How should I clean my liner? Let me count the ways!
If you are an amputee, this is an important subject. Comfort and cleanliness go hand and hand, and so, knowing how to clean your liner is the key to comfort! This is always a hot topic in the Facebook Amputee Groups, for some a source of contention and intense debate. My source for this article, Google. You will find quotes throughout this blog post, with the author or source tagged. It is not my intention to endorse any specific products. My soul intention is to gather and share resources, in this case, information on the proper care of your liner.
“Taking care of the liner and socket for your prosthesis will extend the life of your device, keep you comfortable, and help you maintain good hygiene. A prosthesis is a major investment, so you’ll likely want to take care of it to the best of your ability.” – Georgia Prosthetics, How to Take Care of and Clean the Liner and the Socket
So, who am I that you should listen to me? I am an amputee, with the same issues and concerns as you are. However, I ask you not to take my word for anything, but to do your own research!
Be brand wise and penny smart.
Always check how the manufacturer of your liner, suggest you care for your liners, first.
We live in the information age, Google is your friend! As a man, who oft times skips the reading of instructions, this is a step that is better not left undone! I usually forgo the little papers that come with the product, primarily because I need glasses and a magnifying glass to read them, and I go straight to Google. In some cases I ask my “other” girlfriend, Siri to help me! The amount of information out there is just baffling.
Your second choice should be to “ask a friend.” I love Facebook for the access it provides us to other people around the world. Facebook groups are an awesome resource! Use them. But, remember everyone’s opinion is based on their personal experience and may be different for you. After all, the human body is a wonder all its own and everyone’s body chemistry is completely different.
Speaking of friends, that guy or gal who you go to for your adjustments, they are an awesome source. Did you hear a “miracle cure” or “life hack” on Facebook? Run it by them, see what they say, before you run out and buy every product known to man!
Georgia Prosthetics suggest…
“Since the liner touches your skin all day, you will need to clean it on a daily basis. This process typically involves hand washing and the use of a mild soap. When you first get your prosthesis, a member of the Georgia Prosthetics team will explain how to clean your specific liner.
The socket will also need to be disinfected at the end of each day to minimize bacteria. Simply using rubbing alcohol is usually sufficient, but again, we will give you instructions for your specific prosthesis.” – Georgia Prosthetics
Did you notice at the end of that last statement, “we will give you instructions for your specific prosthesis.”
Something I didn’t know and almost makes sense!
“During the first 2-6 weeks of using the liner, you may experience more sweating than usual. This effect will gradually diminish. In cases of particularly intense perspiration, limit the number of consecutive hours of use of the prosthesis during the initial phase. Gradually increase the time of use to allow your skin to get used to it.” -Alps, PATIENT INSTRUCTIONS RESIDUAL LIMB CARE AND CLEANING USE AND MAINTENANCE OF ALPS LINERS AND SLEEVES
The thought here is our body needs to adjust to the liner. The more we wear the liner, the more comfortable it will become. You might call it the”break-period.” Here again, follow your prosthetists’ instructions, you might hear them say things like, wear it for two hours in the morning and then again in the evening. You can have “to much of a good thing!”
The one, two punch?
“To help remove oily skin (the grease of the skin), wash the inside surfaces of the liner daily with a pH-balanced cleanser. If necessary, wipe a clean cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol on the inside surface of the liner and dry well with a clean towel.” -Alps, PATIENT INSTRUCTIONS RESIDUAL LIMB CARE AND CLEANING USE AND MAINTENANCE OF ALPS LINERS AND SLEEVES
Is there an echo in here?
“To clean a prosthetic socket, wipe the inside of the socket with a damp soapy cloth. Be sure to use a gentle soap. The cloth should only be mildly damp, so that excess water does not permeate the prosthetic components. After this has dried, apply rubbing alcohol to a paper towel and wipe the inside of the socket thoroughly. This is an excellent way to disinfect a socket. Make sure that the alcohol has fully evaporated prior to wearing the prosthesis. This is best done at night so that the prosthesis can fully dry overnight. If the alcohol does not thoroughly dry, it can irritate the skin.” – 360 Orthotics & Prosthetics, Cleaning the Prosthesis
“Daily Cleansing – It is essential to clean the residual limb every day after wearing the prosthesis. Use a mild antibacterial soap, rinse thoroughly with clean water, and gently dry with a towel. Don’t soak your limb, shave your limb or apply creams to your limb. Allow your residual limb to air dry completely before donning your prosthesis.” – Hanger Clinic, Limb and Prosthesis Care
So the Jury is in?
The resounding recommendation is to clean your “liner and stub” with a gentle soap, with a damp cloth. And, to disinfect the socket, by applying rubbing alcohol. There are cautions to using rubbing alcohol, as it can be harmful to you or the liner or both, if not used properly. Again, check with your guy/gal to see if alcohol is right for your liner.
If you notice
Skin irritation or discomfort, discontinue use of alcohol or even the type of soap you changed to and see your professional.
Did you notice
Most all of the articles quoted in this blog post did not suggest a specific product for cleaning your liners and residual limb. They suggest a “gentle soap” a “damp cloth.” At the most, they suggested an anti-bacterial soap. Fighting odor and infection is important. I don’t think anyone will disagree with that!
Dish Soap or Anti-bacterial soap, that is the question!
I hate to say it, but one or the other is not necessarily correct over the other. And, you should notice that a lot of the dish soaps, including the popular “Dawn”, have anti-bacterial versions! So, in the end, use what is right and works for you!
What do I use, you may ask?
I use Hibiclens, a mild antibacterial soap that I purchase on Amazon in a 32oz bottle. I can buy the larger bottle fo Hibiclens, for the same cost online, that I can get the smaller bottle for in the stores. I hand wash, blot dry and leave my liners to dry overnight. I have two liners that I love “WillowWood SmartTemp” liners, and I rotate them. The Hibiclens and the SmartTemp liners have been the one-two punch for me to knock out rashes and cut the itching! And, we all know how important that is!
In conclusion, take care of your liners, they take care of you!
Do you have a product, resource or group you would like to share? Then please feel free to contact me!