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How to Properly Clean Your Earbuds

Why You Must Clean Your Earbuds ASAP — and How

You probably use your earbuds all day — during your commute to work, work itself, and your commute home. As many times as you pull them in and out of your bag, you probably don't think often enough about keeping them clean. Unsurprisingly, earbuds can transmit bacteria from person to person if they're shared, and in some cases can even cause ear infections. Clearly they need to be kept clean, but what's the best way?

Obviously you can't just toss your earbuds in the dishwasher to clean them. While doing some research, I came across a few suggestions of how to properly clean earbuds. Here's how:

  • Use a gentle cleaner, like soap and warm water. No need to go too heavy-duty here; try a mix of dishwashing detergent and water.
  • Use a gentle cloth with just a small amount of the soap mixture. Too much soap could leave a residue on your earbuds, and too much water, well that goes without saying.
  • If there's a lot of dirt or dust in the metal part of your earbuds, try brushing them with a dry toothbrush to dislodge the dust.
  • Some earbuds, like Apple's In-Ear Headphones, come with removable (and replaceable) silicone covers, so try removing them and cleaning those separately.
  • Never submerge them in water. You'll damage the wiring. Ditto for running them under the faucet, even for just a second.
  • Remember to only clean your earbuds when they're detached from your iPod or other device!
Image Source: Shutterstock
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Athena15192652 Athena15192652 2 years
I clean mine with alcohol wipes-there's just enough on the wipes to clean them, yet not so much that they get wrecked. I also like alcohol wipes for my keyboard.
Tony2724798 Tony2724798 4 years
Hmm - maybe I've got a pair of cheapies ( - noise isolation type).  When I tried cleaning them with small amount of liquid detergent soaked in microfibre cloth - the little fine mesh screen came out.  I guess one wonders what will happen if it comes out in your ear?  
deanromero deanromero 6 years
Great article. I am the CEO of a company called Breppies. We make an earbud cover that will keep your earbud from getting dirty in the first place. I guess I am thinking an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure. They are pretty cool and come in some awesome styles and colors. They keep your ears from hurting too, which is always a plus. Just another option to add to your list.
MIRTHFUL MIRTHFUL 6 years
Mine dont seem to last that long so I dont even get a chance to clean them.
GoRla89 GoRla89 6 years
I put mine in oil and fry them at 200 degrees
zzleigh zzleigh 6 years
Actually I've had two sets of earbuds go through the washer/dryer and they work just fine, but the cord was a curly tangled mess!
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