How to Clean Your Hearing Aids
My name is Tracy Saunders and I’m an Audiologist with Hearing Solutions. I’m registered with CASLPO, the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario. Today we’re going look at how to clean your hearing aids.
Now there’s several different types and styles of hearing aids and they all require a slightly different cleaning regimen. For the most part we’re looking to keep our hearing aids clean and free of wax.
Wax is obviously a normal part of the ear and it does tend to accumulate in and around the hearing aids. So cleaning your hearing aids on a regular basis is going to keep the wax out and the sound will continue to come through nice and clear.
Now I’ve got different examples here of some styles and first we’ll talk about the behind-the-ear hearing aid style. The behind-the-ear hearing aid has a thick tube that once in a while needs to be changed.
Sometimes it collects air, moisture and wax. If you remove the tube, then you can actually rinse the ear mould and the tube in some water with some soap. Some mild dish soap would be fine. Before you reconnect the ear mould back the hearing aid you need to ensure that all the parts are dry.
For this you may use an ear mould dryer, which you would use to dry out the tube of the ear mould. You want to be sure that, again, everything is dry before reconnecting the mould back to the hearing aid.
Another common type of hearing aid is the type that fits directly in your ear. This is an in-the-ear style or an ITE. There’s also some smaller styles. All of them have the commonality that all the components are placed in the ear itself.
Now it’s important to a look at the part that the sound comes out of. The part the sound comes out of can have the tendency to build up some wax. If the wax builds up too much it may completely block the sound from coming out or distort the sound.
If your hearing aid has a filter at the end of the canal, it’s important to change the filter on a regular basis or certainly if you ever notice that the sound is not coming through clearly. Your hearing healthcare provider will provide you with many spare filters to change on your hearing aid.
So, in this case when a filter’s dirty, you remove the dirty filter and insert a clean filter. It takes some practice, but your hearing healthcare provider will be happy to practice with you and show you how it’s done.
Hearing aids that go directly inside the ear
The types of hearing aids that go directly inside the ear also tend to have what we call a vent. A vent is a hole that runs through the ear canal portion of the hearing aid that just allows the ear to breath and some of the pressure to escape.
When you get new hearing aids you’ll often get a little kit of cleaning supplies. In that kit you’ll find a wire, such as the one I’m going to show you here. You can use the wire to push out any wax that may have built up in the vent of the hearing aid.
Again, it’s nice to keep the vent nice and clear of any wax so that the ear canal can breath and that any pressure can escape from the ear canal. Nowadays a very common type of hearing aid is called the receiver-in-the-canal hearing aid.
In this case most of the components of the hearing aid are behind the ear, but the speaker or also called the receiver sits directly in the ear. Again, the part that goes inside the ear has a tendency to accumulate wax over time.
There’s a part that sits on the end of the receiver, which we call the dome. These domes are normally made of silicone and they’re disposable for the most part. Your hearing healthcare provider will provide you with spare domes to clean on a regular basis.
Underneath the dome we have the filter. So, just as with the other kind it’s important to change the filter on a regular basis, especially if you have a tendency to build up with wax. So, I’m going to change the filter on this hearing aid and replace the tip.
We are certainly happy to help you with the cleaning of your hearing aids. Certainly come in, no appointment is necessary and we’ll clean all the components of the hearing aid for you. Now it’s also important to be sure that the microphones of the hearing aid are clear.
The microphones obviously are what pick up the sound. So, if there’s any dirt or debris or wax sitting on the microphone, the sound’s not going to get in fully. You can ask your hearing healthcare provider where the microphones are located, then on a regular basis use a clean brush just to gently brush the microphones of the hearing aid.
In your kit of cleaning supplies that you receive, you’ll find there’s a small brush. If you have any dexterity issues the small brush can be quite difficult to handle. So, if you find that to be the case simply go to the pharmacy or local drug store and pick up a soft bristled toothbrush.
With the clean toothbrush gently brush the microphones of the hearing aid. It’s important to try to kind of invert the hearing aid upside down so that if you brush any dirt of debris gravity will help it just pull out.
Hearing Aid style
So, we have microphones located, again, on different parts of the hearing aid depending on the hearing aid style that you have, but your hearing healthcare provider will be able to show you where the microphones are located on your particular device.
The cleaning kit will also come with a little cloth to wipe your hearing aids clean. Every time you remove your hearing aids from your ear, it’s important to take a look, given them an inspection and wipe any areas clear.
The little cloth that comes with your kit is actually machine washable. So you can wash this on a regular basis as it gets dirty or some patients prefer just to use a kleenex and discard of the kleenex each time.
It’s really up to you, whichever you prefer is fine. Unless your hearing healthcare provider tells you otherwise, it’s best to assume your hearing aids are not waterproof. Therefore, before you go swimming, take a batch or jump in the shower, we’d ask you to remove your hearing aids from your ears.
Anytime that your hearing aids are not in your ears you need turn them off. But it’s important to also store them in a safe place. When you purchase your hearing aids you should receive a little storage container such as this.
When you place your hearing aids in the storage container leave the lid of the storage container open just so that the air can help the hearing aids breath and any moisture can just naturally evaporate in to the outside atmosphere.
Should you need to travel with the hearing aids then of course it’s important to close the lid and keep them safe that way. My name is Tracy Saunders and I’m an Audiologist with Hearing Solutions.
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode about taking care of and cleaning your hearing aids. We’ll see you next time.