How to use a a digital thermometer

Updated April 17, 2017

Recording your body's temperature is necessary when determining an illness and can even be useful for those who practice natural birth control. With the availability of digital thermometers, taking your temperature is quick and effective. Most digital thermometers register your temperature within 30 seconds, are very accurate and have memory recall to keep track of your last temperature taken. By following a few guidelines, you can use your digital thermometer without difficulty.

Turn the digital thermometer on by pressing a small button usually located on the face of the thermometer. A beep may sound to indicate that the thermometer is ready to be used. Digital thermometers are battery operated and must be turned on and off for proper use.

Place the thermometer under the tongue for oral use. Make sure that the tip of the thermometer is securely placed under the tongue for the most accurate measurement. Keep the thermometer in place until a beeping noise sounds, indicating the temperature has been read.

Place the thermometer vertically underneath the armpit for an underarm reading. This method is used for babies or young children and the temperature reading will be lower than an oral temperature.

Cover the tip of the thermometer with a water-soluble jelly for rectal use. This type of reading is used for babies or when other methods cannot be used. Gently insert the tip of the thermometer no more than 1/2 inch into the rectum and hold thermometer until the temperature is registered.

Recall the last temperature taken by holding down the on/off button. This function comes on most modern digital thermometers and is useful when keeping track of temperatures.

Clean the thermometer by washing with warm water and antibacterial soap. Soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and wipe the thermometer to disinfect.


Consistently high temperatures may require medical attention. Monitor children's temperatures when ill. Take temperature before eating, drinking or any physical activity.

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About the Author

Megan Curley has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has appeared in the sports publication "Mets Magazine," as well as the literary magazine "Trillium," amongst others. Curley is currently a copy editor at Professional Sports Publications, Inc. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication arts, with a concentration in creative writing and media criticism, from Ramapo College of New Jersey.