Essential Hearing Aid Maintenance Tips for Optimal Performance

Hearing aids are intricate electronic devices designed to withstand the warm, damp conditions inside your ear—a challenging environment for most electronics. Investing in hearing aids is a significant commitment to better hearing, and it’s crucial to maximize their lifespan through diligent home maintenance.

Manufacturers engineer these devices for durability, but their longevity also depends on your care. Without proper maintenance, hearing aids are prone to failure and may require professional repair. Such disruptions can be particularly distressing for those who’ve grown reliant on the improved hearing these devices provide. Repairs can also take up to two weeks, leaving you without your hearing aids and affecting your quality of life. Therefore, proactive maintenance is key to avoiding such inconveniences.


Why Do You Need Hearing Aid Maintenance?

Maintaining your hearing aids isn’t just an option—it’s a necessity. Regular upkeep offers several benefits that range from enhancing sound quality to extending the device’s lifespan. Here’s why taking proper care of your hearing aids is imperative:

  • Improved Sound Quality: Hearing aids often collect earwax, dirt, and moisture, which can block sound ports and degrade sound quality. Consistent cleaning ensures clearer auditory experiences, helping you navigate noisy environments more effectively.
  • Enhanced Longevity: These devices are delicate and susceptible to damage from environmental factors like moisture and dust. Timely maintenance acts as a protective measure, prolonging your hearing aids’ lifespan and making your investment worthwhile.
  • Avoiding Skin Irritation: Cleanliness is crucial for preventing skin irritations or infections. Any buildup of earwax can lead to discomfort and potential health issues.
  • Optimal Performance: Regular check-ups with your audiologist ensure that the hearing aids function correctly and stay calibrated. These visits make certain that you’re reaping the full benefits from your devices.
  • Cost Savings: Proper maintenance can help you avoid substantial costs tied to repairs or replacements. Keeping your hearing aids in prime condition can spare unexpected expenses and inconveniences.

Real-World Implications of Neglecting Maintenance

Failing to maintain your hearing aids can result in several challenges:

  • Blocked Sound Ports: Earwax accumulation can obstruct sound ports, making it harder to hear and diminishing your quality of life.
  • Component Malfunction: Moisture can corrode internal components, causing malfunctions that require costly repairs.
  • Reduced Sound Clarity: Dirt and dust can clog the microphones, leading to poor sound quality and diminished hearing experiences.
  • Battery Issues: Low or defective batteries can lead to feedback loops or distorted sounds, further emphasizing the need for regular check-ups.

If you notice changes in your hearing aids’ performance, including decreased sound quality or distortions, you must seek professional cleaning and inspection. Overall, consistent maintenance is crucial for enjoying the benefits of improved hearing for years to come.

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Hands clean a hearing aid.

How To Clean Hearing Aids Daily

Consistent and proper care of your hearing aids ensures optimal function and longevity. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to maintain different types of hearing aids daily:

General Hearing Aid Maintenance Checklist

  • Cleanliness First: Always wash your hands before touching your hearing aids to avoid transferring dirt or oil.
  • Initial Wipe-Down: Each time you remove the aids, wipe them with a soft tissue or cloth. Examine them for wax or debris, particularly around the earphone, microphone, and air vent.
  • Dry Storage: When not in use, store your hearing aids in a dry storage container or use a hearing aid dehumidifier to absorb moisture.
  • Mind the Water: Always remove your hearing aids before bathing, swimming, or using hairspray unless they are waterproof.
  • Sleep & Health: Don’t wear your hearing aids while sleeping or if you have an ear infection.
  • Wax Cleaning Mechanisms: If your hearing aids have built-in wax cleaners, check them daily as advised during your fitting appointment.
  • Consult Professionals: Ask your audiologist about accessories that can assist in hearing aid maintenance.

Integrating these maintenance practices into your daily routine will ensure your hearing aids remain in peak condition for years to come.

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How To Clean Hearing Aids Regularly

This section provides a step-by-step guide for cleaning specific hearing aids, from removing debris to final wipe-downs. Your hearing care specialist can also share specific tips for cleaning your particular brand of hearing aids. 

How to Clean Hearing Aids: In-The-Ear

Here are some general tips if you want to clean your in-the-ear, or ITE, hearing aids: 

  1. Remove & Position: Take the aid out and hold it facing downward.
  2. Brush Away Debris: Use a soft brush to clean the microphone, cover, and vent openings.
  3. Use the Wax Pick: Employ a wax pick or wire loop for stubborn debris.
  4. Vent Cleaning: Slide a vent cleaner through the vent openings, wiping it before pulling it back out.
  5. Filter Care: Brush the wax filter gently to remove obstructions.
  6. Final Wipe: Use a dry cloth for a final wipe-down. Avoid using water, alcohol, or chemical wipes.

How to Clean Hearing Aids: Over-the-Ear

Follow these tips to keep your devices in excellent condition.

  1. Removal: Take the hearing aid out of your ear.
  2. Brushing: Facing it downward, brush the microphone ports, the entire device, and the ear mold.
  3. Wax Pick Use: Remove any hard-to-reach debris with a wax pick or wire loop.
  4. Loop & Vents: Utilize the loop side of the brush for the sound and vent openings.
  5. Vent Cleaner: Slide the vent cleaner through, wiping off debris before retracting it.
  6. Ear Mold Detachment: Separate the ear mold and soak it in warm, soapy water.
  7. Drying: Use an earmold air blower to dry the tubing. Then wipe it with a cloth.
  8. Reassembly: Once dry, reattach the tubing to the hearing aid.

How to Clean Hearing Aids: Rechargeable

Taking care of rechargeable hearing aids involves specialized steps to ensure longevity and optimal performance.

  • Daily Cleaning: Always wipe down the device using a soft, dry cloth. Avoid using water or chemical wipes.
  • Charging Contacts: Clean the contacts in the charging station to ensure efficient charging. Gently remove any debris using a soft brush.
  • Safe Storage: When not in use, store the hearing aids in their designated charging station to protect them from dirt and moisture.
  • Moisture Protection: Although many rechargeable models are moisture-resistant, avoid exposing them to excessive humidity or water. Dry them immediately if they get wet.
  • Check Ports and Filters: Regularly inspect the microphone and sound ports and any filters for blockages. Use a soft brush or specialized tools for cleaning.

By following a hearing aid maintenance checklist, you can maintain the performance and battery life of your rechargeable hearing aids effectively.

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Protecting Your Hearing Aids

Preserving the longevity and functionality of your hearing aids starts with proper care. Moisture is a primary enemy, so avoid wearing your hearing aids while bathing, swimming, or showering. If they do get wet, dry them off immediately. Similarly, refrain from exposing your devices to humid environments, harsh chemicals like hairspray and perfume, or extreme temperatures. If accidental exposure occurs, clean the hearing aids without delay.

Handle your hearing aids gently to prevent damage from dropping or rough handling. Store them in a designated dry area, such as a case or charging unit, to protect against dirt and damage when not in use. Also, be cautious with temperature changes. For example, if you remove your hearing aids while shoveling snow or lounging by the pool, it’s best to store them indoors to avoid extreme temperatures, as most are not waterproof.

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An audiologist returns a hearing aid to a patient.

Professional Care and Maintenance of Hearing Aids

Proper maintenance of hearing aids goes beyond at-home care; regular visits to a hearing center for professional service are essential. Due to their location in the ear canal, these devices come into contact with moisture and wax. The closer the device sits to your eardrum, the higher the likelihood of moisture and wax affecting its performance.

Certified hearing care professionals have specialized tools, like vacuums with attachments designed to remove wax from hard-to-reach areas. They also possess the expertise to safely clean various components such as vents, microphone screens, windscreens, and receivers.

Failing to maintain your hearing aids professionally can result in multiple issues, including:

  • Volume: You may experience a sudden or gradual loss in volume.
  • Clarity: The clarity of high-frequency sounds could diminish, leading to muffled or distorted audio.
  • Feedback: You might hear feedback or a ‘whistling’ sound from the device.
  • Blockages: The tubes in the hearing aids may become blocked.

Aim for a professional cleaning approximately every three months to prevent these issues. Your audiologist can also perform necessary inspections and calibrations during these visits, ensuring your hearing aids function optimally.


Let Us Help With Hearing Aid Maintenance

Proper hearing aid maintenance is not just a recommendation—it’s essential for optimal performance and longevity of your devices. By adhering to these guidelines, you’re investing in more precise sound, fewer disruptions, and a better quality of life.

Don’t compromise on your hearing health. If you have questions or need professional guidance on maintaining your hearing aids, contact your local American Hearing and Audiology Center. Our expert team is ready to help you get the most out of your investment.