A thermometer is a very useful tool, both when used in the kitchen and to check body temperature. However, after use, the thermometer should be cleaned properly. Depending on the type of thermometer you have, you will only need to rinse and then disinfect it with alcohol, cleaning solution, or hot water. The thermometer must be properly disinfected so that it is always clean and does not spread germs when used again.
Method 1 of 2: Disinfecting Medical Thermometers
Step 1. Rinse the tip of the thermometer with cold water
After using the thermometer, rinse the tip that came into contact with the body with cold water for 1-2 minutes. This step will help clean any germs or bacteria on the surface.
Be sure to keep the digital parts of the thermometer, such as the screen, away from water during rinsing
Step 2. Wipe the thermometer with liquid alcohol
Pour the rubbing alcohol onto a cotton ball or cotton sheet. Wipe this cotton up and down the entire surface of the thermometer to clean the body and tip. Be sure to clean the entire surface of the thermometer thoroughly.
- Also be sure to clean the infrared sensor on the thermometer with alcohol. Thermometers that measure body temperature by touching the skin such as the forehead or ears, have sensors that must be cleaned. Pour the liquid alcohol onto the tip of a cotton swab or clean cloth and then wipe the surface of the thermometer sensor until it looks clean and shiny.
- Liquid alcohol will kill all germs attached to the thermometer.
Step 3. Rinse the tip of the thermometer to remove any residual alcohol
Rinse the tip of the thermometer briefly to remove any remaining alcohol. Make sure you don't soak the digital thermometer as this could damage it or make it completely unusable.
Step 4. Allow the thermometer to dry before storing
Wait for the thermometer to dry before putting it back in its drawer or box. Just let the thermometer dry by itself. Wiping the thermometer with a towel actually risks bringing in new germs or bacteria.
If you must store the thermometer in its case immediately, simply use a clean, soft cloth to wipe it down first.
Method 2 of 2: Disinfecting a Food Thermometer
Step 1. Wash the tip of the thermometer with warm soapy water
The thermometer should be cleaned after use. Pour the soap onto a sponge or directly onto the tip of the thermometer and then wash all areas that come in contact with food. Rinse the thermometer in warm water once the tip is coated with soap and the food debris has been removed.
If you are using a digital thermometer, be careful not to soak the digital part of it. Water can damage your thermometer
Step 2. Put the tip of the thermometer in hot water to easily disinfect it
To sterilize the thermometer, you can use a cleaning solution (disinfectant) or hot water. To completely disinfect the tip of the thermometer using hot water, the temperature must reach 80 degrees Celsius. This is the temperature that can kill bacteria. Simply soak the tip of the thermometer in hot water for about 30 seconds. Make sure your hands are a safe enough distance from the hot water.
Be careful not to expose the electronic components of the thermometer such as the digital screen to water. Your thermometer will most likely be damaged if this happens
Before placing the tip of the thermometer in hot water, clean the food debris first.
Step 3. Use a food-safe cleaning solution to disinfect the thermometer faster
A food-safe cleaning solution can be prepared by mixing 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of bleach with about 4 liters of water. Allow the tip of the thermometer to soak in this solution for at least 1 minute so that the bleach can kill any bacteria stuck to it.
Rinse the tip of the thermometer in cold or warm water after using the cleaning solution to remove any residual bleach
Step 4. Let the thermometer dry by itself
New bacteria can stick back to the thermometer if you use a towel to dry it. So, it's best to let the thermometer dry by itself after disinfecting it. You can place the thermometer on the drying rack or hang it in the kitchen until all the remaining water has evaporated.
Even if the thermometer has to be wiped dry, consider using kitchen paper towels or clean towels that haven't been used after washing them
- If you're concerned about the cleanliness of your medical thermometer while it's in storage, consider using a single-use plastic cover to keep germs and bacteria away from the tip of the thermometer.
- Be sure to label the oral and rectal thermometers so you don't use them incorrectly.