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Maintaining your stethoscope

Maintaining your stethoscope

Posted by DS Medical on 11th Apr 2022

Keeping your stethoscope clean and in good condition is essential for any medical practitioner. Not taking the time to look after your stethoscope can result in it not working properly and the possibility of putting patients at risk. Maintaining you stethoscope is a priority to extend its life and keep it functioning correctly.

A binaural stethoscope is made up of eartips, binaural pieces, flexible tubing, a stem, and a chestpiece – each component needs looking after correctly to ensure the stethoscope performs to a high standard, giving accurate results every time.

How often should you change earpieces?

Earpieces are one of the first stethoscope components to show signs of wear and can also carry hospital acquired infections (HAI). Changing the earpieces can help to restore the original sound quality, which can be significantly noticeable if they have not been changed in a while! It is recommended that you change the earpieces frequently, many stethoscopes are supplied with spares for this particular reason. If you need replacement earpieces or upgrade earpieces for your stethoscope we have a few available on our website.

Most manufacturers will recommend replacing your entire stethoscope every two years but do you know what the key indicators are that tell you when your stethoscope needs changing?

Signs you need to change your stethoscope

One of the most obvious signs is when the tubing becomes hardened as a result of the PVC material coming into contact with the skin on a regular basis. This makes the tubing brittle and prone to cracking – this is usually from wearing the stethoscope around the back of the neck for convenience. To prevent this from happening, or to slow the process, the stethoscope should be worn over clothing so the tubing is protected from the oil in the skin, helping to increase its lifespan. Alternatively, consider keeping the stethoscope in a trouser pocket or pouch.

General maintenance tips to bear in mind

  • Keep your stethoscope away from extreme temperatures, solvents and oils.
  • Never immerse the chestpiece in liquid.
  • Clean your stethoscope regularly with non-invasive cleaning agents recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Remove debris from sound holes in the earpieces, regularly.
  • Avoid the tubing coming into contact with skin.
  • Stethoscopes with a two-sided chestpiece will need lubricating on the rotating stem.
  • When you’re not using your stethoscope, store it in a cool dry place – a stethoscope carrying case is ideal.

When to clean your stethoscope

A looked-after and well maintained stethoscope will last longer so it is important to know what you can do to help. You should always clean your stethoscope in the following situations:

  • When switching from one patient to another– this will help to avoid transferring bacteria between patients.
  • Before and after a shift– this should form part of your daily routine and will help to reduce the chance of bacteria spreading.
  • As and when needed– there are cases that require the stethoscope to be cleaned immediately, especially if there is a possibility the stethoscope has become contaminated.

What can I use to clean my stethoscope*?

It is important to clean your stethoscope regularly with non-invasive cleaning agents. There are several options you can use*:

  • Mild, soapy water – the simplest method of quickly cleaning your stethoscope, providing you are able to access a basic detergent and water.
  • Antibacterial wipes – a quick and easy method of cleaning your stethoscope, however, antibacterial wipes are not guaranteed to provide the same level of cleanliness as other options.
  • Ethanol hand cleaner – convenient for quickly cleaning medical equipment in a hospital environment, especially if water is not available.
  • Isopropyl alcohol – the most effective form of disinfectant for your stethoscope and recommended by most stethoscope suppliers! It is available as wipes, alcohol pads and in bottles to suit your requirements.

*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. Remember not to submerge the chestpiece or to steam clean your stethoscope!

With proper care, your stethoscope can last longer than the manufacturer’s recommendations. However, if your stethoscope is used frequently you can expect natural wear and tear so its best to replace this vital piece of medical equipment, especially as the sound quality can deteriorate over time.

Let us help!

If you need advice on which stethoscope best suits your needs our expert team will be happy to help! Just call us on 01329 311451 or send an email to

If you are looking for a new stethoscope then just head over to see our extensive ADC Stethoscope range now.