How to Clean Earbuds and Sanitize Them Properly

Mobile Accessories

Listening to music is a great way to pass the time or set your mood. You often do it with a handy pair of earbuds. They help you to “feel” your music since you can hear all the instruments and beats more clearly. However, with daily use, your earbuds will acquire a lot of sweat, earwax, dirt, and dead skin cells. All that gunk is pretty gross. So, you need to take care of your earbuds too. This will ensure the best quality sound and a longer life for your earbuds so that you can use them much longer. Question is, how to clean earbuds properly?

In this article, we’ll be teaching you how to clean your earbuds, either wireless or wired. Your earbuds will thank you for taking a bit of time every now and then to clean them. And your ears will also thank you for not exposing them with filthy gunk collected over time. Even the best wireless earbuds wouldn’t last long without taking good care of them. Dirt and moisture build-up can contribute to shortening your earbuds’ life span. As you practice proper hygiene, so should your gadgets.


Things to Do Before Cleaning Your Earbuds

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Before you clean your earbuds, you should first unplug them from your device or take them out of their charging case if they’re wireless. This makes cleaning them a much easier process. Also, if your earbuds have silicone tips on them, carefully pull them off to take them out. You can normally see these on noise-canceling earbuds. Be gentle as these silicone tips have the tendency to tear if not handled with care.


Ways to Clean Your Earbuds

There are different ways to clean your earbuds depending on your preferred method. You can just give them a quick clean more often, or you can deep clean them every once in a while. Whichever works for you, we’ll be covering the different methods on how you can clean your earbuds and keep them in tip-top shape. Here are ways on how you can clean your earbuds.


How to Clean Earbuds Using a Cloth?

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You can use a soft dry cloth to wipe your earbuds after a workout to keep them dry. But you can also dampen a soft cloth with some rubbing alcohol to get rid of the dirt on them and sanitize them. All you need to do is gently wipe the plastic parts of your earbuds, as well as the wires, making sure not to tug on them. If you are using rubbing alcohol on your earbuds, make sure to let them air-dry before storing them in their case. You might also want to dry your Bluetooth earphones with a cloth after intense activities such as exercising or daily workout.


How to Clean Earbuds Using Cotton Swabs?

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A cotton swab is one of the best ways to remove dirt and grime from the openings of your earbuds. The mesh parts of your earbuds need to be cleaned well so using a cotton swab is a great choice to get into those hard to reach areas. You can also opt to sanitize your earbuds by dipping a cotton swab in some rubbing alcohol and using that to clean the crevices of your earbuds. Make sure to only use a small amount of alcohol so that you don’t put moisture inside your ear earbuds. Let the earbuds air-dry completely before putting them back in their case.


How to Clean Earbuds Using a Toothbrush?

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Dry-scrubbing your earbuds with a toothbrush is another great way to clean them and ready them for deeper cleaning with other products if you choose to. All you need to do is gently sweep a toothbrush over the surface of your earbuds. Pay close attention to the small crevices that accumulate dirt and ear wax. Use a light hand to create circular motions and brush away the dried up gunk off of them. Don’t use too much pressure or force when brushing.

There are many cheap toothbrushes out there that you can get. But an old nylon toothbrush will work just fine and won’t even cost you a penny. If you find a toothbrush with very stiff bristles, then that’s even better because you can easily scrub off the hardened gunk from your earbuds. Nylon toothbrushes are your best choice for scrubbing because nylon is able to break up static electricity. This means that it won’t damage the internals of your earbuds. Nylon bristles can penetrate into the mesh parts of your earbuds easily because they are long and narrow. This makes toothbrushes a safe tool to clean your earbuds.


How to Clean Earbuds Using Soap and Water?

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A good way to deep clean your earbuds is by soap and water. All you need to do is mix a few drops of dishwashing soap with lukewarm water in a small cup. Give the solution a good mix with a cotton swab and squeeze out the excess water. Rub the tip of the cotton swab on the plastic areas of the earbuds. Make sure to avoid the open areas where the wires and plastic areas connect. Do not touch the openings with the dampened cotton swab because if soap and water get inside them, you will damage your earbuds.

For the wires, use a soft cloth and dampen it with the soapy water solution, wring out the excess liquid and wipe the wires. Once again, do keep in mind not to get too close to the openings and areas where the wires connect with the plastic parts of the earbuds. The silicone tips of your earbuds should be soaked in the soapy water solution. Use a cotton swab to gently clean the inside of the silicone tips to get rid of any build-up. Then rinse the silicone tips thoroughly and wipe them off completely with a soft cloth or tissue and allow them to dry.

We recommend the soap and water method for deep-cleaning because there can be times that you forget to give your earbuds a quick cleaning every now and then. Deep cleaning them is the best way to get off all the caked up grime and dirt. We highly suggest that you give your earbuds a good deep cleaning only every once in a while because using soap and water often on them can also be very damaging.


What Will Happen If You Don’t Clean Your Earbuds?

Before we get into what happens if you don’t clean your earbuds, let’s first talk about the part of your body that actually uses them—your ears. Your ears produce earwax to keep from harmful bacteria that could cause an infection. They basically clean themselves, but from time to time, you will also need to clean your ears to get rid of the excess earwax that they produce. Now, just like any other part of your body, your ears will also shed off dead skin. And when you go about your day, your ears sweat and get oily. So, imagine your ears having earwax along with dead skin, oil, and sweat. Then, you put on your earbuds. That’s pretty gross.

The part of your earbuds that touches your ears are exposed to the natural fluids produced by your body. Of course, dirt and dust over time can also mix with your body fluids. So, the parts of your earbuds that are exposed to these elements can build up and harden over time. These can get inside your earbuds and damage them. You’ll be wondering why your earbuds suddenly start to lose their sound quality or their ability to charge properly if their wireless.


Dirty Earbuds Equate to Shorter Lifespan

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In some cases, if your earbuds are extra dirty and exposed to too much sweat or moisture for prolonged periods of time, then you can expect then to not work properly anymore. You’re basically shortening their lifespan if you don’t clean them. For wired earbuds with a jack, dirt and dust can interfere with the connection. You’ll also be putting dirt and dust into the jack slot of your gadgets. Taking a few minutes every now and then to clean your earbuds isn’t really much work. If you clean and take care of your earbuds, you’ll be sure to get longer use out of them.


Other Ways to Protect Your Earbuds

Your earbuds being a part of your daily life requires care. Keeping them clean and sanitized is just one thing. You also need to handle them with care and keep them safe from damage. We’ve listed down some tips on how you can keep your earbuds in the best condition so that they’ll last longer and you can make the most use out of them.


Keep Them in a Case

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Wireless earbuds will have a charging case. Make sure that you keep them in their case when not in use so you can prevent them from getting lost. The charging case is handy because not only do they protect your earbuds from dust and dirt, but they’ll keep them charged. So, when you have to use them, they’ll always have power. Of course, you will need to charge the case as well. This depends on what earbuds you’re using, but make sure that you also keep the case charged so that your earbuds will always be ready for use.

Now, if you have wired earbuds, you should get them a case as well. You can use a small soft pouch or coin purse. But a hard pill case will do the job just fine. Just make sure that your wires fit in the case properly so that you won’t damage them when you zip or close the case. Keeping your wired earbuds in a case will also prevent the wires from getting tangled up every time. It’s always a hassle and a waste of time to keep untangling wires when you’re about to use your earbuds. Throwing them in your bag with keys and other pointed objects will also damage them. So keep your earbuds in a case at all times.


Keep Your Earbuds Case Clean

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Okay, so now that we’ve covered keeping your earbuds in a case, we also highly recommend that you keep your earbuds case clean at all times. Cases also need care because these keep your earbuds safe. For wireless earbuds that have a charging case, make sure to wipe the insides of them every once in a while. Use a cotton swab dampened with a bit of alcohol to clean the charging ports. Cleaning the insides of your charging case will prevent any difficulties while charging your wireless earbuds.

For your wired earbuds with a soft case, make sure to wash them every now and then because they’ll also accumulate dirt and moisture. Moisture is very damaging to electronics so keep your soft cases dry. For hard cases, you can easily clean them by wiping the insides with a soft paper towel dampened with a small amount of alcohol.


Keep Your Earbuds Away From Heat and Moisture

Avoid placing your earbuds under direct sunlight or on top of electronics that heat up. The heat will damage your earbuds in the long run. Even if your earbuds are waterproof or water-resistant, they shouldn’t be submerged in water. Exposure to moisture for prolonged periods of time can still damage them even if they’re marked as waterproof or water-resistant.

If you use your earbuds for working out, they can handle sweat, but you shouldn’t store them immediately in their case right away. Make sure to wipe them with a soft cloth or tissue and letting them air-dry before putting them back in their case. It’s also a bad idea to keep your earbuds inside the pocket of your pants or shirt because when you get sweaty, you will just expose them to prolonged moisture.


Be Gentle With the Wires

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For wired earbuds, although their wires may be thick, you still need to handle them gently and with care. Whenever you unplug your wired earbuds from your phone or laptop, always be mindful. Do you not pull on the wires, rather, you should pull from the base of the earbud jack. The same goes for when you remove them from your ears. Always hold them on the base and keep in mind not to tug the wires.

We’ve already mentioned that you should always keep them in their case. When you store your earbuds, don’t just stuff them inside their case because you’ll just have a hard time untangling the wires when you’re about to use them again. Gently loop the wires without pulling or bending them before putting them back in their case. Carefully close the case by making sure that the wires don’t get caught on the zipper of the pouch or the edges of the hard case. If by some chance you may have forgotten your earbuds’ case, then make sure to keep them in the pocket of your bag. Your bag will have different objects in them, like pens or keys, which can cut or poke your earbuds. Keep your earbuds from sharp or pointed objects at all times.



Why Is Only One of My Earbuds Working?

If you find that only one of your earbuds is working, then it’s either because of faulty wiring or connection or simply because of damage. We’ve mentioned that you shouldn’t tug or be rowdy with the wires of your earbuds. Tugging on your earbuds’ wires can damage the insides and give you difficulties in connecting them to your phone or laptop. You may also find that you didn’t properly plug the earbud jack to your gadget. Make sure to plug it properly and unplug it gently with every use. You reconnect your earbuds to your gadget. Sometimes, your wireless earbuds can lose their connection, so a quick reset is all you need. This will depend on the model or brand of your earbuds.

If you happen to submerge your earbuds in water or liquid for prolonged periods of time, then they can also get damaged. You can try air-drying your earbuds overnight or put them in a cup of dry rice to help them in drying. But if you don’t keep your earbuds clean and you notice a build-up of gunk on them, then as we mentioned, that can also affect their quality and connection properties. Make sure to follow our guide on keeping them clean and sanitized.

How Often Should I Clean My Earbuds?

Cleaning your earbuds will depend on how much gunk they’ve accumulated and how often you use them and what you use them for. We recommend giving your earbuds a quick clean with a tissue or soft cloth after every use. When you use your earbuds for working out, make sure to wipe them dry every time before storing them.

If you notice your earbuds getting dirty on the crevices, then given them a deep cleaning. A good deep clean for your earbuds is recommended after a week of constant use. Make sure to be gentle when cleaning your earbuds and try your best not to get any cleaning solution inside them.

Basically, it’s just good to keep your earbuds clean as often as possible to avoid hardened gunk and moisture damage. Keeping them clean regularly or wiping after every use will help you avoid having a hard time when deep cleaning them.


Final Word

Cleaning your earbuds from time to time will not only make your ears happy because you’re not potentially infecting them, but you’re also making your earbuds last longer. Our gadgets are part of our daily lives and their accessories also need a bit of TLC. Taking care of your earbuds is beneficial for your ears, phone, or laptop, and earbuds itself. The accessories you use on your gadgets (like your earbuds) will affect them too. We’ve covered the basics of how to clean and care for your earbuds. We hope this article helps you in keeping your earbuds clean and giving them a lower lifespan.