Cleaning and Care

Stethoscope Cleaning and Care

Extend the life and acoustic performance of your 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscope with these tips.

Alert: Stay safe in the fight against COVID-19. Reduce the risk of contamination by disinfecting your stethoscope regularly.

Auscultation plays a critical part in assessment and treatment protocols. However, stethoscopes are often at risk of contamination, especially when used in direct contact with patients. To ensure the safety of you and your patients, always clean your stethoscope after each diagnosis. Follow the steps below to learn how to disinfect your 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscope correctly. 

3M is committed to supporting healthcare workers through critical resources on infection prevention and control.  For more information about stethoscope cleaning and other COVID-19-related content, visit our blog here.

Stethoscope cleaning and decontamination

You can clean your 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscope between patient exams, and to remove organic material. The practice of using hand sanitizers to clean stethoscopes is not recommended because of additives that may damage parts of the stethoscope, such as the diaphragms.

  • We recommend these cleaning solutions for all 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscope models:

    ✓ Mild soap and water

    ✓ 70% alcohol

    ✓ 2% bleach solution (may cause tubing discolouration)

    Do not:

    ✕ Use hand sanitizers

    ✕ Immerse stethoscope in any liquid

    ✕ Subject your stethoscope to any sterilisation process

  • Important Tip:

    • Never rinse or soak your 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscope. Clean it with an alcohol wipe, or a wipe dipped in an appropriate cleaning solution.

Removing and reassembling stethoscope parts

Tunable diaphragms, non-chill bell sleeves and eartips can be removed for thorough cleaning with 70% alcohol or mild soapy water. Ensure that all parts and surfaces are dried thoroughly before reassembly.

  Removal Reassembly
Tunable diaphragm
  • • Pinch the rim of the diaphragm.
  • • Pull and lift it from the chestpiece.
  • • Insert flexible end into groove of rim.
  • • Slowly roll it over the edge.
  • • Pull firmly off headset.
  • • Push the small side firmly onto the eartube until it snaps fully into place.
Non-chill bell sleeve
  • • Pull and lift it off the chestpiece.
  • • Place one side of the edge onto the bell.
  • • Stretch it over and around the edge of the bell.
  • Important Tip:

    • Do refer to your 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscope owner’s manual for detailed instructions on parts removal and reassembly, as well as the cleaning of specific stethoscope parts.

Have you registered yet?

Some stethoscope models have warranty periods that go up to 7 years. Registering for a warranty online will only take about a minute. Be sure to have your serial number ready.

Storing your stethoscope safely

Proper storage of your stethoscope is important to increase its lifespan and prevent damage to its functional and aesthetic aspects. There are many ways of storing your stethoscope for extended periods of time or in harsh environments – here are some of them.

  • Where to store your stethoscope:

    • In the box that it came in.

    • In a natural position inside a cool and dry cupboard, drawer or locker.

  • Important Tip:

    • Do not expose your stethoscope to extreme heat or cold.

    • Store your stethoscope away from direct sunlight as continuous exposure will harden its tubing.

    • Do not place/keep your stethoscope near solvents and oils.

    • Do not place heavy objects on your stethoscope as it could excessively warp or bend.

    • Do not store it tightly folded in pockets.

Four signs it is time to replace/repair your stethoscope

Your stethoscope will be one of your most-used instruments at work, which makes it susceptible to wear and tear after some time. Here are some common indicators that it may be time to repair your 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscope, find replacement parts, or invest in a new stethoscope.

  • 1. Its parts are worn and torn, or weather-beaten from sunlight exposure.

    2. Its tubing becomes hard or cracked due to being exposed for long periods of time to skin oils.

    3. Loss of functionality due to e.g. immersion in water

    4. Damage to the diaphragm(s), eartips, and non-chill bell sleeves.

  • Tip:

    • To improve the longevity of your stethoscope, wear it with a collar to minimize skin contact.

Using Your Stethoscope

Discover handy tips for the proper use of your 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscope.

Learn key stethoscope usage here.

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