Q+A: What's the Best Way to Clean a Thermometer?

Smart advice to prevent spreading germs.

Q. What's the best way for me to clean my thermometer so that I don't spread germs?

A. Clean your digital thermometer before and after you use it with either rubbing alcohol or lukewarm soapy water, then rinse with cool water, says Parents advisor Jennifer Shu, MD, coauthor of Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality. Still, you shouldn't use the same thermometer rectally and orally, even if the packaging says you can use it both ways. Label the one you only use rectally so that you don't make a mistake. Disposable plastic covers are a convenient, hygienic alternative if you don't want to deal with cleaning the thermometer, but they're not necessary.

Originally published in the November 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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