Tips and hints clean and disinfect clinical thermometers

How to clean the thermometer. Photo: Syda Productions /

These tips and hints you should follow when cleaning your thermometers.

Digital Unit: Lukas Bohl (lbo)

In principle, you should always take a look at the instructions for use of the thermometer. There you will usually find the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfecting the device. The disinfectants recommended by the manufacturer are also listed there. If you no longer have the instructions, most instructions can be found by doing a quick search on the Internet. Otherwise, you can proceed as described below.

How often to clean the thermometer?

Contact thermometers should be cleaned before and after each use. Especially in case of an oral or rectal fever measurement. Despite cleaning, it may be advisable to use a separate thermometer for each member of the household to eliminate the residual risk of smear infection. The same applies to ear thermometers, on which earwax can deposit.

Digital thermometers

Manufacturers such as Geratherm or Sanitas recommend cleaning their thermometers with cold soapy water (mild soap) or alcohol. Since not all thermometers are waterproof, you should never douse them with water. Instead, dampen a cloth and use it to clean the thermometer. Under no circumstances, however, should you disinfect it with hot water. Use alcohol for this purpose. Isopropanol 70% (Buy on Amazon / DISPLAY) is best, but ethanol can also be used. Soak a cloth with the alcohol and rub the contact surface thoroughly. Allow the alcohol to dry on the surface and do not rinse with water.

Glass thermometer

The same recommendations for cleaning apply to glass thermometers as to digital thermometers. However, due to their waterproof surface, they can also be immersed in the disinfectant solution. This should not be above 42 degrees.

Ear thermometer

Although many models use a protective cap, you should clean the sensor tip regularly. If you use an ear thermometer without a protective cap, you should clean the sensor tip before and after each use. To do this, soak a cloth or cotton swab in alcohol and rub the tip with it. You can clean the device itself with a little soapy water. Make sure that no liquid penetrates into the interior.

Forehead thermometer

Since these types of thermometers do not come into contact with the skin, they do not need to be cleaned as often as contact thermometers. Use only mild detergents for cleaning and make sure no liquid gets inside. It is best to wet a cloth with the detergent and then rub the thermometer.

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