If you are responsible for CPR training then you may be wondering how to clean CPR manikins. If you provide training or have just done a course yourself then you will already know that practice manikins are quite tough!

After all, given what they are designed to do and how they do it, they have to take a fair amount of punishment.

However, whilst they are tough enough to last for thousands of compressions, it is important that they are cleaned regularly. So in this article we are going to look at how and why to clean your manikin and also consider some rules to implement to help keep them cleaner for longer.

What Is a CPR Manikin? 

First up, just to very quickly make sure we are all talking about the same thing, just what is a CPR manikin?
Well, it can have many names and many designs, but broadly speaking it is the upper body (torso) of an adult. It stops at the waist and normally also lacks arms. It has an anatomically correct face to help with teaching emergency breaths and the chest is designed with a small range of movement (normally a couple of inches at most) to provide accurate feedback when teaching chest compressions.

We’re sure you knew all that, but better safe than sorry!

Why Clean Your Manikin?

Before we get to the practicalities of how to clean your manikin, it’s a good idea to first consider why it's important to keep it clean.
The answer is pretty simple:

  1. It stops the spread of infections between students and you!
  2. Students won't want to touch dirty manikins, let alone perform CPR on a manikin that looks like Pigpen from Charlie Brown

Pretty straightforward.

First point mainly refers to the face of the manikin, specifically the mouth and nose. A key part of CPR is providing emergency breaths if the patient is not breathing, so that the lungs can oxygenate the blood. Teaching students to perform them properly involves forming a tight seal around the mouth of the manikin and blowing air into it. If the manikin face has bacteria on it, then a student with their open mouth on that manikin face will surely contract that bacteria too.

This also ties into point #2. Frankly, if you are going to ask the student to wrap their lips around the manikin then it should be as clean as possible to make the experience comfortable for the student. Even if you use manikin face shields for each student, every class, your manikin faces will get dirty just from the dirt and oils in everyone's hands and fingers that touch them.

Chest compressions are normally completed with bare hands on the manikin's chest. Just like the face, the chest area should be kept nice and clean to minimize any risk of passing along infections, and also to keep your training environment as clean as possible for your students.

How to Clean Your Manikin 

It's relatively easy to clean your manikins. As we mentioned above, they are pretty tough devices and a lot of that toughness comes from the material they are made of, namely plastic and latex-free rubber.

If you have enough manikins for one per student during a class, then generally you only need to worry about post-class cleaning. However, realistically that may not be the case, and you will likely have students sharing a manikin.

We recommend regularly wiping down the manikin face with a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe. Always remember to allow a little time for the faces to dry before the students proceed, or they will get a mouthful of alcohol! Yuck.

After class, always perform a deep clean on the manikins before putting them away into storage, or returning them if you rented them. Wipe the manikin's face, inside the mouth, entire torso, replace lungs, and inspect for damage or malfunctions.

Rules to Help Keep Your Manikins Clean 

In addition to regular cleanings of your manikins both during and after class, you could institute a few rules to help keep them clean and stay that way.

  • Ask students to remove lipstick before practicing emergency breaths.
  • Ask them to remove any chewing gum and refrain from eating immediately before the manikin practice section of class.
  • Any student with a cold could be asked to use manikin face shields for the emergency breath section.
  • Ask students to wash their hands before touching the manikins.