You depend on your hearing aids daily – once you’ve adapted to them, you tend to take them for granted and just accept how much they help you. On the odd occasion where they stop working, it can be a very difficult time for you, until they may be looked at or repaired.
Hearing aids are a significant investment, so it’s good practice to learn how to clean and maintain them at home. These sophisticated, tiny marvels of technology operate in conditions that are far from ideal: the inside of your ear canals where they are subjected to earwax and moisture. The regular cleaning you can do yourself, combined with routine maintenance provided by Hear4U, will give you years of reliable, better hearing.
With proper care and regular attention, you can extend the life of your system and reduce the chances of them breaking down.
So, here are a few useful tips I can give you after 26 years in the industry that should help you maintain your aids in good order.
Always avoid water, and store them in a dry place or case.
It’s important to establish good habits. Always wash your hands well before cleaning your hearing aids. Leave them out during your hygiene routine each day. Shower and wash your face and hair without your hearing aids in so that water and soap can’t damage them. Put your aids in after you apply hair products like sprays or gels. Get into these kinds of habits as soon as possible.
Your hearing aids contain some very sophisticated technology and circuitry in a tiny case. If they are exposed to moisture, that can cause serious damage. You may be aware that, although hearing systems are now being made to be water-resistant, manufacturers and audiologists recommend that you still remove them when you bath or shower, or wash your face and hair. You certainly shouldn’t wear them if you’re going swimming. If they do get wet, you should dry them immediately with a towel. It is very important that you must never attempt to dry them with a hairdryer or other heated device, as this heat can certainly cause damage.
Avoid extreme heat or cold.
If the temperature is below freezing and you take your hearing aids out of your ears to shovel the snow off your driveway, leave them inside the house instead of putting them in your coat or trouser pocket.
Likewise, if you take your hearing aids out to jump in the pool during your summer holiday abroad, then leave them inside your apartment, inside their case, instead of leaving them on a poolside table.
They would benefit from being stored in a dehumidifier. There are two types of hearing aid dehumidifier. One type is a simple plastic jar with a desiccant that draws out moisture overnight. The other type is called a “Dry & Store” unit that uses ultraviolet light and air to dry and sanitise the hearing aids. Both accessories are available through our online shop – you’ll see the link at the top of the page. Quite often, when you’re fitted with your new aids, your pack will contain some drying capsules – subject to the make/model of your system.
Change your batteries regularly.
If you leave batteries in your hearing aids for a long time, they can damage your system. This is because any trapped moisture could result in the batteries corroding and causing issues with the aids. I am always reminded patients to open the battery door when the aids are not in use – otherwise, they are on all the time-wasting the batteries unnecessarily. If you’re not going to be wearing the aids for a couple of days or more, then it’s best to remove the batteries from the aids completely.
Do I need to clean the battery contacts?
Yes another useful thing to do, when you are changing batteries, is to clean the battery contacts in your aids – if you can do that yourself? Maybe a member of your family could do that to help you. This cleaning can be done by carefully wiping them down with a dry tissue. If these contacts get dirty it can result in poor connection, leading to intermittent sound, therefore reducing the performance and sound quality you have come to expect.
If your hearing system is rechargeable, please dock them in your charger according to the manufacturer’s specifications. SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM FOR “HOW TO EXTEND THE BATTERY LIFE.”
Keep your aids clear of Wax.
Earwax is a pain to patients and audiologists, as it is one of the most common reasons for the reduced performance in hearing aids. We ALL produce wax – some produce much more than others. It is impossible to prevent your hearing aids from coming into contact with wax in your ear. So it is extremely important that you take the time to clean them properly on a daily basis. If you forget to clean them, the wax will gradually ingress into the hole where the sound comes out into your ear, and eventually, block it up. If you clean your aids every day, you will reduce how often you need to change your wax filters too.
Focus your cleaning on the openings of the device including the microphone ports – using a soft-bristle toothbrush or a universal brush provided by the manufacturer, or hearing care professionals like ourselves, to clear away any wax that’s built up. Do not insert tools into the sound outlet. This could damage the receiver. *Hold the device with the opening you are cleaning facing downward so any loose particles will fall out of the hearing aid instead of staying lodged inside.
Finish by wiping the entire device with a clean, dry cloth or tissue. This will remove debris from the case of the hearing aid.
What is the process for behind the ear aids
If you have behind the ear aids with earmoulds: some moulds, especially those made from soft materials, can become discoloured and stain over time – a kind of golden brown colour. Wiping the moulds clean using a tissue only slightly moistened with warm, soapy water once each week will help. Allow the moulds to dry completely overnight before use, and, as mentioned earlier, do not use alcohol or other chemicals on them.
Your earmoulds may develop a slight odour over time, but a strong odour could indicate you have an ear infection – so consult your GP in the first instance if you notice that.
If you have a hearing aid multi-tool, this has a wire loop, small magnet and brush all in one. This is a very important tool for hearing aid cleaning.
Cleaning your hearing aids before bedtime gives them several hours to air out before you will put them in again.
Avoid wipes with chemicals or alcohol when cleaning them as they could damage the devices.
If you believe you are suffering from wax building up, then please contact us to have your ear canals cleaned using one of the many methods we can offer you. Accumulated earwax may prevent sounds from travelling from the hearing aid into the middle ear. Do not try to remove the earwax from the ear yourself. You could damage your ear.
Change your wax filter.
Depending on what advice your audiologist has given you, the wax filters should be replaced on a regular basis – whether that’s every week, every fortnight or every month. Doing this prevents your wax from reaching the internal components of the hearing aid and damaging them. If you follow the daily cleaning advice in point 3 above, you shouldn’t need to change the filters too often.
Your hearing aids are supplied with specific wax filters – for that model. It’s important to know that not all hearing systems use the same filters. Hear4U audiologists will advise you which ones to use and also show you how to change them for your particular model of aid. There should also be an explanation in your instruction book.
Be sure to take care when handling your aids.
Modern hearing aids are tough cookies – they are very resilient devices. Be aware though – they still need to be handled with extreme care – especially when you remember how much they cost if you have private ones. Be sure to hold them securely to avoid dropping them. I always advise my clients to change batteries (unless they are rechargeable) or carry out cleaning over or on a soft surface – perhaps a table with some kitchen roll tissue to put the aids on.
When you are not using the hearing aids, put them in a safe place. They should be out of the reach of children and animals – both could see them as sweets!
Over my years doing this, plenty of pets have chewed their owners hearing aids to pieces – so you also need to ENsure that you INsure them.
Regular scheduled servicing/cleaning.
Having done all the cleaning that I’ve mentioned so far, you should still bring them into us to be properly cared for by a professional – so we always offer an Annual Service for all of our clients for a small charge. It’s like having your eyes retested every year, or having your annual dental check.
Our audiologists may spot something that needs replacing or repairing, which you may have missed or not realised was wrong. We are also able to make adjustments to your hearing aids if they don’t seem to be as good as they were.
HOW TO EXTEND THE BATTERY LIFE
Hearing aids can be life-changing, but they can’t help you if they don’t have the battery power they need to keep working. Hearing aid wearers know that when they hear that little beeping noise, they need to ensure they have spare batteries to hand.
Rechargeable device users don’t need to read this section.
Hearing aid batteries typically last between 3-7 days, depending on factors like:
- The type and size of hearing device you have
- The type and size of the battery (size 5 – red, 10 – yellow, 312 – brown, 13 – orange, 675 – blue)
- The number of hours per day you’re using your device
- The technology level of the device
- The environment you live in
- The way you take care of the battery (see previous advice higher up this blog)
Luckily, there are several “best practices” you can use to keep your hearing aid batteries well maintained and help them last as long as possible.
- Always use your oldest pack of hearing aid batteries first. Although hearing aid batteries can be stored for quite a while, the longer the batteries sit in storage, the shorter their life will be. If you always use the oldest pack first, your spare batteries will never get too old.
- Store extra hearing aid batteries in a dry, room temperature place. Extreme temperatures—both hot and cold—and high humidity levels are not good for the life of your hearing aid batteries. For this reason, never store your hearing aid batteries in the refrigerator or bathroom.
- Don’t remove the plastic tab from a battery until you’re ready to use it. This plastic tab keeps the battery fresh while it’s in storage, and as soon as you take it off, the battery is activated. It will start to lose its “juice” from that moment.
- Wash your hands before replacing your hearing aid battery. Grease and dirt on your hands can be transferred to the battery, which is bad for the lifespan of the battery as well as your hearing aid itself.
- Let the battery sit out for five full minutes after you remove the plastic tab. When you take the plastic tab off, the zinc in the battery mixes with the air to power it up. There are a lot of recommendations out there as to how long you should wait after removing the tab and before inserting the battery, but recent research has shown that if you wait five whole minutes, you can extend the battery’s life by as much as 2-3 days.
- Leave the battery compartment open when you’re not using your hearing aids. Whenever you’re not using your hearing aid, turn it off, put it somewhere safe and dry (don’t have it in the bathroom while you shower!), and leave the battery door open. This allows excess moisture to escape and reduces the drain on the battery. It also keeps the battery from corroding, which is not good for your hearing aid as I’ve explained in the earlier notes.
- Use a hearing aid dehumidifier. Dry storage kits and hearing aid dehumidifiers will protect both your hearing aid and its batteries. They also provide a safe place to store your devices when you’ve taken them off. These are available from our Online Shop.
- Remove the batteries entirely if you won’t be using the device for an extended period of time. This also helps to avoid corrosion and damage from trapped moisture.