If you use hearing aids, it’s important that you clean them regularly. Hearing aids are constantly exposed to earwax, dirt, and moisture, and regular cleaning can not only prevent ear infection but makes sure that your hearing aids are delivering the clearest sound possible. 

Cleaning your hearing aids

Your hearing aids should come with a cleaning kit that is specific to the type of device you have. When you get your hearing aids, you’ll also be given advice on how to clean and maintain them at home.

What’s in my hearing aid cleaning kit?

Your hearing aid cleaning kit will generally include:

  • Soft brush and dry cloth — the soft brush and dry cloth will help to remove wax from the mould, filters, and domes on your hearing aid. Some brushes have a magnetic battery removal tool as well
  • Wax pick or wire loop — this helps to remove wax and debris from the vents and nooks of the hearing aid
  • Multi-tool — an all-in-one cleaning tool that has a wire loop, magnet, and brush, to help you thoroughly clean your device 

General hearing aid cleaning tips

Hearing aids are fairly small devices, but they contain powerful technology and can be quite sensitive, so it’s important to take care while cleaning.

Here are some general cleaning and maintenance tips for your hearing aids:

  • Wash your hands first and make sure they’re dry before you start cleaning
  • Wipe your hearing aids with a damp cloth or use the soft brush tool to brush off any debris that may be on the hearing aids. Do not wash your hearing aids with water 
  • Hearing aids are water-resistant, but they’re not usually not waterproof – so avoid submerging yours in water. Remove your device before taking a shower or going swimming
  • Avoid using wipes with chemicals or alcohol
  • Take out your hearing aids during your hygiene routine, for example, washing your face or applying cosmetics like sprays or gels
  • Avoid using sharp objects around the microphone or receiver ports, using your wax pick instead
  • If your hearing aids use batteries, leave the battery compartment open overnight (you don’t have to completely remove the battery from the aid)
  • You should dock your rechargeable batteries as instructed by the manufacturer
  • Avoid storing your hearing aids somewhere too warm — for example, leaving them on a windowsill on a sunny day, or too close to a radiator
  • Do not use other people’s hearing aids and never share yours with others

How to clean your Specsavers hearing aids

If you bought your hearing aids from us, you’ll have received a cleaning kit and been given advice
on what you need to do to care for them. Here is a step-by-step summary of how to clean the
different types of hearing aids that we offer:

How to clean ITE (in the ear) hearing aids

  1. Gently brush the microphone port, receiver, and vent openings to remove any wax or debris
  2. Hold the device face-down to allow any loose particles to fall
  3. Use the wax pick to carefully dislodge any stubborn material from the vent
  4. Wipe the device and its case clean with a clean, dry cloth 

How to clean BTE (behind the ear) hearing aids

  1. Clean the device’s tubing with water and leave to dry overnight
  2. Remove the ear mould from the hook to clean it
  3. Brush the ear mould clean, and then use the wax pick/wire loop to remove any stubborn debris
  4. Soak the ear moulds in warm, soapy water at least once a week, and leave to dry overnight 
  5. Replace the tubing if it becomes discoloured or blocked 

How to clean RIC (receiver in canal) or open ear hearing aids

  1. Wipe your hearing aid with a soft cloth and use the brush to remove any debris
  2. Gently pick any stubborn particles stuck on the dome with your thumb
  3. Use the soft brush to clean the battery compartment
  4. Replace the wax filter twice a year or when it looks worn and discoloured 

Hearing aid accessories

Sometimes, you may need to replace certain parts of your hearing aid, either through wear and tear or because you’ve lost a piece while you were taking it apart, for example. Some hearing aids have  parts that are specific to the type of device, so we’ve put together a little list of different hearing aid accessories and what device they’re best used for, as well as top tips on maintenance so you can keep them working for longer. 

Hearing aid tubes

Hearing aid tubes are the part of a behind the ear (BTE) hearing aid that sits behind your ear and connects the ear mould to the soft tip that goes into the opening of your ear.

How to look after your hearing aid tubes

Remove the ear mould and clean the tubing with water and dry overnight. Replace the tubing at least once a month if it becomes discoloured or blocked. 

Hearing aid domes

A hearing aid dome is the small plastic piece of your hearing aid that goes in the ear, typically made of silicone.

A correctly fitted dome can make a huge difference in both comfort and quality while wearing your hearing aids. So if yours ever feel uncomfortable or you have any issues with their fit, book an appointment to see one of our audiologists and we can check the fit of the dome for you.

There are two types:

Open style

  • Helps to stop what’s called the occlusion effect – which creates a hollow-like sound as if you’ve put your fingers in your ears while talking.
  • Still receives some sound through the ear, so can sound more natural for some people.

Closed style

  • Reduces sound from outside the hearing aid to further boost the sound level.
  • Often better for people suffering from a more severe level of hearing loss.
How often should you change hearing aid domes?

Hearing aid domes are removable and should be changed at least once a month. If you’re unsure how to do this, book an appointment and someone will be able to show you how to do this.

What is the occlusion effect?

If you hear a hollow booming sound when you speak, you may be experiencing an occlusion effect. When you speak, the bone conducts the sound to reach the inner ear. Hearing aids trap this sound in the ear canal and it bounces off, amplifying the sensation of the sound. Vents in the dome of your hearing aid can help to reduce this

Hearing loops

Hearing loop systems are installed in busy or difficult listening situations, like cinemas and public buildings, to help you hear more clearly. Modern hearing aids are designed to pick up sound from loop systems if they have the loop active on them, and some telephones also have an available loop service

How do they work?

A hearing loop is a piece of wire installed around the perimeter of a room or in a specific area (e.g. underneath a service counter at the supermarket) that acts as an amplifier for sounds in that area. These sounds are then picked up by a receiver in your hearing aid, called the telecoil.

Your audiologist will advise you if this is available on your hearing aid. If it is, they’ll be able to add a program to your hearing aids so that whenever you’re somewhere where you see a loop setting you can change to this program. They are able to set it so you can have a balance between hearing through your hearing aid microphones and the loop at the same time.

Can all hearing aids connect to a hearing loop system?

While most hearing aids have the option available, completely-in-canal, invisible-in-canal and some smaller receivers in the canal hearing aids don’t have the space for a telecoil as they are so small.

If you’re unsure if your hearing aids have a loop setting, contact your local store and speak to a member of the audiology team. They’ll be able to confirm if it does and if it’s activated for you. 

When are hearing loops useful?

They are especially helpful in busy public places, where your hearing aid might pick up a lot of ambient sounds as well as the ones you need to hear, causing you to strain to hear spoken words, for example.

Since 2010, businesses and other organisations are legally required to install hearing loop systems in their premises, and most places will have a little sign to indicate that a hearing loop system is available, usually on the door as you enter or by the counter.

Can you install hearing loops at home?

Yes, hearing loops installed at home can help with conversations or watching television. You can buy them from specific suppliers who can guide you on the right size and model for your home. They usually cost between £100-£200. 

Always remember to turn your hearing aids back to a normal program mode when you’re out of range from a loop service.

Hearing aid use and maintenance FAQs

Why do hearing aids whistle?

The high-pitched whistle that some hearing aids give off is caused by feedback that occurs when sound meant for your ear canal instead bounces off the vents of your hearing aid and is fed back into the microphone, causing the sound to be re-amplified. This happens when the ear canal gets blocked by excess earwax.

Sometimes, these whistles can be a sign that your hearing aid needs to be repaired, but more often than not, they’re due to wax deposits in the inner ear. If this wax is left in place long enough, frequent sound feedback can damage the receiver, which may cause your device to stop working altogether.

Can hearing aids cause infection?

Hearing aids alter the microbial environment of the ear canal, which can increase the risk of fungal and bacterial infection as well as the formation of wax debris. But with regular cleaning of your hearing aids, the risk is significantly reduced, and many hearing aid wearers don’t experience any infections from wearing their hearing aids. Excess earwax can be removed by a healthcare professional. If you use hearing aids and develop an infection, or if your ear moulds develop a strong odour, stop wearing them and contact your doctor immediately. 

Can I use a hearing aid dehumidifier?

Hearing aid dehumidifiers help to prevent moisture build-up on your hearing aid. You may need one if you spend a lot of time outdoors or if you perspire heavily. To use a hearing aid dehumidifier, place your hearing aid (with batteries in) inside the dehumidifier (usually a box) overnight to extract moisture. If you’d like a dehumidifier for your hearing aids get in touch your local store to talk about your options.

Can I recycle my hearing aid batteries?

Your Specsavers hearing aid batteries can be recycled at your nearest battery collection point found at supermarkets and shopping centres. You can find your nearest centre here. Do not put batteries in general waste as this has damaging effects on the environment.

Can hearing aids cause tinnitus or make it worse?

No, wearing hearing aids does not cause tinnitus or ringing of the ears. They also don’t typically make it worse. What may happen when you start to wear hearing aids is that you begin to hear sounds you hadn’t been able to hear without, which can make it seem like your ears are ringing as your brain gets used to the range of sounds again. This usually goes away once you have adjusted to your hearing aids, but speak to your audiologist if you think something isn’t quite right. 

Can hearing aids cause vertigo and dizziness?

No, hearing aids do not cause any vertigo, dizziness, disbalance, or a false sense of motion. Even though hearing and balance are both linked to the fluid in the inner ear, and your hearing may be affected during vertigo, using hearing aids alone is not responsible for dizziness. 

Can I wear a hearing aid with a ruptured eardrum?

Yes, often people with hearing loss have ruptured or perforated eardrums and wear hearing aids without any issues. It’s important to maintain a good cleaning routine to minimise any risk of infections in the canal. If you have a perforated eardrum and notice pain or discharge from the ear, stop wearing the hearing aid on the affected side and speak to your GP.

Can I improve my hearing without a hearing aid?

Hearing loss is generally permanent and the use of hearing aids is the only thing that will improve your ability to hear. Depending on how severe your hearing loss is you may be suitable for a cochlear implant, however this is a specialist hearing device that is inserted during surgery. Only those with a certain degree of hearing loss are suitable for this type of hearing device. 

If you have a conductive hearing loss, sometimes it can be resolved through surgery and the use of a hearing aid is not needed. However, the majority of hearing loss is due to nerve damage and a hearing aid will help.

Certain techniques, such as lip reading and communication tactics, can help if your hearing loss is only mild, however a hearing aid will always be the only way to treat your hearing loss. 

Can you use headphones with hearing aids?

You won’t be able to use headphones or earphones with hearing aids. Certain hearing aids can connect wirelessly to your phone or other devices so you can listen to music or hear phone conversations easier. If you can’t connect directly to your phone from your hearing aid, there are streaming devices that connect to your hearing aid and phone to allow you to stream music and carry out phone calls. Ask your audiologist about the services available for you

How often can you get free hearing aids?

We fit our NHS customers with digital hearing aids that use some of the latest technology. These last for an average of 5 years. Click here to find out more and if you’re eligible for free hearing aid accessories and repairs

Can you take hearing aid batteries on a plane?

Yes, you can take hearing aid batteries on a plane. These batteries are not lithium ones. All your hearing accessories including batteries are allowed in your carry-on luggage.

Learn more about hearing loss

Hearing loss can be a frustrating experience, but with accurate diagnosis and treatment, the majority of people are able to improve their hearing and get back to their daily lives as normal. 

To learn more about hearing, ear health, and how to protect your hearing, visit our hearing loss information hub.

You can also test your hearing at home using our free online hearing test.

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