Who doesn't use their headphones on a daily basis? Frequent use of anything makes it dirty, and headphones are no exception. And one thing you don’t want nowadays is dirty headphones! This is because dirty headphones, especially in-ear headphones, can become a breeding ground for a lot of bacteria, so putting something infested with germs into your ear can lead to various ear infections and rashes. And not only that, a buildup of earwax, sweat, dust, and oils on your earbuds or the earpads of your headphones can also lower the audio quality of the device.
How to clean your headphones
Being a portable device that is constantly in use, we tend to put haedphones anywhere and everywhere, be that our pockets, bags, desks, and countless other places, without thinking it over. This practice lets germs and other unwanted substances from our environment make our headphones their home. Therefore frequent cleaning is needed to remove these harmful substances from the device and reduce our chances of getting ear infections. And so this article will show you how to clean headphones in the comfort of your own home.
The first step in cleaning your over-ear or on-ear headphones is to remove the soft foam ear pads. This can be done either with your hands or with a pry tool and to decide which to use, you have to find out if the ear pads are either glued on or folded into the headphone's plastic lip. If the ear pads are folded in, then you can take them out using your hand. Simply pinch the taut fabric that is folded in and gently but firmly pull it out. But if the earpads are glued in, then you would need to use the pry tool and separate the ear pad from the headset by inserting the tool between the cloth and the plastic and gently scrape away the glue with the tool, separating the pad from the plastic groove.
After you have taken out the ear pads, you can start cleaning the headphones. Take an old toothbrush and gently start brushing the dirt out of the inner frame of the headset. It is important to make sure that the frame is facing downwards when doing this. This ensures that the dirt particles are not further pushed into the headphones and instead fall out of them due to gravity. For a more thorough job, you can use tweezers to pick out any strands of hair or other pieces of debris from the crevices of the headphones where the brush isn't able to go. After removing the dirt, dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and disinfect the inner frame, again, making sure that the headphone is facing downwards so that none of the alcohol drips into the frame and damages the driver.
Moving on to the ear pads, you can clean them using alcohol wipes, or a small cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol. When attempting the latter, make sure that you do not use too much alcohol, and your cloth isn't dripping with it, because when cleaning leather with alcohol, less is always more, as it can damage or discolour it. Slowly wipe the pads making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies of it, and then set them aside to dry.
When cleaning your headphones, you have to make sure that every part of it is clean and bacteria-free, which is why you also have to clean the headband too. Extend the headband to the maximum limit and then wipe all of it with the alcohol.
Once all the parts of the headphones are dry, reassemble them, and now you are ready to use your freshly cleaned and disinfected headphones again.
As compared to over-ear and on-ear headphones, cleaning your in-ear headphones or earbuds is more important. This is because prolonged use of earbuds produces more wax in your ear, which unfortunately means that the more you use your earbuds, the stickier they will get and the more bacteria they will pick up from the environment. Now putting these same earphones back into your ear will not only introduce all that bacteria inside your ear canal but also increase the wax deposit on it. This will further pick up more bacteria from the environment when you take them off. And so earphones require regular cleaning.
If your earphones have silicone tips then, you have to first remove them and soak them in some warm soapy water; this will loosen the wax buildup. After this, take them out and thoroughly clean them using a cotton swab; this part would be relatively easy after the soaking. Then, rinse them with water to remove any traces of soap and then set them aside to dry.
Moving on to the earphones, you should first gently brush the filter mesh with either a soft small brush or a toothbrush, although you have to be very careful when using the latter as the larger bristles might damage it. Again, you have to make sure that while brushing it, the filter mesh is facing downwards so that the dirt does not fall further in the earbuds, rather falls out due to gravity.
Next, dip a cotton swab in alcohol and tap it in on a napkin to remove the excess liquid from it, you need to wipe the mesh with it while ensuring that the mesh is still facing downwards.
You also need to clean the exterior of the earbuds; this is an easier step as a simple wipe down with an alcohol wipe usually does the trick. After all, this, set your earbuds aside to dry, and once that is done, you can put the tips back on and use them again.
For earbuds without tips, the cleaning method is the same since the mesh is already exposed. And so all you need to do is brush the dirt out of it and wipe it with alcohol just like mentioned above, only this time you don't have to bother with the tips.
Although when it comes to wireless earbuds, the method is slightly different as you now also need to clean the charging ports too. While doing that, you have to be extremely careful with how much liquid you use as the ports are usually not water-resistant. It is recommended that you use rubbing alcohol or alcohol wipes to clean it since alcohol evaporates very quickly hence has a less chance of seeping into an opening. If you are using a cloth or cotton buds dipped in alcohol, make sure they're only slightly damp with it and not soaking wet. Next, gently wipe the inside of the top of the case and the outside of the case. After that, clean the charging ports with a dry cotton swab to remove any dust or other sort of debris from them. Wait for the case to completely dry before putting your earbuds back in it for charging.
When it comes to headphones, be those in-ear or over/on-ear ones, hygiene is essential. Just like you wouldn't put a dirty spoon in your mouth for fear of inviting bacteria into your body, you also can't put dirty headphones in or over your ears as that would introduce bacteria and other stuff into your ears. Hence regular cleaning of your headphones is crucial. And it is also a good idea to invest in a headphone case for when they are not in use or during traveling, instead of sticking them in a drawer or a bag where they might get dusty or filled with other sorts of debris.