How to Clean Earbuds: Remove Wax and Disinfect the Wires


Plugging in your earbuds allows you to let go of your frantic surroundings for a while and lose yourself in your favorite music. It can help keep you going while taking care of mundane chores like washing dishes or laundry. But have you ever thought that your earbuds might need cleaning too?

People usually don’t think about cleaning their earbuds until they start showing visible earwax in the filters or the wires become disgustingly grimy. Workout sweat and any sticky, greasy residue that happens to be on your hands while you handle your earbuds also contribute to making them dirty.

how to clean earbuds

While earwax does a stellar job of lubricating, cleaning and protecting your ears from infections, it is one of the major culprits when it comes to cleaning dirty earphones, especially the speaker filters. Dirty earphones can then, in turn, cause ear infections as well.

Filters are often made from fine mesh screen that gets clogged with micro debris over time. Earwax can actually melt and settle into the filters, effectively closing them up.

While dirty earbud wires are just plain unhygienic, dirty speakers can impede the sound quality. Clogged filters can cause the sound to fade or cut out altogether.

Regular cleaning and upkeep can extend the life and improve the performance of your expensive in-ear headphones. Since you can’t exactly dunk them in soapy water, here’s how you can go about cleaning your earphones.

Dry or damp cleaning with rubbing alcohol or a weak dish soap solution is advised for cleaning and sanitizing earbuds. Debris from filters can be removed with an old toothbrush.

Taking into account how dirty they are, choose from the given methods to clean and sanitize your earphones.

Method 1: Use Rubbing Alcohol

before and after cleaning earbuds with rubbing alcohol

You can almost always count on rubbing alcohol to single-handedly clean as well as disinfect your earbuds – from the speaker bodies to the wires. It can also remove any stubborn ink stain on your earphones.

Unlike other cleaning liquids, rubbing alcohol readily evaporates and doesn’t seep into the speaker bodies while cleaning. Stubborn wax coating on the filters can also be cleaned off with rubbing alcohol.

For brushing the debris out of the filters, use a soft nylon-bristle toothbrush. Nylon bristles are advised because they won’t produce static and fry the circuit while you’re cleaning.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need for cleaning earbuds with rubbing alcohol

  • 99% rubbing alcohol (cleaner and disinfectant)
  • Soft nylon-bristle toothbrush
  • Paper towels
  • Cotton swabs

Step 1. Brush the debris out of the earbud filters

brush the debris out of earbud filters

  • Brush the earbud filters with a soft nylon-bristle brush to dislodge the debris clogging the fine mesh filters.
  • While doing this, hold the speakers so that filters are facing down to ensure that the debris falls out of the filters.

Step 2. Clean the speaker bodies with rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs

clean speakers with rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs

  • Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and use it to clean the entire speaker bodies, including the filters. This will clean out any remaining earwax in the filters.
  • Take care to use a dampened cotton swab only. Rubbing alcohol should not be dripping from it.

Step 3. Clean the wires with rubbing alcohol and paper towel

clean wires with rubbing alcohol and cotton swab

  • Put a little rubbing alcohol on a folded paper towel.
  • Use the dampened paper towel to wipe the wires of the earbuds clean.

final cleaning earbuds with rubbing alcohol

Method 2: Use Rubbing Alcohol and Dish Soap

If your earbuds have become disgustingly dirty, some heavy-duty cleaning may be in order. Luckily, no heavy-duty cleaning agents are required for this deep cleaning. A little dish soap is the only extra ingredient that you need.

If the white or cream-colored wires have become fifty shades darker than their original shade, a simple soap solution can be used to clean them and get rid of that greasy film on the wires.

If your earbuds come with silicon covers or if you own in-ear headphones that have silicon covers, you’ll need to take them off to clean the speaker bodies and filters. You can easily clean those silicon covers with a mild dish soap solution.

#For Cleaning Earbuds

before and after cleaning earbuds with rubbing alcohol and dish soap

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need for cleaning earbuds with rubbing alcohol and dish soap

  • 99% rubbing alcohol (cleaner and disinfectant)
  • Warm water – ¼ cup
  • Liquid dish soap (mild cleaning agent) – 2 or 3 drops
  • Cotton swabs
  • Soft nylon-bristle toothbrush
  • Paper towels

Step 1. Brush the earbud filters

brush the earbud filters

  • Hold the speakers with the filters facing down and brush the filters clean with a soft nylon-bristle toothbrush. This will prevent the loosened debris from getting pushed back into the filters.

Step 2. Clean the speaker bodies with rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs

clean speakers with rubbing alcohol and cotton swab

  • Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol to dampen it.
  • Clean the speaker bodies with the damp cotton swab. This will remove any remaining earwax from its fine mesh filters.
  • Use the rubbing alcohol soaked cotton swab to clean the earphone jack as well.

Step 3. Make a dish soap solution

make a dish soap solution

  • Pour ¼ cup of water in a bowl.
  • Add 2 or 3 drops of liquid dish soap to it and mix thoroughly.

Step 4. Clean the wires with dish soap solution and toothbrush

clean the wires with dish soap solution and toothbrush

  • Dip the toothbrush in the dish soap solution, then scrub the wires of the earbuds.

Step 5. Wipe the wires clean with rubbing alcohol and paper towel

wipe the wires clean with rubbing alcohol

  • Put a little rubbing alcohol on a paper towel.
  • Wipe the wires with the dampened paper towel to clean the soapy mess and disinfect them.

final cleaning earbuds with rubbing alcohol and dish soap

#For Cleaning In-Ear Headphones

before and after cleaning earphones with rubbing alcohol

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need for cleaning earphones with rubbing alcohol

  • 99% rubbing alcohol (cleaner and disinfectant)
  • Warm water – ¼ cup
  • Liquid dish soap (mild cleaning agent) – 2 or 3 drops
  • Cotton swabs
  • Paper towels

Step 1. Disinfect the silicone covers

disinfect silicone covers

  • Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and use it to disinfect the silicone covers of the speakers.

Step 2. Soak the silicone covers in a soap solution

soak the silicone covers in soap solution

  • Pour ¼ cup of water into a small bowl.
  • Add 2 or 3 drops of liquid dish soap and mix thoroughly.
  • Take off the silicone covers and soak them in the soap solution for 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 3. Clean the earphones with rubbing alcohol

clean earphones with rubbing alcohol

  • Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol to dampen it.
  • Clean the speaker, wires and the jack with the cotton swab.

Step 4. Clean the silicone covers

clean the silicone covers

By the time you’re done with the wires, the silicone covers will be ready for cleaning. A gentle scrub with a cotton swab should help to clean every nook and cranny of the covers.

Step 5. Rinse and dry the silicone covers before reattaching them

rinse and dry silicone covers

  • Rinse the silicone covers with water.
  • Dry the covers completely on paper towels.
  • Let the covers air-dry for a few hours before putting them back on the headphones.

final cleaning earphones with rubbing alcohol

Tips

  • To regularly clean and disinfect your earbuds, give them a quick wipe down with alcohol wipes.
  • Paper towels can be substituted with cotton pads for wiping and cleaning.
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide can be used to dissolve earwax caked onto the filters.
  • Instead of water, always use rubbing alcohol  to clean earphone jack as rubbing alcohol readily evaporates. If the jack gets wet, dry it completely before using.
  • Don’t submerge the earbuds in rubbing alcohol and use it sparingly with a cotton swab. You don’t want it to get inside the speaker bodies as it may damage them.
  • Pencils or metal tools should not be used to clean the earbud filters, as they can puncture the earbuds.
  • Fans, hair dryers or hot-air blowers should not be used to speed up drying, as they can generate corrosion inside the speaker bodies.

Summary of How to Clean Earbuds

how to clean earbuds

Download this infographic.

Share This Infographic On Your Site!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How to Clean Earbuds: Remove Wax and Disinfect the Wires

log in

reset password

Back to
log in