How to Fix TENS Pads That Won't Stick

If you have been using tens units for some time, you may have noticed that electrode pads lose their stickiness overtime. In this article, we discuss how to make adhesive sticky again and extend the life of tens unit pads that are not sticky anymore.

TENS units help people who are suffering pain from outstanding injuries or other factors over the long-term. If you're wondering how a TENS machine works, check out our other article that describes it in detail. It you're wondering "what is TENS therapy?" then go here to review.

Using a TENS Unit

TENS machines are designed to be used over the long-term. To use one, you should clean your skin with rubbing alcohol and apply gel to each electrode. Place them on your skin, and then hold them in place with the TENS pads. The issue is, these pads eventually become un-sticky, so the question that this article will answer is how do you make them sticky again?

Make Tens Unit Pads Sticky Again
If What to Do
Electrode pads are less sticky
  • Clean the pads with a moistened material.
  • Add a few droplets of water on the gel cover.
  • Brush the gel surface lightly in one way.
Oversaturated
  • Alternate the electrodes every four to six hours.
  • Let them dry in a cool atmosphere for 24 hours.
Above methods don't work
  • Use Electrode Gels

How to Clean TENS Unit Pads

Every TENS device require pads so you can stick the electrodes to your skin. These pads can sometimes get dirty and become hard to stick. This can happen for many reasons, but most commonly it's due to not cleaning your skin properly before applying the pads as the debris on your skin and your body's natural oils can take away from the pads stickiness.

Tip!

Before Applying Tens Unit


Clean your skin with soap and water

Tip!

If the pads feel less sticky


  • Clean them with a moist cloth

  • Add a few drops of water on the gel surface

  • Brush the gel surface gently in one direction

To clean your TENS unit pads, use a damp cloth. Do not use a paper towel, napkin, or anything else that can get stuck or tear. Gently wipe away the debris on the pad, and make sure to always thoroughly clean your skin before applying the TENS unit to your skin.

Before every use, check to make sure there is some stickiness (tac) to each gel pad. If there's no grip whatsoever, you should clean it or replace it. Self-adhering electrodes need to be hydrated, but don't make the mistake of holding them under water. Submerging your electrodes will cause oversaturation. All you need to do is put a drop of water on to the electrode, it may be easiest to use a dropper to do so.

You may want to clean your pads using a clean tooth brush. Brush it in one direction; this will "fluff" it a bit and expose more of the stickiness.

To avoid oversaturation, make sure to always rotate your electrodes. You should always allow your electrodes to dry by removing them at least every six hours and allowing them to dry in a cool environment. Let the gel be exposed to the cool, dry air for at least a full twenty-four hours before reusing it. As long as you have a frost-free refrigerator, you can store the electrodes in there. The lack of humidity and the coolness will work together to remove excess water and prevent over-saturation.

Tip!

Avoid Oversaturation!


  • Rotate the electrodes every four to six hours

  • Let them dry in a cool environment for 24 hours

You should also realize that sometimes, TENS pads just have their adhesive dry out. This is expected over time and requires you to replace the pads, as cleaning them will do little good. TENS pads can also be over-saturated due to sweating or high humidity. To avoid over saturation (too much water), switch your electrodes every four hours or so, and never take your TENS machine outside in the rain or near water.

Electrode Gels For Tens Units

The gel is applied to the electrode pads and it helps them in conducting pulse to the skin. Many users report that they extend the life of old pads by using electrode gels. The electrode gel may help the pads last longer but keep in mind it is not a replacement of getting new pads.

Tip!

Electrode Gels


  • Keep your pads sticky for longer

  • Increase the conductivity of the pads

Your Options

TENS Unit Replacement Pads

It may be necessary to replace your TENS unit electrode pads if they no longer stick to your skin. TENS pads do need to be replaced about every 1 to 3 months depending on how many times you take off and re-apply your TENS pads. To extend the life of your TENS pads, wipe them off gently after every use with moist toilettes. Make sure you don't get your TENS pads wet and you keep them in a dry place.

When it does come time to replace your TENS pads, look for a good quality pad. Cheaper ones won't stick as well and will need to be replaced much more often (some every two to three weeks) than more expensive pads.

Pads should be replaced at least every thirty uses, but by having a higher quality pad you'll get a longer lifespan out of it and will also experience better results.

To save money, you may consider buying your TENS unit pads in bulk. They come in sets of twelve and twenty. Typically a pack of twenty costs about $60, which is just around $5 a pad. Higher quality pads will stick longer and hold up for more uses, but they will also be more expensive.

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