How to Clean Your AirPods (and the Charging Case) Without Destroying Them

Here's how to make your gross, waxy wireless headphones look brand new.

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Photo: Jchizhe/Getty Images

If you listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts regularly, chances are your AirPods or wireless headphones are pretty gross. Think about it: Your AirPods sit in your ear for hours a day, collecting wax, then they sit in their charging case which gets thrown into your bag or pocket, gathering dust and germs along the way. To make your gross, waxy wireless headphones look pristine again and ensure a crystal clear sound, you'll want to learn how to clean AirPods without destroying them. (While the AirPods are water resistant, that doesn't mean that they are waterproof—so using a lot of water to clean your AirPods is a definite no-no.)

Because your wireless headphones spend most of their time nestled in their charging case, you're going to need to clean that, too. Here's our step-by-step guide to getting your AirPods and their convenient charging case sparkling clean. An added bonus: you'll be amazed how much sharper the sound is when your headphones aren't clogged with wax and dust.

Tools for Cleaning Your AirPods and AirPod Case

You don't need a lot of fancy tools cleaners to keep your AirPods in good shape. Here's what you should have on hand:

  • Lint-free cloth
  • Cotton swabs
  • Dry, soft-bristled brush (like a clean, soft toothbrush or anti-static brush)
  • 70-percent isopropyl alcohol wipes, or Clorox antiseptic wipes

How to Clean AirPods

1. Wipe down your AirPods with a clean, dry cloth.

2. Using a clean cotton swab, wipe down the microphone and speaker meshes.

3. If there is dust or wax caught in the AirPod mesh, grab a clean, soft-bristled toothbrush and gently brush away the debris. As tempting as it may be, avoid using sharp objects to clean your wireless headphones.

4. If you get any chemicals on your AirPods, like sunscreen or lotion, you can use a very lightly dampened cloth to remove it.

How to Clean an AirPod Case

1. Begin by wiping down the case with a clean cloth. If the outside of the case is particularly dirty, you can dampen the cloth with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, but be careful not to get any liquid inside the case's charging ports.

2. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, gently clean any dirt or dust from the connector. Don't use sharp objects like a toothpick or knife to clean out the charging ports, as it could potentially damage the metal contacts. Instead, use an anti-static brush designed specifically for cleaning tech devices, or else try a clean cotton swab.

How to Disinfect AirPods

If your AirPods ended up somewhere gross and grimy (it happens!), you can use disinfectant wipes like 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe, 75 percent ethyl alcohol wipe, or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to clean the exterior. But avoid getting any moisture into the speaker mesh, which can damage your AirPods.

How to Maintain AirPods

Rather than waiting for them to get gross, you can do regular maintenance as you use your AirPods. Just swipe them with a clean, dry cloth after you've used them to prevent buildup of wax, sweat, and other potential irritants.

To avoid damaging your AirPods or the case, make sure they are thoroughly dry before you start charging.

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