Thermometers are one of the most important medical instruments. Almost every household has one of these. With these instruments, you’ll be able to measure your body temperature accurately, which will allow you to determine whether you’re healthy or not.
However, if the thermometer is damaged, it will result in inaccurate readings. In such cases, you won’t be able to determine your actual body temperature, which may lead to further health problems in certain cases.
Knowing how to clean a thermometer is one of the most important things to know for a thermometer owner. One of the best ways of keeping a thermometer fully functioning is by cleaning it regularly.
Unless you clean your thermometers properly, you risk the chances of getting accurate readings from them. In this article, we’ll discuss the entire process in detail.
How to Clean a Thermometer: 4 Different Types of Thermometer Cleaning Process
There are different types of thermometers. You can’t clean them following the same procedure. We’ll cover the process for each of the types in this section.
Cleaning Glass Thermometers
While these aren’t the most accurate or user-friendly, glass thermometers are perhaps the cheapest and most widely used thermometers out there.
Glass thermometers can be cleaned with either soap and water or with rubbing alcohol. We’ll discuss both procedures.
For cleaning with soap and water, you need a bowl of water mixed with soap. Wash the thermometer in the bowl. After that, rinse it in cool and running water. Wipe off the moisture with paper towels. Then air-dry it completely.
You need 60% to 90% rubbing alcohol for the other procedure. Dip a cotton ball in the alcohol and rub it on the thermometer. You don’t have to dry it manually as alcohol dries off quickly.
Cleaning Rectal Thermometers
Rectal thermometers are usually used for checking the temperature of kids and pets. While they aren’t widely used, knowing how to clean them can come in handy.
As you’ll have to enter these through the rectum of the patient, you must clean them properly before using them. Here’s what you must do.
Before you enter the instrument, you need to rub it with a cotton ball moistened with rubbing alcohol of concentration between 60% to 90%. Wipe the tip of the thermometer properly so that no alcohol remains. Or else, it can be painful for the patient and cause a burning sensation.
After the alcohol has evaporated completely, you need to insert the tip up to 1 inch to measure the temperature of the patient accurately.
Once that’s done, you need to wash the thermometer with water and soap. Take a bowl of water with soap mixed in it. Let the thermometer settle there for some time. Then, hold it under running water to wash it off properly. This process will clean the thermometer of any fecal matter.
Then, you need to repeat the first process, which is rubbing the entire thermometer with alcohol. Make sure that there’s no trace of water on the thermometer before doing that. Use paper towels if necessary.
Repeating the first process will make sure that the thermometer is disinfected and ready for the next use.
Cleaning Digital Thermometers
Digital thermometers are becoming more and more popular every day, and this is greatly due to their accuracy and user-friendliness. Unlike the glass thermometers that are considered analog now, you won’t have to squint to find out the accurate temperature with these.
Usually, digital thermometers come with heat sensors that determine your body temperature, and an LCD screen displays the reading up to decimal points.
As digital thermometers use electricity, washing them with water is unwise. The suitable cleaning process is described below.
You need to clean these with rubbing alcohol. Having a microfiber towel will help too. You can use the microfiber towel to clean the display first. If the display becomes too dirty, you won’t be able to see the readings properly.
Then, you’ll need to wipe the thermometer with rubbing alcohol with a concentration ranging from 60% to 90%. Make sure to avoid the display while wiping the thermometer. You can also use alcohol wipes instead of cotton balls and rubbing alcohol.
Wipe the alcohol off with a cotton ball or wipes dipped in water. After this, you can use the thermometer. Then, you need to repeat the disinfection process. But this time there’s no need to clean it with water. You can either air dry it or wipe it with a dry cloth or cotton.
Cleaning Non-Contact Thermometers
Since the pandemic has struck globally, the usage of non-contact thermometers has increased rapidly. These thermometers are designed to be used on many people in a short period, a feature that every other type is lacking.
However, you still need to keep these clean to keep them functional. And while you’re doing that, following the right procedure is important.
Cleaning a non-contact thermometer can be a bit more complex than the other ones. You should use cotton swabs, as these are far more delicate, paper towels, and rubbing alcohol.
Dip the cotton swabs in alcohol first, and then wipe the lens carefully. Clean the rest of the thermometer with wipes dipped in alcohol. Don’t clean the lens with a towel or a wipe. You might end up damaging it.
Once you’re done wiping, you can give it some time to air dry, as that will evaporate the alcohol. However, if you need it urgently, you can use a dry towel to wipe off any remaining alcohol. You need not touch the lens as that will dry off very fast.
Cleaning a thermometer is very crucial in medical practices, and this is why we highly recommend you take some time from your schedule to do this. Doing so will not only keep it clean but also disinfect it so that diseases don’t spread from person to person.
Hopefully, this answers your question on how to clean a thermometer. Following the procedures meant for the individual types will yield the best results.