Image of two AirPods

Easy tips to clean AirPods, earbuds, and headphones naturally.

Last Updated: December 23, 2021

Learn how to quickly un-gunk and refresh your AirPods, earbuds, headphones, and cases in a few quick and painless steps.

When you're deep in a silent dance party for one or powering through a final lap around the track, the state of your AirPods, earbuds, or headphones might be the last thing on your mind.

But when's the last time you gave them a wipe-down? If you've noticed the sound quality has slightly diminished or your friend on the other end is always having a hard time hearing you, a good cleaning could be the answer.

Learn how to quickly un-gunk and refresh your earbuds, headphones, and case in a few quick and painless steps. Nothing—especially something as easily-cleaned as earwax—should dampen your moves or hinder your stride.

Why should you clean your AirPods, earbuds, and headphones?

A quick glance might be answer enough.

If it's been a while (or perhaps never) that you've cleaned your earbuds and headphones, you may notice a buildup of earwax or discoloration from dirt and sweat. Aside from being aesthetically unappealing, earwax can be bacterial hotspots, contributing to further earwax buildup, fungal infections, and other undesirable side effects such as earache and drainage.

If that isn't convincing enough, what about better sound quality? Anything obstructing the sound emission of your AirPods, Beats, or other headphones, will only serve to diminish your musical experience.

Here’s how to clean AirPods and earbuds

A few materials, most likely already at your house, will help you get the job done.

Before you get started, here are some important tips to keep-mind:

  • Disconnect earbuds from all paired devices before cleaning.
  • When using a soft-bristle brush to clear earwax and grime from on and around the mesh, be extra careful not to push anything through to the other side.
  • Allow all parts—removable earbud covers, earbuds and headphones, and case—to completely dry before using. The drying process can be helped along with a microfiber (or lint-free) cloth before air drying to finish.

What you'll need to clean AirPods and earbuds

Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and Grove Co. cleaning caddy

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4 steps to clean detachable earbud covers

  1. Begin by removing any detachable earbud covers (these most often made of silicone).
  2. Fill a small bowl with 1 teaspoon of a mild dish soap and warm water. Agitate, then soak your removable earbud covers for up to 10 minutes.
  3. Use a cotton swab with your soap-water solution to clean wax out of your earbud covers or get after anything that didn't come off while soaking.
  4. Rinse and allow to completely dry before reattaching them to your earbuds.

6 steps to clean AirPods, earbuds, and case

  1. Use a microfiber (or lint-free) cloth and small amounts of 70% isopropyl alcohol at a time to wipe down the easily-reached exterior surfaces of your earbuds and case.
  2. Be very careful not to use too much alcohol as any liquid that drips into the electrical openings could damage your earbuds.
  3. Use a dry cotton swab to lift dirt and earwax from hard-to-reach places. This includes the inside and outside of your earbuds case.
  4. For earwax build-up around the mesh part of your device (where sound emits) as well as the microphone, use a soft-bristle brush (such as a toothbrush) to gently clear away waxy debris. Brush too hard and you may push earwax and debris through the mesh to the other side.
  5. Run a dry cotton swab again over and around the mesh area if needed to pick up loosened particles.
  6. Allow all parts to completely dry, either with the help of a microfiber (or lint-free) cloth and/or an air dry, before using earbuds again.

6 steps to clean Beats headphones and other earphones

Step 1: Detach any removable padded ear cups.

Step 2: Use a dry cotton swab or soft-bristle brush to lift any build-ups of earwax and other debris. Pay special attention to mesh screens (where sound emits) and other electrical openings.

Step 3: Mix a solution of 1 teaspoon of a mild liquid laundry detergent and 1 cup of warm water.

Grove Tip

Microfiber Alternative

Instead of using liquid laundry detergent for exterior surfaces, feel free to use a microfiber (or lint-free) cloth and small amounts of 70% isopropyl alcohol.

If you choose this little workaround, feel free to skip step 6 below.

Step 4: Dampen a microfiber (or lint-free) cloth with detergent-water solution to wipe down padded ear cups, headband, and other easily reached external surfaces.

  • Do not allow any liquid to drip into electrical openings as this could ruin your headphones—flip headphones upside down to help prevent this.

Step 5: Rinse and ring out your cloth with fresh water. Give your ear headphone's ear cups, headband, and external surfaces a second pass.

Step 6: Dry with a fresh microfiber (or lint-free) cloth and allow to completely air dry before continuing use.

Need a little visual help? We recommend this simple video tutorial to help you with your new practice of cleaning your earbuds and case.


Feel free to reference Apple's care guidelines for additional tips on how to specifically clean AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and EarPods. Happy cleaning!

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