How to Clean AirPods in Under 5 Minutes

Deyan Georgiev
Deyan Georgiev

Updated · Oct 16, 2022


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No matter how neat you are, if you own AirPods, they are going to end up full of earwax and all kinds of dirt. 


If you are one of those people that never thought of cleaning their earbuds, we have some news that you won’t like.

Read on for everything you need to know about it and how to clean AirPods.

Why Should You Clean Your AirPods?

Experts say we often overlook earphones when it comes to routine cleaning, which can increase health risks. Earbuds are a magnet for all kinds of dirt and bacteria (yes, that means your case is nasty too). The buildup of all those grimy substances can not only harm the performance and lifespan of your AirPods, but can also cause excess earwax, ear pain, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and infections

Not fun.

And if you work out with your AirPods, the moisture from your sweat can add additional grossness to the situation - more bacteria.

As with any electronics, cleaning should be done carefully. This is especially true for AirPods. Doing it the wrong way could damage them.

But don't worry! We will show you how to clean Apple AirPods, keep your ears healthy, and your audio crisp. 

Before reading on, you should know that AirPods are water-resistant, not water-proof. This means that they can withstand a few raindrops, but are not suited to be cleaned under running water, for example. You should use any liquid cleaning solution following the cleaning tips in this article with care.

Apple’s method is really easy to follow

  • A dry lint-free cloth (like the one you use to wipe your glasses)
  • A cotton swab
  • Optionally, an alcohol wet wipe.

Wipe down your AirPods with a dry, lint-free piece of cloth.

To clean sensitive spots like the speakers’ mesh and the microphone, scrub them with a dry cotton swab.

Apple also recommends using 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes, 75% ethyl alcohol wipes, or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to clean the outside. 

This very surface method is great in most cases. But if you have a sound problem, it might be because of dirt build-up on the inside.

Here’s what you can do:

Deep Cleaning Method. How to Clean Earwax Out of AirPods

Cleaning AirPods is a tricky task because they have hard to reach spots. But you can still do it by using this method from AskUncleDave

If you want to know how to clean earwax out of AirPods, this is the sureproof way:

  • Hydrogen peroxide 
  • A paperclip or a toothpick 
  • Cotton swabs/Q-Tips 
  • A cloth or wet wipe 
  • A hairdryer

First carefully scrape the visible external buildup of dirt with an unfolded paper clip or a toothpick (or anything similar). Be careful as the mesh is very delicate. Tap the pods on a flat surface to dislodge the dirt.

Dip a cotton swab in hydrogen peroxide solution. It just needs to be wet, not soaking. The peroxide will soften the earwax caught in the mesh. Just wipe over the holes.

Heat carefully with the hairdryer to liquefy the earwax in AirPods. Obviously, don’t do that for a prolonged time on the max settings. You need just enough to melt the wax.

Blow through the side and speaker holes and then wipe with the cloth. You should alternate the holes until everything gets out. It is gross, yes. But the alternative is wearing those earbuds with all the gunk on them.

Repeat it all on the other earpiece. Ta-Da!

No amount of dry cloth wiping like what Apple suggests will have the same effect. This is the best way to clean AirPods.

How to Clean AirPods Pro

The process is basically the same, with the exception of the rubber tips. The good thing is that it’s not rocket science to deal with them. 

Unlike the AirPods themselves, the rubber tips can handle water. Take them off the earpieces and just rinse them. Don’t use any abrasive cleaners. You can use a cotton swab to remove any dirt. Then you can dry them up with a dry cloth. 

Make sure they are completely moisture-free before snapping them back on.

How to Clean an AirPods Case?

If you want bacteria free AirPods, the charging case is part of the equation. You don't need much:

  • A dry cloth
  • Optional alcohol wipes
  • Cotton swab
  • A soft-bristled brush

Use a brush (like, an unused toothbrush) to get any dirt from the inside. 

You can use a slightly wet cotton swab to get any visible spots but moisture shouldn't get to the charging ports.

Dampen a cloth in water or isopropyl alcohol and wipe the outside of the case. Dry it up carefully with a cloth before using it.

If you happen to overuse the alcohol/water while cleaning the AirPods case and moisture gets inside, turn the charging case upside down and let it dry with the lid open.

Final Thoughts on How to Clean AirPods.

Let’s face it, AirPods can get really dirty. And truth it, most people never clean theirs.

That’s not only gross (yes, we’re judging), but it might also ruin your gadgets.

So, whether you choose the Apple method, or the deep cleaning one, know this:

You’re doing both your ears and your wallet a favor.


Can earwax ruin AirPods?

Earwax in AirPods and dirt that you haven’t cleaned can not only affect the sound, but it can also foster bacteria. Cleaning your AirPods the wrong way could also damage them.

Can AirPods give you an ear infection?

AirPods and any headphones or earbuds that go directly into your ear are a breeding ground for bacteria. This can lead to issues like excessive earwax, infections, and tinnitus. Wearing them for a prolonged time also creates humidity and raises the temperature in your ear canal which worsens the issue. So yes, sometimes dirty AirPods cause ear infection. The solution is to clean them regularly.

Can I clean my AirPods with alcohol?

Apple recommends using 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes, 75% ethyl alcohol wipes, or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to clean the outside of your earbuds. Avoid any abrasive chemicals as they can damage the plastic. And obviously, avoid getting moisture inside your AirPods.

Can the Apple store clean your AirPods?

According to some internet users, yes. You can ask your local Apple store to clean them for free. If that is too embarrassing, the article above will teach you how to clean your AirPods yourself.
If your AirPods have an audio issue it is best to get them checked in the Apple store. You might be eligible for a replacement if you have an active warranty.


Deyan Georgiev

Deyan Georgiev

Deyan has been fascinated by technology his whole life. From the first Tetris game all the way to Falcon Heavy. Working for TechJury is like a dream come true, combining both his passions – writing and technology. In his free time (which is pretty scarce, thanks to his three kids), Deyan enjoys traveling and exploring new places. Always with a few chargers and a couple of gadgets in the backpack. He makes mean dizzying Island Paradise cocktails too.

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