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Headphones Left or Forgot in the Wash ( & Recovery )

by Josh Koop | Last Updated:   3 weeks ago
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If you are reading this article, the chances are that you just discovered your headphones inside the washing machine. Don’t worry; it happens more often than you think. Whatever the reason, you might be wondering if they will work after a complete cycle.

There is a good chance that your headphones will work fine after they are washed if they are given the proper time to fully dry out. Typically this can be sped up by submerging them in a bowl of rice to help get every ounce of moisture out to save them from moisture damage to the electronics inside.

It will depend on which type of headphones you have, as they are all built differently. Some headphones are more fragile than others.

Now let’s review and understand what happens to headphones when you submerge them in water.

What Happens When You Submerge Objects In Water?

Before you understand how water acts on headphones when you submerge them, we will explain the basics of water pressure.

When you place any object under the water, this will exert a force over it. These forces will try to push water into the gadget.

As many headphones have holes to allow sound to travel while protecting the internal parts, it is expected that water will get into the internal components if they are submerged.

However, it is not the case for all headphones. Some manufacturers choose to design headphones that follow specific IPX protection.

What Is IPX Protection?

In this case, IP stands for “ingress protection,” and it is a rating that indicates how much resistance a gadget has against dust and water. The rating goes as follows:

It means that the only devices that you can safely submerge into water are IPX7 and IPX8 rating. The most common rating is IP68, which means the device can stand dust and liquid.

What To Do If You Just Washed Your Headphones?

If you washed your headphones, don’t worry. It is not the end of the world. You can still save them. Here we bring you a list of tricks that can help you to repair your headphones.

  1. Rewash them with distilled water. It will help you to remove any chemicals that you might have added to the washing machine.
  2. Allow them to dry by themselves. Do not try to blow dry them or use a heat gun because they can damage the internal components in your earpieces.
  3. Put them into rice. Rice is known to absorb moisture, so it is a great idea to put your headphones in rice.
  4. Do not plug them in or turn them on. Turning your headphones on or plugging them in will send electricity through the device, ultimately damaging it.
  5. If you have washed a pair of AirPods, you can use your iPhone to remove excess water. Look for the water ejection option in the Shortcuts app, and they will start vibrating to push the water out.

Important Things To Know About Wet Headphones

  1. Check which chemicals were in the water where you just washed your headphones. Read the label to confirm if the manufacturer suggests specific actions.
  2. Find out if your headphones can stand water. You might look into the manufacturers’ website to verify if they have any IPX certification.
  3. Water-resistant doesn’t mean waterproof. Thus, even though your headphones are IP68 certified, it doesn’t mean that they can stand water for long periods without any damage.
  4. Some users confirmed that the sound quality is not the same after washing their headphones.

How To Properly Clean Your Headphones

Now that you know washing them is not a great idea, we brought you a few cleaning tips. We understand that lately, cleaning any surface is a must; here, you have the steps to clean your device safely:

  1. Do not use any cleaning chemicals you have at home.
  2. Use a mixture of lukewarm water and dish soap.
  3. Use a damp cloth to clean your earpieces gently.
  4. Use a Q-tip to clean the inner part of your in-ear headphones.
  5. Remove the pads from over-ear headphones, if possible.
  6. Allow them to air dry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to use headphones that have been wet?

No, it is not. The circuits may be damaged if you start using them right after you notice they have been in water.

Will earbuds still work after being washed and dried?

There is a chance they will survive. However, it will depend on what you do after realizing they have been washed and what protection they have.

Can Raycons survive a washing machine?

Some people claim Raycons would work after being in a washing machine, while others say theirs didn’t survive.

Should wet headphones go in rice?

Yes, they should. Rice is known to be efficient when you want to absorb water moisture.

How long should I leave my earphones in rice?

Experts, and people who have washed their earphones, suggest that you leave them to dry in rice for around 24 to 48 hours.

Can wet earbuds electrocute you?

No, they can’t. There is not enough current going through headphones to electrocute a person. However, you might feel small electrical discharges.

Is it bad to put earphones in wet ears?

No, it is not. Most earphones can withstand small amounts of water, especially if they are designed for sportswear. Manufacturers understand the need to protect these gadgets from rain and sweat. However, it would be best if you didn’t expose them to water frequently.

Can rain damage headphones?

Yes, it can. Most headphones are water-resistant, and they manage to handle lesser amounts of water. However, you shouldn’t submit your devices to heavy rain because it can damage the internal components of your headphones.

How do you protect your headphones from rain?

You can use a hoodie or a hat to protect your headphones from rain. Make sure you cover your ears, which is the most sensitive part of your device. The outer layer in your head should be enough protection. If you see that your hat is soaked in water, then it would be better if you take them off and place your headphones into a plastic bag or backpack.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, washing your headphones is a common mistake that happens to many people. Sometimes we forget things inside our pockets, and we find out they were there just after we finish washing our clothes.

Your headphones might work after being through a complete cycle of water and chemicals inside your washing machine. It will all depend on your actions after you realize what just happened.

If you take the appropriate steps, your headphones should be back to normal. Start with distilled water to remove any chemicals that might damage the internal circuits in your earpieces. Try to use a cloth or rice to remove excess water. Finally, allow them to air dry and be patient.

Patience is critical. Do the necessary steps and wait at least 24 hours to turn them on. If you see it didn’t work, you now have the opportunity to get yourself some brand new headphones.

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