How to Care for Your Earbuds

Concerned about keeping your handy, pocketable earbuds clean? It’s a reasonable concern to have; after all, the objects are located in the outer ear canal.

The most effective true wireless headphones are supposed to accompany you everywhere you go, but public spaces like the gym, the metro, and even your workplace hot-desk have all shown to be excellent spots for dirt accumulation.

If the mesh and grilles of your earbuds are exposed through an open-earbud design (such as Apple’s 2019 AirPods, the originally wired EarPods, or the ‘buds hidden in the outer shell of the Nokia 5710 XpressAudio).

Those little cracks collect dust and general dirt like you wouldn’t believe – even the best noise-cancelling earphones aren’t immune here – and in this essay, we will show you how to clean your earbuds and their case.

Remove the earphones from their case and discard the ear tips

First and foremost, get the items out and detach the ear tips. It may seem apparent, but you will not be utilizing any pointed sharp items here – piercing delicate speaker mesh is not a good idea. If the ear tips are silicone, a solution of 5ml dish soap liquid and 250ml boiling water will do the trick. Just keep it out of your driver-filled earbuds and their cases, even if they have an IP rating.

Take a cotton swab that has been wet with 70% isopropyl alcohol

To you and me, that’s rubbing alcohol. Liquids and electronics should not mix, so proceed with caution. If there’s an abundance of junk on the buds (it’s ear gunk; that’s entirely natural), a Q-Tip is a gadget specifically meant to help.

Remember that the speaker grilles, mic ports, and charging connections on your earbuds are approximately the size of a single gram of rice, so sliding a cotton swab across the area you wish to clean will not take long. Yes, it’s fiddly; no, it’s not long.


Brush the grilles with a brush with soft bristles or a little silicone pastry brush

The essential here is that it’s fresh, dry, and hasn’t recently been utilized for applying egg-wash. You don’t have a pastry brush? A manual toothbrush with gentle bristles or a toothbrush head (if it’s electric) can also suffice; just don’t use the one you currently have. Alternatively, your partner’s.

After applying the rubbing alcohol method, work the brush toward the grilles in small circular motions to remove even most stubborn lumps of wax.

Blow air that is compressed into the charging ports of the casing.

If you have a canister of air that is compressed or a silicon air blower on hand (and if you aren’t, you can get that last item for a few bucks on Amazon), use this equipment to blast pressured air over the ports for charging of each earbud.

When utilizing a compressed air canister, aim for a short, crisp explosion lasting not longer than an instant or two.

Wipe the case with a microfiber cloth – and rub

If you think you need more than a cleaning cloth and a bit of work to shift the dirt, placing the cloth in the above solution (5ml liquid dish soap and 250ml cozy water) and cleaning the case carefully, paying special attention to the USB-C charging the port, is your step-up option.

Before restoring the ear tips, make sure they are dry.

It’s ideal to let your ear tips dry completely (you can typically turn most silicone tips inside out to help) before re-fitting them. Sure, most earphones today have an IP certification, but why put it to the test? A quick once over with that soft microfiber towel when they’re dry, et voila! Your earbuds should look and sound like new.

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