How to Clean and Maintain Your Stethoscope

Knowing how to clean and maintain your stethoscope correctly ensures you get the best long-term use from your device.

It also saves you money because you don’t need to replace it immediately if something breaks.

There are numerous components and cleaning supplies to extend the life of your device.

It includes components like the chestpiece, tubing, and ear tips.

It also includes using non-abrasive wipes, cleaning alcohol, and soapy water.

The following section covers how to clean your stethoscope with five tips.

After that, I’ll cover the accessories you need to keep your stethoscope sanitary and functional.

Stethoscope Cleaning Tips

When cleaning your stethoscope, you must use the proper cleaning solution.

It involves using 70% isopropyl alcohol, stethoscope cleaner, or soapy water and evading abrasive/corrosive chemicals.

In addition, you’ll want to avoid submerging your stethoscope in liquids or chemicals.

Submerging your stethoscope can harm the tubing and get water stuck in the chestpiece and binaurals.

Finally, detach the ear tips and chestpiece to clean them more effectively without damaging the tubing/binaural.

Stethoscope Cleaning Steps:

  1. Use 70% Isopropyl or approved cleaning kits
  2. Do not submerge your stethoscope
  3. Avoid hand sanitizer & harsh chemicals
  4. Remove ear tips before cleaning
  5. Detach the chestpiece to cleanse it separately

1. Use 70% Isopropyl Alcohol Solution

70% Isopropyl alcohol is relatively safe for cleaning most stethoscopes.

However, you’ll want to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines to ensure you use the proper cleaning supplies.

Alternatively, you can use a stethoscope cleaning kit or non-abrasive soapy water.

Avoid harsh chemicals like hand sanitizer or corrosive chemicals.

They can discolor or damage the tubing.

2. Do Not Submerge your Stethoscope

You’ll want to avoid submerging your stethoscope in chemicals/liquids.

Immersing your device in chemicals can cause water to get caught in the binaurals or chestpiece.

Water or other chemicals stuck in your stethoscope can cause noise interference, damage, and corrosion.

Instead, wipe your device off with a non-abrasive cloth and remove the ear tips and chestpiece to clean them separately.

3. Evade Hand Sanitizers & Corrosive Chemicals

Some hand sanitizers use additives that can damage your stethoscope.

For instance, abrasive hand sanitizer can discolor the tubing or damage its structure.

Instead, use the recommended isopropyl or stethoscope cleaning solution.

It ensures your tubing, biannual, and chestpiece remain safe when cleaning the device.

4. Remove the Ear Tips Before Cleaning your Stethoscope

Removing the ear tips allows you to clean the inside and outside more thoroughly.

It’s challenging to clean the inside of ear tips while still attached to the stethoscope.

In addition, removing the ear tips is safer for the device because you avoid getting liquids trapped inside the binaurals.

Alternatively, you can replace the ear tips with new ones to keep the stethoscope as new as possible.

5. Remove the Stethoscope Diaphragm, if Possible

Removing the stethoscope diaphragm allows you to clean it more thoroughly and efficiently.

In addition, you don’t need to worry about damaging other parts of the stethoscope with alcohol or other chemicals.

That said, ensure you completely dry the diaphragm before reassembling it.

It ensures you don’t get liquids inside the tubing or trapped in the device because it can affect the acoustic performance.

Avoid Extreme Heat, Cold, and Oils

Keep your stethoscope away from heat, cold, and oils.

These elements can significantly reduce your device’s long-term performance and durability.

Extreme heat or cold can damage the tubing and metal components of the stethoscope.

In addition, oils and abrasive chemicals/oils may discolor or eat away at the tubing, reducing its performance.

When not using your device, utilize a stethoscope case to keep it safe and prevent damage.

Consider Using a Stethoscope Case

Stethoscope cases provide an easy way to maintain and keep your stethoscope immaculate.

Most cases are inexpensive and great for preventing exposure to chemicals and extreme heat/cold.

They also protect the tubing from harmful sunlight exposure, warping, and discoloring the stethoscope’s tubing.

Besides, some cases offer extra slots and compartments for stethoscope attachments and essentials.

Essential Stethoscope Components

Aside from cleaning your stethoscope, several components/accessories are available to extend the device’s life.

These components allow you to replace necessary parts rather than buy an entirely new stethoscope.

That way, you get the best long-term use.

Stethoscope components include ear tips, diaphragms/chestpiece, replacement tubing, and I.D. badges.

Eartips

Eartips are one of the most effortless and least expensive items to replace on a stethoscope.

If you have uncomfortable ear tips or need to replace them, you can easily swap them.

Stethoscope ear tips are usually sold online through websites like Amazon or specialty supply stores.

Alternatively, you can purchase them at retailers selling stethoscopes and related parts.

Some manufacturers also include several ear tips for different ear sizes in their packaging.

Overall, replacing ear tips is a great way to extend your stethoscope lifespan and get the best performance quickly.

Diaphragm/Chestpiece

Numerous higher-end stethoscope brands like Littmann offer diaphragm/chestpiece replacement parts.

These replacement parts are less expensive than purchasing a new stethoscope.

It also allows you to continue using the rest of the device longer.

If you’re concerned about your stethoscope’s long-term functionality, consider buying one that offers replacement parts.

It can easily double the life of your stethoscope and save you lots of money.

Binaural/Tube Replacement

Some stethoscope manufacturers offer binaural/tube replacements to extend your device’s life and save money.

Binaural replacements are excellent for working chestpieces with damaged binaural assembly.

You don’t need to spend an extra $50 – $300 replacing the entire stethoscope.

Instead, you can spend a small fraction on a new binaural.

The high-end chestpiece is usually the most expensive component of a stethoscope.

So it makes sense that replacing the binaural is a great way to extend your device’s lifespan. 

I.D. Tag

Investing in an identification badge for your stethoscope is optional.

However, it’s a fantastic way to ensure that your stethoscope doesn’t get mixed up with someone else’s.

If you put it down and misplace it, you’ve spent a lot of money on a stethoscope that can quickly go missing.

Name tags are also great for keeping track of your device when working in a large hospital/healthcare center.

Numerous healthcare professionals use stethoscopes, so I.D. tags let you determine which device belongs to each person.

You’ll have a much better chance of recovering your lost stethoscope by putting your name on it.

It’s a small investment, and definitely, it’s worth the extra insurance.