How to Clean Your Headphones

guide to cleaning earbuds and headphones

Most of us shower every day. Or at least we did when we still had jobs and people to see. But even now, as the world comes to an end, most of us at least take a little Parisian douche a couple of times a month. Most of us do laundry once a week. Or at least we did when we wore clothes. Still, even now, we’ll air out our pajamas from time to time before our 3rd nap of the day. Indeed, it’s natural to want to clean yourself and what you wear to maintain your hygiene and social standing. So, I don’t blame you for actually googling, “How to clean your headphones.” Here are some helpful tips.

Tips for Cleaning Your Headphones and Earbuds

How to Clean Your Earbuds

Alcohol. Not Just for Drinking.

For silicone tips: Use alcohol wipes or pour a little rubbing alcohol on cloth. If you don’t have either of those products, some vodka or hand sanitizer should do the trick. Rub it up and down the wire oh so tenderly, and then rub it around the earbud. Take the tips off and do it from both sides.

For foam tips: do NOT use alcohol, as it will corrode the material. Instead, try a little diluted dishwashing liquid.

Cleaning tools for headphones

Toothbrushes. Not Just for Teeth.

Use a toothbrush or cleaning tool to brush away the earwax on the “speaker” part of your earbud. Some more expensive earbuds actually come with cleaning tools. You can get an earwax cleaning tool here. There’s a metal part on one end to help remove the bits that don’t want to come out. Toothpicks and sewing pins are also an option.

Cleaning tools used for headphones

Cleaning earbud tips

cleaning tools for earbuds

Jocks Beware

Always clean and dry your Bluetooth earbuds after a workout. This will not only keep them sanitized but will also prevent any damage to the battery.

Do What the Doctors Tell You Not To

Go to the bathroom and clean your ear holes. I listen to earbuds all day. For this reason, after I get out of shower, I put a cue tip in the outer area of my ear canal and rub around until I pull something out. It feels good, and seeing earwax clumps on the cue tip is highly satisfying. Now, doctors would recommend against this. But as long as you don’t go past the outer areas of your ear canals, you should be fine.

How to Clean Your Over-Ear Headphones

The Earpads

You’ll want to start with the ear pads. Most ear pads are removable. But here’s a warning. After you remove them, putting them back on can be a bitch. So, make sure you have time to spare. If you’re using alcohol, make sure the alcohol content is relatively low. Depending on the material of your ear pads, you’ll want to avoid corroding the material. The safest bet is to dilute a little dish soap with water, and apply it with a cloth. Thoroughly dry the ear pad after cleaning. Then use a toothbrush to brush of any dry wax that has accumulated on the earpad filter. Finally, whack it against the wall a few times.

How to clean headphones earpads

How do I clean headphones?

Are Earpads Replaceable?

Some ear pads are replaceable. Audio-Technica, for example, has removable earpads for most of its headphones. Beats headphones also have replaceable pads. Sennheiser is another brand. You can get ear pad replacements (and eartip replacements) here.

If it’s Really Bad, Remove the Filter

At your own risk: Most headphones have a removable fiber filter. You’ll need a tiny screwdriver for this. And I only recommend this for super gross headphones that see hours of gaming every day. Once removed, carefully brush off the crap with a toothbrush. If you’re cleaning the speaker area under the filter, be careful not to push any debris into the speaker. In fact, tweezers are a great tool to remove any bits and pieces from the speaker holes. After cleaning, you may find that your headphones sound better. Louder, with more frequency range. (I advise against using damp cloths on the filters).

Guide to cleaning headphones

After you complete all of the above steps, you’ve had a truly productive day. Treat yourself, and clip your toe nails.

Compare the ranking of various headphones, earbuds and in-ear monitors using our tools.

Discuss this, and much more, over on our forum.

MAJORHIFI may receive commissions from retail offers.
Previous articleBest Earphones of 2020
Next articleBest Audiophile Gifts for Father’s Day 2020
Gabby is a composer, songwriter and music producer who has worked in the music, film, and commercial industries for too long. You can hit Gabby up at