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How to clean your AirPods, case and ear tips safely and effectively

How to clean your AirPods, case and ear tips safely and effectively
Posted at 11:30 AM, Mar 07, 2024

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Apple AirPods are among the best-selling products on Amazon. But they’re not cheap, even if you decide to go for an older version. Because they’re such an investment, you’ll understandably want to take good care of them!

Knowing how to clean your AirPods is key to keeping them in the best shape possible. Our guide will tell you (and show you) everything you need to know — including which products you’ll need to have handy — to keep them in tip-top shape.

What To Know Before You Start

AirPods in case

$143 (was $169) at Amazon

First of all, make sure you know which AirPods you own. Depending on the generation and model of AirPods you have, you need to determine whether or not they are sweat- and water-resistant. These features vary by model. Use Apple’s guide as a reference so you know how to best treat and maintain your specific pair of AirPods.

The third-generation MagSafe Charging Case and Lightning Charging Case, along with the MagSafe Charging Case from the second generation, are also resistant to water. Other charging cases may not be.

If you have an earlier generation of any of these items, you’ll want to avoid getting any moisture (including sweat) in any of their openings. But no matter which generation you have, note that none are completely waterproof or sweat proof, so don’t plan on submerging any part of your AirPods or their case in water to clean them! And never use bleach or hydrogen peroxide.

How Often Should You Clean Your AirPods?

Over time, dirt, dust, oils, ear wax, bacteria and other debris can collect on your AirPods. This doesn’t just lead to unsightly AirPods; dermatologists have noted cases of contact dermatitis and ear infections as a result of using AirPods that haven’t been cleaned.

Apple doesn’t offer a recommended frequency for cleaning your AirPods, so you should determine their cleaning schedule based on how often you use them and whether they have accumulated any buildup. It’s a good idea to clean your AirPods at least every few days if you use them all day, every day. You may wish to clean them more often than that if you’re prone to setting them down on public surfaces or handling them right after you’ve touched oft-handled items such as grab bars on public transit.

What You’ll Need To Clean AirPods and Cases

Thankfully, the things you’ll need for cleaning AirPods are probably items you have around the house:

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes or alcohol cleaning wipe

Soft, lint-free cleaning cloth

Q-tips or other type of cotton swab

How to Clean AirPods

A person uses a microfiber cloth, cotton swab, and Clorox wipe to clean Airpods
Shea Simmons / Simplemost

To clean AirPods of any generation, follow these steps.

1. Use a soft, lint-free cloth to wipe them down. You may use a little fresh water to your cloth if your AirPods have been exposed to solutions like soaps, shampoos, hair dyes, sunscreens, detergents or acidic foods. Just make sure no water gets in any of the AirPods’ openings.

2. To deep-clean your AirPods, use an alcohol-based disinfecting wipe on exterior surfaces. Do not use it on the speaker mesh.

3. Dry your AirPods with the cloth. Don’t use them or place them back into their case until they are completely dry.

4. Turn your attention to the speaker meshes and microphone. For this job, you’ll want to use a dry cotton swab (Q-tips to the rescue!) to get into nooks and crannies. Avoid using any sharp items or abrasive materials.

A note of warning: It’s especially important to make sure you don’t get any moisture into your AirPods if they’re second or first generation versions, since they aren’t as water-resistant as the third-generation AirPods.

How to Clean AirPods Pro

A person uses a lint free cloth, a cotton swap, and alcohol wipe to clean airpods
Melissa Gonzalez / Simplemost

1. As with AirPods, you want to use a lint-free cloth to wipe your AirPods Pro.

2. You can also give them a better clean with an alcohol-based cleaning wipe. Don’t use anything additional cleaning agents for getting rid of solvents or liquids that can stain them.

3. Use the soft cloth to dry them. Don’t use them or put them back into their case until they are completely dry.

4. You must next clean the ear tips. First, tap your AirPods Pro with the ear tips down to remove debris or moisture.

5. Then, you should pull them off completely and clean them with a cotton swab. You can also rinse them with water, but don’t use soap with cleaners.

6. If there’s earwax or stubborn dirt in the ear tips, you can use a small brush with a wax loop to clean out the interior of the ear tips.

7. Turn them with the opening facing downward on your dry cloth, then tap to get moisture out.

How to Clean Your AirPods Case

A person uses a lint free cloth to clean an airpods pro case.
Melissa Gonzalez / Simplemost

1. To clean the AirPods case, use your lint-free cloth. If needed, add a small amount of isopropyl alcohol and wipe clean.

2. You’ll also want to use a dry-bristled brush to get any debris out of the lightning connectors.

3. To complete the process, allow everything to dry completely. Once dry, you can put your AirPods back in their case.

Now your AirPods are clean and ready to use — just add music!

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