How to Disinfect a Thermometer

It is hard to imagine something as small as a thermometer can spread bacteria in your home. Yet, the product comes in contact with raw foods or the body. Thus, it is prone to get germs and bacteria. Learning how to disinfect a thermometer is crucial as it aids in keeping germs at bay.

I hate clutter, and love to have everything organized in my home. There is a designated storage space for almost everything, including my thermometers.

However, I never store my thermometers unless they are well cleaned and disinfected.

Cleaning your thermometer makes it ready for the next use. Below are some tips to help you clean your thermometers properly.

thermometer, fever, number

How to Clean a Digital Thermometer

Checking your fever levels will help to determine if you need to go to the hospital. Fever is a sign of an underlying condition.  Seeking an expert opinion in case of fever is paramount. 

After establishing your temperature levels, the next step should be cleaning the thermometer. After use, run the thermometer’s stem, which was in contact with the skin in cold water.

The process should take two minutes. When rinsing, make sure the digital parts do not come in contact with the water.

After cleaning with water, you need to disinfect the thermometer with rubbing alcohol.

Take a cotton pad and put some rubbing alcohol on it. Rub the cotton ball on every surface of the thermometer and ensure it is thoroughly cleaned. Make sure to rub the sensor to ensure it is clean and shiny.

Most people wonder how to disinfect a thermometer when cleaning. Rubbing alcohol is an ideal cleaning agent as kills any bacteria that may be on the device.

After using alcohol, the next step is to rinse off the end part of the thermometer to remove any alcohol. A quick wash will do.

The vital point to remember is not to let water get in contact with the digital part. Before storing it, ensure the thermometer is dry. It is best to let it air dry as it will only take a few minutes.

A common mistake is using a towel. If a piece of cloth is not clean, it might increase the possibility of bacteria on the surface.

Therefore, it is best to avoid it altogether and let your digital thermometer dry on the rack.

How to Clean an Oral Thermometer

thermometer, temperature, instrument

An oral thermometer is used on the mouth to check the temperature measurement of the body.

When using the oral thermometer, consider using a plastic cover that should be thrown away immediately after use.  If you are using an oral thermometer without a cover, proper cleaning is vital.

Begin by rinsing off the probe with fresh water. Clean the tip with a sponge soaked in warm soapy water.

When it is clean, use rubbing alcohol to ensure the product is disinfected. Rinse it off with cold water and only store it once it is dry.

Cleaning the thermometer is one of the things you should not overlook. If you have someone with a fever in your home, after taking their temperature, use a few minutes to clean it.

 It might appear to be impractical. Yet, the five minutes you spend to clean the product could end up saving you lots of stress in the future.

With an oral thermometer, one has to take extra care. The product will get in contact with the mouth. You have to ensure it is disinfected before each use.

How to clean a food thermometer

After cooking your delicacy and getting the temperatures right, it is time to put the thermometer back in storage.

Before storing, make sure you have cleaned it and that it is ready for the next use. That way, you will ensure you do not end up contaminating food in your kitchen.

Start by cleaning the end part using soap and warm water. Take a kitchen sponge, apply soap, and use it to lather the stem area of the thermometer.

The aim is to remove any food debris. Make sure it is clean before rinsing it with warm water. Most people shy away from cleaning a digital thermometer to avoid damaging it. 

If uncertain how to clean a digital thermometer, the trick is to prevent water from getting in contact with the digital part. Keep in mind if water comes in contact with it, it will end up getting damaged.

How to disinfect a thermometer for food

Once you have made sure you there are no food particles on the thermometer, the next thing is to disinfect it. When cleaning a kitchen thermometer, you need to use boiling water to sanitize it.

The boiling water should reach temperatures of 77oC—such high temperatures help in killing any germs. Get the thermometer and hold it in hot water for a minute.

Using a sanitizing solution to clean a food thermometer

The other option when cleaning a kitchen thermometer is to use a sanitizing solution. The solution to be used should be food safe.

Once you have cleaned all the food particles off the thermometer, mix a teaspoon of bleach to one gallon of water. To disinfect it, put the probe part of the kitchen thermometer in the solution for about a minute.

When done, rinse the stem of the thermometer using cold water. This step is essential as it removes any bleach residue which may have remained on the thermometer.

Let the thermometer air dry when you are done with the cleaning. If you are thinking of wiping it off, use a paper towel. Regular towels could have bacteria, and using one will leave the germs on the thermometer.


Disinfecting your thermometer after each use is vital in preventing the spread of bacteria. We hope you now understand how to disinfect a thermometer the correct way with the above tips.

Once done with cleaning your thermometer, you will need to reset it to ensure it is accurate.

Your thermometer will serve you for long when you take proper care of it. However, if you begin to notice inaccuracy, it might be time to replace it.