Like all medical devices, hearing aids require a bit of maintenance to keep them in tip-top shape. While a professional should perform the most intensive cleaning and repairs, you can perform some simple tasks at home to maintain your device.
1. Keep It Clean
When you spend hundreds of dollars on a life-changing device, it makes sense to protect your investment by properly cleaning it. Dirt, grime, and other contaminants can cause damage to your hearing aids if they are not removed regularly. A few moments of hearing aid care each night, and a longer cleaning session once a week, will keep your hearing aids looking brand new.
Your hands come into contact with a lot of different dirt and germs during the day, so it is important that you wash them before touching your hearing aids. This will help prevent transferring those contaminants onto the device itself. It is also important that you don’t use any creams, perfumes, or other products on your hands that could get into the small openings in your device.
A daily clean with a dry cloth is essential. This will remove any dirt or dust that has accumulated throughout the day. Make sure you focus on the openings in your hearing aid and any earmold tubing that may need cleaning. You should also clean your earwax by using a special brush or multi-tool with wax loops.
Once you have completed a regular daily cleaning, it is important to store your hearing aids at night in a dry place. This will allow any moisture to evaporate and prevent damage to your device. This can be as simple as a box containing a desiccant or something more sophisticated like an electronic device that circulates air. It is also important to open the battery door at night and remove the batteries if you won’t be using the hearing aids for a few days.
2. Keep It Dry
Hearing aids are full of sophisticated technology and can live a very long life if they are well taken care of. You can do several things from the comfort of your home to keep them clean, dry, and functioning properly.
The smallest amount of moisture can cause serious damage to your hearing aid. Moisture can build up on the microphone, reducing your voice's clarity. It can also lead to electrical issues and battery damage. This is why it’s important to dry your hearing aids every night before bed.
This includes removing the batteries and leaving the door open so that the hearing aid can air dry. This will lessen the chance of corrosion on the battery contacts and in the earwax compartment.
Keeping your hearing aids dry is good for their longevity and the best way to get the most out of your sound quality. A recent study found that just 0.5 microliters of water can significantly affect the performance of a hearing aid’s digital circuitry.
You can keep your hearing aids dry by taking them out at night, wiping them down with a cloth to remove any oils or perspiration, and storing them somewhere dry. You can also invest in a dehumidifier for the bedroom, which will remove the moisture from your device overnight. You should also ensure that you wipe down your microphone port with a wax pick daily to prevent earwax from building up in the tiny opening. Just don’t use a blower on the microphone, as this can damage the mic.
3. Keep It Clean Inside
Hearing aids are high-quality, precision instruments that require special care to protect from damage. Using the right cleaning supplies and performing regular maintenance tasks can significantly affect their performance, length of lifespan, and overall health.
A number of factors can affect the quality of a hearing aid, including excessive moisture, dirt, and earwax buildup. When it comes to moisture, a small amount can be harmless, but large amounts can cause a device to malfunction or shorten its life span. Earwax, dirt, and debris also play a role in how a hearing aid performs, so it’s important to remove your devices regularly for cleaning and keeping them dry.
In addition to removing wax and other particles from the hearing aid, it’s also a good idea to use a soft brush and/or a wire loop or wax pick to clean out the microphone and receiver ports on the inside of a behind-the-ear (BTE) or in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid. These tools are available for purchase at LeMay Hearing & Balance and at local drugstores.
Aside from daily cleaning, it’s also a good idea for those who wear BTE or ITC hearing aids to soak their earmolds in warm water once a week. This will help reduce earwax buildup and prevent the tubing from discoloration. A helpful video that provides instructions on how to do this can be found here. You should have a towel on hand to remove excess water from the earmolds before drying them. During this time, checking your hearing aid’s battery compartment for rust and dirt is also a good idea. It is also a great time to replace the batteries, which can be purchased at LeMay Hearing & Balance or from any local drugstore.
4. Keep It Clean Outside
If you wear hearing aids, it’s important to remember that they’re not just an accessory. They’re a valuable tool that helps you enjoy the sounds of life, and keeping them clean will help ensure they work as well as possible for a long time.
When you’re not wearing your hearing aids, they’ll be exposed to all sorts of things that could affect their performance, like dust and dirt. To avoid this, it’s important to wipe your hearing aids down with a cloth or spray daily. Start by washing your hands, as these will contain a variety of contaminants that can easily transfer to your device. This includes creams, perfumes, aftershaves, and hair products such as shampoo and conditioner.
The majority of the cleaning process focuses on the microphone and speaker of your device, as these are typically the most susceptible to earwax build-up. Use the cleaner brush to thoroughly go over these areas, and then use a wax pick to clear out anything the brush missed. If you have a dome or earmold, make sure to clear out the holes in it as well.
Finally, it’s important to keep your hearing aids away from extreme temperatures and moisture. Whether you’re storing them in the glove compartment of your car on a hot summer day or in the icebox during a cold winter, these extreme temperatures can damage the intricate electronic components inside. If you’re concerned about the environment in which you store your hearing aids, talk to your audiologist about hearing aid storage kits designed specifically for your device. This will help protect your hearing aids from the elements and provide them with an optimal place to rest overnight.
5. Keep It Clean at Night
Modern hearing aids are far more durable than their predecessors but are not indestructible. They can still be damaged if not handled with care, as they are easily dropped and subject to moisture and dirt buildup that impacts functionality. The best way to prevent these issues is to remove your hearing aids when eating, drinking, showering, and at night before bed. Then, store them on a soft surface or in a dehumidifying case to keep them clean, dry, and free of debris.
Your audiologist will recommend cleaning your hearing aids at least twice daily to ensure the device functions properly. You can use a clean, dry cloth to wipe down the interior and exterior of the hearing aid, but a hearing aid cleaning kit or tool may be necessary to reach hard-to-reach areas. These tools are available at most drug stores and online and can make your daily cleaning routine easier and faster.
Earwax is an essential part of the human ear, but it can interfere with your hearing aids if it builds up inside the device. To avoid problems like feedback or whistling, make sure you regularly use the wax removal tool included with your hearing aids and remove it regularly using a clean cotton swab. It’s also a good idea to avoid applying any hairspray, lotions, sunscreens, or other products near your ears while wearing your hearing aids.
Finally, be sure to schedule two to four “clean and check” appointments with your audiologist every six months to a year. These appointments will allow your audiologist to assess your hearing aids, repair any issues, and thoroughly clean them to extend their lifespan.