How to clean your earbuds properly
By Adrian Back
- UV light can give your earbuds a deeper clean while they charge
- Some of the best tools for cleaning earbuds can be found around the house
- How regularly your earbuds need to be cleaned depends on how you use them
- Storing your earbuds properly keeps them fresher, longer
Stylish, comfortable and highly sophisticated, it’s little wonder why wireless earbuds have become hugely popular around the world. However, one factor that is impossible to avoid is that natural buildup of dirt and debris. Read on to discover how to keep your earbuds clean and your ears healthy with a few helpful tips.
Sanitise your earbuds with UV light
Earbuds can harbour hundreds of thousands of colony-forming units—which are microorganisms that exist on the surfaces we use every day. An average pair can foster around 2,700 times the bacteria you would find on a kitchen cutting board.1
Fortunately, there is an easy way to prevent these microorganisms from causing a nasty ear infection. Opt for a pair of earbuds that’s automatically disinfected before each use. Thanks to UVnano, which kills 99.9% of bacteria, the speaker mesh in these wireless earbuds can be sanitised in just 5 minutes.2 That should settle the nerves of any self-proclaimed germaphobe.
How to clean your earbuds at home
When it comes to cleaning electronics, it’s always preferable to err on the side of caution. The last thing you want to do is damage the protective mesh or the driver.
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to keep your earphones fresh. Whether you use household products or specialised tools, these techniques will help you get a truly thorough clean.
Common household tools for earbud cleaning
Finding debris on your earbuds is inevitable. However, removing basic residue from lint, earwax, makeup and more is pretty straightforward. You don’t even need a dedicated cleaning kit.
Here are some common household items you can use for cleaning your earbuds:
- Cotton swabs
- Adhesive tape
- Tacky putty
- Microfiber cloths
A spare toothbrush is ideal for cleaning earbudswith rubberised moulds. Use a light, circular sweeping motion to brush away any dried-on or loose debris from the connecting ridges or speaker grills. You can also gently scrape away stubborn, hardened gunk from the inner areas with a toothpick or metal tool.
When it comes to wiping away dirt from the earbuds’ exterior, then a cotton swab is a great option. This simple tool can be used to remove stains and marks, especially if dabbed with a tiny amount of warm water.
Once any dried debris is taken care of, you can use sticky tape and putty—the type you find in arts and craft shops—for those hard-to-reach spots. Tape is adhesive enough to pick up stuck-on dirt without leaving a mark. For deeper grooves, putty can be warmed up in your hand and then gently rolled over the problem area.
Once you’ve tried all these steps, use a dry microfibre cloth to give your earbuds that final polish. They’ll be looking as good as new in no time.
Clean your earbuds fast with forced air
Whether in the form of canned air or a bulb blower, forced air can be extremely useful for tackling small dust and dirt particles. It’s also far more hygienic than simply trying to blow air from your mouth.
If you’re using wireless earbuds with removable soft rubber tips, then slip them off and hold the tip towards the floor. By blowing air into and through the opening you should get rid of loose debris. You can also clean your earbuds’ speaker grills using forced air, as these can be particularly tricky.
Use liquid solvents for a thorough clean
As with any form of electronics, you want to be extremely careful when using any form of liquid. It’s certainly never a good idea to use an aggressive solvent as this could end up breaking down the top layer of protective coating from your earbuds. To properly learn how to clean earbuds and headphones, remember that being gentle is key.
If you have a really stubborn stain or piece or dirt, then diluted isopropyl alcohol could tackle the problem. Just remember to be mindful of the amount of liquid and pressure you’re using. Alternatively, you may want to simply use a bit of warm water with a tiny drop of antibacterial soap. Combine this with a cotton bud and some patience, and you should be able to remove any mark.
How often do you need to clean your earbuds?
There is no steadfast rule for how often you should clean your earbuds. The answer largely depends on when and how you use them.
If you use them daily, it is worth cleaning your earbuds at least once a week to prevent build-up. But if you wear them at the gym or while out for a run, then they should be dried and lightly cleaned after every use.
Perhaps the best advice is to keep a close eye on their condition. Any sort of debris can be detrimental to their sound quality. This is especially true for high-performance earbuds that feature noise-cancelling functions and customised audio profiles. So, if you notice any dust, oil or earwax, it’s important to clean your earbuds as soon as possible.
Keep your earbuds clean with proper storage
We’re all guilty every now and then of leaving our wireless earbuds on a desk or putting them in our pocket when we’re in a rush, but a bit of care can go a long way. Putting them back in the charging case when not in use is a great way of shielding them from a further build-up of dust and debris.
Even if you don’t have a case, you can store them in a clean bag to help repel dirt and scratches. It’s also important to never store earbuds in very hot or cold environments. This is less to do with keeping them clean, rather it helps to protect the battery.
If you live somewhere humid or like to keep a pair of earbuds with your workout gear, a pack of silica gel can keep your earbuds clean and dry.
There’s nothing worse than messy, crusty earbuds. But with proper storage and regular maintenance, you can keep your earbuds clean while making the most out of their audio quality. With these helpful tips in mind, you’ll help preserve the lifespan of your in-ear headphones—and the health of your ears.
2 UVnano is a compound word derived from the words UV and its unit, nanometer. Independent testing shows that the UVnano charging cradle kills 99.9% of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumonia bacteria on the speaker mesh of the earbuds in 5 minutes while charging. UV LED light is invisible and is only activated when the charging cradle is closed with the earbuds inside.