Neck and Shoulders

How To Make TENS Unit Pads Sticky Again

Roots of Being is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

The adhesive pads are critically important parts of your TENS device. These pads are responsible for making sure that the device is in contact with your body through the session. In order for your TENS/EMS units to work properly, it has to be attached correctly.

If the pads or electrodes fall off, the electrical energy produced won’t reach your body efficiently, and the system won’t work. 

This is a common issue with TENS units and can be fixed in a variety of ways. In this article, we’ll discuss How to Make TENS Unit Pads Sticky Again. We’ll also go over how to prevent them from losing their stickiness going forward.  But to start, let’s first go over why these electrodes or pads lose their stickiness.


What Causes TENS Unit Pads To Lose Their Stickiness

TENS unit pads are reusable as long as they still stick to your skin. The problem starts when they begin to lose their stickiness. There are different reasons why this happens. The main reason is because of the dirt, debris, and oil on the skin. 

When the pads are used on skin that hasn’t been cleaned, it is possible to transfer the oils, dirt, and debris. Even the dead skin cells can attach to the adhesive, which the pad from sticking on other surfaces again. 

If you haven’t used your TENS unit for a long time and it has been in storage, it is possible that the gel pads have dried up. Apart from the gel pads themselves, it is also possible that the adhesive dries up over time and as the pads are used. 


How to Make TENS Unit Pads Sticky Again

Now that we know that the causes of losing the stickiness, we’ll be better able to resolve the problem.

For dirty TENS unit pads, all that needs to be done is to clean the pad(s). For those that have dried up, you just have to hydrate them. And if all else fails, then that’s the time to consider buying replacement pads so you can still use your TENS Unit.

How To Clean TENS Pads

Before you restore the stickiness on your used TENS pads, you’ll need to clean them off and get them in pristine shape for re-use. The best way to clean your TENS pad is with a microfiber cloth, similar to the one shown below.

Microfiber Glass Cleaning Cloth

Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning off your TENS pads.

  1. Prepare the materials you need for cleaning. This will usually consist of water and a damp cloth. Any cloth will do but it would be best to use Microfiber Glass Cleaning Cloths, which are lint-free. This will prevent fiber from your cleaning cloth to stick on the pads. 
  2. Disconnect the electrode pads from your TENS unit. Before cleaning make sure the TENS unit device is off and the pads are disconnected from the unit. This is for safety purposes and it is also makes cleaning easier because your range of motion isn’t limited by the wires.
  3. Wipe the pads with the damp cloth. Wipe off all the dirt and debris on the gel pads with your damp cloth. You don’t have to use a lot of force to do it. You should do them gently so you don’t damage the pads. The stickiness may not necessarily be observed while the pads are still a bit wet. Just let it dry up a bit before trying to stick it again to your body. 
  4. Use a toothbrush (no, not the one you use!) to expose the sticky surface. After wiping off with the damp cloth, you may also use a toothbrush to help get the surface sticky again. The toothbrush gently exposes the sticky surface of the pads so it can efficiently stick to the skin once again.

How To Rehydrate TENS Electrode Pads

Conductivity Spray

If the gel pads are too dry, they might need to be rehydrated to regain the tackiness or stickiness they once had.

Don’t make the mistake of placing the gel pads under running water or submerging them. These will oversaturate the gel. The best way to rehydrate the gel pads with water is to use a dropper and add drops of water gradually.

Gels and Electrolyte Sprays like this Parker Signa Spray can be used to improve conductivity. However, you can also try using them to hydrate the gel pads. Using these can help lengthen the life of your electrode pads. 

TENS Unit Electrode Pad Replacement

TENS Unit Pads

If you tried cleaning the electrode pads and rehydrating them, it is still possible that they won’t get their stickiness back. The pads are designed to be reusable and to last long but they also have their limits. When yours have reached them, it would be best to find replacements that are compatible with your unit. 

There are universal unit electrode replacement pads like the AUVON Tens Unit Pads, shown above. These have a standard 2mm connector. Just make sure your TENS unit device uses the standard 2mm connectors.

If you are unsure about the connections of your unit, check your manual or purchase replacement pads specifically produced for that device. 

How To Prevent Losing Stickiness From Your Electrode Pads

Clean Cote Skin Wipe

Instead of finding a solution to the stickiness problem, the best solution is to prevent it from happening. You can prevent your pads from losing their stickiness by regularly cleaning both the pads and the areas on your body you’ll be placing the pads.

You can use alcohol and a cotton ball to clean the areas the pads will go. There are also single-use cleaning wipes like the TENS Clean-Cote Skin Wipe that are specifically made for that purpose.

It not only cleans the area but it also prevents the oils from being absorbed by the electrode gel. 

To prevent the electrode pads from drying out, be sure to properly store them. Keep them in their packaging to lengthen their life.

You may also place them in the refrigerator to cool them off after the TENS session. This cools them off to prevent them from easily drying out. A few drops of water placed on the pads before each use will also help hydrate it and ready it for possible heating while the treatment session. 


How Long Do TENS Pads Last?

TENS pads can usually last for up to 5 months with daily uses or about 150 uses. Properly caring and cleaning it will help lengthen the average life span but they will need to be replaced eventually.