How to Clean Earbuds

Keeping earbuds clean is an ideal way to maintain good sound quality, while also preventing bacteria from spreading into your ears and increasing the risk for an ear infection, especially if you wear earbuds frequently when exercising. The most effective way to clean earbuds is to scrub them gently using mild soap and warm water to avoid damaging their wiring.


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    Unplug the earbuds from your listening device. This will help prevent your device from coming into contact with water or soap during the cleaning process.
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    Pour a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap into a small bowl. Liquid dishwashing soap is mild, yet highly effective at cleaning earbuds without damaging the quality or appearance of the earbuds.[1]
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    Add warm tap water to the bowl of soap to create a soapy water mixture.
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    Dab a portion of a soft cloth into the soap and water mixture. Avoid submerging the cloth completely into the water, since doing so can increase the risk for soap residue and water affecting the wiring inside the earbuds.
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    Use the damp portion of the cloth to gently scrub each earbud. This will help remove bacteria, earwax, dust, and any other debris from the earbuds.
    • If the earbuds feature removable silicon covers, remove these covers, and set aside to wash separately using the same soft cloth.
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    Examine your earbuds to verify all dirt and debris have been wiped clean from the earbuds.
    • Use a dry toothbrush to gently scrub away any remaining stubborn dirt and grime.
    • Alternately, dip the end of a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol or white vinegar, and use the cotton swab to clean and disinfect earbuds that contain stubborn dirt and grime.[2]
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    Use another dry, soft cloth to gently wipe away any remaining water from the surface of the earbuds. Your earbuds will now be clean.


  • Consult with the manual for your earbuds to review proper care and cleaning techniques prior to cleaning your earbuds. Some manufacturers may recommend that you use specific cleaning products and techniques that can help avoid damaging that particular brand of earbuds.


  • Do not submerge your earbuds completely in water, or clean the earbuds under a stream of running water. These practices can damage the wiring inside your headphones and render them inoperable.

Things You’ll Need

  • Liquid dishwashing soap
  • Small bowl
  • Warm water
  • Soft cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Rubbing alcohol (optional)
  • White vinegar (optional)
  • Cotton swabs (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Health Hygiene