The necessity of taking a child's temperature comes to every parent sooner or later, and the last thing you want when your child's health is already compromised is to expose her to more germs or bacteria. The best way to prevent your thermometer from becoming a carrier of infectious disease is to clean it before and after every use. Although the prevalent use of digital or electronic thermometers rules out immersion cleaning methods, a few simple sanitation practices will keep your thermometer clean so you can put your mind at ease about helping your child recover her good health.
Soap and Water
The electronics involved with modern thermometers preclude soaking them in germ-killing solutions, but cleaning your thermometer only requires you to wash the tip that comes in contact with your child's mouth, ear or rectum. Wipe it gently with a soft cloth soaked in a lukewarm soap-and-water solution.
Antibacterial Powers Activate
In addition to the soap-and-water wash, a wipe-down with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol can provide even more antibacterial power. Mayo Clinic states that the alcohol rub isn't strictly necessary but advises that, if you do rinse your thermometer with alcohol, you should rinse the alcohol off before inserting it into your child's mouth.
Rinse and Dry
Once you have thoroughly washed the thermometer with soap and water and alcohol, Pediatrician Jennifer Shu, in an article for "Parents" magazine recommends rinsing it with cool, clean water. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees with this recommendation, adding a warning against rinsing with hot water. Wipe it dry with a clean cloth or let it air dry.
No Double Duty
Disposable plastic thermometer covers can provide some protection, but, even with proper sanitation practices, you should never use the same thermometer both orally and rectally, cautions "Parents" magazine. Clearly label separate thermometers to avoid accidental confusion.