Want to Get the Most of Your Stethoscope? Read our Maintenance Guide!

Author: Nicole Adler   Date Posted:9 March 2018 

You have obtained a quality Littmann stethoscope, but want to know how you can get the most from it? If so, we recommend reading our extensive guide below, which provides you with more information regarding the cleaning, maintenance, and even the storage of your stethoscope!

How Do You Care for, Clean and Maintain a Stethoscope?

Depending on the brand you have obtained, the maintenance, care, and cleaning process of your stethoscope can vary considerably. Fortunately, the cleaning and maintenance process of the Littmann stethoscope is extremely straightforward.

Before you read some of the details below, which tells you how to clean, care for, and maintain your stethoscope, we must mention that there are many aspects to consider. Firstly, wearing the stethoscope in the correct manner can increase its lifespan, but so can its storage! To find out how, please read on.

How Should You Wear Your Stethoscope?

There are several things we must mention when we talk about wearing your stethoscope. Firstly, there is a difference in wearing your stethoscope while it is being used and when it is not being used. We will discuss both below.

When you wear your stethoscope during the physical examination of the patient, it is important to align the ear tips with the ear canals; this can be done by ensuring the ear tips are facing forward before you insert them into the ears. Remember, the ear tips of the Littmann stethoscope are anatomically designed, so aligning them is quite important!

Of course, many clinicians wear their stethoscope around the neck when it is not being used; this is often the case for medical professionals who work in hospitals or other busy medical environments.

When wearing the stethoscope around the neck, we recommend avoiding direct contact between the skin and the tubing material, since skin oils can cause premature damage to all tubing materials used today. Even though Littmann stethoscopes are made with next-generation tubing, a compound that is more resistant to skin oils than most tubing materials, continuous contact could still cause damage.

One way to prevent continuous contact with skin oils is to wear the stethoscope around a collar. Fortunately, most white coats have a collar already, but so do most men’s shirts. Female medical professionals may find it more difficult to wear something appropriate when they do not wear a white coat. An option for female medical professionals could be a collared blouse.

What Should You Clean Your Stethoscope with?

Stethoscopes should never be submerged in water, nor should they be subjected to sterilising processes. However, your Littmann stethoscope can be cleaned with a damp cloth and some soapy water. The chestpiece can easily be taken apart for this purpose, while the ear tips on the headset can also be removed for a more thorough clean.

After you have cleaned your stethoscope, please make sure that all the parts of the Littmann stethoscope are completely dry before you reassemble the headset or the chestpiece. Also, do not forget the maintain the tubing material either, which can be done with a simple wipe or a damp cloth.

How Should You Store Your Stethoscope?

Storing your stethoscope is important too since proper storage can also increase its lifespan! Most clinicians store their stethoscope in their bag or on a dedicated hook, however, this is not recommended since it could ruin its shape after some time.

The best way to store your stethoscope is in the accompanying storage box. Of course, clinicians can obtain special storage units for their stethoscope too, so it could be a good idea to check out available storage solutions before you obtain your stethoscope.

If you are not that fond of buying extra storage units for the stethoscope, then the most important thing is to keep the stethoscope in a clean and safe environment. It is also suggested to not store your stethoscope in an area with direct sunlight, since this could cause damage to the stethoscope after long-term storage.

How Often Should You Clean Your Stethoscope?

Bacteria, viruses, and all types of nasties can be a big problem in any medical environment, so medical professionals will keep their medical equipment as clean as possible to prevent these nasties from spreading.

Ideally, medical professionals should clean their stethoscope thoroughly after every working day. However, the reality of busy hospital environments, doctor surgeries, and medical wards often make the cleaning of a stethoscope not the biggest priority.

Despite the lack of time some clinicians may have, the stethoscope is truly an extension of the clinician’s hands in most cases. While you may be washing your hands properly between patients, not maintaining your stethoscope could subject your patients and yourself to dangerous bacteria. Therefore, make sure you clean the stethoscope after each working day.