How to Clean Headphones, AirPods, Earbuds, & Headphone Jacks

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I love my Airpods and my big headphones! Whether I’m out for a walk or working out, listening to music while I do it is super motivating and fun. It seems like we all have our headphone, earbud, or Airpod preferences. But, no matter your preferred headphone type, we can all admit they get a little…. greasy. 

As gross as it is to think about, our ears are dirty, and ear wax and other gunk from our ears gets onto our headphones. This is flat-out gross, but it can also cause ear infections in rare cases. That’s why cleaning headphones is really important! In this article, I’ll go over: 

  • How to Clean AirPods
  • How to Clean Earbuds
  • How to Clean Headphone Muffs
  • How to Clean Headphone Jacks 

If you haven’t yet, check out our article, iPhone Care and Cleaning Guide. But first, get that wax out of your ears and listen up, and let’s get your headphones squeaky clean. 

How to Clean AirPods

There’s nothing worse than pulling out your AirPods and spotting a big glob of wax on them. Yuck! It’s basically as embarrassing as admitting you’re still listening to the Spice Girls. Luckily, cleaning AirPods is really fast and really easy. 

Grab a microfiber cloth and any tool with a fine end, like a needle, bobby pin, or toothpick. Dampen your microfiber cloth and wipe the outside of your AirPods; be careful not to get any water in any of the openings because this will damage them. 

Use your fine tool to pick earwax out of the speaker hole gently. Be very careful when you do this not to pierce the speaker. These headphones are delicate! If you have AirPod Pros, remove the silicon tips and wash them gently. Wipe them dry with your microfiber cloth, and DO NOT reattach until they are completely dry. 

Maker's Clean Microfiber Cloth

How to Clean Earbuds

Cleaning earbuds is pretty similar to cleaning Airpods. First, use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe the outside of the earbud, being careful not to get any water in any openings. Then, use a fine tool like a bobby pin or toothpick to dig earwax out of the speaker. And I’ll say it again here, be very careful with this step, so you don’t puncture the speaker and ruin your earbuds!

If you’re worried about puncturing your speaker, you can try using a cleaning toothbrush. Make sure the toothbrush is completely dry, and brush the wire mesh very gently. With patience, this should dislodge that gunk. However, you may still need to go in with a little tool to get at the corners. 

How to Clean Headphone Muffs

Maybe you’re not an earphone guy or gal but instead, prefer big headphones. Good for you! These are actually better for your eardrums in the long run. Plus, they make you look cool! But I digress. It’s quite easy to clean headphone muffs, and they generally don’t get as gross as earbuds or Airpods because they don’t go directly in your ears. 

If your headphones have removable muffs, remove them. Next, use a cleaning toothbrush and dry brush your headphones. Then, grab your microfiber cloth and cleaning product of your choice. Some people recommend using diluted rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Personally, I like a water and vinegar mixture. The right cleaning solution for you will depend on what your headphones are made of. 

Lightly dampen your microfiber cloth with your cleaning solution and get to work. Gently wipe all parts of your headphones, including the band, being careful not to get moisture in any openings. Dry with another microfiber cloth, and don’t use until you are sure they are completely dry. 

How to Clean A Headphone Jack

Knowing how to clean a headphone jack might save you buying a new phone or mp3 player (if people even still use those anymore!). Debris and dust can get inside our headphone jacks, interrupting the connection between device and headphone. 

If your headphones aren’t connecting, try to clean your headphone jack before you throw your iPhone in the garbage (OMG, don’t actually do that). A can of compressed air that you use to clean latop keyboards with is an excellent tool for cleaning a headphone jack. (P.S., we also have an article on How to Clean A Laptop.)

Most compressed air cans come with a long thin nozzle or tube. Point this at the headphone jack and blast that air. Hopefully, you’ll blast out dust and dirt as well. 

If you don’t have compressed air, you can try using a paper clip. Unbend the paperclip, so it’s straight. You can use this carefully to scrape out any dirt from inside the headphone jack. But be careful; it’s easy to scratch your jack and make it permanently unusable. Personally, I would always try compressed air first. 

Cleaning Headphones the Right Way

Strut down the street to your favorite jam, knowing your headphones are squeaky clean. Or use them to ignore strangers on the bus. They’re your headphones; you do you!

Either way, I hope you found this article helpful. I’m going to put on my headphones now and pretend I can’t hear my husband Chad asking for help with the dishes. Oh, and don’t forget to clean your phone and phone case to match your super clean headphones! Read How to Clean A Clear Phone Case for all the details.

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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.

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