How to Clean Headphones

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Updated June 27, 2022

If you have recently made some big-ticket home audio purchases, you may wonder how to clean headphones. The best headphones, after all, are still susceptible to dirt and grime, so it behooves you to learn proper cleaning practices. So wanna learn some important tips to get those headphones clean? Keep reading to find out.


  • Cleaning and maintaining your headphones is a great way to ensure you get the most out of your device.
  • Use a soft brush or a dry cloth, aka soft cloth, to clean all types of headphones, with alcohol wipes reserved for charging cases. Avoid warm water or soapy water.
  • Try forced air to loosen up debris in the speaker grates or inside of the port connection openings.

Best Ways to Clean Headphones

If you are just learning how headphones work, you’ve likely also learned that there are many different types of headphones out there. Each of these types requires some unique cleaning practices, but there are some general tips that work on all kinds of headphones. Here are some of the best ways to clean your headphones, no matter if they are earbuds, over-ear designs, or on-ear headphones. Additionally, if you are learning how to use Bluetooth headphones, don’t worry, as these tips work for those also.

Insider Tip

Make sure to wipe your headphones down after intense instances of exercise.

STEP 1 Use a Small, Soft Brush

If your headphones have collected dirt and grime, opt for a small and soft brush to eliminate the detritus instead of going for a large brush or a large rag. These soft brushes are delicate and won’t damage any components, making them great for over-ear headphones and for in-ear designs, as well as earbuds. If you go for a really small brush, you can even get inside of the earbuds to clean any buildup of wax. It is this wax that ends up muffling your audio when allowed to fester.

STEP 2 Don’t Forget the Charging Case and Adapter

If you regularly use Bluetooth or another type of wireless headphones, it is all too easy to forget the charging components during your cleaning and maintenance routines. Give them a good cleaning too with the same soft brush you used on the body of the headphones. You can also use a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol, but be careful to only use a small amount of the to preserve the integrity of the electronics.

STEP 3 Try Forced Air

For debris stuck inside of the speaker vents or inside of the port connection openings, try a canned of forced air to loosen up that debris. Go slowly and carefully here, as port openings are known to be especially fragile and the last thing you want is messing up your charging jack or headphone jack. After the forced air does its thing, go in with the brush or microfiber cloth.


Why do we need to clean our headphones?

Without cleaning the headphones, they’ll go bad quicker, so break out the damp cloth and avoid warm water unless your cans are especially hearty.

How often should you clean your headphones?

There is no hard and fast rule here, so just pay attention to the headphones to see if you need to clean those hard-to-reach areas with a damp cloth or with a dab of isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab. Generally speaking, wireless earbuds get dirty quickly.

How to store your headphones so they stay cleaner longer?

Consider storing them in a dedicated case, along with any necessary accessories like foam tips, wireless earbuds, extra mesh screens, and more.

STAT: Debris can muffle the sound coming from a headphone’s driver (the part with a diaphragm that produces sound) and lead to lasting damage. (source)

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