Stethoscopes are an essential part of your career in healthcare. They can be expensive and require proper maintenance and care. Routine cleanings are essential to the health of your patients and your own health. A dirty stethoscope can be a vector for bacteria and spread sickness to patients you are treating. Proper care can also make your stethoscope last longer. All it takes are a few steps to keep your stethoscope clean and working properly.
- You need to clean your stethoscope after each use and to prevent cross contamination. Clean your stethoscope with 70% isopropyl alcohol for disinfection. If it becomes dirty you can also clean it with mild soap water but make sure it dries completely. Never use hand sanitizer on your stethoscope. For a more thorough cleaning ear tips can be removed and then replaced.
- Avoid immersing your stethoscope in water or liquid as this may damage pieces of the stethoscope. Never subject it to any sterilization process.
- Avoid direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. These can destroy the tubing.
- Never store your stethoscope tightly folded in pockets. This can warp the tubing. Store it in the original box or in a case where it can stay in a natural position. There are many options available for storage.
- Avoid skin contact. Tubing can and will become hard and cracked due to being exposed for long periods of time to skin oils. To improve longevity try to avoid wearing your stethoscope around your neck. You can also clean the tubing monthly with a vinyl protectant such as Armor-All or Praveni. Just use a soft cloth and spray the cloth with the protectant then wipe down the stethoscope.
Remember with proper care, your stethoscope can last longer than the manufacturer’s recommendations. It is important to refer to the user manual provided by your stethoscope manufacturer for specific cleaning instructions for your device, as this may vary.
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