The Best Way to Clean Your Airpods at Home

Over time, Airpods collect earwax, skin cells, body oils, and other grime. Here’s how to clean them.

Female hand holding clean Airpods in their case over a marble background

Apple’s Airpods and Airpods Pro are two of the most popular earphones available, and for a good reason — their seamless connection is just so convenient to use. Popping them in when I’m cleaning the house has made chore-time a lot more enjoyable. I load up an audiobook from Scribd, and I almost don’t even mind cleaning. (Almost.)

But after a while, Airpods and other types of earbuds get yucky. Flakes start to collect on the mesh where the bud goes into your ear, and you might see some earwax gathering there, too. They can start to feel grimy, too, and the case picks up all sorts of debris if you leave it in your pocket or purse. If your Airpods get really filthy, you’ll notice the gunk affecting the sound quality, too. Fortunately, cleaning Airpods and other earbuds at home is really easy.

How to Clean AirPods and Other Earbuds

1. Remove your AirPods from the case and set it aside. Apple recommends using a dry, lint-free cloth to do this, but that may not be enough to remove skin flakes and earwax. If you need more cleaning power, too, lightly brush the mesh with a dry, soft toothbrush or watercolor brush. Do not get the brush wet or use anything damp to clean the mesh. Pay attention to the ridge around the mesh, but don’t press too hard.

2. If you can’t remove waxy build-up with the toothbrush, you can use the end of a toothpick or flosser-pick carefully, or even lightly press some poster putty, museum putty, or Silly Putty against it to lift away the grime.

3. Once the mesh is clean, wipe your Airpods with a disinfecting wipe or a soft, lint-free cloth lightly dampened with 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. Make sure not to get any liquid in the openings. Allow them to fully air-dry before putting them in your ears or the charging case.

How to Clean AirPods Pro

For Airpods Pro, which are water-resistant, remove the silicone tips, then rinse the silicone under warm water but do not use soap. Do not get any water in the opening of the earpod. Dry the silicone tips with a soft, lint-free cloth.

Wipe the rest of the Airpod with a disinfecting wipe or soft, lint-free cloth dampened with 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. Do not saturate them or get liquid in the openings. Let them air dry before use or charging.

How to Clean Your Airpods Case

1. To clean gunk inside your AirPods case, remove it from the charger. Open the lid, turn the case upside down, and gently tap it on a table to loosen debris in the charging bays. Gently insert a dry Q-Tip and swirl it around inside the charging bay to clean out any remaining dirt. Do not get the charging bay wet, and never used compressed air to clean the bay.

2. To clean the lightning port on the bottom of the case, repeat the exact same steps. Do not get the lightning port wet.

3. To clean the hinge inside the case, very lightly moisten a toothbrush or Q-Tip with 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. Use this to scrub the hinge and ridges where gunk usually builds up. Once the hinge is clean, wipe it with a soft, lint-free cloth. Be sure you don’t use so much that it dribbles into the charging bay or down the sides of the case.

4. To clean the outside of the case, wipe it with a disinfecting wipe or a cloth very lightly dampened with the isopropyl. Don’t get liquid into the charging bay or lightning port. Let the case air-dry completely, then put your AirPods inside and charge them before use.

More Tips

If you routinely store your AirPods in your purse, consider using a case cover that also protects the lightning port from debris. (I use this one.*)

Any time your AirPods or their case are exposed to something that might damage them — like shampoo or cosmetics, hairspray, solvents, or other liquids — wipe them with a clean, damp cloth, then immediately dry them with a lint-free cloth. Let them completely dry before charging or use.

To prevent skin irritation, wipe your earbuds with a disinfecting cloth after workouts or other situations where they may get sweaty or germy. Let them fully dry before you put them back in the case or use them.

Where to Next?

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