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Cleaning Your EMOTIV EEG Headset

Welcome back to our series on maximizing your EMOTIV EEG headset’s potential. Our previous post discussed the importance of sensor hydration for ensuring your headset’s longevity and performance. In this post, we shift our focus to cleaning your EEG headset—an often overlooked but crucial part of maintaining optimal performance and hygiene.

Why Cleaning is Crucial

EEG headsets make direct contact with the scalp and hair, accumulating skin, dirt, oils, and sweat over time. This buildup can impair signal quality and create a breeding ground for bacteria. Regular cleaning is essential for maintaining optimal performance and participant safety.

Here are some tips for cleaning your EEG headsets to maximize longevity and performance:

Establish a Cleaning Protocol

Consistency in cleaning ensures reliable, reproducible EEG data and participant well-being. So, after each use, take a few minutes to clean and dry your headset and sensors properly. Store your headset in a clean and dry environment, such as its provided case or dedicated storage container to protect it from dust and dirt.

Headset Cleaning is Simple

Cleaning EPOC, Insight, or MN8, is straightforward. Gently wipe the headset’s body with a sanitizing wipe or isopropyl alcohol on a soft cloth to remove dirt and bacteria.

Insight and MN8 users can also clean the sensors with a sanitizing wipe. If you’re an Insight user, remember to add a drop of hydration fluid to each sensor afterward, ensuring better conductivity for your next study. EPOC users should avoid wiping sensors with a sanitizing wipe or cloth. Doing so will scratch the silver/silver chloride surface, impacting EEG data quality.

Avoid Heat Sterilization

Avoid heat sterilization systems, like autoclaves. High temperatures will damage the headset’s body and electronics. Heat can also alter the sensors. Using antibacterial wipes to clean and sanitize your headset is safer and more effective.

Always Rinse Saline Sensors and Remove Felts

After each use, rinse EPOC or FLEX Saline sensors with clean or distilled water to remove salt that can cause corrosion. Once rinsed, allow them to air dry. And remember, always remove the felts from the sensors after use. Never let them dry in the sensors, as it will cause corrosion.

Clean Gel Sensors Thoroughly

If you use FLEX Gel, clean the sensors immediately after each use with clean water to remove the gel. Any gel left on the sensors will dry out, becoming difficult to clean later. Dried-on gel also compromises data quality: it introduces noise and impedance, resulting in unreliable EEG data.

If you don’t clean your gel sensors immediately, here are a few ways to remove it later:

  • Soak the sensors in warm water for 30 seconds, then rinse them again.
  • If there’s still gel residue, use a soft toothbru
  • If the gel residue persists, soak the sensors in warm water with a mild detergent, such as baby shampoo, and gently scrub with a soft toothbrush. Once clean, rinse the sensors with clean water and allow them to air dry.
  • Never soak your sensors in saline to remove the gel. Saline will corrode the sintered silver-silver coating, shortening the lifespan of the sensors.

Why Cleaning Your Flex Caps Matters

After a long day of data collection, your Flex Cap accumulates gel or saline, sweat, and bacteria. Proper cleaning removes these contaminants, making them more comfortable for your participants and ensuring EEG data integrity isn’t compromised.

Follow these steps for cleaning your Flex Cap effectively:

  1. Unplug the cables from the Flex controller. The Flex controller isn’t waterproof, so you will damage the electronics if it gets wet.
  2. Use a washing machine. Remove the sensors first. You can wash your Flex Cap (only) at 30℃ with mild detergent.
  3. Wash Flex Cap and sensors together. You can clean both together if you want to keep the sensor placement. Here’s how:
    1. Place the connectors in a bag, seal it with a rubber band, and keep them out of the water.
    2. Rinse Flex Cap and sensors under clean, warm water or soak them in warm water with a drop of baby shampoo, then rinse with clean water. Always air dry before storing.

Never clean your Flex Cap and sensors in a dishwasher. Dishwashing detergents will react with the sensors, and the dishwasher’s heat will affect the Flex Cap’s conformity. Never clean Flex Cap with disinfectants with more than 20% alcohol, strong oxidizers, or bleach. Doing so will damage your Flex Cap.

Following these cleaning tips is vital for maintaining your EMOTIV EEG headset, ensuring accurate, reproducible EEG data for your research, longevity, and participant comfort. In our next installment, we’ll discuss storage for your EMOTIV headsets and its importance for protecting and organizing your investment.

Previous in this series

Sensor Hydration