How to Clean Your Stethoscope in Detail: Littmann Stethoscope

Hey guys, Nurse Jenny here!

Today we are going to discuss an important topic which we easily forget while on duty. Aside from our hands, the next most used items that can cause cross-contamination are our vital sign paraphernalia. And sometimes because we become so busy, we forget that our stethoscopes had already been from another patient, so today I will teach you the quick way to clean our stethoscopes and the thorough cleaning we can do at least once a week.

I am going to use the Littmann Lightweight II S.E. for demonstration.

Let’s begin!


How to Clean Your Stethoscope 



So since we can’t clean the stethoscopes thoroughly after every patient I use the small alcohol prep packs which got 70% isopropyl alcohol in it.

Cleaning Your Stethoscope - Littmann Lightweight II S.E.

I always keep some in my pocket as most nurses do, I think. It’s easy to use and easy to dispose.

I clean both of the ear tips first and then I clean the diaphragm because that's been on the patient. I also give the tubing a rubdown and let it completely dry before hanging it on my neck. 

Cleaning Your Stethoscope - Littmann Lightweight II S.E.


That’s it. Ready to use for on the next patient.


For thorough cleaning, we will be needing cotton tips like a Q-tip, and alcohol.

The Littmann Lightweight II S.E.’s ear tips can be pulled off with a little force, so just pull it off and dip the cotton tip in alcohol and clean the entire rubber tip, inside and out. You’d be surprised what’s hiding inside those little ear tips when neglected. 

Cleaning Your Stethoscope - Littmann Lightweight II S.E.

Make sure it’s thoroughly dry before re-assembling.

Next would be the diaphragm. Most stethoscopes have removable diaphragms so take everything off and use the cotton tip to clean around all the crevices of the diaphragm.
Replace soiled cotton tips as needed.
Make sure everything is dry as well before putting it back. 

Cleaning Your Stethoscope - Littmann Lightweight II S.E.

Do the same thing with the bell, clean the crevices and the holes. Remove everything that’s removable because sometimes this is where bugs like to hang out.

If you want to give your stethoscope a real spring clean, a really thoroughly clean, then you can pull the Littmann Lightweight II S.E stethoscope apart in two places. Use your cotton tips to clean the connectors and edges and even inside the tubes that you can reach. 


How to Clean Your Stethoscope Littmann Lightweight II S.E.

Let everything dry properly and completely because we do not want any fluid or any condensation in your stethoscope.


Now I like to use these prep pads which have got 70% isopropyl alcohol in them, it’s basically alcohol on a cotton pad, and every hospital should have them readily available for you.

You can buy these at the chemist but if you don't have these or can't get a hold of them, the Littmann manual actually says that you can use soapy water just to clean it down with a cloth and that works just as well.

Watch it here:



Remember guys, it is super important to clean your stethoscope between each patient use.

You want to avoid that cross-contamination at all times. This is why we wash our hands so much as well.

May your stethoscope be clean, your next shift quiet and always remember listen with your heart. 


Nurse Jenny

Jenny, RN is a Registered Nurse working in Sydney Australia. She received her degree in 2013 in Sydney as an international student from Sweden and graduated with a Distinction. She has a passion for Nursing and helping other Nurses and student Nurses in the field, looking at life from the positive side and always giving back where possible. She is the Founder of Bjorn Hall Stethoscopes, a company she created when she saw a need for more personality in the workplace.


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