How To Clean Earbuds Without Damaging Them?

Earbuds have quickly become an essential accessory for music lovers, audiophiles, and people who enjoy other forms of audio entertainment. Some earbuds are wired, some are wireless, some are cheap, and others are expensive. But one thing they all have in common is that they eventually tend to get dirty and gross with earwax and dirt buildup. In this article, I will talk about how to clean earbuds without damaging them, why you should clean the earbuds regularly, and how to take proper care of them.

Please read this article to the end if you wish to keep your earbuds in top-notch condition every time you use them. So without further ado, let’s dive right into it.

Why should you clean your earbuds?

Before we get into how to clean earbuds without damaging them, we must know why we should clean them.

Because of their design, in-ear earbuds seats right inside our ear canals. Human ears have a built-in self-cleaning mechanism that produces ear wax in order to get rid of dust and foreign particles. Earbud tips can accumulate these ear wax and get greasy and dirty over time.

Ear wax buildup on the earbud speaker mesh can hinder the music quality and make even expensive earbuds sound bad. Moreover, dirt buildup can also affect the fit of the earbuds, making them uncomfortable to wear.

Furthermore, dirt and grease buildup on earbuds also increases the chances of bacterial infection, especially if shared with multiple people. The bacteria and germs can quickly spread from person to person leading to ear infections and other ear-related health issues.

Lastly, keeping your earbuds clean can drastically prolong their life span and ensure the best sound quality.

How often should you clean earbuds?

As a general rule of thumb, earbuds should be cleaned at least every two weeks or so. But the exact frequency at which you should clean your earbuds depends on how often you use them and in which environment you use them.

It is recommended to clean your earbuds as soon as you notice ear wax, debris, or dirt accumulating on the ear tips. Also, try to clean your earbuds regularly if you often share them with other people.

How to clean earbuds without damaging them?

You can quickly get rid of dirty earbuds by following many simple methods. Below are some of the easiest and quickest ways you can use to get rid of dust, ear wax, and grime buildup in earbuds.

Method 1: Using a Toothbrush

This is one of the easiest methods you can follow to clean your earbuds properly. All you need is an unused toothbrush. You can also use a used toothbrush just make sure that the bristles are clean.

Try to select a toothbrush with nylon bristles as they do not produce static electricity hence eliminating the chances of damaging the internal circuitry of the earbuds. Also, choose a toothbrush with narrow and long bristles so that it can reach deep into the speaker mesh.

Now comes the exciting part of actually cleaning the earbuds. The process is pretty straightforward and simple. First, separate the ear tips from the earbud. Be sure to keep track of the ear tips as they can easily get lost.

Next, use a gentle circular motion to bristle away the dirt, lint, and pocket debris from the surface of the earbud speaker mesh. Be careful not to brush too hard. You might end up permanently damaging the earbuds and pushing dirt and grime further into the opening.

This technique is only valid for cleaning loose debris from earbuds. The toothbrush method won’t work on earbuds that have accumulated lots of grime and gunk.

Method 2: Using Soap and Water

If you last cleaned your earbuds a while ago and it is filthy and messy, the soap and water method is the way to go. This method can almost certainly make your earbuds look brand new and get rid of tough grime buildup.

So, for starters, get a medium-sized bowl and pour lukewarm fresh water. Next, add a few drops of liquid detergent or hand soap. Be mindful not to use too much soap, we only need a tiny amount. Stir the mixture until the soap fully dissolves into the water.

Get a microfiber cloth and slightly dampen it with the soap-water mixture. Do not over-dampen it, as doing so can damage electronic components inside the earbuds.

Gently wipe down the outside of the earbuds with the dampened microfibre cloth. You can apply gentle pressure if necessary. Stay clear from openings, as getting them wet can permanently damage the earbuds.

Now, take a towel or tissue paper and rub off any moisture remaining on the surface of the earbuds. After that, place the earbuds in a well-ventilated space for about an hour. You can use the earbuds again once they are completely dry.

Method 3: Using Rubbing Alcohol

If the previous two methods failed to clean your earbuds, then this method will definitely get the job done. Rubbing alcohol is a powerful cleaning agent, and it will definitely clean the earbuds regardless of how dirty they might be. You will need a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a few cotton swabs to follow this cleaning method.

So firstly, wet the cotton swab by pouring a small amount of rubbing alcohol on it. Just like the soapy water method, be careful not to wet the swabs too much. You only need to coat the swab lightly. Remember the swab surface should stay almost dry.

After doing so, gently rub the swab across the earbud surface and get rid of dried or stuck grime. Clean the ear tips separately. Try to use fresh swabs for each earbud to avoid contamination.

Lastly, use a tissue or towel to rinse off excess alcohol from the earbuds. Rubbing alcohol is highly volatile, it should evaporate and dry out quickly on its own.

If you have correctly followed the above methods, your earbuds should now be sparkling clean and free from any bacteria or dirt.

Tips for maintaining clean earbuds

Follow the simple tips listed below for keeping your earbuds in pristine condition every time you use them.

1. Use a case: Keep your earbuds in a case when you are not using them. Doing so will protect your earbuds from picking up lint, grime, and debris.
2. Do not keep them wet: Even if your earbuds are water-resistant, avoid keeping them wet for too long.
3. Store earbuds properly: Do not keep your earbuds in back pockets, bags, or in other places where they might come in contact with foreign contaminants.
4. Wipe them regularly: There is no alternative to regularly cleaning your earbuds if you wish to keep them in top-notch condition.


In conclusion, keeping your earbuds clean can go a long way in preserving their lifespan as well as keeping you free from any ear-related disease.

Maintain utmost caution while cleaning the buds. Rinse your eye with plenty of water in case alcohol or soap water gets into it.

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