What's Wrong With My Hearing Aid?

If you're experiencing difficulties with your hearing aid, it could be a simple matter of cleaning, or it could be a fault. We show you how to clean up, check those batteries and get your hearing aid back in working order.

Hearing aids open a new world to some people, but they must get daily attention to remain in top working order. Wax and moisture are common causes of hearing-aid malfunction—wax on hearing aids that fit inside the ear, and moisture from perspiration on hearing aids worn outside the ear.


My hearing aid isn’t working

Check the settings and give it a good clean

  • Make sure the hearing aid is switched on. Then check that it is not set to pick up a hearing loop – it should be on the 'microphone' setting for normal use.
  • A flat battery is the most likely cause of a silent hearing aid. Try a replacement. Make sure that the battery is the right way round and that the compartment is fully closed. Some new batteries are supplied with one or both terminals covered with clear plastic film to protect them in storage – be sure to peel this off before use.
  • If you have a behind-the-ear hearing aid, gently pull off the plastic tubing, wash it in soapy water, rinse and leave to dry inside and out. Don't remove the elbow (the hooked part of the unit), or get the hearing aid itself wet – just wipe this part carefully with a soft, dry cloth. If the plastic tubing is brittle or cracked, buy a replacement from your hearing-aid centre.
  • Clean an in-the-ear hearing aid by wiping it with a dry cloth – don't use water. Use the wax pick supplied with the hearing aid to clear any wax blocking the opening.


My hearing aid whistles

Adjust the volume

  • First, try turning down the volume setting on the device. If this doesn't work, remove and reseat the hearing aid – a snug fit in your ear canal will help reduce the feedback and whistling.
  • Some models of hearing aid give an audible warning when the battery is low, so check the battery and replace if necessary.


How to clean your hearing aid properly

To clean an in-the-ear hearing aid 

Start by washing your hands to avoid contaminating the device. Then, using a brush (either one that your doctor gave you or a clean toothbrush), remove any wax on the exterior of the hearing aid. Do this daily if you get a lot of wax, or every other day if you don't. Another option: Wipe the surface with a dry cotton cloth (an old T-shirt works well) or a cloth lightly dampened with alcohol. If you're using alcohol, wipe only the shell of the unit, not over the microphone or receiver, which can be damaged by moisture.


Cleaning a behind-the-ear hearing aid: a two-part operation

To clean the ear mold that fits inside the ear, use water and soap or a germicidal soap. Drip the soap on a cotton cloth dampened with lukewarm water. Wipe the ear mold clean, giving it a good rub. Rinse with lukewarm water and dry with a towel. To clean the hearing aid itself, use just a brush (a toothbrush is fine).

Every three months, take the hearing aid to your hearing-care specialist for a thorough cleaning. He or she should have the appropriate tools for cleaning more deeply into the interior of your hearing aid.


The special tools and accessories you use with your hearing aid need cleaning too! 

In-the-ear hearing aids have wax guards, also called wax scepters, which protect the receiver from clogging with wax. Clean them with a brush. Behind-the-ear hearing aids can be fitted with a sleeve jacket that covers the component behind the ear and protects it from moisture. Wipe the sleeve clean with a cloth.



Like a computer, a hearing aid has an electronic chip in it. Water is its enemy, so watch the amount of liquid you use when cleaning. It's also a good idea to keep your hearing aid in a dry place when you're not using it—for example, in the bedroom while you're taking a shower, instead of in the bathroom.

Have you considered a vibrating alarm clock to help you wake up in the morning? Take a look here.

Need more information about the hearing loss, including its types and causes? Find more here from our carefully selected partner, Hidden Hearing.