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How to Clean Earphones and Earbuds

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It’s important to clean your earphones because the moment you put dirty ones in your ears, you might welcome dirt and bacteria into your body that can lead to some serious infections. That’s why it’s recommended to clean your buds after every use, using a dry microfiber cloth to wipe away any debris.

To ensure your headphones are extra clean, 5-Minute Crafts is giving you a guide on how to safely deep clean and disinfect them in 5 easy steps.

Start by unplugging the earphones from your device.

To prevent your device from coming into contact with water, soap, or any other substances during the cleaning process that could potentially ruin it, it’s highly recommended to unplug the earphones or earbuds before cleaning them.

Check to see what type of earphones you’ve got.

Earbuds, like the ones in the left picture, are usually made of plastic and typically come in a single size. Earphones, on the other hand (which are sometimes referred to as in-ear headphones), have a removable silicone tip attached to them.

Gather your supplies accordingly.

Make sure you’ve gathered the right supplies for your type of audio device. For earbuds, you’ll only need:

  • A soft cleaning toothbrush with no plastic parts
  • A soft, fiber cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Q-tips

For earphones:

  • All the above
  • Warm water
  • Liquid soap

Once you have everything you need, if you have earphones, start with step 1. If you have earbuds, you can skip step 1 and go directly to step 2.

Step 1. Earphones only: Clean the silicone earphone tips.

If you have silicone covers, pop them off and soak them in warm, soapy water. After they had some time to soak, you can use a cotton swab to remove any debris. Rinse well and put them back on once they’re fully dried. Then leave them to dry overnight.

Step 2. Both types: Clean the mesh cover using a toothbrush.

Hold your earphones or earbuds with the mesh side down and gently brush the wax out of them using a dry toothbrush. It’s key to hold the earbud over the toothbrush so that, rather than pushing debris further inside, gravity helps take it out. Also, make sure you don’t push too hard as you don’t want to push the earwax in any further.

Step 3. Both types: Clean the mesh with rubbing alcohol.

Next, dip a Q-tip in some rubbing alcohol and use it to thoroughly disinfect the speaker mesh. Because rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly, you don’t have to be afraid that it will damage your device, unlike water. Just don’t saturate the cotton swab with too much alcohol. Regardless of whether it dries quickly, you don’t want any moisture to drip down into the inner mechanisms of the earbud.

Step 4. Both types: Disinfect the outside of the earphones and cords.

Now dip the soft microfiber cloth in the rubbing alcohol and use it to gently clean the rest of the earphones along with the cords.

Step 5. Both types: Let them dry.

Press the now clean earbuds into a dry part of the cloth to absorb any moisture remaining on the outside. Put them in a well-ventilated space for at least an hour to dry. Allow them to completely dry before plugging the cable back into the device (or before placing Bluetooth headphones back into their charging case).

Note: Never use any electronic devices to dry your earphones or buds. These accessories are made up of plastic, thin metal wires, and other materials that can easily be melted or destroyed by direct application of heat.

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