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Sweat, earwax, and dirt: Here's how to properly clean headphones without damaging them

Sweat, earwax, and dirt: Here's how to properly clean headphones without damaging them

On a daily basis, headphones store bacteria, dirt, earwax and even sweat, so they need to be cleaned regularly to avoid infection, according to one technology journalist.

Here are the cleaning tips you should adopt, and which ones you should avoid at all costs, according to Fox News “cyberguy” Kurt Knutsson:

A soft cloth and cotton swab

To clean your AirPod, the expert recommended using a soft, dry, lint-free cloth to help remove any dust or dirt that may be stuck to the surface.

Then, using a dry cotton swab, it is possible to gently attack the microphone grille and speakers, where debris or even earwax can accumulate, depending on the “expert”.

It is also possible to clean the small earbuds' charging case using a cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol to disinfect the exterior, making sure not to leave any liquid in the charging ports, hinge, or charging case cover.

sScent, makeup, or sunscreen

In the event that the earphone is exposed to substances that could damage it, including sweat, shampoo, soap, makeup, or even sunscreen, Kurt Knutson suggested gently rubbing the device with a lightly damp cloth.

He added that it is important to make sure it is completely dry before using it, according to Fox News.

Silicone tip

If your earbud has a detachable silicone tip, you can rinse the tip with water, without using soap or detergent, and dry it gently with a dry cloth or in the air for several hours.

“Make sure it's completely dry before plugging it back in,” he reiterated.


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For headphones that fit over the ears, the journalist advises cleaning the headband with a cloth only slightly damp with water, otherwise there is a risk of damaging the material with chemicals or soap.

The woven mesh, the source of the sound, can be gently wiped with a dry, lint-free cloth. The most sensitive parts, such as the button that controls the volume, can be gently rubbed with a dry cotton swab.

Avoid at all costs

However, the expert is clear: Don't put the headphones under water, use compressed air tools or use sharp objects, like toothpicks, or abrasives to clean out debris, which could damage the earphone or push the debris deeper into the system.

Finally, it is recommended not to use cleaning agents that contain alcohol, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or other harsh chemicals, which can permanently damage various parts of the headphones.