Hearing loss is more common than you think. In the US, about 48 million people, including both children and adults, have some degree of hearing loss. This number accounts for approximately 7% of the country's population, according to the Census Bureau. As you'd imagine, hearing loss is more prominent in the senior population:33% of people over the age of 65 and 67% of people over the age of 75 have some level of hearing loss.
Around 6% of the US adult population, about 15.6 million people, opt to wear hearing aids. To keep them working at their peak performance, it's important to know how to clean hearing aids.
Below we'll guide you on how to properly clean your hearing aids to ensure their safety and longevity.
Read more: Are You a Good Candidate for Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids? Here's What to Know
Best Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids See at Cnet
Supplies needed for cleaning hearing aids
To properly clean doctor-prescribed or over-the-counter hearing aids, you'll need the proper supplies. Individually, this consists of:
- Wax removal brush: Made specifically for cleaning hearing aids, a wax removal brush has soft bristles to clean your device without damaging it.
- Cloth -- soft, clean and dry: Similar to eyeglass cloths, you want a cloth that is nonabrasive so you don't damage your hearing aid.
- Wax pick or wire loop: While it may be tempting to use anything small around your house, wax picks and wire loops are designed specifically for safely cleaning your hearing aid.
- Vent cleaner: Like the wax pick and wire loop, this is meant solely for cleaning hearing aids and will not cause any damage.
- Earmold air blower: Without using too much force, an earmold air blower will push moisture out of the tubing of an over-the-ear hearing aid.
You can find cleaning kits that include all the supplies you'll need like this Ezy Dose kit.
The Ezy Dose cleaning kit comes with a tube and vent cleaner, cleaning brush, wax removal pick, battery door opener and a battery replacement magnet.
Guide to cleaning your hearing aids
The process of cleaning your hearing aids depends on which type you have, in- or over-the-ear. Since the hearing aid companies have different ways of producing their hearing aids, the first place to look is at your brand's specific user manual.
How to clean in-the-ear hearing aids
1. Take the hearing aid out of your ear.
2. With the hearing aid facing downward, brush the microphone receiver, cover and vent openings to remove debris or wax.
3. If there is wax or debris that could not be removed by the brush, use the wax pick or wire loop.
4. Slide the vent cleaner from the vent opening on one side of the hearing aid into the opening on the other side. Wipe the wax and debris off the vent cleaner with the cloth before reversing the motion and pulling the vent cleaner back out of the hearing aid.
5. Brush off the wax filter to remove wax and debris.
6. Wipe down the entire hearing aid with a cloth.
7. Do not use chemical wipes, water or alcohol to clean an in-the-ear hearing aid.
How to clean over-the-ear hearing aids
1. Take the hearing aid out of your ear.
2. With it facing downward, brush the microphone ports, the entire hearing aid and ear mold to remove debris or wax.
3. If there is wax or debris that can't be removed by the brush, use the wax pick or wire loop.
4. Use the wax loop on the opposite side of the brush to clean the sound and vent opening.
5. Slide the vent cleaner through the two vent openings. Use the cloth to wipe the wax and debris off the vent cleaner before removing the vent cleaner.
6. Separate the ear mold from the hearing aid and soak it in warm, soapy water.
7. Attach the earmold air blower to the tubing and squeeze air into it to make sure the tubing is completely dry before reattaching it to the hearing aid.
8. Wipe the tubing and earmold with the cleaning cloth to further dry it off.
9. Wipe the hearing aid with the cloth.
10. When everything is dry, reattach the tubing to the hearing aid.
Read more:Are Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids Just as Good? Here's What to Know
Tips for maintaining clean hearing aids
- Have a regular cleaning schedule. Plan to brush the microphone cover and wipe down the hearing aid every day. Complete a full cleaning once a week. It will be easier to turn this into a routine if you set a day and time for this process.
- Avoid exposure to moisture and humidity. This can damage the hearing aid's internal electronics.
- Store your hearing aids properly. When you take your hearing aids out, try to store them in the same place each time. This could be in a jewelry box or nightstand, dresser or desk drawer. If they're rechargeable, store them in your charging case. Do not store your hearing aid in the bathroom, as steam from the shower can affect the electronics.
- Remove the batteries at night. This will extend the life of the battery and air out the battery compartment.
- Avoid extreme heat or cold temperatures. This could lead to condensation, which can affect the hearing aid's electronics.
- Use the proper cleaning supplies. Avoid using chemical solutions or wipes that are not intended for hearing aids.
- Do not insert anything into the microphone or receiver openings.
- Follow care instructions from your owner's manual. Each hearing aid manufacturer may have specific instructions for the care of their hearing aids.
When to see a professional
While it's important to clean your doctor-prescribed or OTC hearing aids on a daily and weekly basis, you also need to return to your audiologist every three to six months. The frequency depends upon your specific brand and model and the amount of wax buildup you have. In addition to doing a deep cleaning, a professional trained in caring for your hearing aid will check to make sure it's working properly.
How to clean hearing aids FAQ
How often should hearing aids be cleaned?
Hearing aids should be brushed and wiped down with a clean, dry cloth every day. Once a week, they should receive a complete cleaning.
How do you keep your ears clean when wearing hearing aids?
Remove your hearing aids to clean your ears. Use a soft, dry cloth to wipe the inside and outside of your ears. If you do this while in the shower, the steam will soften any earwax, making it easier to wipe off.
Can I use ear drops with hearing aids?
Before using ear drops with your hearing aids, it's best to see your hearing doctor. They can advise you of the best course of action and the best product to use for your individual circumstance.
Too long; didn't read?
Whether you wear in-the-ear or over-the-ear hearing aids, it's important to clean them on a regular basis. This includes a full cleaning once a week and brushing and wiping them down weekly with supplies that are specific to the cleaning and care of hearing aids.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.