4 Step Guide on How To Clean a Stethoscope? [Final Guide]

Despite its importance, it is common for medical professionals to not realize how important it is to periodically clean their stethoscopes.

You would not want to touch the skin of a patient if bacteria had built up around the diaphragm.

It is essential to know how to clean a stethoscope.

Both you and your patients will benefit from developing this habit.

There are different kinds of stethoscopes manufactured to meet a variety of needs in the medical field.

The assumption is that it would endure for several decades, and it usually does when correctly cared for.

Let’s begin cleaning your stethoscope…

4-Step Guide To Cleaning Your Stethoscope

The majority of medical workers don’t understand how to maintain it properly. If you don’t make an effort to care for the stethoscope, it may stop operating correctly and harm people.

This article discusses few critical components of stethoscope cleaning.

What are the benefits of cleaning the stethoscope?

While you’re surely not interested in reading the facts, but here is something you don’t know:

  • As per the research done by Journal of Hospital Infection, “it got discovered that 71 percent of stethoscopes showed substantial growth of bacteria.”
  • As shown in research published in 2011, “less than 8% of attendees, most of them were nursing staff, found cleansing the stethoscope pre or post every patient’s diagnosis.”
  • Several researches have “found how stethoscopes could be infected by various pathogens, notably MRSA, Aeruginosa, and Coli.”

Stethoscopes are prone to contamination. As a result, they require cleaning.

Aside from the evident necessity of ensuring cleanliness, here is another one.

According to research, the main diaphragm of a stethoscope is usually the most sanitized component, while the piping is highly ignored.

It is essential to effectively maintain the entire stethoscope in order to improve its life.

Following are the steps on how to clean a stethoscope:

Step 1: Rinse the tubes on the stethoscope

So your question is how to clean stethoscope tubing?

Whereas the tubes are rarely in close touch with locations where contaminants are expected (such as both earpieces), nevertheless, it requires cleaning.

According to one research, “76 percent of medical workers recognized that disease transmission happens through stethoscopes, yet only 24 percent confirmed cleaning after each usage.”

How to sanitize the tubes of a stethoscope?

Some individuals believe that a special “stethoscope cleanser” is required.

That isn’t the case. It is not required! So, exactly what is required?

For cleansing, look for a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol mixture.

Separate the parts of the stethoscope and then use the isopropyl liquid for properly cleaning the tubes.

Step 2: Disassemble and wipe the adjustable diaphragm

What exactly are adjustable diaphragms?

This is a component of a stethoscope that “assists in making auscultating a person simpler and most reliable.” It allows professionals to listen to various sorts of sounds just by altering a bit of force they put on the chest.”

It, too, must be cleansed, as do the pipes.

How to remove tunable diaphragms and what to clean them with?

Littman makes the majority of adjustable diaphragms. They’re also quite simple to take out.

Here’s exactly what users should follow, as per Littman:

“For detaching the Littmann adjustable diaphragm, squeeze the edges of diaphragm edge using the nail of index finger and thumb, then lift and raise the membrane out of the chest piece.”

How should they be cleaned?

It isn’t too difficult. Gently clean the surfaces using a mild soapy solution or rubbing alcohol.

Step 3: Wipe down the earpieces of the stethoscope

Is it true that stethoscope’s earpieces are very unclean?

According to one European research, “3 out of the 22 professional stethoscope membranes and five pairs of earpieces were found infected with microorganisms.”

Pathogens were found in 5 out of the 22 earpieces.

Therefore, the earpieces do require cleaning.

How to clean stethoscope earpieces?

There is nothing out of the usual that has to be performed.

The easiest approach to sanitize stethoscope’s earpieces would be to use mild soapy solution or alcohol pads to disinfect them completely.

Step 4: Properly dry your stethoscope before reassembling

The growth of microorganisms is enhanced in damp conditions.

Therefore you are not done with disinfecting the stethoscope unless you have completely dried it?

What is the preferred technique to dry up the stethoscope?

There seem to be two choices:

  1. By allowing it to rest in a sanitized area, you should leave it to dry completely.
  2. You should use a handkerchief, paper napkins, or something similar to wipe it (If it is equally hygienic).

Why this has to be done with stethoscope sterilization?

Bacteria prefer wet environments.

So if the stethoscope remains damp after rearranging it, you have created a pleasant environment for all germs to enter.

As per the research, “several microorganisms might live for lengthy periods without dampness, but they cannot develop or replicate without it.”

How NOT to clean a stethoscope

These are several practices one should avoid doing.

1. Do NOT use hand sanitizing solution to clean tubing or diaphragm

Because it might contain chemicals that can harm the stethoscope, hand sanitizing solution could be harsh.

What are the ingredients in hand sanitizer?

“A range of chemicals, notably alcohols, ammonium compounds, and phenolics are utilized in hand sanitizer preparations,” according to an Asian study.

2. Avoid immersing your stethoscope in liquids

This one must be very simple.

You are not washing the plates after a meal. You’re washing healthcare equipment that has to be cleaned properly – stethoscopes are not water-resistant.

3. Never try to sterilize a stethoscope

Stethoscope sterilization is discussed on the internet.

One must never sterilize it, regardless of what is stated on the internet.


The majority of sterilizing techniques are abrasive and harsh, and they have the potential to harm or even ruin the stethoscope.

Maintenance and Cleaning of Stethoscopes: Additional Tips

Remember to sanitize the hands while cleansing the stethoscope, although when deconstructing, keep in mind the surface you set the stethoscope resting on is hygienic. Put the earpieces in a container, so they don’t get lost during the cleaning process, then put them securely into place when they’re totally dry. To keep the stethoscope in suitable condition, ensure the earpieces are securely fastened to the pipes regularly.

Once you’ve finished wiping the stethoscope, store it in a gentle and safe box or pouch in a closet to preserve it against dirt, germs, and dents. Some medical workers employ extra cleaning techniques to sanitize the tubes or membranes, including hydrogen peroxide and bleach wipes.

However, such strong compounds are capable of creating holes or tearing with time.

The tubes, retention bands, and diaphragms of a stethoscope could be damaged by direct sunlight. Avoid storing your stethoscope in areas where it might be subjected to bright sunshine for long periods.

For the best delicate cleaning of a diaphragm and avoiding damaging it, utilize alcohol pads designed for eyeglasses instead of paper napkins or alternative methods.

About Me

Edna Harlow

Hey, This is Edna Harlow here, I’m a full time nurse and part time blogger. I specialize in health and wellness topics so that’s why I started this blog. At Columbia University I earned my master’s degree and currently work at UCHealth.

At Stethoscopesguides.com, you will get detailed information about various types of Stethoscope available in the market. I gonna review the most popular brands and their models in this blog. If you want me to review any particular Stethoscope for yourself then feel free to contact me using this contact form.

Suggestions and Comments are always welcome..

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2 thoughts on “4 Step Guide on How To Clean a Stethoscope?”

  1. It is essential to look after a stethoscope if you want it to last a long time as a Pediatric Nurse. I appreciate your informative post.

  2. I appreciate you providing this amazing guide. Every time I have to visit a professional to clean my stethoscope, I can now do it myself.

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