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.

Look no further if you need more articles on cleaning gadgets and electronics!

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.


  • 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 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!

How To Clean Headphones, Airpods, and Headphone Jacks

So now you know all about cleaning earbuds. But what about headphones, AirPods, and Headphone Jacks? We’ve got a whole other article for that! Read How To Clean Headphones, AirPods, Earbuds, and Headphone Jacks for even more info to keep your devices, and your ears, clean! And check out How to Clean A Clear Phone Case so your phone case can match your new, clean headphones.

If you’re looking to up your cleaning game check out our E-Book Bundle! It gives you three amazing e-books (The Complete Guide to Essential Oils, My 3-Wave Cleaning System, and 50 DIY Cleaning Recipes) and is the perfect gift for any cleaning fanatics out there!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases on

Looking for a BETTER & EASIER Way to Clean Your Home?

Cleaning Expert Melissa Maker is here to help with her game-changing 3 Wave Cleaning System that will help you clean your house faster and easier than you ever thought possible!

Learn More About The 3 Wave Cleaning System

Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. The best and most convenient way to keep your Beats headphones clean is to use a headphone cover. They cover you when your headphones are on your ears instead of most solutions that only work with a problem after it has occurred.

  2. finally have received the headphones you suggested…..they fit perfectly, thank you.
    I find that the quality of the sound not so good…. Well, I was not expecting anything more for that price

  3. My son has a massive ear infection and I am wondering if dirty earbuds were the culprit. Thanks for the great video. He’s cleaning them today.????

  4. Soooo many Instructions!!!! All you need is glasses cleaning wipes and q-tips dipped in rubbing alcohol (if mesh has wax)

  5. The link that took me here said how to remove the mesh from my apple earbuds.
    I read it. Didn’t answer the question. Come find out we have another Holly Who Ever “Maker” dispensing snowflake advice.

  6. I usually just scrape the earwax off of my earbuds with a toothpick, but that’s about as much cleaning as I do to mine, unless they go through the washing machine.

  7. Here’s a tip, it may sound gross but it works, clean the outside of the headphone and suck on the part where the sound comes out, it may sound gross but it really works

  8. WOW. Toothbrush trick worked like a charm. My skullcandy earbuds are working like new, and the right one was previously all blocked up with almost no sound coming out. Thanks for the tips!

  9. This fact is disgusting but I thought I’d share. (note that I’m not a disgusting person by any means…) I was cleaning my beats earbuds like this often but the quality of sound was getting very bad. I took off the silicone covers and popped off the mesh from the earphone itself with a needle and it had a coating of earwax inside the mesh. I cleaned that up and put the mesh back in and they are like new again.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here