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How To Clean Headphones: The Only Guide You Ever Need

(Last Updated On: October 26, 2019)

Learn how to clean your headphones and earphones easily with this complete guide.

From @blissloveslife

Ever since the invention of the Walkman, headphones have become an integral part of our lives. And with the ever-rising popularity of #squatgoals and #fitspo, many of us are adopting a more active lifestyle while grooving out to our own personal soundtracks on Spotify.

We’re willing to shell out quite a bit of dough in exchange for some quality headphones, Bose, Audio Technica, Sennheiser, and dare we even say it, Beats. So, it can be infuriating to find that within a year or two, the audio quality seems to drop or the sound is no longer as crisp. Even the most undiscerning of ears can pick up that quality difference especially if we have to amp up the volume button to get a better listen.

Being part of the buy & throw away generation, we might be tempted to whine about how things are not made to last nowadays, and then proceed to get a new pair. But what if there’s actually a really simple solution to this? And that, most of the time, it is only because your headphones are … dirty.

Why do we need to clean our headphones?

Take out your headphones or earphones right now, and examine the inside of the ear pads or the wire mesh of the earbuds. You see, our habits have resulted in months of clogged earwax, grease and also dust being trapped in the little crevices of our headphones. We always shower and change our clothes after our gym sessions, or morning runs because it is dirty. But when was the last time we cleaned our headphones, post-workout or… ever?

Starting to feel grossed out yet? Well, that’s not even the end of it.

We almost always toss them into our bags, pockets, anywhere, where they continue to mix around with other dust and grime that’s been lying at the bottom since the dawn of time. Then, we fish them out whenever we need and shove them back into our ears without a moment’s hesitation.

Closeup of bacteria – image from https://www.ndsu.edu

And that, my friend, is a surefire way to increase your chance of getting an ear infection, earwax blockage, and a costly trip to the doctor’s office.

We wouldn’t do that to any of our other belongings so why do we do this to our headphones? A little care and maintenance for our headphones can go a long way. This ensures we get the best bang for our buck, but also maintaining our in-ear hygiene.

Getting Started

So, let’s talk about cleaning. It requires a bit more delicacy, a little finesse but all the tools we need can be easily found at home.

Things you need:

    1. A small cloth
    2. Rubbing alcohol/ hand sanitizer
    3. Q-tips/cotton buds
    4. Soap
    5. Water
    6. Blu-tack

There are two categories of headphones that we will be talking about today:

  1. Earphones: In-ear monitors (IEMs) / Earbuds
  2. Headphones: Over-ear / on-ear headphones

1) How to Clean Earphones

Cleaning the driver unit

The driver unit is where the sound is produced and more importantly the part of the earphones that is inserted into the ears.

Driver unit circled. (L) Earbuds (R) IEM. For IEMs, remember to remove the ear tips before cleaning the driver unit.

  1. Hold your earphones with the mesh side facing downwards. Using a dry, soft toothbrush (preferably a children’s toothbrush), brush the wire mesh gently to dislodge any dirt or clogged ear wax. Tap the non-mesh side/logo side of the earbuds to help knock some of the debris off.
  2. Using a bent paperclip and some blu-tack, go over the wire mesh and remove the remaining dirt and dust. The blu-tack will pick up all the unwanted substances and leave your mesh debris-free. Bostik Blu Tack Mastic Adhesive Putty Non Toxic Blue
  3. Dampen a small cloth with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer and do a quick wipe over the metal mesh as well as the wires.

Warning: use sparingly, DO NOT soak the cloth as it may damage your device.

Cleaning the ear tips

These earphones such as IEMs normally come with detachable silicone sleeves/ear tips in varying sizes to provide the best fit for your ears.

Silicon ear tips

Follow this extra two steps if your IEMs have silicone ear tips only. This do not apply for foam ear tips or any other ear tips that are not water-proof.

  1. Remove the silicone ear tips and soak them in slightly soapy warm water for about 5 minutes or so.
  2. Rinse the silicone sleeves, give them a good wipe down and leave them to dry completely on paper towels before reattaching them.

You might be interested: Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Perfect IEM Ear Tips

2) How to Clean Headphones

These are slightly trickier as they involve more delicate parts like the leather or foam ear pads that can tear easily. So unless you want to go on Amazon to order yourself some new ear pads, proceed gently.

Circled: Headphones earpads

    1. Remove the ear pads and wipe the exterior of the headphones down with a small cloth dampened with some soap and warm water. Wipe dry with some paper towels and leave to air dry completely.
    2. Dampen a small cloth with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer and gently wipe down the exterior of the ear pads. Then soak a Q-tip/cotton bud in alcohol/ hand sanitizer and use it to clean the nooks and crevices of the ear pads.
    3. Dab some alcohol/hand sanitizer over the surface of the foam mesh and gently rub both the right and left side together. This will help kill off the bacteria that are residing in the ear pads. The gentle rubbing should also help to dislodge any dirt or grime.
    4. Leave the ear pads to air dry completely on some paper towels before reattaching them.

3) Advanced Cleaning Method

However, if you are looking for that straight out of the factory cleanliness, you will need a more hardcore option.

Jodi-Vac Consumer Hearing Aid Vacuum Cleaner

We would recommend getting a hearing aid vacuum. Hearing aid vacuum, as the name implies, is vacuum system for hearing aids. By utilizing small vacuum pumps, it can effectively extract earwax and dirt.

Bonus Section:

1) How to clean headphone jacks

You will want to be sure to clean out your headphone jacks as well. You don’t want to go through all that hard work only to find out that your headphone jack isn’t providing the best fit, do you?

For a prime example, look at the iPhone’s headphone jack. As the interior of the headphone jack is white in color, the dirt that accumulates there are painfully conspicuous.

Dust-Off Disposable Compressed Gas Duster, 10 oz Cans, 2 PackOur recommendation: Using a can of compressed air is the quickest and most fuss-free method to do it. The thin nozzle can concentrate a quick short blast of air guaranteed to dislodge and remove most lint and dust that is trapped up there.

But of course, if you wish to MacGyver it, you could also use an interdental brush, a pipe cleaner, or a bent paper clip with some double-sided tape on it. Insert it carefully and very lightly brush the inside of the jack until any visible blockage is removed.

Remember to proceed gently as you run the risk of damaging the metal interior of the headphone jack if you are too rough with it.

2) Getting rid of the “sweat” stink

Have you ever had that funky smell from your headphones? When you wear your headphones on for a period of time, moisture and dirt stains the ear pads. This can get really bad when you are staying in a damp and humid area. Over time, moisture induces the growth of mold, and then the awful smell develops.

Solution 1: Silica gel packets

Credit: http://lifehacker.com/keep-your-nice-headphones-from-getting-stinky-with-sili-1793139097

You can find this gel packets within the packaging of food and electronics. These tiny gel beads help control the local humidity level by absorbing moisture really well. Place them in the ear cups before putting away your headphones and this should help mitigate the stinky problem.

Solution 2: Get ear pads replacement

More often than not, it might be too late for solution 1 to do any big help. By buying earpads replacement, it will completely solve the problem. If the original manufacturer’s earpads replacement is too expensive, you can find plenty of other third-party replacements on Amazon.

For example, an official Bose earpads cost this much. Third-party earpads replacement only cost a fraction of it.

3) Keeping your ears clean

Besides keeping your headphones clean, you should also keep your ears clean for an optimal listening experience. Ear wax is waxy oil produced by the ear canal to protect the ear from foreign particles. When your ear canal produces more oil than needed, this is when the ear wax builds up. You can read more about ear wax buildup here.

A safe and popular way to remove ear wax is by using Debrox. Debrox cleanses the ear canal of ear wax with microfoam action and an active ingredient clinically proven to remove ear wax effectively.

Do not use cotton swabs/”Q-tips” to remove ear wax. You are actually pushing the ear wax inwards, causing further blockage.

Conclusion

And there you have it! Repeat these simple steps whenever you need to and they will have your headphones sounding as good as new until the end of time and not to mention, keep your ears squeaky clean.

Using our headphones on a daily basis has become a habit for many of us especially for those who use to jog every morning or spend the time in the train listening to music. Who doesn’t enjoy listening to his favorite music in a high-quality sound headphone? It’s so common but joyfulness could be ruined easily if your headphones got dirty.

Why Should I Clean My Headphones?

Headphones and especially earbuds are most exposed to dirt from the date you purchase them and started using them, sweat or ear wax are more common sources of dirt that could be stuck or trapped in your earbuds, we use to shower after our gym or morning jogging sessions because of dirt and sweat, but what about our headphones? when was the last time we cleaned them?

Headphones become dirty not only because we are using them, but misusing them or saving them inappropriate manner could be worse, we always toss them into our pockets, bags …etc where they keep on being mixed with other dirt, dust, and other grime. And simply we grab them out without any hesitation and use them in our ears.

So cleaning your headphones is crucial to protect them from any sort of sound quality reduction or reducing its lifespan, as well as protecting our own ears from any sort of bacterial infections.

You should clean your headphones regularly for several reasons:

  1. Preventing headphones from damage.
  2. Increase Headphones lifespan.
  3. Getting high-quality sound.
  4. Clear all bacteria that might get into your ears.

So better to check the below easy hacks that actually work on how to clean your headphones and earbuds at home.

How To Clean My Headphone & Earbuds?

This is the part when it comes to cleaning your headphones, I will cover the two types of headphones that you might have and require to clean which are:

  • Earbuds: Airpods, Earpods, Earbuds, In-ear monitors (IEMs)
  • Headphones: In-ear, On-ear, Over-ear Headphones

To start cleaning your headphones, you require to have the below:

  1. Rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
  2. A small cloth (any cloth even like the glasses soft cloth)
  3. Cotton buds or Q-tips.
  4. Soap
  5. Water
  6. Blu-tack

Cleaning a headphone has never been easier with the below steps.

How To Clean Apple Airpods

Apple Airpods have their own unique design out of all the earbuds products on the market, they often get dirt and earwax occasionally for both the driver part as well as the charger case.

CLEANING THE DRIVER UNIT

This is the unit where the sound is being produced hence we should focus more on the part of it that inserted into the ears.

Step 1: Using a dry and soft toothbrush (I prefer children’s toothbrush because it is softer), brush the wire mesh gently while holding the mesh facing downwards to help the removed dirt or wax particles falling down.

NOTE: At the same time tap on the back side of the Airpod continuously to help knocking off the removed particles.

Step 2: Using blu-tack gel with the aid of a bent paperclip, go over the wire mesh after step 1 and remove all remaining dirt, wax or dust. Put the blu-tack on the wire mesh and apply pressure to each individual dot of the mesh using the bent paperclip, then remove the blu-tack again.

NOTE: The blu-tack will pick up all the extra substances from the mesh and leave it debris free.

Step 3: Using a small cloth by dampening it into the hand sanitizer or alcohol should finalize the cleaning process by quickly wiping over the metal wire mesh back and forth.

CAUTION: Do not soak the cloth with the alcohol or the sanitizer as it may damage your device.

CLEANING THE CHARGER CASE

The Apple Airpods have a charger base to keep them charged and ready to use, and not only they were created to serve drivers charging, but also to support pairing with the iPhone smartphone devices.

Upon using the Airpods, the charging case gets dirty because of the earwax, dust, moist ..etc, however, to clean the Apple Airpods charging case simply follow the below steps:

Step 1: Using a Q-tip or cotton buds after soaking them into alcohol or hand sanitizer and start applying movement with pressure in the case corners where all the dirt are.

Step 2: Use a dry Q-tip or even a dry piece of cloth to wipe and dry the cleaned areas.

How To Clean Apple Earpods

Apple Earpods (the earlier wired version of the Apple Airpods) they often get dirt and earwax occasionally for both the driver part as well as the cords.

This is the unit where the sound is being produced hence we should focus more on the part that is inserted into the ears.

Step 1: Using a dry and soft toothbrush (I prefer children’s toothbrush because it is softer), brush the wire mesh gently while holding the mesh facing downwards to help the removed dirt or wax particles to fall down.

NOTE: At the same time tap on the back side of the Airpod continuously to help knocking off the removed particles.

Step 2: Using blu-tack gel with the aid of a bent paperclip, go over the wire mesh after step 1 and remove all remaining dirt, wax or dust. Put the blu-tack on the wire mesh and apply pressure to each individual dot of the mesh using the bent paperclip, then remove the blu-tack again.

NOTE: The blu-tack will pick up all the extra substances from the mesh and leave it debris free.

Step 3: Using a small cloth by dampening it into the hand sanitizer or alcohol should finalize the cleaning process by quickly wiping over the metal wire mesh back and forth.

CAUTION: Do not soak the cloth with the alcohol or the sanitizer as it may damage your device.

CLEANING THE CORDS

The Apple Earpods have two cords connected together at the audio jack, those cords normally get dirty because of normal daily use but still, we can clean them so easily.

Step 1: To clean the cords simply dampen a piece of cloth into alcohol or hand sanitizer.

Step 2: Hold the cable near the audio jack/lightning jack in your left hand.

Step 3: Using the soaked cloth in your right hand, encircle the cable and wipe firmly with the cloth moving towards the Earpods drivers.

CAUTION: Do not hold the jack while doing that, and Do not apply too much pressure in this movement cause this might cause an internal damage to the cord’s cables.

How To Clean Earbuds

This is a very generic procedure cause there are plenty of earbuds types and designs in the market, I will cover different types of them as below.

Before you clean your earbud drivers, if you have earbuds with silicone or foam tips then you should remove them first, as these in-ear headphones like IEMs or even normal ones normally come with detachable silicone/foam ear tips to provide variety in sizes and provide the best fit for our ears.

Step 1: Remove the earbuds silicone tips.

Step 2: Using a dry and soft toothbrush (I prefer children’s toothbrush because it is softer), brush the wire mesh gently while holding the mesh facing downwards to help the removed dirt or wax particles falling down.

NOTE: At the same time tap on the back side of the earbuds continuously to help knocking off the removed particles.

Step 3: Using blu-tack gel with the aid of a bent paperclip, go over the wire mesh after step 1 and remove all remaining dirt, wax or dust. Put the blu-tack on the wire mesh and apply pressure to each individual dot of the mesh using the bent paperclip, then remove the blu-tack again.

The blu-tack will pick up all the extra substances from the mesh and leave it debris free.

Step 4: Using a small cloth by dampening it into the hand sanitizer or alcohol should finalize the cleaning process by quickly wiping over the metal wire mesh back and forth.

CAUTION: Do not soak the cloth with the alcohol or the sanitizer as it may damage your device.

CLEANING THE EAR TIPS

To clean your earbuds tips you should consider the materials type those tips were made from, for example, if you have silicone ear tips, then follow the below steps:

Step 1: Detach the silicone ear tips from your earbuds.

Step 2: Soak them for 5 minutes in slightly soapy warm water.

NOTE: This does not apply for foam ear tips type or any other ear tips that are not water-proof models.

Step 3: Rinse the silicone tips, give them a good wipe down.

Step 4: Leave them to dry completely on paper towels before reattaching them.

If you have a foam type of ear tips, then better to go for the blu-tack solution to grab all the dirt out of them securely.

CLEANING THE CORD

The earbuds have two cords connected together at the audio jack, those cords normally get dirty and sweat spots because of the normal daily use but still, we can clean them so easily.

Step 1: To clean the cords simply dampen a piece of cloth into alcohol or hand sanitizer.

Step 2: Hold the cable near the audio jack in your left hand.

Step 3: Using the soaked cloth in your right hand, encircle the cable and wipe firmly with the cloth moving towards the Earbuds drivers.

CAUTION: Do not hold the jack while doing that, and Do not apply too much pressure in this movement cause this might cause an internal damage to the cord’s cables.

How To Clean On-Ear Headphones

These type of headphones require periodic cleaning and special treatment for the leather to stay functional for a longer time, they have different parts comparing to earbuds style headphones, they consist of caps cushions and band cushion.

To clean your on-ear headphone you need to focus on it’s two main parts which are the band cushion and the ear pads by following the below steps.

CLEANING THE HEADPHONE EXTERIOR BODY

Step 1: Remove the ear pads.

Step 2: Wipe down the exterior body of the headphone with a small cloth dampened with soap and warm water.

Step 3: Wipe dry with some paper towels and leave to completely air dry.

CLEANING THE EAR PADS

Step 1: Dampen a small cloth with rubbing alcohol.

Step 2: Gently wipe down the exterior of the ear pads.

Step 3: Using a Q-tip or cotton bud to clean the nooks and crevices of the ear pads after soaking it into alcohol or hand sanitizer.

Step 4: Dab some alcohol over the foam mesh surface and gently rub both the left and right sides together.

NOTE: This will kill off the bacteria that are residing in the ear pads.

Step 5: Leave both ear pads to air dry completely by putting them on some paper towels before reattaching and using them.

CLEANING THE HEADPHONE BAND

Headphone bands are one of the main parts of any headphones that get dirty easily or start peeling its leather over time, this is caused by daily usage as well as sweat.

NOTE: If you want to replace your peeling headphone band you can simply check my other article Replace Peeling Headphone Pads & Band Cushions At Home Easily

To clean your headphone’s band cushion simply follow the below steps:

Step 1: Wipe down the headphones band and its cushion with a small cloth dampened with soap and warm water.

Step 2: Wipe dry with some paper towels and leave to completely air dry.

Step 3: Dab some alcohol over the cushion surface and gently rub it down.

NOTE: This will kill off the bacteria that are residing in the band cushion as well as helping to dislodge any dirt or grime.

Step 4: Leave the band cushion to air dry completely by putting them on some paper towels.

How To Keep My Headphones & Earbuds Clean?

It’s so important to keep your headphones and earbuds clean not only for the sake of your ear health but also to have long-lasting headphones for daily usage.

To keep your headphones and earbuds clean and preventing them from getting dirty:

Tip 1 – Cleaning them regularly

Cleaning your headphones regularly is a must to prevent further dirtiness.

Tip 2 – Store them in a protective case after finishing

Have you ever had that funky smell out of your headphones? this is caused by moisture and dirt or sweat stains on the ear pads or band cushion, mostly this is caused by a humid environment if not your sweat, so storing your headphone in a dry storage case is a good prevention to keep it clean for a long time.

To do so, you need to have a couple of Silica gel packets to be stored in the same headphone case, those gel packets can be found in any electronic device package or food packages. Those gel packets will reduce the moisture inside the pack and it is very useful to keep them with your headphones pads while storing.

Tip 3 – Apply leather oil

Applying a leather protective oil on the on-ear headphones pads and cushions can rapidly increase its lifespan as well as keeping them clean most of the time.

Tip 4 – Do not use your headphones with unclean hands

If you were eating crisps or any oily food by your hands it’s better not to use your headphones till you clean your hands.

Tip 5 – Do not use your headphones while sweating

If you purchased your headphones for the sake of using them indoors and not for jogging, better not to use them if you feel you are sweating, cause this will add the dirt on them occasionally.

Tip 6 – Clean Your Ears Regularly

Aside from cleaning and keeping your headphones clean, you should also clean your ears from wax, ear wax is an oil produced by your ear canal to protect it from any foreign particles, thus will add dirt to your earbuds so you should always keep your ear wax-clean.

NOTE: To clean your ear from wax, its better to consult a doctor and let him clean it for you for your ears’ safety.

The above are only preventive suggestions for you to keep your headphones clean hence no one is perfect, and you might need to clean them from time to time as suggested in this tutorial article.

Our headphones will get dirty either by dust, sweat, ear wax… etc no matter how much we try to prevent it, but this is not the end of the world, still, we can clean them regularly using simple solutions at home and keep them ready to use for a long time.

With the availability of top-sound quality on headphones over earphones, the latter was replaced by the masses a long time ago. We use our headphones when we travel to work, exercise, sit in a park or even while tanning on a beach. Now just like you need to bathe every day, your headphones need a good wash once in a while too.

Imagine your velour headphone earpads to be a collage of lint, grime and dust. With its spongy texture and micro-hair filled surface, it acts as a sticky spider web, attracting and housing foreign elements all the time. Also since your headphone sits over your ears, the cups tend to absorb some amounts of sweat when worn constantly. Now you’re left with a grubby headset and earpads that reek of sweat too.

Modern-day headphones come in a variety of makes with both on-ear cups as well as over-the-ear ones. While the top of the line headphones come fashioned with leather ear-cups, others are made with ‘pleather’ (plastic + leather) or velour- a sponge ear-cup that is lined with a silk-like upholstery.

Here are a few steps on how you can go about cleaning your headphone’s earpads:

  • Identify if detachable– The very first thing you will need to do is identify if your headphones allow you to take off the ear-cup so you can clean it. Older headphones don’t really allow you to take off the over-the-ear cups, but the on-ear sponges come off readily. If, however, you have a newer headphone, you should be able to separate the ear-cup from the speaker with no trouble at all.
  • Figure out the material– Depending on what headphones you use, you need to find out what material the ear-cup is made of, this will decide what method you will employ to clean it, and if it is wise to attempt cleaning it at all. You will find very few headphones to have earpads made of 100% leather. If you’ve got a mid-priced headphone, you’re probably looking at ‘pleather’ and if you’ve got something a little cheaper, you’ll find velour. It’s not always this way, but it’s how it goes.
  • Cleaning Leather Cups – If you realize that your expensive pair of headphones has exquisite leather ear-cups, you should consider not using water as it, more often than not, causes more damage than help. Using excessive water will encourage the top layers of the leather to begin pealing. A mildly dampened microfiber cloth should be able to serve just fine, helping you wipe away the stickiness and grime. You may need to do this intricately so as not to create too much tension when trying to wipe the grease off at the risk of a tear in the ear-cup. Leather-milk will also help you maintain the rigour of the leather whilst keeping it shiny.
  • Cleaning Pleather Cups – Although most might say it is fine to occasionally douse a pleather ear-cup to clean it thoroughly, the plastic in it doesn’t lend much resilience to water. Also, the leather composition does make it unfit for a complete soak. While it is recommended to get the dirt off your ear-cup with a moist cloth, you must ensure the pleather ear-cups do not stay damp at all. One of the most disappointing things is to watch your ear-cups peal and spoil. Again, just as mentioned above, using a leather protector or leather milk will help maintain the integrity of the pleather, extending the life of the ear-cups after each cleaning.
  • Cleaning Velour Cups – If you are one of those people that use your headphones outdoors and have velour ear-cups, you are sure to have a trying time pinching the dirt off them. But that’s only if you decide to do it the hard way.
  • Pinching small particles of dirt off with your finger often encourages an increase in the number of hairy-filaments on the velour ear-cup surface. This means that you’re simply giving way to more dirt and in the process making your problem worse. Using a lint roller will ensure that you take away all foreign depositions from the surface of your ear-cup without spoiling its texture. If you can’t seem to find yourself a lint roller, you can use regular sticky-tape. Try not to use duct tape or one that has too much of adhesive, as you may find some residue stuck onto your velour ear-cups.
  • After you’ve gotten rid of the topical dirt, you’d want to take care of any odours that may come from absorbing sweat. For this, you’ll need to get yourself a container that can fit both ear-cups, filled with warm water (about 45 degrees Celsius). Add a spoon of mild detergent to it. Now the trick is to ensure using something mild, not excessively harsh and you do not want your water to get too soapy. Try not to use anything with bleach or something that says ‘stain remover’ as you run the risk of destroying your ear-cups.
  • Once you have a mildly soapy solution prepared, just drop your velour ear-cups into the container and let them rest for about 5-10 mins. You will then need to pre-soak your ear-cups in fresh but warm water to help get the soap out, gently squeezing and re-soaking the cups each time you use fresh water.
  • Once you manage to get all the soap off, be sure not to squeeze the water out of the ear-cups, this will disfigure them and they will not return to their original form. Instead, fetch a thick bath towel that’s absorbent and pat-dry your ear-cups, moving to a drier area on the towel each time the previous is soaked. This will make sure you do not have any creases on your ear-cups and they will look as well as smell as good as new.
  • Leave the ear-cups to air dry for as long as required only resuming its use after it has completely dried off. Using ear pads with soapy residue or moist ear pads can cause a rash over and around the ears.

Washing your headphone’s velour pads do not in any way contribute to a better listening experience. It is, however, instrumental that you maintain and clean your headphones every once in a while in trying to keep it in mint condition just like you would your laptop or your smartphone.

Photo Credit: https://musicoomph.com/

A proper cleaning tool can help get the gunk out of your headphones. Video: Caroline Enos

Clean the inside of earbuds with a small soft brush to remove debris.

Wax buildup can muffle the sound of your earbuds. Get an inexpensive cleaning tool designed for clearing out wax (some high-end in-ear models even come with one). First, pull the eartips off of the earbuds. Use the tool’s metal loop side to gently scoop out any ear wax. Do not jam the loop into the tip while it’s still on the earbud or you may push wax into the earbuds and damage the driver. Then use a small soft brush to gently clean off anything stuck to the earbuds. Wipe the eartips with a soapy wet cloth and dry thoroughly before reattaching to the earbuds.

After every workout, wipe gym headphones down, and allow to dry fully before charging.

Even if they’re water- and sweat-resistant, don’t keep your headphones wet for long periods because water can slowly seep into battery compartments or the earbuds themselves and short them out or damage drivers. (And even swim headphones should be allowed to dry fully before being put away.) Do not allow moisture into the earcup of over-ear headphones or into the nozzle of in-ear headphones.

If you need to take your headphones out mid-run or can’t wait for them to dry completely before leaving the gym, gently shake out any excess moisture, turn the power off, and store them inside a little zip-close snack baggie. Don’t keep your earbuds in your gym-shorts pocket or sports bra without a water-resistant case. Both of these places collect sweat and won’t allow the earbuds to dry as frequently as they need to. Then when you arrive home, wipe the earbuds and allow them to dry as stated above.

Store your headphones and earbuds in a bag or case when not in use.

This will protect them from dirt, scratches, and impacts. Use the case you got when you bought them, or you can buy one later. Just be sure the case you choose will fit the headphones you have.

Don’t use or store your headphones in very hot or cold environments.

Saunas and car trunks aren’t good for headphones, especially if your pair has a battery. Also, don’t store them long-term while wet or in a humid environment, even if they are water-resistant. Or, for extra protection, keep something like Westone Monitor Saver or a silica gel pack in the bag (just be sure to keep the gel packs away from kids and pets).

If your headphones are powered, don’t leave the charge port or battery compartment open when storing them.

Even if your headphones won’t get wet, leaving the port open can let in dirt and dust. If they don’t have a door and they have just a Micro-USB port for charging, regularly dust out the port and check for water inside before plugging in.

Your headphone cable will last a lot longer if you wrap it properly rather than making a rat nest out of it. Video: Kyle Fitzgerald

Don’t kink/bunch the cable or wrap it around your device while still plugged in.

Wrapping your headphones around your phone while they’re still plugged in bends the cable where it meets the plug end at a sharp angle and can eventually pull it out of the housing. To wrap the cord properly, gently loop it around your fingers, making a circle with the cable, following the wire’s natural curve. To prevent tangling, use a twist tie from bread or buy a little Velcro cable tie.

Videos: Caroline Enos

Always unplug your headphones by holding the plug or cable end, not the cable itself.

Don’t unplug or remove headphones from your device by pulling the cable. It can weaken the cable over time. And definitely don’t remove earbuds from your ears by pulling on the cable, especially if they’re sealed. The vacuum created can cause damage to your ears. Instead, grasp the earbud and twist slightly while pulling outward.

Follow these guidelines and your headphones will stay cleaner and in better shape, and last you a lot longer. Happy listening!

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Ask LH: How Can I Clean My Over-Ear Headphones?

Dear Lifehacker, I own a pair of over-ear headphones (Corsair Vengeance 1500, to be precise), and they’re getting rather grubby. The actual ear-covers are made out of a carpet-like material. What can I do to remove dust, sweat and grime from them without damaging the headphones in any way? Thanks, Filthy Listener

Dear FL,

Gross, dude. But seriously, your best bet is to apply the same cleaning principles you would to delicates like silk or lace: this means using a gentle cleaner (e.g. — soap mixed with warm water) and carefully wiping the affected areas with a cloth.

The trick is to only use a small amount of cleaner — too much soap could leave a residue behind, while too much water could seep into the internal cavities. As long as you’re careful, the components should be fine.

An alternative solution we’ve discussed in the past is restaurant wet wipes, like the type you get at KFC. These are specifically designed to remove grease from human skin, which makes them suitably gentle on headphones. The same goes for baby wipes.

Another option is to carefully apply a few drops of hand sanitiser to the outer surface of the pads and then rub them together — the combination of antiseptic and friction should be enough to banish all but the most stubborn stains. As an added bonus, this will also kill most bacteria.

If the stains aren’t budging, you might need to get a bit more heavy-duty: try using cotton balls soaked in rubbing alcohol. Again, this will also get rid of germs but you’ll need to be careful where you rub and use the solution sparingly. As a general rule, the less moisture you expose your gear to, the better.

If any readers have ideas of their own, let FL know in the comments section: he’s all ears!

See also: How To Safely Disinfect And Clean Your Gadgets

Cheers Lifehacker

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Why You Need to Clean Your Earbuds ASAP

Did you know that earbuds can cause 11 times more bacteria growth in the ear? Well, that shouldn’t be too surprising. Take a moment to think about where you place your earbuds every day. Probably in your pocket, in a bag or purse, on a table, on the seat of a car, and more. Consider how much bacteria your earbuds are coming into contact with on a daily basis, in addition to the natural bacteria, ear wax, and dead skin cells produced in our own ears. Then you’re taking all of that bacteria and directly inserting it into your ear canal. Pretty gross, right?

As bacteria and wax build-up on your earbuds and in your ears, you are more likely to develop ear infections, ear fungus, boils, pimples, and so much more. Luckily, by regularly cleaning your earbuds you are able to prevent the build-up of extra bacteria and wax. We suggest getting into the habit of cleaning your earbuds once a week. Follow the instructions below on how to safely clean your earbuds.

How to Clean Your Earbuds

  • Make sure your earbuds are not plugged into any device.
  • No need for a heavy-duty cleanser. Mix a small amount of dishwashing detergent and water and gently wipe down the headphone with a soft cloth. You can also dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Take a dry toothbrush to dislodge any dust and particles on the metal part of the earbud.
  • Use paper towels to quickly wipe away any moisture on the earbuds.
  • If you have silicone covers, make sure to remove them and clean them thoroughly.
  • Allow the earbuds, and silicon covers, to completely air dry before plugging them back into any device.
  • Never submerge any part of the earbud in water. This can damage the wiring of the earbuds.

Pro Tip: Never share your earbuds with anyone. If you have to share earbuds, make sure you immediately disinfect your earbuds to prevent the spread of bacteria.

By regularly cleaning your headphones, you can prevent the spread and build-up of bacteria in your ears. This buildup can lead to ear infections, ear fungus and more. Be sure to regularly disinfect and remove any debris and wax that has built up. While you’re cleaning your earbuds, you may want to consider spring cleaning your phone as well.

While cleaning your earbuds, you may realize that your headphone jack needs a repair. Staymobile is the industry leader in same-day repair. Drop by a Staymobile location for a deep cleaning and free diagnostic service. We understand how important your mobile devices are, so we offer a lifetime guarantee on all repairs.

Schedule an Appointment Now

Everything we wear on our bodies, from hats to socks, eventually needs cleaning. Just as your clothes get filthy (from the environment) and sweaty (from you), your headphones pick up dirt from all around you and react to your own secretions—and they need cleaning too. And just like your clothes stay looking good longer if you fold them neatly before putting them away, taking a little care when storing your headphones will keep them working like new. We’ve got some tips for both.

As we wear headphones, our skin cells, sebum, ear wax, and facial products stick to the parts that touch our ears and face, and the ever stickier headphones then pick up more dirt from the world around us every time we take them off, put them down, or put them in a bag. The takeaway? Clean your dang headphones, people. And definitely give them a wipe down before borrowing or lending a pair.

Not only will making sure your headphones are clean and comfortable help them to last longer, but can, in the case of earbuds, even keep them sounding better. Here are a few tips on how to clean and care for your headphones.

Regularly wipe down headphones’ earpads and tips with a mixture of soap and warm water on a lightly damp cloth.

Ideally, you should do this once a week. Make sure the headphones are off, if powered, and disconnected from your device. Dry fully with a soft cloth immediately. Don’t use alcohol, as it can remove color or break down leather or fabric faster. As long as you use soap and water, it will clean off any nasties.

A proper cleaning tool can help get the gunk out of your headphones. Video: Caroline Enos

Wax buildup can muffle the sound of your earbuds. Get an inexpensive cleaning tool designed for clearing out wax (some high-end in-ear models even come with one). First, pull the eartips off of the earbuds. Use the tool’s metal loop side to gently scoop out any ear wax. Do not jam the loop into the tip while it’s still on the earbud or you may push wax into the earbuds and damage the driver. Then use a small soft brush to gently clean off anything stuck to the earbuds. Wipe the eartips with a soapy wet cloth and dry thoroughly before reattaching to the earbuds.

After every workout, wipe gym headphones down, and allow to dry fully before charging.

Even if they’re water- and sweat-resistant, don’t keep your headphones wet for long periods because water can slowly seep into battery compartments or the earbuds themselves and short them out or damage drivers. (And even swim headphones should be allowed to dry fully before being put away.) Do not allow moisture into the earcup of over-ear headphones or into the nozzle of in-ear headphones.

If you need to take your headphones out mid-run or can’t wait for them to dry completely before leaving the gym, gently shake out any excess moisture, turn the power off, and store them inside a little zip-close snack baggie. Don’t keep your earbuds in your gym-shorts pocket or sports bra without a water-resistant case. Both of these places collect sweat and won’t allow the earbuds to dry as frequently as they need to. Then when you arrive home, wipe the earbuds and allow them to dry as stated above.

This will protect them from dirt, scratches, and impacts. Use the case you got when you bought them, or you can buy one later. Just be sure the case you choose will fit the headphones you have.

Don’t use or store your headphones in very hot or cold environments.

Saunas and car trunks aren’t good for headphones, especially if your pair has a battery. Also, don’t store them long-term while wet or in a humid environment, even if they are water-resistant. Or, for extra protection, keep something like Westone Monitor Saver or a silica gel pack in the bag (just be sure to keep the gel packs away from kids and pets).

If your headphones are powered, don’t leave the charge port or battery compartment open when storing them.

Even if your headphones won’t get wet, leaving the port open can let in dirt and dust. If they don’t have a door and they have just a Micro-USB port for charging, regularly dust out the port and check for water inside before plugging in.

Your headphone cable will last a lot longer if you wrap it properly rather than making a rat nest out of it. Video: Kyle Fitzgerald

Don’t kink/bunch the cable or wrap it around your device while still plugged in.

Wrapping your headphones around your phone while they’re still plugged in bends the cable where it meets the plug end at a sharp angle and can eventually pull it out of the housing. To wrap the cord properly, gently loop it around your fingers, making a circle with the cable, following the wire’s natural curve. To prevent tangling, use a twist tie from bread or buy a little Velcro cable tie.

Videos: Caroline Enos

Don’t unplug or remove headphones from your device by pulling the cable. It can weaken the cable over time. And definitely don’t remove earbuds from your ears by pulling on the cable, especially if they’re sealed. The vacuum created can cause damage to your ears. Instead, grasp the earbud and twist slightly while pulling outward.

Follow these guidelines and your headphones will stay cleaner and in better shape, and last you a lot longer. Happy listening!

Here’s the situation with earbuds – and to better know what we’re cleaning, let’s back up a minute and quickly understand our ears a bit better. According to Wikipedia, ears produce earwax to protect the skin of the human ear canal, assist in cleaning and lubrication, and also provide some protection from bacteria, fungi, insects, and water. Cool…ish? I mean happy to have that self-cleaning function but it does put us in a bit of a pickle when it comes to earbuds.

See, when these are in your ears, heat is being generated. Heat makes them practically a magnet for earwax. Heat melts the earwax and it kinda, well, re-settles on the earbud – or IN the earbud, so even after a couple of uses, you’ll start to see some sort of residue build up. Now, it’s not dangerous, but it can affect the sound quality of your earbuds over time and by the way, #obvious, it looks gross.

Alright, let’s see how easy it is to clean these. And just so you know, I went to an Apple store and got lectured by a genius on the proper ways of cleaning earbuds as they do in their very own facilities. So I got this straight from the Apple-horse’s mouth.

You’ll need

  • dish soap,
  • cotton swabs,
  • a cleaning toothbrush,
  • rubbing alcohol, and
  • alcohol wipes.

Silicone covers

If you have silicone covers, pop them off and soak in warm, soapy water. Use a cotton swab to remove any debris or discolouration after they’ve had time to soak. Rinse well and then leave them to dry overnight. You can’t put them back on until they are 100% dry. These are usually found on in-ear headphones.

Earbuds

  • Start by gently dry brushing the wax out of the earbud.
  • Hold them with the mesh facing down so that any debris can fall down as opposed to back into the earbud. Don’t press too hard, you don’t want to push the gunk in any further.
  • Once that’s done, if you still see a waxy build up, dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol, tap it off and then wipe the bud to remove anything remaining.
  • Then, take an alcohol wipe and wipe the earbud and surrounding area. This can mildly clean as well as disinfect the earbud. Rubbing alcohol dries lightning fast and won’t seep into the bud.

Soapy water or cleaning products, or perfume, are not suitable cleaning agents for this job, because they’ll seep in and damage the innards of the earbud.

Also, ensure your cleaning toothbrush is nylon bristle only, as anything else could break off and get caught and potentially ruin the earbuds. Plus, nylon is anti-static, which means it won’t fry your earbuds during the cleaning process.

You can clean them with an alcohol wipe as often as you feel necessary, and I would say giving them a clean like this once a month would be a reasonable frequency.

Using your earbuds!

Now, once you’ve cleaned your earbuds – you might as well use them – so, we’ve teamed up once again with the fine folks over at audible.com who are offering all of you a FREE audiobook and 30 day trial – with access to over 150,000 audiobook titles – it’s the perfect way to break in you newly cleaned earbuds!

Currently, I’m listening to The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It – as many of you know , I’m a junky for a good business book and THIS is one of my personal favourites. A lot of you ask me about business advice, and I’ve learned so much from this very book. Check it out!

So, to gain access to this title and over 150,000 other titles – head on over to AUDIBLE.COM/CLEANMYSPACE for your free audiobook and 30 day trial!

Headphones are great to escape the world around you and enjoy some really great music. Especially while commuting or when doing an activity (such as a workout, or studying), listening to music can either be extremely relaxing or motivating. So it’s only logical you want to take good care of your pair of cans. Cleaning them every so often will help them stay sanitised, so they don’t start to smell or change colour.

How do headphones become dirty?

Your headphones can become dirty quite easily, for example after gym or another type of activity that makes you sweat. Next to sweat, another threat for your headphones is oil. Your hands, ears and hair contains oil naturally. Also oil from food (after eating) will end up on your precious headphones. Lastly, general dirt will end up on or in your headphones: sand is a great example, but earwax is part of this as well.

Zoomed image of bacteria

Option 1: simply use water

The very first option you have to clean your headphones or earbuds is the use of some water in combination with a clean cloth. Make the cloth wet and rub it against the headphones.

Once finished with removing the dirt from the headphones, take a dry cloth (or kitchen towel is fine too) and make sure you dry your headphones.

A cloth is great for flat surfaces, but a toothbrush or cotton buds you can help you reach some harder to reach areas.

Using water will likely not help to remove sticky dirt, but this is your best bet to start when you are in the cleaning process: it will certainly not damage your listening device (given you don’t use too much water).

Option 2: hand sanitizer

A hand sanitizer often contains alcohol: something that can really help remove stains and bacteria.

Hand sanitiser can be bought in small tubes

The same principle applies as with water: use a cloth, cotton buds and a toothbrush to clean your pair of headphones or earbuds and remove any dirt.

Option 3: Remove sweat stink from headphones

Sweat will built up in the (faux) leather of the headphones after some months of use, especially in warmer climates (or with people who sweat easily).

If you have these funny packs of silica gel laying around, you can use them when you store your headphones. Silica gel will absorb moist and odours, which makes a perfect item to remove the smell of sweat from headphones.

For which headphone brands does this work?

Most headphones are made out of the same materials: plastic and (faux) leather. As such, the cleaning method will be the same for all of them.

  • Bose (QuietComfort)
  • Sony (WH-1000-MX3
  • Samsung (Galaxy buds)
  • Beats (Solo)
  • Sennheiser
  • Apple (AirPods)
  • Jabra

stinky stinker headphones
May 10, 2019 11:03 AM   Subscribe

I have this gaming headset and it stinks. As in, it is EXTREMELY SMELLY. During the time I was recovering from surgery I was unable to wash my hair for almost 2 months, and it was extremely disgusting and greasy and foul smelling. Also during that time the two things I did was sleep and play overwatch, sometimes both at once. Now the foam padding on my headphones smells as foul as my greasy unwashed head did for those unbearably repulsive 6.5 weeks. It’s both the ear parts and the headband part, the smell is horrifying, I can smell it right now even though it’s across the room, when I use them my head is smelly afterwards even if I’ve just washed my hair. It smells like the oldest greasiest nastiest filthiest snapback you’ve ever found in the backseat of your dirtiest friend’s junker car.
I am reluctant to use anything like baking powder on the foam in case it gets inside the headphones and clogs it up somehow, if anything powdery trickles ticklesomely into my ear canal I will, absolutely and without hyperbole, perish instantly. I’ve been wiping them down weekly with clorox lemon scented countertop wipes and it does make a good temporary difference in the stink, it covers it up for about 2-3 days, but the grossness reemerges after that.
I CANNOT BE AROUND STRONG SCENTS. I will not febreze them, or (jesus christ no) put them anywhere near coffee grounds, the smell of which makes me projectile vomit. There is no way to detach the foam padding to clean it in actual soap and water. I guess I could just buy new ones but it feels so stupid and wasteful.
I will not “leave them outside in the sunshine” because I live in a city with 15 million other humans and also many stray cats who will piss on anything left outside for more than 30 seconds.
how do i unstink fix them pls thank u

How to clean headset pads?

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