Hearing aids are small pieces of technology that are prone to significant wear and tear and given their substantial investment should be cared for with the utmost attention. When you get new hearing aids make sure to review the process for cleaning them with your hearing health provider. They will provide the tools needed or tell you where and what to get. Let’s review some tips for caring for your hearing aids.
Tools for cleaning
As mentioned, the tools you use to clean your hearing aids should be the ones provided to you by your provider or the exact ones they advised. Some of these tools are available at corner store pharmacies, so make sure to be aware of types and sizes before using these.
- Wax removal brush– These are small soft bristle brushes used to gently brush the wax off the microphone cover.
- Soft, dry cloth– Use a soft, dry, and clean cloth to wipe down your hearing aids.
- Wax pick and loop– Wax picks and wire loops are used to remove wax and dirt build up on the outside of your hearing aids. They can be used to remove wax from the vent holes but not the microphone covers or receiver holes.
- Wax traps– Wax traps are used on the inner piece of the hearing aid to keep wax from entering the critical parts of the device. They usually can be removed and replaced with new clean wax traps from home without going into your provider’s office.
Types of Hearing Aids
In the ear, or ITE, hearing aids are prone to more wear and tear than other types of hearing aids because as the name implies, they sit wholly in the ear. This means they are exposed to more wax, dead skin buildup, and sweat moisture.
When caring for and cleaning your ITE hearing aids, you can start by using the wax removal brush to gently brush away any wax build up on the microphone cover. Then use the wax picks or loops to remove debris from the vent holes and wax traps. Replace the wax trap when the wax loop no longer cleans it efficiently. Remember to never insert anything into the hole where the wax trap is removed. Lastly, you should use the clean, dry, soft cloth to wipe the device clean.
Behind the ear, or BTE, hearing aids are different from ITE hearing aids because the electronics and microphone portion of the device sits outside of the ear canal, resting behind the ear.
The piece that sits outside of the ear should be wiped clean with the soft, dry cloth. The piece that sits in the ear might be a small dome like structure or could be a full in ear mold. These are cleaned differently so make sure to know which category your hearing aid falls into.
The dome like structures can be removed and cleaned with the cloth and the wax trap underneath should be replaced when the wax loop no longer cleans it well. As a reminder, never insert anything into the hole where the wax trap is removed.
If the inner ear piece of your BTE is a mold, it is possible it can be cleaned with soap and water. Again, speak with your provider about the type of device and methods for cleaning before taking the device home.
Do’s and Don’ts
There are some general care do’s and don’ts that everyone should follow regardless of whether you wear ITE or BTE hearing aids.
- Do inspect and clean you hearing devices every night when you remove them.
- Do keep them in a safe, dry, and hard container when not in use.
- Do keep them out of reach of pets and children.
- Do use Dry Aid kits, or dehumidifiers, over-night to keep your devices dry. Even if not in a humid environment, the wax or sweat in your ears can increase moisture exposure that can damage your hearing aids over time.
- Don’t use water to clean hearing aids. The electronics portion of the hearing aid usually cannot get wet.
- Don’t use chemical cleaners to wipe the hearing aid clean, unless they are specifically made for use with hearing devices.
- Don’t insert anything into the microphone or receiver holes. The microphone cover can be brushed clean, as described above, and the wax trap can be replaced however nothing should ever be inserted into these holes.
Caring for and cleaning your hearing aids will be crucial to give them as long of a life as possible. Make sure to review these cares with your hearing health provider prior to bringing them home.