How to Clean Your Headphones? The Ultimate Guide!

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We often portray ourselves as clean and hygienic, but can we say that about our personal belongings too? Not sure?

Let’s not get into much detail but talk about your best friend, your headphones! When was the last time you cleaned your headphones? Perhaps, it’s been years or never? Don’t you think they need a cleansing session?

You can keep your belongings clean even without the pandemic since there are more bacteria than people. And our personal items carry an uncountable number of bacteria that might be harmful, more for you than your headphones.

Merely disinfecting things won’t resolve the problem for headphones since they’re stuffed deep inside our ears. Hence, we need to do a deep cleaning to get rid of the dirt and filth accumulated over time.

Here’s Why You Should Consider Cleaning Your Headphones

Here’s Why You Should Consider Cleaning Your Headphones
  • Are you tempted to raise the volume of your headphones and then realize that the volume’s already full? This means the sound quality has faded over time, and those dirty or clogged headphones are a major reason for the low volume.
  • To reduce your chances of an ear infection. A 2008 study found that dirty headphones can be a route for disease transfer. For instance, if you share a headphone with someone who has an ear infection, you increase your risk of getting the same and vice versa.
  • We often drop our headphones on the ground and, without a second thought, shove them back into our ears. Unfortunately, bacteria do not follow a five-second rule to get onto your headphones and cling to them as soon as your stuff falls. There they are, more bacteria than you can ever count – definitely not something you’d want to get in your ears.
  • When we shower every day after the gym because we’re covered in sweat and dirt, why not clean the headphones when they’ve accompanied you to the gym!

If the reasons above do not tempt you to clean your headphones, you might just have a careful look at them (with a microscope).

Now that you’ve realized that they do need cleaning, why not commence the long-forgotten task!

Headphones are an everyday part of life and need thorough cleaning like your other belongings.

This procedure requires a bit more delicacy and is not like cleaning your other belongings.

How to Start Cleaning Your Headphones

Below I’ve listed a step-by-step guide on how to clean your headphones!

Things to Remember Before You Start Cleaning

  • To disconnect whatever device is connected to your headphone.
  • Don’t pour direct water on any headphones as it can damage them thoroughly, and instead of wearing clean headphones, you might not get to wear them at all.
  • Make sure to check your manufacturer’s guide for instructions, if any!

Things You’ll Need

  • Microfiber cloth or alcohol wipes
  • Earbuds or cotton swabs
  • Rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer
  • Water
  • Multipurpose adhesive 
  • Brush
  • Skewer (toothpick)

Here’s how to clean different types of headphones.

Over-the-Ear Headphones/Headsets

Over-the-Ear Headphones/Headsets
  • Remove the ear pads and keep them aside.
  • With a damp cloth, wipe the headset carefully, making sure that the cloth isn’t dripping.
  • Using the other side of the cloth, gently clean the ear pads, ensuring you do not soak them as it may damage the wiring.
  • Use a cotton swab to clean the nooks and crevices of the headset.
  • Dry them for a full 20-25 minutes before using them.

Wired Headphones

  • Remove the buds of the earphones and keep them aside (safely, since they’re super easy to lose).
  • If your headphones have silicon buds, soak them in a bowl of soapy water so that they’re thoroughly clean.
  • Using the tip of the brush, clean the metal mesh of the headphone, and try not to insert the bristles into the mesh.
  • Clean the wire thoroughly with a damp cloth.
  • Let everything dry before rearranging and using it again.

Wireless Earpods

  • Make sure to disconnect your pods first of all.
  • Now, using alcohol wipes, wipe the outer and inner box of the earpods, ensuring that the wipes are dampened and not dripping.
  • Now, like an Earpod surgeon, pierce the toothpick inside the metal mesh of your earpods! NO, with utmost care and delicacy, use the toothpick to gently clean the mesh area and remove the nasties that are embedded there!
  • Once done, use a dry cloth to carefully wipe the overall box and earpods to give a finishing touch so that it doesn’t look clean but new!

That’s pretty much everything you needed to cover!

Not only does that get your forever dirty headphones clean, but it also improves the sound quality that has faded over time.

Tips and Best Practices to keep Your Headphones Clean

  • Clean your headphones periodically.
  • Avoid using water or soap to clean your headphones.
  • Store your headphones properly when not in use.
  • Replace ear tips as and when needed!
  • Consider using a protective case for your headphones.


Still looking for a conclusion? Have a look at your headphones or perhaps listen to a song to know what clean headphones sounds and looks like!

To ensure that your headphones stay clean for longer, keep them in their cases, and those that do not come with cases can be easily hung to prevent falling down ten times a day!

Also, do not forget to wash your hands after all the mess that you’ve cleaned, and try repeating the wash procedure in a week or two to keep your headphones looking and sounding new.

Happy listening!