How to clean your AirPods | Participate

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It didn’t take long for wireless headphones to become ubiquitous. Apple’s AirPods launched in September 2016, joining notable true wireless earbuds from Jabra, Sony, Samsung, and others. A few years later, they’re the go-to choice for many of us when listening to music, podcasts, and streaming services on our phones and tablets.

However, because we use them so often, wireless headphones can get dirty very quickly. This is especially true if you are using them to eliminate noise in a busy office, or are simply working from home at the same time as your family or roommates. This means they will come into contact with earwax, oils, and skin cells. Hygiene aside, you should clean your earbuds (and their charging case) because it can result in better-sounding, longer-lasting earbuds.

The widespread upgrade to wireless buttons has several companies now offering all-in-one cleaning kits as well. These include established peripheral companies like Belkin, which has cleaning fluid to loosen any buildup of wax and dirt. That being said, you may not need a complete kit, but the right tools will make things easier.

You should always use the mildest cleaning equipment before rubbing with alcohol or a metal tool. Doing so will reduce the chances of damaging the often shiny plastic casing of your headphones, and you’ll lessen the chances of damaging the delicate membranes that many headphones (and some eartips) have. I speak from experience, having punctured two AirPod membranes due to overzealous cleaning. Even when removing the tips, be careful: with Sony’s WF-1000XM4, you have to twist them in and out. Just follow the manufacturers instructions (we’ve listed several guides below), along with our top tips below.

How to clean your wireless headphones

Mat Smith/Engadget

The cleaning process differs depending on the type of buds you have. First, there are wireless headphones with removable silicone (or plastic) buds, like the Galaxy Buds, Sony’s WF-1000XM4 headphones, or most Beats headphones, and several models with a single solid body, like the original AirPods. from Apple.

The main difference is that removable tips are easier to deep clean. They are also replaceable and replacement tips often come in the box. You can also use soapy water or other mild cleaning products on especially dirty tips without fear of damaging the electrical parts of your headphones.

Clean the ear cups and removable tips with a microfiber cloth. Since most wireless earbuds are stored in a case, dirt from the tips may have found its way into the earbuds as well. Apple says you can use “70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe, 75 percent ethyl alcohol wipe, or disinfecting wipes” to clean the exterior of your wireless headphones, but cautions against using wet wipes on the mesh parts of the earbuds. AirPods speaker. Samsung’s guide is based on soft, dry clothing and cotton swabs.

Remove the tips and gently trace the inside of each button with a cotton swab or toothpick if you need something thinner. If any debris remains, upgrade to a metal loop on the end of a headphone cleaning tool, but be careful. Metal objects are more prone to scratching and puncturing things. The cleaning tool also has a brush on the other end to remove loose dirt. Once clear, wipe down the sides of the tips with a slightly damp cloth.

Each of the AirPods Pro tips has a delicate mesh membrane, which is easier to clean than earphone membranes, but is also fragile. Apple itself advises that you can rinse the tips with water, adding that you shouldn’t use soap or other cleaning products on them. If you use a damp cloth or rinse them, be sure to place them on a dry cloth and allow them to dry completely before putting them back on.

Apple recommends using cotton swabs or a dry cloth for the mesh parts of the microphone and speaker on AirPods. You can also use a bulb air blower, which should provide a mild amount of force to dislodge dirt without damaging the electricity. However, while it could be stronger, don’t use canned air. Sony says this can cause dust to get further into the microphone or sound output holes.

How to clean the charging case of your wireless headphones

How to clean your AirPods and other wireless headphones.

Mat Smith/Engadget

Your charging case may be in worse shape than your earbuds. With deep crevices to collect dirt from your headphones when they’re charging, the case can also collect lint from pockets—well, pockets and your bag. These cases often use metal contacts to connect and charge the earphones, so any buildup of dirt or earwax can affect the recharging of the earphones. It pays to keep those charging contacts clean. A soft cloth, or cotton swab for harder-to-reach places, should be able to catch anything blocking the headphones from charging. You could also use some air from a bulb air blower; I think the ones with a brush attached are perfect for this.

For both the earbuds and the case, you can use a thin toothpick to remove any dirt or wax stuck in the seams of the device. Most earcups are molded plastic, but some have edges and lines that collect dirt.

How to keep your wireless headphones clean

Now that your buds look pristine, try to keep them that way. If you’re wearing your AirPods or Galaxy Buds during your workouts, wipe them clean afterward to reduce the chances of moisture getting inside. The more frequently you check the condition of your wireless headphones, the easier it will be to clean them.

We’ll end this guide with a bit of digital hygiene: make sure all TWE companion apps are up to date. These updates can sometimes add notable new features or improve performance. Your smartphone will usually transmit firmware updates to your headphones automatically after OS and app updates, so be sure to keep them close to your phone. This is especially true with iPhones and AirPods, which won’t notify you when firmware updates are available. Check that you have the latest firmware in iOS settings (you probably do), and if it’s not up to date, make sure both your iPhone and AirPods are connected to power and (crucially) close to each other. The update should be transmitted to the AirPods fairly quickly, but you can also leave the devices side by side overnight to ensure the update takes place.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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