The Best Ways To Clean Your Hearing Aids
If you are like the millions of people who struggle with hearing loss, then you know that these small devices are helpful in more ways than one. They are efficient, technologically advanced, even life-changing - however, there is one thing that they are not - and that’s inexpensive! In fact, hearing aids can cost upwards of thousands and thousands of dollars.
These insane costs come from a multitude of different reasons. For someone struggling with hearing loss as a disability, costs can accumulate from specialists like ear, nose, and throat doctors and audiologists who administer a battery of expensive tests. While private insurances may cover some of these costs, this whole process can still come with a price tag of thousands of dollars.
All of this is to say; your hearing aids represent a substantial financial commitment. Add to this the fact that most hearing aids are not covered by private insurance. Medicare and Medicaid currently do not assist with any direct or associated cost of hearing aids, and you have devices that represent a high cost.
This means that when you get your hearing aid devices, you’ll want to be sure that they last you for as long as is earthly possible. There are multiple ways to ensure that your hearing aid devices last as long as they possibly can. You can be careful about where you store them, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions, and be careful that they are not exposed to any dangerous elements like extreme heat, rain, or snow. You can ensure that they never experience any kind of physical damage and are always handled with the utmost care.
However, the number one way to ensure that your hearing aids will last as long as they possibly can is to be very diligent about keeping them clean. Routine, daily cleaning is the best way to ensure the longevity of these small life-changing devices, and this is everything you need to know about how to clean your hearing aids properly.
What Tools Do I Need?
The process of learning how to live with hearing aids comes with its fair share of challenges. Learning how to live with a disability, in general, is no easy task. It can easily seem overwhelming, and depending on the severity of your hearing loss; you could have substantial learning curves ahead of you.
Now, the good thing about cleaning your hearing aids and staying on top of this routine is that it is pretty simple. While most adults can learn these essential skills, it can easily be accomplished by caretakers too. If you are taking care of someone like a small child or an elderly patient or relative who uses hearing aids, helping them regularly clean their hearing aids.
Like most electronics, hearing aids will come with a manufacturer's recommendation on maintaining and cleaning their line of devices.
Many manufacturers will accompany your purchase with a complimentary cleaning kit. Our EV1 and EV3 both come with their own cleaning tools and simple maintenance instructions designed for your convenience and your device’s best health.
Typically manufacturers make this information readily accessible to their customers. However, there is a chance that maybe you acquired your hearing aids second-hand or the brand you use doesn't have manufactured suggestions. What’s more, what if you didn’t receive a cleaning kit when you purchased your hearing aids? Well, good news because your bathroom alone most likely houses all the tools you need to keep your hearing aids in top working order!
For most hearing aids, all that you need to keep up with their daily maintenance is a micro cloth and a small brush. This can either be a small washcloth that doesn’t produce lint, something with a higher thread count, and a clean toothbrush.
Some manufacturers may have a specialized spray that is safe for their device; however, you do not need a cleaning agent unless it is specifically recommended.
Different Kinds of Hearing Aids
When it comes to cleaning your hearing aids, it’s good to know what is the best method for each different type or style of hearing aid. There isn’t just one set type of hearing aid; they come in a variety of different sizes and styles.
For instance, if you suffer mild to moderate hearing loss, then a CIC or a completely-in-canal hearing aid might be your best option if you prefer to wear hearing aids discreetly. These small devices fit inside your ear canal and have even been given the nickname - invisible hearing aids.
They are the smallest style of hearing aid and are composed of a single unit. Because they are so small, they can fit inside your ear canal discreetly; however, the smaller model means that there isn’t as much room for processing power and battery. This means that while they give the advantage of being discrete, they also are not a good fit for individuals with more moderately severe or profound hearing loss.
The two major styles of hearing aids are:
- Behind-the-ear hearing
- In the ear
Cleaning Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids
Behind-the-ear hearing aids can have either the receiver - or the microphone - in the ear canal or behind the ear in the hard case. These devices are usually composed of three parts. The hard case that sits snugly behind the ear and a tuble or extension of some sort that connects this hard case to either a receiver or speaker that sits inside the ear canal.
These are the largest models and they are the most complicated to clean. Both behind the ear and receiver in the ear style, hearing aids will require delicate handling as the tube connecting the receiver and the battery is typically sensitive to pressure.
Holding the entire device in your hand, you can use the micro cloth to clean the device, gently rubbing it against your palm. Carefully fit it over and do the same thing to the other side.
The most delicate part of the device is the part, whether it is a behind-the-ear or receiver-in-the-ear hearing aid that is first inside the dome of your ear. This part of the hearing aid is exposed the most to earwax and moisture and is the most prone to damage from use. This is also the part of the hearing aid that you can use the brush on.
Remember, your hearing aid device should be treated as sensitive, so when you use your brush to clean it, remember that you want to use minimal force. Your main objective with the bristles is to brush away any dirt or earwax that might have built up, which means that you should be using the tips of the bristles. If you are applying force to the point that the bristles are bending, then you should lighten your touch.
Cleaning In-Ear Hearing Aids
For the second style, in-ear hearing aids, the same tools can still be used to clean your device. These hearing aids have a couple different styles; however, they are all the same basic build. They are composed of one piece that houses the batter, microphone, receiver, and processing power. They are also the smallest hearing aids on the market.
These hearing aids typically come with replaceable rubber tips that work to help secure the hearing aid in place within the canal. While typically, these rubber tips can be replaced, they also are designed to last for a long time, so detaching them and cleaning them is an important part of maintenance.
The best method is to hold these lightly but firmly between your index finger and thumb so that you can rotate them to get the most amount of surface. Using your brush, remember that you can either use a cleaning kit or a regular toothbrush and gently brush the hearing aid’s surface.
These devices typically fit either entirely inside the ear or with most of their body inside the ear canal. This means that the majority of the hearing aid is constantly exposed to moisture and potential ear wax build up. Using your micro cloth, make sure the hearing aids are dry after brushing.
Hearing aid maintenance is a vitally important part of maintaining healthy, long-lasting hearing aids. Cleaning hearing aids can be done easily by purchasing a kit of clean, safe household items. No matter what you choose to use to clean your hearing aids, as long as you are gentle and make sure they stay dry, chances are, you will do a great job!
“Maintenance for hearing aids improves their useful lifespan and can be helpful for better everyday use.” - Drew Sutton, MD, Board-Certified Otolaryngologist.
Drew Sutton M.D.
Drew Sutton, MD is a board-certified otolaryngologist. He has extensive experience and training in sinus and respiratory diseases, ear and skull base surgery, and pulmonary disorders. He has served as a Clinical Instructor at Grady Hospital Emory University for more than 12 years.