How to Clean Earbuds? (A Full Guide)

Jeffrey T. Jensen

Do you know how to effectively clean your earbuds without damaging them? If you need help cleaning them, read this How to Clean Earbuds full guide.

Most people regularly use their earbuds at work, at the gym, or when traveling. Earbuds easily collect and accumulate a lot of dirt over time, which results in poor quality over time. Dirty earbuds can also cause ear infections.

Earbuds are prone to collecting much dirt and wax over time. So, you must clean them thoroughly and store them in a clean casing to maintain their quality. Whether you use corded or wireless earbuds, their cleaning procedure is similar. Just don't soak them in water, as they may get destroyed. How do you clean earbuds? Here is a simple How to Clean Earbuds full guide for you.

Table Of Contents

When Should You Clean Your Earbuds?

There is no specific rule for when you should clean your earbuds. It all depends on how regularly you use them, what activities you involve yourself in while wearing them and the climate of your location. If you use the earbuds daily at work, you may clean them after a week since they will have collected dirt and wax.

However, if you wear earbuds to the gym daily, you should clean them after every use. Besides these measures, you can also clean the earbuds when you spot dirt on them. It will help maintain the earbuds and make cleaning easier.

What Do You Need to Clean Your Earbuds?

Some of the requirements you need to clean your earbuds are:

How to Clean Earbud Mesh?

Cleaning your earphones is a very simple process, but you’ll need to have the right equipment. This simple guide will help you clean your earbuds thoroughly.

  1. Clean the tips of the earbuds.

Here is a process on how to clean the earbud tips.

  1. Clean Earbud Mesh

A toothbrush proves to be efficient when cleaning the mesh cover on earphones. Use a toothbrush to remove earwax and dirt from the mesh cover gently. Hold the earbud facing downward so the dirt you remove falls down and not deeper into the earbuds.

  1. Disinfect the Earbuds Mesh Cover.

Slightly dampen a cotton swab with the isopropyl alcohol and use it to clean the earbud mesh to remove dirt and disinfect it. If you use a very damp cotton swab, the alcohol might drip into the earbuds, causing damage.

  1. Disinfect the Cords and the Outer Parts of the Earbud.

Soak the piece of cloth in the isopropyl alcohol and use it to clean the outer parts and cords of the earbuds. A microfiber cloth is the best to use as it does not leave any fibers in the mesh. However, you can also use some pre-packaged cotton wipes.

  1. Leave the Earbuds to Air-dry.

Let the earbuds air dry for about 15 minutes, then store them in a protective case. Blowing into the earbuds is not recommended, as you may blow back lint into the mesh.

Tips on How to Maintain Clean Earbuds.

The best way to maintain clean earbuds is to clean them after every use and properly store them in a protective case. However, wait to store your earbuds in their case before they completely dry out.

If you love to work out using earbuds, you might already be used to tossing them on your gym bag and workout clothes. In this case, you need a desiccant silica gel to help absorb the bag's moisture. Lastly, be keen to follow the manufacturers' guide on how you should clean the earbuds, depending on the model.

Can You Clean Earbuds with water?

Yes. You can use water to clean your earbuds but do not soak them in water. A mixture of water and a few drops of dishwashing soap helps to remove excess dirt from the earbuds. Ensure the microfiber cloth is slightly damp, and gently wipe off any dirt from the earbuds. If your earbuds have silicone tips, you can easily remove them and soak them in water to remove excess ear wax and dirt.

What Happens If You Don't Clean Your Earbuds?

Earbuds are good at collecting dirt and ear wax, eventually creating a layer at the tip. The warm conditions in your ears provide a favorable condition for bacteria to thrive. In the long run, your ears might have a bacterial infection. Moreover, the bacteria multiplies more on the earbuds when you are not using them. So, it's important to thoroughly clean the earbuds and store them in a clean case.

How Does Dirt Affect Earbuds?

First, ear wax and excess sweat make the silicone tips slippery, making them lose their firm grip and fall off your ears when using them. Again, excess wax buildup blocks the nozzle and reduces its volume output.

In other words, the earbuds lose their power on high-frequency levels and bloat the bass. Furthermore, excess wax and oils from your skin can discolor the silicone tips, making them appear less attractive.

Earbud cleaning kits.

Although dishwashing soap and water are effective in cleaning earbuds, you can get an earbud cleaning kit from Amazon at $8.99. The cleaning kit is also very effective in cleaning the earbuds, and it will also make you more disciplined and have a consistent cleaning routine. They are also portable, and you can use them anywhere as long as it's convenient. The earbud cleaning kit consists of the following:

  1. A tiny bottle with a gentle spray cleaner.
  2. A piece of microfiber cloth.
  3. Wipes.
  4. Cleaning cotton swabs.
  5. A small brush with soft bristles.

How Can You Clean Excess Wax from Ear Buds?

Earbuds tend to collect a lot of dirt and ear wax over time. If you see some orange-brown dirt around the silicone tips of the earbuds, then that is some wax buildup. You will need alcohol wipes or a piece of microfiber slightly damped with isopropyl alcohol or vinegar to remove the excess wax buildup. Cotton swabs are the best to use as they can easily reach the inner small surfaces you can't reach with your fingers.

Yes. You can clean your waterproof earbuds using water, which includes soaking them in water. When using waterproof earbuds in pools or salty waters, rinse them with distilled water to remove salt residues and chemicals. However, this applies only to IPX8-rated earbuds. If your earbuds have a lower rating than this, then there is a high likelihood that you may damage them if you wash them.


The dirt and ear wax accumulating on the earbuds can cause poor sound quality and ear infections. To clean earbuds effectively, you will need some cotton swabs and alcohol. Ensure you clean the earbuds after every use and store them in a clean case after they completely air-dry for at least 15 minutes. Although cotton swabs and alcohol work quite well in cleaning the earbuds, you can still buy an earbud cleaning kit from Amazon for $8.99.

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