7min

How To Clean Your Hearing Aids: Maintenance 101 and Care Tips

The best way to extend the lifespan of your hearing aids is to build the habit of cleaning and caring for them. Click here to read how!

Nicole Brener
Author:
Nicole Brener
How To Clean Your Hearing Aids:  Maintenance 101 and Care Tips

Hearing aids are an investment; if you learn how to clean and maintain them properly, they will last longer and work better.

Many people wear hearing aids almost daily, requiring them to function 10-16 hours daily for several years. Because they live in an exposed environment inside and behind the ear, hearing aids can accumulate dirt, earwax buildup, and oils.

The best way to extend the lifespan of your hearing aids and ensure their proper functioning is to build the habit of cleaning and caring for them, including best sanitization practices, storage, and replacement.

Signs You Need To Clean Your Hearing Aid

Regular cleaning of your hearing aids is essential not only for hygiene and infection prevention but also for maintaining the optimal performance of your device. Here are some signs that indicate it's time to clean your hearing aids:

  • Muffled sound
  • Persistent whistling or feedback
  • Lower volume
  • Inconsistent performance
  • Faster battery drain
  • Visible earwax or debris, especially in the earmolds or tubing

Some essential parts of your hearing aids don’t last forever (even if you clean them regularly!). With time, your hearing aid domes, tips, tubing, or receiver will lose shape or discolor, decreasing sound quality reaching your ears. For this reason, it’s important to replace them accordingly.

How To Clean a Behind The Ear (BTE) Hearing Aid

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What You'll Need

  • Hearing aid brush / soft bristle brush
  • Soft cloth
  • Vent cleaner
  • Wax pick
  • Earmold air blower

Cleaning BTE Hearing Aids vs RIC and ITE Hearing Aids

Although the cleaning process is very similar for all types of hearing aids, there are a few variations due to their construction. 

The cleaning tool for Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing aids typically features a brush on one end and a long wire on the other. The brush is used to clean the exterior of the hearing aid, while the long wire is designed to clean the flexible tubing, ensuring it is free from any blockages or debris.

In contrast, the cleaning tool for Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) and In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aids has a brush on one end and a short wire loop on the other. The brush cleans the outside of the hearing aid, while the short wire loop is designed to remove earwax buildup in the smaller, more intricate sections of the hearing aid.

How To Clean Your Hearing Aids: Step by Step

Keep your BTE hearing aid in excellent condition by following these steps and using the appropriate tools.

Step 1: Remove the battery

Remove the battery or turn the device off if it's rechargeable.

Step 2: Brush the surface of the device

For BTE hearing aids, remove the tubing and use a hearing aid brush to gently brush away any debris from the surface. RIC hearing aids include a fixed wire system that you should not try to remove. 

Make sure to brush to clean the microphone ports on the hearing aid, where sound enters. This is crucial, as clogged microphone ports can cause the hearing aid to malfunction, such as feedback or whistling noises.

Step 3: Clean the tube

Use a wax pick or wire loop to remove any debris or wax buildup. Thread the cleaning wire tool through the tubing until it comes out at the tip of the other end. Wipe away any dirt or wax with a clean cloth. Regular maintenance includes periodically changing the tubing to ensure optimal performance.

Step 4: Wipe down the hearing aid tip

Separate the earmold and gently wipe it clean. If necessary, wash the earmold with warm, soapy water. Ensure the earmold and tubing are completely dry before reattaching to avoid moisture damage. An earmold air blower can help remove any remaining moisture.

Never use alcohol or water to clean your hearing aids since it can permanently damage your device, and remember to replace them every three to six months. 

Step 5: Change the wax traps

Change the wax traps on the tips of the receiver to prevent wax from getting into the receiver and causing permanent damage. Note that wax traps are not cleaned but replaced.

Step 6: Reassemble your hearing aid

Reattach the tubing (BTW only) and insert the battery to enjoy the clean, crisp sound of a newly cleaned hearing aid!

Step 7: Store properly

Properly store your hearing aids when not in use. Before storage, turn off the device to conserve battery life and keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and humidity (bathroom or kitchen are no-nos). If possible, keep them inside the hearing aid case for additional protection.

If you live in high-humidity areas using a dehumidifier overnight helps remove moisture that could cause damage. The small and convenient case keeps the hearing aid dry, improving sound quality, preventing costly repairs and extending the lifespan of the device. 

How Often Should I Clean My Hearing Aids?

If you’re really serious about hygiene and keeping your hearing aids in good condition, the best thing you can do is clean them everyday. Making this a habit, like brushing your teeth, is your best bet!

Remember, hearing aids are exposed to dirt, sweat, bacteria, earwax and other environmental debris daily, and just a small amount can damage or block your hearing aid. 

Key Takeaway

If you follow a consistent cleaning routine, you will increase the lifespan of your hearing aids and guarantee their performance. With practice, these cleaning steps will become second nature, and you’ll reap the benefits of clean hearing aids.

Nicole Brener

Copywriter based in Miami, FL. Leads copywriting workshops and mentors women entrepreneurs at the Idea Center of Miami Dade College.

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