Earbuds are a fantastic invention allowing you to experience your music, movies, and even gaming without disturbing everyone else in the room. The fact that you can have quality audio is a bonus!
Your ears naturally secrete wax, this is done to create a layer of protection, preventing viruses and other small particles from getting into your ear canal and your body. If these bacteria were allowed in you would experience an infection which could result in a serious issue.
However, when the earbuds are in your ears, they actually get covered in the wax and other secretions. The result is a reduction in sound quality and an increased risk of infection.
In short, the earbuds accumulate wax which encourages bacteria growth. These infections can do more than make you feel poorly, they can also damage your hearing.
It doesn’t matter which of these methods you use, just make sure that you regularly clean your earbuds!
Method 1 – Rubbing alcohol
It is important to note that liquid and electronics do not generally mix well. To make the most of the rubbing alcohol method it is advisable to separate the parts of your earbuds. The sleeves that cover your earbuds can be soaked in rubbing alcohol for several minutes.
However, for the other parts, it is better to dip a clean and dry cloth into the rubbing alcohol and gently apply it to the earbud pieces. You can also use a toothbrush to help remove the wax from the sleeves, prior to soaking them.
When brushing your earbud sleeves always brush away from the headphones and hold the earpieces facing downward, this will prevent the wax from getting caught inside the earpiece
After you’ve rubbed the alcohol all over the parts and removed as much wax as possible, you can wipe them over with a clean damp cloth. If you wish, you can even use a little antiseptic
If you need your earbuds back quickly it is easy to dry them faster with a blow dryer.
Of course, you also need to do the cables and any inline controls. This can be done with a clean, damp cloth.
It is also essential that you do the jack, this is usually the worst part as it is exposed on the side of your player. This dust can cause sound issues.
Wipe it over gently with the cloth and then leave everything to dry properly before you rejoin the pieces.
Method 2 – Blue-Tack Or Similar
This is potentially the best way to clean any earbuds. In fact, it is also incredibly effective at removing stains from walls and even chewing gum from tables!
You’ll need a piece of blue-tack or similar and nothing else!
Lightly roll the blue tack across the surface of your earbuds. You’ll need just enough pressure to make sure the blue-tack sticks to your earbuds.
As the blue-tack rolls over it will pick up the wax residue and other debris on your earbuds. If it starts to look full or less effective simply roll it into a small ball and knead it like you would some dough.
This will improve the stickiness of the blue-tack and allow you to keep rolling.
It is a good idea to do this slowly as you’ll pick up more dirt and debris this way. But, the good news is that the same piece of blue-tack can be used over and over again. You also won’t have to worry about any sort of allergic reaction, the blue-tack doesn’t stick to your earbuds, they will simply be clean.
You can use any type of blue-tack, white-tack, or similar adhesive putty, the result will be the same. The great thing about this method is that it is easy to carry blue-tack with you wherever you go. That means there is never an excuse for dirty headphones, five minutes while sitting on the bus is enough to roll the blue-tack over the earbuds and get the desired results.
Method 3 – The Dry Toothbrush
We touched on using a toothbrush combined with rubbing alcohol and this is an effective method of cleaning earbuds. However, if you don’t have any rubbing alcohol, or even hydrogen peroxide, to hand, then you can always use just the toothbrush.
Before you start cleaning make sure you unplug your headphones from your device, this will prevent the debris from falling into your device.
You’ll need a clean surface to clean your earbuds on and it’s a good idea to use a nylon toothbrush, this is more effective than other materials at breaking up the debris. It will also destroy static electricity which will ensure your headphones don’t get damaged.
You should purchase a toothbrush specifically for your headphones, a used one may contain debris which can contaminate your earpieces.
It’s worth noting that you don’t need to remove the coverings in order to use your toothbrush. Simply hold the earbud securely and slide the toothbrush across it. The best idea is to hold the earbuds upside down, this should encourage any dislodged debris to fall away from the earbuds and not into them.
Brushing lightly will also help to ensure the earbuds are cleaned without pushing the dirt further into them.
You should pay particular attention to the areas where the mesh and plastic join, this will be where debris starts to collect. If brushing alone doesn’t remove the debris you can continue with the rubbing alcohol.
Don’t forget that your ear wax contains plenty of bacteria, you’ll need to dispose of the toothbrush after use. It is possible to keep it but it will need to be washed properly in hot water.
Method 4 – Soap & Water
In most cases, water and electrics do not mix. However, if your earbuds need a really good clean this is the most effective way of doing it.
Start by removing the covers from your earbuds. You should then fill a bowl with warm water and a very small amount of soap. Too much soap will leave everything covered in a coat which feels sticky and slippery.
Soak your earbud covers in the water, the warmth will encourage the bacteria and other debris to leave the earbuds.
Then, using a clean rag, dip it into the water and squeeze the water back out. This can then be used to carefully wipe over the cables, earpieces, and any joint lines.
It is best to avoid the area where the earbud actually goes into your ear, there will be a small opening that allows the sound out, getting even a little water in there can destroy the headphones.
Don’t forget to pay particular attention to the contours of the earbuds, these are designed to fit your ear but also make a great spot for bacteria to collect.
You should never dip the earbuds into your water and it is essential you let them dry fully before you reassemble them and use them again.
The Final Listen
That’s it, you now know how to clean earbuds and can start doing this on a regular basis. All of these methods work, the one you choose will depend on how dirty your earbuds are and which option is most convenient.
Don’t forget that bacteria can’t be seen but they can do a lot of damage. Even if your headphones look clean, you should commit to cleaning them every month, you can also do it more often if they start to look dirty.
If you use your earbuds a lot it’s essential that you know how to clean earbuds properly. This will extend their life and your listening pleasure. Grab your earbuds and get cleaning!