smelly stethescope?

  1. I had a stethescope in school that developed a weird smell, i tried washing it, cleaning with equipment wipes, everything. i finally quit using it. then i got a littman for graduation and now it smells too. i have a cotton scope sock that i put on it from day one and it smells through the sock. i can't stand to have the thing around my neck. then the other day, i was standing in a pt room while the doc was talking to the pt. she asked to borrow my steth and i gave it to her but i was soooo embarassed. i finally ordered a hip clip maybe that will work out for me...but what i'm wondering is...
    Has anyone encountered this? I'm thinking it's gotta be my chemical makeup or they say some people have acidic skin... i'm thinking that is breaking down the plastic of the scope, what do ya'll think?
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   EricJRN
    If you keep it around your neck too long, another thing that can happen is that it will acquire a weird bend in it, which I think also has to do with oils from the skin. Keeping it in a pocket might or on a hip clip might work out a lot better.
  4. by   MS._Jen_RN
    Quote from all4schwa
    I had a stethescope in school that developed a weird smell, i tried washing it, cleaning with equipment wipes, everything. i finally quit using it. then i got a littman for graduation and now it smells too. i have a cotton scope sock that i put on it from day one and it smells through the sock. i can't stand to have the thing around my neck. then the other day, i was standing in a pt room while the doc was talking to the pt. she asked to borrow my steth and i gave it to her but i was soooo embarassed. i finally ordered a hip clip maybe that will work out for me...but what i'm wondering is...
    Has anyone encountered this? I'm thinking it's gotta be my chemical makeup or they say some people have acidic skin... i'm thinking that is breaking down the plastic of the scope, what do ya'll think?
    Ok, Not trying be obvious or whatever, but did you wash the sock (is that what smells?)? Try wiping down after each use (shift?)? Do you store it in a bag/box/locker that could be the culprit? Just trying to think. . . .
    What does it smell like? (BO, curry, soap, vomit, :trout: ?)
    ~Jen
  5. by   suzanne4
    First thing that comes to my mind is the sock for the stethescope. They have actually been outlawed at quite a few facilities because of infection disease concerns.

    You mention scrubbing the scope, but have you even laundered the sock for it?
  6. by   P_RN
    I recall reading about odors that hearing aids develop. Here is an article. http://www.healthyhearing.com/librar...uestion_id=249

    I wonder if this could be the case. Pseudomonas smells like dirty tennis shoes.....could that be what you have?
  7. by   all4schwa
    the smell is like meatloaf (that's what i tell my mom), but it's kinda like a mechanical smell.

    when it happened to the first one, i thought it was from storing it in the bag i take to clinicals. i didn't wear a sock on that one. my mom suggested maybe it was from not getting aired out.

    this one, i make sure it gets plenty of air and wiped down. the smell is coming through the sock, not from the sock. when i wash it, it smells fresh and laundered, but the smell comes through (by the end of the day). actually, i finally pitched the sock because it wasn't serving the intended purpose and it has to be washed more often than i care to mess with it.
    i've gingerly tried to ask others if they've encountered anything like this but i get the 'you've got a third eye' look, so i've dropped the subject. godforbid anyone ask to use it!!
  8. by   suzanne4
    Glad to hear that you stopped using the sock.:spin:

    Suggestion would be to try a stethescope made from another type of material, this one may be reacting with something on your skin.

    A trick to try, try making a stethecope of of the tubing that comes with an O2 cannula for a couple of days. You use a three way connector in the center and then can use the pieces from one of your stethescope for the bell and earpieces. See if that starts to smell. And do not store it in a plastic bag, it needs to breathe. Of this one does the same thing, then it is reacting with something on your skin.........
  9. by   Keepstanding
    Your neck, hair line rubs on the rubber part of the scope.
    Your scalp/scalp line has sweat glands and we can imagine that the scope rubs this area too. Your scope tubing is most likely adopting the sweat from your hair line, hair folicles and the tubing is porous and soaks up the oils and sweat. We all know that oil + sweat + bacteria = body odor.

    Not saying you have body odor, but the oils and the (probable latex free plastic) are blending together to give you that "meatloaf" smell. You may want to carry it on a hip clip as suggested earlier. Less smell for you and your patients. Good luck !
  10. by   Luv2BAnurse
    Does anyone else think your steth has a smell to it? I ask because sometimes I smell things that no one else seems to, and it makes me crazy.
  11. by   Little Panda RN
    I have never noticed a smell from a stethescope. I think like you said your body and the material from the stethescope are causing the ordor. By the way what brand of stethecope do you have? If it is one of the least expensive ones then maybe the material they use for the tubing is causing this reaction. Just a thought.
  12. by   prmenrs
    You might want to see if you can get new tubing instead of a whole new stethoscope. I have a knit sleeve on my stethoscope, too. I got it for the same reason. I wash it by bunching it between my hands and a bar of soap or liquid soap. Rinse it thoroughly, dry by squeezing in a towel, then straighten it out and hang it over something over night.

    I agree it's the skin oil that causes the problems. I often get sweaty @ work, I try to take my stethoscope off most of the time-unless I'm actually using it. I hate stuff around my neck anyway.
  13. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    I used a steth sock because the rubber from the tubing irritates my neck.

    As for odor, i used those antimicrobial wipes on the tubing, and never had a problem.
  14. by   all4schwa
    i never thought to ask anyone else if they could smell the smell. that's a good idea. this has happened to two different steths, made of different materials. this one is a littman and it's only a coupla months old. i generally use alcohol swipes to wipe it down, but i've also used the bigger equipment wipes.

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