stimulate the production of earwax, which in turn can increase the cleaning requirement to keep your hearing aids in good condition. Keeping buildup away from your hearing aids is good practice and can reduce costs associated with ongoing hearing aid maintenance.
When cleaning your ears, do not use swabs when removing wax and debris inside the ear canal. Instead, brush the entrance to your ear with a swab, then use a wet rag to gently clean the outside of your ear.
Inserting a swab into your ear can cause damage and may even push the earwax deeper into your ear canal, which can cause the earwax to become impacted. If you feel like your ears have too much earwax, consult with your audiologist or primary care physician. Do not attempt to clean your ear canals on your own.
Cleaning Practices for Your Hearing Aid
Before cleaning your hearing aids, always read the instructions or use tips your audiologist provides. Also, the manufacturer should provide some guidance, including dos and don’ts that will help you make smart choices.
For cleaning purposes, hearing aids break down into three categories: ITE (In-The-Ear), BTE (Behind-The-Ear) and Receiver in the Canal (RIC). These devices are worn (and thus cleaned) in different ways.
Buy a Hearing Aid Tool Kit
To learn how to clean your hearing aids, purchase a hearing aid toolkit with a cleaning brush and cleaning pick for removing debris inside the hearing aid. Your hearing aid may also come with these tools with purchase. Hearing aid tool kits may be customized for the type of device.
To clean an ITE (In-The-Ear) hearing aid, check the device to look for any earwax or build up in the openings. When cleaning out the debris, hold the openings face down and use a small hearing aid brush to gently remove the blockage. If you do not have a cleaning kit, you can also use a toothbrush.
Holding the openings face down allows the debris to use gravity to fall out, rather than falling deeper into the hearing aid. The wax-pick is also a great tool to remove any stubborn debris that are difficult to remove. When you are done, wipe down your hearing aid with a clean cloth.
Behind-the-ear hearing aids use some of the same tools that you would use for an ITE hearing aid, with also some different tools, because their shape and functionality is slightly different. Start by using a soft brush to remove dead skin cells and earwax from the hearing aids’ outer casing. Brush the entire outer casing, including the earmold (the part that fits inside the ear) and the behind the ear section of the hearing aid.
Use the looped end of the hearing aid brush to remove any earwax from the hearing aid mold, which may get some buildup inside the tubes that fit in the ears. If the earwax is deeper inside the earmold, remove and separate the earmold from the section of the hearing aid that fits behind the ear. Insert your vent cleaner (a long, flexible tube) into the vent in the earmold, and push or pull earwax out of the mold.
If the earwax remains in the earmold, soak the earmold in soapy water, then remove the earmold from the soapy water and allow it to dry. Use a bulb blower to force the air out of the hearing tube and dry out the tube’s interior. Never soak the earmold unless you have detached it from the section of your hearing aid that fits behind your ear!
RIC (Receiver in the Canal)
Receiver in the canal hearing aids have a portion of the aid that sits behind the ear with a small wire connects to the receiver (speaker), which sits in the ear canal. These devices are often rechargeable, which means there is no battery door and the entire hearing aid is coated with a nanotech seal and are extremely moisture-resistant. It is still important to frequently clean these devices by brushing off the microphones, wiping off the ear piece and replacing the wax traps (small white cups on the piece that sits in the ear canal) frequently.
Hearing Aid Care Tips
Cleaning is just one part of the care and maintenance of your hearing aids. Keep the electronic part of your hearing aids away from moisture whenever possible. If you can open the battery port of your hearing aid, open it every night to allow moisture to escape. Avoid using your hearing aids with hair products, like gels and hair spray, which can easily clog the openings and vents of your hearing aid.
Store your hearing aids in a drawer or on your dresser, where you can easily find them, preferably in a small box that is not easily lost. This is especially important if you have very small In-The-Ear hearing aids. Keep your hearing aids away from children and remember that the littlest hearing aids can easily be swallowed by small children.
Finally, remember to turn off your hearing aids when you’re not using them, and keep spare batteries on hand just in case your batteries wear down. Small hearing aids can have short battery life, while larger hearing aids with many features may wear their hearing aid batteries down quickly. Having spare batteries on hand can help you be ready for a problem if your hearing aid batteries run down.
More than anything else, it is important to contact your audiologist with any questions about your hearing aids and to read the instructions from your hearing aid manufacturer to ensure that your hearing aids are well cared for. By following the instructions, you can avoid doing damage to your hearing aid. Annual hearing aid maintenance appointments with your audiologist is recommended. Taking care of your hearing aid can help you hear well and enjoy life with good hearing.
1. Signia-Hearing.com, Cleaning Your Hearing Aids: A Guide – https://www.signia-hearing.com/blog/cleaning-your-hearing-aids-a-guide/#:~:text=Use%20a%20soft%20brush%20to,casing%20of%20your%20hearing%20aid.&text=Remove%20the%20earmolds%20from%20your,water%20from%20time%20to%20time.
2. TruHearing, How to Clean a Behind-the-ear Hearing Aid – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dw6OInGsrGc