Hearing aid care and maintenance

If you’ve recently purchased a set of in-ear hearing aids, follow the steps below to properly clean them.

When you remove your hearing aids at night, the first thing you should do is wipe them carefully with a dry soft cloth or paper towel. Next, check the part of the hearing aid that fits in the ear canal. If you see earwax buildup at the end of your hearing aids, it needs to be removed. Most manufacturers will provide you with cleaning tools, such as brushes.

Finally, open the battery door and place the hearing aid in the case. Many hearing aids have individual on/off switches. It is still recommended to open the battery door to allow air to enter the hearing aid and to help reduce the effects of moisture that may accumulate while the hearing aid is in the ear canal. It also helps extend battery life.

It’s usually best to remove earwax before putting on your hearing aids in the morning, as this allows the buildup to dry out overnight; dry wax is easier to remove. You need to hold the hearing aid so that the wax you want to remove will fall out of the hearing aid and not go further (this usually means turning it upside down slightly). Using the brush provided for you, carefully brush around and inside the plastic tube to remove the wax. Some patients find that using an old toothbrush is an effective way to remove wax. Never use sharp tools to clean earwax as this may damage your hearing aids.

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Are cleaning procedures different for behind-the-ear hearing aids?

The basic cleaning procedure is the same. The only real difference is that there is an ear mold. This part of the hearing aid has no electronics, so you can wash it gently with warm soapy water. After rinsing, wipe dry with a soft cloth. If further cleaning is required, your audiologist can instruct you to use a disinfectant spray designed for hearing aid ear molds.

Note that this recommendation does not apply to “in-the-canal receiver” or “in-the-canal receiver” hearing aids, as the earmold part has electronics. In this case, there is usually a removable wax shield to protect the electronics, which your audiologist can show you how to change as needed.

Can you use alcohol swabs or cleaners?

No, do not use solvents or alcohol on hearing aids as they may break down the hearing aid material. You can buy special sprays designed to clean and disinfect hearing aids. Discuss these products with your audiologist.

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What precautions can you take?

Do not let the hearing aid get wet. Avoid showering, bathing, or entering a swimming pool or sauna with a hearing aid.

If your hearing aids get wet, do not dry them in the oven, microwave or hair dryer. Heat can damage hearing aids.

To dry your hearing aids, simply open the battery cover and let it dry on its own. There are also special dehumidifiers or desiccants that dry hearing aids well. Discuss these items with your audiologist.

Never store hearing aids near direct sunlight or heat sources, and do not store them in a car on a hot day.

Don’t drop your hearing aids. If a hearing aid is dropped on a rug, rug, or upholstered furniture, it usually does not cause any damage to the hearing aid. Hard surfaces such as wooden floors or countertops can damage hearing aids. Some people start by placing a pillow on their lap or a towel on a table or counter when learning to insert a hearing aid into their ears.

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Do not use hairspray, creams or hairspray on your hair while wearing a hearing aid. These can clog the microphone and damage the plastic. Use hair products first, then insert hearing aids.

Do not store hearing aids where young children or pets can reach them. Pets can destroy your investment in seconds. Young children like to experiment with hearing aids and may accidentally swallow the battery. If a child swallows a hearing aid battery, notify the doctor immediately and call the National Button Battery Hotline at 1-800-498-8666.

How does earwax affect performance?

Earwax can clog your hearing aid’s microphone or receiver, making the sound distorted or hard to hear. This is easily resolved by following the procedure above.

A large buildup of earwax can also interfere with the proper fit of the hearing aid, allowing sound from the hearing aid to leak out and back into the microphone. This can lead to loud treble feedback.

If you have unexplained feedback, consult your audiologist or doctor. There may be earwax in the ear canal that needs to be removed.