Just like surgical equipment and medical tools, keeping your stethoscope clean and sterilized after every use is highly important for a medical practitioner. With bacteria all around, a stethoscope can become the perfect target for these microorganisms. If a bacteria infected or dirty stethoscope is used to diagnose a patient, then this can result in an allergic reaction to the patient or even to the doctor.

Since stethoscope comes in direct contact with the patient’s skin, so it is of utmost importance to keep it clean and then use it.

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Cleaning Practises for Stethoscopes

To clean the stethoscope, you must have the following things:

  • Water
  • Cotton Balls
  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swabs
  • Paper towels

How to Clean the Ear Pieces of a Stethoscope

Cleaning the earpieces of a stethoscope is the easiest thing. It is because most of these earpieces are removable. You can remove the ear pieces from your stethoscope in order to clean them with a cotton swab.

Once the earpieces are removed, you may need them the cotton swab into alcohol. Then gently clean the earpieces. This would also disinfect them. Make sure you don’t use any other material or cloth to clean the earpieces of a stethoscope. It is because other materials may not offer complete cleaning.

Even the headset area underneath earpieces can be cleansed with cotton balls soaked in rubbing alcohol. Place the headset pieces between the cotton balls soaked with alcohol propyl. Ultimately, it would dry the headset using paper towels.

Learn more directly from Littmann here & MDF here on the topic.


How to Clean the Tubing of Stethoscope

You can clean the stethoscope tubing with the same solution or with a solution of water and soap. Take a paper towel and immerse it in the solution. Then gently wipe the tubing with a rug or paper towel.

It is finest to use paper towels to dry the tubing completely. Make sure you don’t use any alcohol based solutions to clean the tubing as this can make the tubing sticky afterwards.

How to Clean the Diaphragm and Bell of a Stethoscope

The bell and the diaphragm are the most important parts of a stethoscope. Even they are the trickiest to clean. Such parts are mainly placed on patients and hence can conveniently pick bacteria. It is of utmost significance to clean these parts regularly, and more often than earpieces, tubing, and headset.

You can start cleaning the bell and diaphragm by soaking a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol. Use the cotton ball to wipe bell and diaphragm. Also, you can use rubbing alcohol pad to clean these two parts of the stethoscope. After cleaning, let the bell and diaphragm get dry. This would disinfect them completely and make them ideal for further use.

Tips to Clean the Stethoscope

While above mentioned are the precise ways to clean different parts of a stethoscope. Still, there are some basic tips that you must remember while cleaning your stethoscope.

  • Make sure that you always use a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution to disinfect the stethoscope.
  • If possible then keep the solution handy and use the alcohol pad to clean diaphragm and bell after every use. This would ensure that there is no infection met with the patients as well as to the user.
  • Avoid immersing any part of your stethoscope in the cleansing solution. Also, avoid practising any sterilization process for your stethoscope.
  • Always protect your stethoscope from extreme cold, heat, oils, and solvents. Such aspects can affect the material quality of your stethoscope. In this situation, it is finest to keep your stethoscope safe in a case when not in use.
  • If your stethoscope hosts a tunable diaphragm, then it can be removed from the Chestpiece. You can wipe the surface with soapy water or alcohol. Make sure that all parts get dried completely before you reassemble them.
  • It is possible to remove ear tips from ear tubes through thorough cleaning. For enhanced safety, you can snap ear tips firmly back on the ribbed ends of ear tubes.

Each part of the stethoscope is prepared using different materials. Hence, it is essential to use appropriate cleaning supplies for each part. While, you can clean most of your stethoscope parts with an alcohol pad, avoid using the tubing with it.

If you do not maintain proper stethoscope hygiene, then sure, you are calling on germs and infection. No matter how busy your schedule is, just follow these simple ways to clean your stethoscope and keep it ready for use always.

Author's Bio: 

Dr Bhaskar is an experienced doctor who likes to write and educate people on a variety of health-related topics. He has an experience of 17 years in medicines and as a health coach. He is an avid writer and maintains several blogs & an active Quora profile where he likes to answer queries and help people. He has contributed many research papers on his field of expertise and has attended many national and international conferences.