How To Clean Airpods or Earbuds Without Damaging Them

by Josh Koop | Last Updated:   1 month ago
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If you own a pair of AirPods or earbuds, chances are you wear them all the time. While doing your work, chores, and going to the gym, you have the convenience of these neat, wireless accessories that take your music almost literally everywhere with you. But the downside is that wearing them so often can make them very dirty. So, here’s how to clean Airpods or earbuds without damaging them.

To clean your AirPods or earbuds, you need to use alcohol or disinfectant wipes rather than expose them to water. You also cannot clean over the speaker mesh that protects the components inside the earbuds. You also need to ensure that you don’t use products containing bleach or hydrogen peroxide.

A lot of people are concerned about the cleanliness of their earbuds, and they should be! Your earbuds or Airpods have, on average, six times more bacteria than a kitchen sink. That’s also 330 times more bacteria than a kitchen counter and 2,708 times as much as a chopping board! 

There’s no question that they aren’t particularly good for your health either, and exposure to all of that bacteria can lead to rashes, allergic reactions, and sometimes even infections.

Therefore, you must know how to clean your AirPods or earbuds (without damaging them).

What Is The Best Way To Clean Earbuds?

According to Apple, you can use disinfectant wipes or alcohol wipes to clean your AirPods, as long as you steer clear of the speakers’ mesh coverings.

If you’re out of alcohol or disinfectant wipes, you can use a soft, dry lint-free cloth, a cotton swab, and a very small amount of filtered water – a very small amount; you only want to make the cloth a little bit damp, there should be no excess water whatsoever.

Using your cloth or wipe, you can wipe away any debris on the surface like wax or dead skin from your AirPods or earbuds.

Then, gently clean the nooks and crannies and any other excess debris that’s not on the speaker-covering mesh. Then, you can clean your microphone and the mesh with a dry cotton swab rather than a damp cloth.

Finally, allow your earbuds/AirPods to dry fully before returning them to their case.

What Can I Use To Clean Earbuds?

The cleaning process itself may be pretty straightforward. It’s the part about avoiding causing any damage that is the tricky part, and, for the majority of people, the problem boils down to what you should be using to clean your Airpods or earbuds.

The first and most obvious thing to note is that you do not want to get any liquid in the openings in your earbuds or AirPods.

But you also can’t just go and get the first disinfectant wipe from the shelf either. Apple recommends using either a “​​70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe, 75 percent ethyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes”, like these ones, or a putty, like this

And you need to avoid any products that contain bleach or hydrogen peroxide. You also don’t want your AirPods or earbuds to come into any contact with soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, perfumes, detergents, acids, acidic foods, sunscreen, oil, insect repellent, or hair dye. If this does happen, wipe it off immediately with slightly dampened cloths or alcohol wipes.,

While your AirPods of earbuds are typically water-resistant (check that they are), they are not waterproof, which means they cannot be submerged in water.

So, if you’re cleaning them in front of a sink, make sure there is no water in there because if you drop your earbuds in there, they’ll be damaged.

There’s no doubt you probably shelled out a pretty large sum of money to buy your incredibly convenient pair of AirPods or earbuds, so you need to pay extra attention to what you’re using to clean them.

A soft-bristled toothbrush can help you reach some of the places a cloth, wipe of cotton swab won’t, but you need to be very gentle.

Failing to take adequate precautions will result in damage to your earbuds and that’s the last thing you want.

How To Keep Your Earbuds Clean While Using Them

Now, as you can tell, cleaning your AirPods or earbuds can turn out to be quite a mission. And, if you mess up, it’s very expensive; so, you’re going to want to be cleaning your earbuds as infrequently as possible.

If you’re using earbuds every day, you should be cleaning them at a minimum frequency of once a week. Health experts suggest that you should clean them daily.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid getting your earbuds dirty in the first place so that you don’t need to clean them as frequently:

Clean your ears before use.

Before you put your AirPods or earbuds in before you start using them in the morning, clean your ears. There’s no need to use a Q-tip to clean your ears, just put a towel over your fingers and clean up the outside of the canal.

Earwax is inevitable, and if you clean any deeper, you can damage your ears.

But by cleaning the outside of your canal, you can slow the build-up of earwax and get rid of any dead skin, both of which make up the majority of the dirt that you see on your AirPods/earbuds.

Avoid any liquid near your ears.

When wearing your AirPods or earbuds throughout the day, you need to steer clear of all liquids. This includes things such as sunscreen, soap, lotion, and moisturizer. If you come into contact with anything of that nature, you need to clean your ears again before using your earbuds.

Keep some Q-tips on hand.

Finally, if you want to be extra vigilant, always keep a container of Q-tips at your desk.

Every time you take a break from your music, just use them to clean up the outside of your ear canal, brush away dead skin, and periodically remove excess ear wax.

This means that every time your earbuds slide perfectly into your ears, they’re going into a clean environment, and this kind of regular cleaning will significantly reduce the build-up of dirt.

So, if you follow our tips to keep your earbuds clean at all times, your earbuds will rarely get dirty enough to be cleaned too regularly.

You can just set aside some time once a week to give them a clean and avoid any resulting health issues, such as excess earwax, ear pain, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and fungal and yeast infection.

AirPods and Earbuds are convenient devices that add a lot of enjoyment through the wireless listening experience. However, failing to keep them clean can make the experience far less enjoyable.

Worse yet, keeping them clean does come with its risks – the risk that you could damage your earbuds. 

But you can mitigate the risks by taking adequate precautions, using the right cleaning materials, and being consistent in your ear hygiene practices.

So, now that you’ve read this article, you’ll be able to enjoy using your AirPods or earbuds to their maximum potential.

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Sources

How to Clean AirPods Without Damaging Them | Family Handyman

How to clean your AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and EarPods | Apple Support

Your Earbuds Are Absolutely Swimming With Germs-Here’s How to Clean Them Safely | Real Simple

How to Clean Your AirPods & AirPods Case without Damaging Them | iPhone Life

How to Clean AirPods Without Damaging Them | Reader’s Digest

How Often Should You Clean Your AirPods and Earbuds? | Healthline