Stiff Stethoscope tubing...Ugh!!!!

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  • Specializes in Med Surg, ER, OR.

My stethoscope tubing has become really stiff over the last several months and have been trying to figure out how to correct that problem. I don't want to go with stethoscope covers/socks if I can help it d/t infection control. It is on a middle of the road stethoscope, but still want to do something about it.

Anyone have any good tips to fix it, and prevent it on other stethoscopes?



117 Posts

Here's what I just found:

Q. Why does the tubing on my stethoscope become stiff and rigid?

A. The tubing used in all 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscopes is a PVC (polyvinylchloride) tubing that becomes hard when exposed for long periods of time to the lipids found in human skin. Wearing the stethoscope around the neck may cause stiffening of the tubing over time.

If worn around the neck, we recommend trying not to let it come in contact with skin by wearing it under a collar. It is also recommended that the tubing is treated with a vinyl protector such as Armor All® Protector once a month. This will not prevent stiffening, but may slow the process down.

HM2VikingRN, RN

4,700 Posts

3m will rebuild it for about 30 dollars.


2 Articles; 308 Posts

Specializes in ICU of all kinds, CVICU, Cath Lab, ER..

If it is a Littman, go to their webisite... I sent my Cardiac to them for the same thing and they completely refurbished it for 20.00.

Use a stethoscope cover if you are going to wear it around your neck constantly.


977 Posts

Specializes in Med Surg, ER, OR.

I thought those covers were deemed "infection carriers"?


2 Articles; 308 Posts

Specializes in ICU of all kinds, CVICU, Cath Lab, ER..

We had ours tested; nothing came of it. I am careful not to lay my stethoscope down in any patient's room...I leave it in the top of my "nursing bag" which is plastic lined (and kept wiped clean)... I change my cover often (I make them); I never, ever, ever take my stethoscope into an isolation room - yes, I use those stupid plastic disposables.

I wipe my bell and earpieces separately and practice careful attention to the patient's condition before I ever go into a room with it. I have never had a problem.

Anytime they decide to test again, I won't mind.


120 Posts

Specializes in TraumaER ,NICUx2days, HEMEONC CathLab IV.

I have a 15 year old Littmann Master Cardiology Stethoscope and low and behold I found it in the drawer with a STIFF tubing. So, what do I have to loose but a refurbish fee and or buying a new tubing for 80 bucks. I got the purple degreaser and the hottest water and soaked the tubing for 20 min or so I drip dried it and it is considerably less 'stiff'. I think I will repeat the procedure. Now for the disclaimer 4 lawyers. If you attempe this procedure you are doing it on your own freewill. I am not responsible for your results. I do not make any money from this website, I do not own stock or companies that sell degreaser or stethoscopes. I am telling you what I did to save a few bucks and my results.


2 Articles; 308 Posts

Specializes in ICU of all kinds, CVICU, Cath Lab, ER..

My goodness, have they raised the refurbish fee that much?? I sent mine to Littman a few years ago and it was $20.... inflation hits even there! Thanks for the hint!

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