While earwax has many protective properties for your hearing health, earwax and hearing aids don’t mix well, and your hearing aids may corrode over time. The acidic properties of earwax can kill the electrical components of a hearing aid, making earwax one of the leading causes of hearing aid damage.

Unfortunately, 1 in 3 elderly people experience excessive earwax, and any blockage of the ear canal (such as a hearing aid) stimulates the ear glands to create more earwax. Therefore, it’s important to create a hearing aid hygiene routine. 

Here are some tips to keep your hearing aids clean and prevent earwax damage.

Protecting Your Hearing Aids From Earwax

While your hearing aid care routine should include regular professional cleanings every three to six months, you should also clean them regularly at home. Your hearing aid may come with a cleaning kit, or you can purchase a cleaning kit for anywhere from $5 to $50.

So how do I clean the wax out of my hearing aid?

Before you clean your hearing aid, it’s important to let it air out. Therefore, take your hearing aids out at night, allow them to air out, and then clean them in the morning.

As you begin cleaning, start by wiping your hearing aids gently with a dry cloth. Next, use the brush in your kit to remove any remaining residue. Be sure to check the sound bores or the tip of your hearing aids for any earwax, as this is where the sound exits the hearing aid.

For behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids, use a thin, flexible wire or air blower to clean the tubing as this is responsible for transferring sound from the hearing aid to your ear canal.

Invest in Wax Guards and Filters

Another way to safeguard your hearing aids against earwax damage is to purchase wax guards or filters. 

Wax guards are placed under the hearing aid dome and act as a shield that prohibits earwax from clogging the tube in a receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aid. You'll have to change the wax guard roughly once per month, depending on how often you use it, though wax guards are fairly cheap at approximately $7 per package.

Changing wax guards is also easy. Take the dome off the hearing aid and take out a new wax guard from the packaging. The shorter end is used to extract the old wax guard, and the larger end is the new wax guard that can be inserted in the tube.

Invest in Better Storage

In addition to using guards to protect your hearing aids, you should also adopt a hearing aid maintenance routine. 

Consider purchasing a hearing aid dryer or dry storage box to reduce earwax buildup. One of the reasons why earwax is damaging to hearing aids is because it exposes the hearing aid to constant moisture. The dry box has a heat cycle that dries the hearing aid overnight, and the dehumidifier protects it from further damage. 

Some dry boxes also have a UV light, which cleans the hearing aid by killing viruses and bacteria that could cause ear infections.

In the morning, you dust off any earwax that has flaked on the hearing aid, and they are ready to go again.

Note that even with a dry box, you should avoid storing your hearing aid in a high humidity location, such as a bathroom.

If Your Hearing Aids Are Damaged

Hearing aids are electronic devices and, like cell phones, they should be treated with care. If you do get them wet or fear that you have damaged them, contact your audiologist immediately. Advancements in technology have made hearing aids more durable, and if you can't fix them on your own, most hearing aid repair shops can fix them for you.