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Experts Share How to Safely Clean Your AirPods Without Damaging Them

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The hashtag #howtocleanairpods has accumulated over 1.4 million views on TikTok, with creators sharing various methods on how to deep clean AirPods at home to remove ear wax buildup.

However, it has been documented that many creators are using abrasive products like rubbing alcohol, which, if used incorrectly, could cause damage to your Airpods.

Ashish Shah, an audiologist at The Hearing Care Partnership explains the role of ear wax and why it’s so important to maintain a regular cleaning routine for your AirPods: “Your ears naturally produce ear wax as a protection mechanism; it helps to stop bacteria and foreign bodies from getting to the eardrum and damaging it. There are many different factors that can cause excess ear wax, such as hair or built-up dirt in the ear canal, but heavy use of headphones and earbuds can also result in buildup. When listening to music, make sure the volume is at a safe level of 70 dB or less, as this will help decrease ear wax buildup and prevent long-term damage to your ears over time.”

“As well as listening to your music at a safe volume, it’s also important to maintain a regular cleaning routine for your airpods, as not only does this help prolong their life, but it can also help prevent ear irritation or infections caused by bacteria build-up on the earbuds.”

“Many people believe that strong, abrasive products are the most effective when removing buildup; however, all you need to do is use gentle cleaning tools to keep your airpods in good condition.”

With that being said, experts at The Hearing Care Partnership have compiled a 4-step guide on how to properly clean your AirPods without damaging them:

1. Start by wiping your AirPods down with a clean cloth

“When cleaning your AirPods, ensure that you wipe them down with a clean, dry cloth, as this is the most effective way to prevent oil buildup without causing any damage. Make sure you thoroughly clean all parts of the ear piece, including the outer surface and the handle, as these are often the parts many neglect. This will ensure your whole earpod piece is free from any dirt or debris.

“If your AirPod has ended up in a grimy place, like the bottom of a bag, or has collected dust over time and you want to disinfect them, clean the exterior with a non-abrasive disinfectant like sanitising wipes. Avoid direct contact with the speaker mesh when wiping, as leaving this area damp can not only cause damage to your AirPods but can also become a breeding ground for bacteria, which can increase the risk of ear infections.”

2. Clean the speaker mesh with a cotton bud

“Cleaning the speaker mesh can be a very intricate task as it has a very small surface area, so you should make sure you are gentle while cleaning this part of your AirPods. Applying too much pressure can actually push the dirt further into the AirPods and cause damage to the speaker mesh itself. Using a dry cotton bud, gently remove the wax buildup from the speaker mesh in a circular motion until clean.”

3. Brush away any dirt and debris with a soft-bristled brush

“Once you have cleaned away the ear wax buildup from the speaker mesh, if you still find additional specks of wax or dust, use a soft bristled brush like a toothbrush and gently brush away the rest of the debris. Face the AirPods down when brushing, as this may help the wax or debris fall away from the surface instead of back into the speaker mesh. This method guarantees a thorough cleaning of your AirPods without the need for harsh products.”

4. To remove any moisture, use a lightly damped cloth

“Whether you’re at the gym or going about your daily activities, your AirPods are exposed to moisture and bodily fluids such as sweat or body lotion, which could cause your ear canal to become irritated and lead to an ear infection if not cleaned properly. To get rid of this effectively, use a lightly dampened cloth to gently wipe your AirPods down, then dry them with a clean, dry cloth afterwards. Don’t use your AirPods or store them in their case until completely dry, as putting them in your ear straight after could cause electric shock.”

Extra tip: “Establishing a regular cleaning routine ensures your AirPods stay as clean as possible, minimising the risk of potential skin irritations or infections. It’s best practice to clean your AirPods after every use, but a general rule of thumb is to clean them after three days of wear. Remember, prevention is better than cure!”

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