How to Clean Headphones and Wireless Earbuds
Cleaning "high-touch surfaces" most often means wiping doorknobs, kitchen appliances, and even cell phones on a regular basis. But these aren't the only essentials that deserve regular attention. Headphones and earbuds, like AirPods (from $159, apple.com). These frequently-used accessories, which we turn to for hands-free calls or a much-needed guided meditation, should be wiped-down often. As for cleaning frequency? "There isn't really a firm rule as to how often you should clean your headphones," Rod Villegas, a Geek Squad agent, notes. "Timing depends on how often you use them, what kinds of activities you are doing while wearing them, and the climate you live in."
If you use them every day while simply sitting inside, wiping them down on a weekly basis could be enough, he adds. But if you're wearing them during vigorous exercise, that would likely warrant cleaning them after each session. "Overall, it's best to make sure you keep it top of mind and clean them as frequently as needed," Villegas adds. Here, he shares how to clean these essentials.
If you notice that your headphones are dirty, you're in luck—all they require is a quick, easy clean, and they will be as good as new in no time. Start by mixing a small amount of dish soap or other soft detergent with warm water. Next, make sure to power off your headphones (if they have smart technology); also remove the ear pads if possible. Dip a soft cloth into the soapy solution and wipe the removable pads. Don't soak any part of your headphones directly in this mixture. Repeat this step, only this time with a cotton swab so you can thoroughly clean the pads' interior. Make sure to have another soft cloth on hand, so you can dry off any wet surfaces.
Next, tackle the bulk of the product. "Dampen a soft cloth with the water and soap mixture (it should not be dripping wet) and wipe down the mesh over the speaker and the rest of the exterior of the headphones," adds Villegas. "Dampen a cotton swab and use it to clean out some of the small, hard-to-reach places." Wrap up by drying off the headphones with a soft cloth and then let all of the pieces air-dry for 30 minutes, so even minimal moisture can evaporate. Once everything is completely set, put the removable pads back on.
Cleaning wireless earbuds involves a similar method—and the same rules apply (don't submerge them in the soapy water solution, either!). Begin by powering off the earbuds and take off any removable tips. Wipe down the listening devices with a cloth dipped in your soapy solution, and then dry them off with a fresh cloth. "If the speaker grill is accessible after removing the tips, brush them with a wax removal brush tool, like the Westone Wax Loop ($5.48, amazon.com)," Villegas says. Then use mounting putty—try Blu Tack Original Adhesive Putty ($12.83, amazon.com)—to get rid of any debris from the speaker grill by pressing it on the grills. Continue by wiping down the exterior of the earbuds with your damp cloth. Dry off the earbuds with a new one and then wait another 30 minutes to let them air-dry. Once you've completed that step, reinstall the removable tips.