The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way


If you own a pair of AirPods, you know how convenient and enjoyable they are to use. But you also know how dirty they can get over time. AirPods often accumulate dirt, bacteria, wax, sweat, and other substances that can affect their performance and even cause infections in your ears. That’s why it’s important to clean them regularly and properly.

But how do you clean your AirPods without damaging them? What products should you use and avoid? And what are some tips to prevent them from getting dirty in the first place? We’ll answer all these questions and more, so read on to learn the best way to clean your AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max.

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AirPods Pro (Apple) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

The do’s and don’ts of cleaning your AirPods

Before we get into the details of how to clean each part of your AirPods, let’s go over some general do’s and don’ts that apply to all models.

3 Do’s

1) Do use a soft, dry, lint-free cloth to wipe the exterior of your AirPods. This will remove any dust, dirt, or fingerprints that may have accumulated on the surface.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

Using a lint-free cloth to clean AirPods (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

2) Do wipe your AirPods with a slightly damp, lint-free cloth with water if they were exposed to anything that might cause damage, such as sweat, soap, shampoo, makeup, or sunscreen. Make sure to dry them thoroughly before using them again.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

Wetting lint-free cloth to be damp (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

3) Do clean the microphone and speaker meshes with a dry cotton swab and a cleaning pen. These tools can help you gently remove any debris or wax that may be clogging the sound quality of your AirPods. 

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3 Don’ts

1) Don’t run your AirPods underwater. Get any liquid in the openings, and use sharp objects or abrasive materials to clean them. These actions can damage the internal components, the battery, or the microphone and speaker meshes of your AirPods.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

Don’t run AirPods underwater (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

2) Don’t use compressed air, toothpicks, or other pointed objects to clean the meshes. These can damage the delicate fabric or push the debris further into the openings.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

How not to use sharp objects to clean your AirPods (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

3) Don’t use any cleaning products that contain alcohol, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or other harsh chemicals. These can corrode the metal contacts, the plastic casing, or the rubber ear tips of your AirPods.

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How to clean the ear tips of AirPods Pro

If you have AirPods Pro, you’ll need to pay extra attention to the ear tips, which are the silicone pieces that fit into your ear canal. These can collect a lot of wax, sweat, and bacteria, which can affect the noise cancellation and the fit of your AirPods Pro. Here are four steps on how to clean them.

Step 1 – Tap the AirPod on a soft, dry, lint-free cloth with the ear tip opening facing downward if any water has accumulated in the ear tip. This will help drain the water out of the AirPod.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

Example of tapping AirPod on lint-free cloth (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Step 2 – Pull off the ear tips from each AirPod and rinse them with only water. Don’t use any soap or other cleaning products.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

AirPod ear tip (Apple) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Step 3 – Wipe the ear tips with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth and make sure they are completely dry before re-attaching to each AirPod. You can also let them air dry for a few hours if you prefer.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

Showing what the ear tip looks like un-attached to AirPod (Apple) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Step 4 – To reattach the ear tips, align them with the oval-shaped connector on the AirPod and push them firmly until they click into place.

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How to clean the AirPods charging case

The charging case of your AirPods is another part that can get dirty over time. It can collect dust, lint, or debris in the charging ports, which can affect the charging efficiency and the battery life of your AirPods. Here’s four steps on how to clean it.

Step 1 – Use a soft, dry, lint-free cloth to wipe the exterior of the charging case. If necessary, you can slightly dampen the cloth with isopropyl alcohol. Allow the charging case to dry completely before using it again.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

Lint-free cloth, AirPods, isopropyl alcohol (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Step 2 – Make sure not to get any liquid in the charging ports, the hinge, or the lid of the charging case. These can cause corrosion or short circuits in the case.

Step 3 – You’ll also want to remove any debris from the Lightning connector with a clean, dry, soft-bristled brush. Don’t use abrasive materials or metal objects to clean the connector, as they can damage the pins or the coating of the connector.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

Cleaning AirPods charging case with a soft-bristled brush (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Step 4 – To avoid damaging the metal contacts, don’t put anything in the charging ports of the case or the AirPods. These are the small gold circles that allow the case to charge the AirPods. If they are dirty, you can gently wipe them with a dry cotton swab.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

Pointing to metal contacts on AirPod (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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How to clean the AirPods Max

If you have AirPods Max, the over-ear headphones from Apple, you’ll need to take care of the different parts of the device, such as the ear cushions, the knit mesh, the headband, and the digital crown. Here are four steps on how to clean them.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

AirPods Max (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Step 1 – To clean the ear cushions, remove them from the ear cups by pulling them off gently. You can wash them with mild soap and water, and then rinse them thoroughly. Let them dry completely before re-attaching them to the ear cups. To re-attach them, align the magnets on the ear cushions with the ones on the ear cups and press them firmly until they snap into place.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

Ear cushions removed from AirPods Max (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Step 2 – To clean the knit mesh, use a dry lint-free cloth to gently wipe the surface. Don’t use any liquid or cleaning products on the knit mesh, as they can damage the fabric or the acoustic performance of the headphones.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

Cleaning knit mesh on AirPods Max with a lint-free cloth (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Step 3 – To clean the headband, use a slightly damp, lint-free cloth with water to wipe the exterior. Don’t use any alcohol, bleach, or other chemicals on the headband, as they can discolor or damage the material.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

Cleaning the headband of AirPods Max with a lint-free cloth (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Step 4 – To clean the digital crown, which is the knob that controls the volume and other functions of the headphones, use a dry cotton swab to gently remove any dirt or debris from the edges. Don’t use any liquid or metal objects to clean the digital crown, as they can damage the mechanism or the coating of the crown.

The little-known secret way to clean your AirPods the right way

Cleaning the digital crown of the AirPods Max with a lint-free cloth (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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How to prevent your AirPods from getting dirty

While cleaning your AirPods regularly is a good habit, you can also take some simple steps to prevent them from getting dirty in the first place. Here are two tips to keep your AirPods clean and fresh.

  • Store your AirPods in their case when you’re not using them. This will protect them from dust, moisture, and accidental drops. Make sure the case is also clean and dry before putting your AirPods in it.
  • Avoid sharing your AirPods with other people, especially if they have ear infections or other ear problems. This can transfer bacteria or germs from one person to another, and increase the risk of infections or irritations in your ears.

Kurt’s key takeaways

Cleaning your AirPods is not a difficult task, but it requires some care and attention. By following the steps and tips we’ve outlined, you can keep your AirPods in good shape and enjoy them for a long time. Remember to clean them regularly, use the right products and tools, and avoid damaging them with liquids or sharp objects.

How do you prevent your AirPods from getting dirty in the first place, and what habits do you follow? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

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