Cleaning your earphones: How to do it properly

Headphones and earphones are our daily companions, with them we can listen to our favourite tunes wherever we are. To ensure that they can perform for the long run and maintain the same performance we have to make sure we look after them, and time to time, clean them. This can be especially complicated when it comes to in-ear earphones and despite its benefits, little is written about the proper way to do it. So how do you do it the right way? Read on, as we tell you what you need to do.


How do our headphones get dirty in the first place?

It doesn’t matter if it’s headphones or earphones, both can get a little dirty. Sadly, many of us are aware of the common issue of earwax when it comes to in-ears, which can turn into a hub for bacteria and other dirt. With over-ears, its less earwax, and more about the dangers of the summer sweat.

Lifestlye image of REAL BLUE NC worn by a man during a workout.
Dust is a common opponent when it comes to trying to keep things clean and fresh.

After using our favourite audio headwear they can turn into real dirt centres. And the following isn’t just ugly, but also unhygienic, with a chance to make them less comfortable to wear and can even reduce the sound quality. In the worst-case scenario, in-ears can completely stop working. That’s why it’s important to clean them now and again.

What’s the best way to clean various headphones/earphones?

Cleaning requirements for different headphone and earphones types

Especially with expensive and high-quality headphones, it is extremely annoying if they break or sound worse due to dirt. In terms of cleaning, the requirements are roughly the same for every type of headphones. In any case, don’t use running water near the technology and avoid aggressive chemicals because they can damage the materials. Both can be extremely counterproductive. This applies to all types of headphone builds and even to waterproof headphones. Even their technology does not tolerate you holding them under a running tap.

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A dry, clean cloth, cotton swabs or toothpicks, cold hairdryer air or simply blowing may be used as cleaning aids. You can use lukewarm water with or without soap if, for example, you remove and clean the soft silicone attachment of the casing g of in-ear headphones without the water coming into contact with electronic components. The exact cleaning process depends on the type of headphones used, i.e. whether they are in-ear or on/over-ear headphones (clip-on headphones).

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How to clean in-ears

Because the rapid dirtiness of in-ear headphones is also known to the manufacturers, replacement attachments are supplied and also offered for sale individually. However, if you do not want to buy new attachments regularly, you can also simply clean the in-ear headphones carefully yourself.

Cleaned yourself? Nice one!

To do this, you remove the attachments, e.g. the rubber or silicone earbuds without technology, which are most likely to be covered by earwax. These should be cleaned with soap and water. Stubborn dirt can be easily removed with a cotton swab or toothpick. Be careful not to damage the material. Expensive headphones often come with special cleaning agents; you can, of course, use these without fear of damaging the material. The earphones themselves are then cleaned carefully with dry cloths and without water or soap/chemicals.

A slightly damp cloth is also fine. If even the fine grid pores are clogged, you can try to remove this dirt by blowing. Otherwise, a hairdryer on cold setting can help. If that doesn’t help either, you can stick a piece of adhesive tape firmly in place and try to remove the dirt with the tape. When everything is clean and especially the attachments are dry, you can put them back together.

So cleaning in-ear headphones is not nearly as complicated as it seems. By the way, to prevent contamination, you can carefully wipe the headphones with a clean antic-bac wipre after each use and remove visible dirt directly.

It’s even easier, as the following video shows:


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Cleaning the headphones

The cleaning of bow-shaped headphones, whether the shell sits over the ears or on the ears, is basically the same as for earphones. In many models, the ear cups or pads can be removed and then cleaned. Otherwise, you can clean the headphones carefully with a dry or only slightly dampened cloth. The advantage of clip-on headphones is that a large amount of earwax is eliminated.

Just takes a few moments to clean.

In-ear headphones come into direct contact with the ear, bow headphones do not or hardly ever come into contact. They are therefore generally easier to clean; soap and water are not usually necessary. Should you be able to remove the ear cups or at least the pads and clean them wet, they must be completely dry, just like the in-ear attachments, before they are reattached to the bow with the technology. As already mentioned, this point also applies to waterproof headphones. You can also check the manual to see how to clean your headphones properly. Remember if you lost your manual, a simple Google search can fix that.

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Conclusion: Cleaning tips at a glance

  • The cleaning of headband and in-ear headphones is similar.
  • In-ear models are more likely to be soiled with earwax, which is why the attachments are damp and cleaned with cleaning agents.
  • The electronics should generally not come into contact with water.

With these tips, you can easily clean your headphones. What experiences have you had and what tips do you have yourself? – Tell us in the comments.

After a good clear, they’re ready to go like new!

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  1. Lian Cruz
    27. Feb. 2024, 13:21

    This article is a game-changer for anyone looking to clean their earphones properly! With clear instructions and practical tips, it provides invaluable guidance on maintaining hygiene and sound quality. As someone who uses earphones daily, I found these cleaning techniques essential for prolonging their lifespan. Thanks for sharing these expert tips on earphone care!


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All about headphones, Bluetooth speakers & home cinema. Plus, practical tips and tricks for amazing audio quality from our team of in-house experts.