How to Clean A Medical Grade Thermometer

The Importance Of Cleaning A Medical Grade Thermometer

Thermometers are used in every hospital, on every ward, for every patient, numerous times a day. The sheer volume of usage of each thermometer means that if not properly cared for, they are vehicles for infection spread. This is particularly relevant to contact thermometers such as axilla and tympanic which require contact with the patient and are therefore exposed to bodily fluids.

For example, a 900-bed hospital will take approximately 2-3 million temperature readings per year, that’s 2-3 million opportunities for bacteria to spread[1].

Therefore, it is of paramount importance to clean each device properly, and with the correct substances to eliminate bacteria before it is passed on.

Possible Implications Of Poor Thermometer Hygiene

A thermometer should be cleaned regularly as part of the standard infection control procedures in every hospital, to reduce the likelihood of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs).

However, according to one study, thermometers are consider NCME (Non-critical medical equipment) and cleaned as little as 1.3% of the time[2].

Infection Prevention And Cleaning

Lack of proper cleaning of thermometers can pose a big infection risk, especially when it comes to contact thermometers. 70 patients in the Neurosciences ICU at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, were infected with a potentially deadly fungal pathogen called Candida Auris. The infection spread was traced back to contact thermometers.

In a recent hospital study, it was found that 62% of contact thermometers carried certain infectious bacteria[2], even with all the standard infection control procedures in place.

TRITEMP™ only requires surface cleaning as it never has direct contact with the patient, therefore risk of contamination is significantly reduced. The sensor is recessed to further limit contamination.


Cleaning a thermometer properly is important to the correct functioning of the device.

Thermometers are one of the most used devices in hospitals and therefore over time can experience a build-up of dirt which has the potential to affect the accuracy of readings. Build-up of dirt and other substances can form a film across the sensor of the thermometer, having an impact on infrared absorption.

It’s important to know how to clean the thermometer to avoid damage that could affect accuracy of readings, such as water ingress to the circuit board or scratching of the sensor/lens.

The video below shows how to clean the TRITEMP™ medical grade non-contact thermometer.

How to Clean TRITEMP™

Cost & Time Implications

Improperly cleaned thermometers could be returned incorrectly as defective, and this impacts on both nurses’ and engineers’ time.

Devices may need to be checked or replaced, meaning wards could be short on devices for some time.


How do I clean my infrared thermometer?

• To clean the sensor use a cotton bud moistened with isopropyl or ethyl alcohol and gently wipe the lens of the device using a side to side motion. Avoid touching the lens except when cleaning is required.
• The device exterior can be cleaned by wiping gently with a cloth moistened in a mild soapy detergent.
• Ensure liquid does not enter the device and NEVER submerge in water or liquid.
• Do not use water to clean the lens. Ensure the device is completely dry before use.

Are non-contact thermometers accurate?

Some low quality non-contact thermometers aren’t accurate. TRITEMP™ is a medical grade device, CE marked for quality and is accurate to +/-0.2°C.


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