When you regularly clean your hearing aids, you help them function better and last longer.
Despite their small size, hearing aids are powerful devices with many intricate parts. To perform at their best and reduce the need for repairs, you'll need to clean them daily.
Your hearing aid cleaning instructions may vary, depending on the type of hearing aids you have and the cleaning routine your hearing care provider recommends for you.
Hearing aid cleaning kit
A hearing aid cleaning kit has all the tools you need to clean and maintain your hearing aids.
Common cleaning tools to keep your hearing aids in good working condition are:
A hearing aid cleaning brush: soft bristle tool that allows for gentle cleaning in and around the hearing aid. A magnet at the end of the brush allows for easy retrieval of disposable batteries to change them.
A wax pick and wire loop: tool used to safely pick out earwax and debris in ports and openings in hearing aids.
Wax guards: filter system used to block earwax from entering the hearing aids and prevent damage to the electronics. These are periodically changed out.
How to clean hearing aids
How you clean your hearing aids will depend on your type of hearing aid. Some hearing aids have more components that need cleaning than others.
How to clean behind-the-ear hearing aids
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids have processors that sit behind your ears. They also have a tube that connects the processors to silicon domes or earmolds that sit in your ear canal.
To clean BTE hearing aids:
Use non-alcoholic wet wipes to rub off any earwax or debris on the hearing aid. Do not wash or immerse your hearing aid processor in water or any liquid.
Clean the ventilation opening using the elongated cleaning brush. Push it through the hole while twisting it slightly. This will clear any blocked vents or ports.
If you have a disposable silicone dome on the end of your hearing aid, replace it every two to four weeks.
If you have earmolds without a speaker in them, you can disconnect the earmolds and wash in soap and water. Be sure to dry them thoroughly before reconnecting.
For domes, remove the wax filter using the same wax filter system supplied with your hearing aids. Brush off any earwax remaining in the sound ports using your hearing aid cleaning brush. Then, replace it with a new filter.
How to clean in-the-ear hearing aids
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids have processors that sit in your ear canal. Some sit deep enough in the ear canal that they are known as "invisible hearing aids."
To clean ITE hearing aids:
Use wet wipes, preferably antibacterial, to rub off any earwax or debris on the hearing aid. Do not immerse your hearing aids in water or any liquid.
Remove buildup, dust and debris with the cleaning tool that came with your hearing aids.
If applicable, remove the wax filter using the same wax filter system supplied with your hearing aids. Brush off any earwax remaining in the sound ports using your hearing aid cleaning brush. Then, replace it with a new filter.
Tips for cleaning hearing aids
Keep your hands clean and dry when handling hearing aids, as grease and dirt may clog up the ports.
Clean your hearing aids over a soft surface to avoid damage if you drop them.
Never use water, cleaning fluids or alcohol. These could damage your hearing aids.
Use the cleaning tool to clear blocked microphone and sound ports.
For hearing aids with disposable batteries, open the hearing aid battery door when not in use. This will prevent moisture buildup. You do not need to do this for rechargeable batteries.
Place hearing aids in a dry dehumidifier container when not in use, if applicable. Your hearing care provider will let you know if this is something you need to do.
How to clean your ears
One way to keep your hearing aids clean is to keep your ears clean. Your hearing aids rest in (and sometimes on) your ears most of the day. So, earwax, sweat and dirt from your ear can go on your hearing aids as well.
Clean in and around your ears regularly with a wash cloth to prevent earwax buildup.
Do not use cotton swabs or sharp objects to clean your ears. They can push the earwax further in, making it harder to remove.
Do not use sharp objects to remove wax from your ear, either. This may result in injury to the eardrum.
If your ears feel full or stuffy and you have trouble hearing, you may have earwax buildup. Contact a hearing clinic that offers earwax removal services.
When to seek a professional
Once every few months, you should have your hearing aids serviced by your hearing professional. Hearing professionals have special tools to safely and thoroughly clean your hearing aids.
Shantelle Shakes is the coordinator for Hearing Directory. She has over seven years of experience in the health industry, with six of those years in hearing healthcare. After graduating from York University with an honours BA in Professional Writing, Minor in Creative Writing, Shantelle began her marketing career with a major hearing healthcare provider. Through a variety of roles within that company, Shantelle gained a thorough understanding of hearing health and the client experience. She aims to use her knowledge of the industry as well as her communications background to help others understand their hearing and connect with the hearing care they need.