How to Properly Clean a Stethoscope


Many medical practitioners do not know the importance of cleaning their stethoscope regularly. When you have a stethoscope, bacteria can build up on the diaphragm over time. The bacteria can lead to various ailments when it comes into contact with a patient’s skin.

It is necessary for every doctor to know how to clean a stethoscope for their safety and health as well as that of their patients.

RELATED: Best Stethoscopes for Doctors

Stethoscope Cleaning Practices

To clean a stethoscope, you should have the following:

  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
  • Water
  • Soap
  • Cotton balls
  • Paper towels
  • Cotton swabs.

Cleaning the Ear Pieces

how to clean a stethoscope ear pieceCleaning stethoscope ear pieces is easy since most of them are removable. The ear pieces can be removed to be cleaned. You can clean the earpieces using a cotton swab dipped into rubbing alcohol. Cleaning the ear pieces with alcohol-laced cotton swabs will also disinfect them. A cotton swab is the ideal cleaning material as it can reach places that other materials cannot easily reach.

To clean the headset area underneath the ear pieces, soak some cotton balls in rubbing alcohol. Then, place the headset pieces between two pieces of the soaked cotton balls and swipe up. Finally, dry the head sets using some paper towels.

How to Remove Stains from Stethoscope Tubing

To clean the tubing, you need soap and water. Dip a paper towel or rug in some soapy water and then use it to wipe the tube. You can then dry the tube using a different paper towel or rug.

Paper towels are the best materials to use for drying unless you wash the rag regularly. Don’t use any alcohol-based cleaning supplies on the tubing because they might make it sticky.

How to Clean Stethoscope Diaphragm and Bell

The diaphragm and bell are the most vital pieces of a stethoscope that have to be cleaned. These are the parts usually placed on patients and hence can easily pick bacteria. You should clean these parts regularly, even if you will not clean the headset, earpieces and tubing as often.

To begin cleaning, soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and use it to wipe the diaphragm and bell. You can also use a rubbing alcohol pad instead of a cotton ball. Leave the diaphragm and bell region wet for a few seconds for them to be disinfected before wiping and drying them.

Check the video below on how to clean the diaphragm and bell parts.

Every part of the stethoscope is made using different materials. Therefore, it is necessary to use different cleaning supplies for the parts. While most areas can be cleaned by an alcohol pad, don’t forget to use soapy water on the tubing. Also, do not put the entire stethoscope in either alcohol or soapy water. Doing so would not be as effective as cleaning individual parts. Moreover, water might get caught in certain areas or even damage some parts.

If you were not cleaning your stethoscope properly, it’s time to rectify the mistakes. The above guide is the proper way of cleaning and taking care of a stethoscope. Cleaning a stethoscope will only take a few minutes off your busy schedule. However, a clean stethoscope will improve the safety and health of both you and your patients.

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