Guide to Waterproof (Water-Resistant) Hearing Aids
Searching for waterproof or water-resistant hearing aids? Smart thinking!
Hearing aids designed to protect against moisture, sweat, and dust make it possible to hear better when it matters to you, rain or shine.
If you are looking for hearing aids that can withstand getting accidentally dunked in the swimming pool or go the distance in a humid summer marathon without succumbing to moisture damage, this post is for you!
- The Truth About “Waterproof” Hearing Aids
- Understanding Water-Resistance and IP Ratings
- The Best Water-Resistant Hearing Aids
- Reasons to Buy Water-Resistant Hearing Aids
- How to Protect Your Hearing Aids from Water
- What to do if Your Hearing Aids Get Wet
Prefer video? Watch: Water-Resistance and Hearing Aids
The Truth About Waterproof Hearing Aids
…is they don’t exist- and they never really did.
It’s a bit of a mystery to consumers who had seen the ads for now discontinued models previously marketed as waterproof.
The truth is that there are no totally waterproof hearing aids today, and there never really were.
It’s not that the hearing aid marketers were lying, their claims just need a bit of context and explanation.
To make a long story short, in the last decade, hearing aids have seen tremendous improvement in water-resistance.
The protective plastic housing of hearing aids was improved, “leaky” external components like switches were replaced with sealed electronic components, and protective sealants were added to the internal and external components.
All of these improvements eventually resulted in hearing aids that could get really wet, even fully submerged, without suffering any damage.
Of course, a brand new hearing aid that survives a dunk in clean water in a lab test might not fare so well in salty seawater, a chlorinated pool, or in a pressurized stream of water after two, three, or four years of everyday use.
Considering this, maybe product managers at hearing aid companies got a little overzealous about waterproof hearing aids.
On the other hand, “waterproof” seems like a reasonable description for hearing aids that keep working underwater.
In recent years, hearing aid companies have softened their claims, now favoring the label “water-resistant” over “waterproof”.
However- you might be surprised to learn that many of today’s “water-resistant” hearing aids meet the same standard of water and dust protection as earlier models that were advertised as “waterproof”.
Understanding Water-Resistance and IP Ratings
Given all of the above, if we’re being honest, we should refer to some hearing aids as water-resistant, and probably shouldn’t refer to any as completely waterproof.
So what makes a hearing aid water-resistant?
Luckily, there is an international standard called an IP rating, which measures a hearing aid’s ability to withstand potential harm from solid contaminants and moisture.
An IP rating is a two digit rating, with the first digit representing ingress protection for solids (how well the hearing aid keeps them out), and the second digit representing protection from the effects of moisture.
The two digits are not directly related- one may go up, while the other goes down.
The abbreviated table below defines the amount of protection from dust and water for a given IP rating.
As an example, based on the table above, an IP 68 hearing aid would be considered “dust-tight” and protected against “long periods of immersion in water.”
IP68 is the highest IP rating a device can have, and luckily, it’s a rating that many of the most popular hearing aids today have.
The Best Water-Resistant Hearing Aids
So, what are the best water-resistant hearing aids?
That’s really a two-part question.
We’ll first try to answer the first question- “What are the best hearing aids?”
That’s a very long answer, but the short of it is- it all depends on your needs.
A good place to start is this article: The Best Hearing Aids of 2020
The second part of that question has a much more straightforward answer.
The best water-resistant hearing aids are the hearing aids that meet your needs the best, that also have an IP rating of 68.
The good news is, the majority of the most popular style receiver-in-canal hearing aids today from the major brands have an IP rating of 68.
So if water-resistance is important to you (and it should be), then be sure to check the IP rating of any hearing aid before you buy it.
So pay attention to IP ratings, and if you really plan to test the limits of moisture-resistance, we think rechargeable hearing aids with an IP68 rating are the best choice, for two reasons-
First, unlike hearing aids that use disposable batteries, rechargeable hearing aid batteries don’t need air to function. If you intend to use your hearing aids in or underwater (inside a waterproof hearing aid case) for longer than about 30 minutes, you’ll need rechargeable batteries.
Second, lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are enclosed and sealed within the hearing aid. They have no metal charger-contacts that could corrode and no moving battery compartment to loosen or wear over time.
Reasons to Buy Water-Resistant Hearing Aids
You don’t have to be an avid swimmer, scuba diver, surfer, or whitewater rafter to benefit from water-resistant hearing aids.
In fact, water-resistant hearing aids are ideal for anyone.
They offer genuinely effective protection from accidental spills or submersion, sweat, dust, and other contaminants.
This makes hearing aids more convenient to wear and more dependable to use in a wide range of conditions.
In the past, wet hearing aids translated to inconvenient and sometimes costly repairs.
Thanks to water-resistant hearing aids, rainy days and water-related accidents are no longer such a risk to the electronics.
Actually, water-resistant hearing aids are helpful all the time, not just in the rain or when accidents happen.
Even careful individuals who avoid getting wet, perspire little, and live in arid climates need them.
The reason is that all hearing aids “live” in a moist environment, due to the warmth and humidity associated with wearing them in or on the ear.
Another thing to love about water-resistant hearing aids is that they have no meaningful drawbacks to speak of.
You don’t have to sacrifice some other important feature to get water-resistant hearing aids.
The sound quality is just as good.
The appearance is as good or better.
You don’t even have to pay more for water-resistant hearing aids, because basic and premium versions of the same hearing aid share equivalent ingress protection.
For those who need full-on protection for water sports and other conditions inhospitable to hearing aids, waterproof hearing aid covers & cases are available.
How to Protect Your Hearing Aids from Water
Even the best water-resistant hearing aids need preventive care and sometimes extra protection.
Water does not necessarily need to damage a hearing aid to get in the way.
For instance, it only takes a single drop of water that happens to bead directly over your microphone to dampen the conversation.
With in-the-ear hearing aids, earwax and moisture in the receiver end, at the tip of the aid, are common sources of aggravation.
A familiar scenario with behind-the-ear hearing aids is when a stubborn drop of condensation forms in the earmold tubing, blocking the opening. A puff of air through the tubing discharges the condensation easily enough, but only to return again in a matter of minutes.
Any water that sticks around like this poses a risk to the hearing aids, sooner or later.
Water-resistant hearing aids feature interior protection, such as nano-coating, and exterior protection, such as sealed buttons or switches. Likewise, you can add or enhance your own internal and external water protection.
The best way to protect hearing aids from the inside out is to use them where the air is dry. This is not always possible, but what you can do is limit how long humid air hangs around, by treating your hearing aids to their own dehumidifier.
Passive desiccant pellets, usually made of silica, are another option for drying hearing aids at the end of the day or any time your hearing aids are not in use.
Passive desiccants may not dry as quickly or effectively, compared to active dryers, but getting the job done for a fraction of the price.
Dry, uncooked rice also works as a desiccant. Maybe just as well as commercial products. However, commercial desiccants usually change color when saturated, making it easy to know if the desiccant is dry in the first place.
Just because hearing aids can survive getting wet, doesn’t mean you won’t want to protect and keep them dry when possible.
Putting your hearing aids inside a protective cover keeps them clean and preserves their finish.
This is a smart option for anyone who wears hearing aids while exercising, working outside, playing sports, and so on.
Ear Gear (shown below) is one of the most popular options for protecting your hearing aids from water.
Ear Gear hearing aid covers give you a lot of options, including custom designs, with a specific fit for a wide range of hearing aids and accessories.
The spandex material comes in traditional, colorful, camouflage, or animal-print colors, and you can choose whether to include a cord and retention clip for attaching the covers to your clothing.
Ear Gear’s website features a handy fit list, where they list all the latest hearing aids, and the corresponding correct size Ear Gear product to order.
What to do if Your Hearing Aids Get Wet
Don’t panic! If your hearing aids have a high IP rating, they’re designed to be resilient in these situations.
1. First, turn the hearing aids off.
2. Next, rinse carefully with clean water if the aids were exposed to dirty, chlorinated or salty water. Leaving these contaminants on the hearing aids could lead to wear or corrosion later.
3. Dry the exterior of the hearing aids using a soft cloth, not hot or forced air. Don’t use a hairdryer.
4. Only after the hearing aids are dry on the outside, remove the batteries then leave the hearing aids open to fully dry inside and out. If the hearing aids stayed dry on the inside, they may be ready to use again right away.
5. When hearing aids get wet on the inside, getting them completely dry again takes a little more patience. However, an effective way to speed up the process and encourage damp hearing aids to dry completely is to enclose them in a container or plastic bag along with some uncooked rice or silica, which help draw out moisture.
The bottom line about hearing aids and water exposure, is exercise caution.
You shouldn’t go for a swim in your hearing aids, but you also shouldn’t avoid the rain in fear it’ll ruin your hearing aids.
The highest-rated ingress protection available in today’s hearing aids is IP68, so look for that rating when buying hearing aids.
Our favorite pick for most people is an IP68-rated receiver-in-canal hearing aid with lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, from any of the leading brands.
If you need truly waterproof protection to allow hearing aid use in water, this is possible only with accessories such as a waterproof hearing aid case.
Whether or not you consider it a priority to choose the highest IP rating, ingress protection provides peace of mind, making it easier than ever to enjoy wearing hearing aids.