How to Clean Over-Ear Headphones

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Updated February 10, 2023

The best headphones deserve the best care. Because of this, learning how to clean the best over-ear headphones is crucial. Today we’ll teach you how to clean over-ear headphones so that you can ensure yours keep working for years to come.


  • The first step is to clean the exterior parts of your headphones. This includes the headband area. Use damp cloths to wipe away any debris or grime gently.
  • Next, use rubbing alcohol to focus your efforts on the cushions themselves. Do this part gently to avoid causing damage to the sensitive ear cushions.
  • Finally, focus on the wire mesh from which the sound is produced with your rubbing alcohol. Then allow all the parts to dry out on a paper towel.

How to Keep Your Over-Ear Headphones Clean

There are many things to know when investing in great over-ear headphones. For example, you should know how to wear over-ear headphones properly. But what are over-ear headphones? As it turns out, they’re precisely what you’d think of when you hear the word “headphones.” They have a soft ear pad on each side connected by a band that goes over your head.

Insider Tip

An alcohol-based cleaning solution on cotton swabs can help you clean the nooks and crannies.

Taking great care of a pair of headphones is the best way to keep them going for years to come. Otherwise, you might need to find out how to fix broken over-ear headphones. Keep reading to find out how to clean them to keep them in working order.

STEP 1 Remove the Ear Pads

The first step is to remove the ear pads from your headphones. From there, you’ll take a soft cloth and some warm water to clean the exterior parts, like the headband, gently. These are delicate parts of your headphones, so ensure you don’t stretch or tear them. If you tear them, you might want to look into the best, loudest earbuds as a replacement option.

STEP 2 Clean the Headphone Ear Cushions

Use a soft cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol, or alcohol wipes, to focus on the earpads themselves. You can also use a Q-tip to get into the hard-to-reach areas so that you don’t miss any spots. These tighter spaces are crucial to clean since bacteria can easily fester. This is true of earbuds, as well. If you’re having issues with your earbuds, look into how to keep earbuds from falling out.

STEP 3 Clean the Foam Mesh

Next, you’ll focus on the mesh itself. This is where things can get tricky, especially given the delicate mesh. Use one of your damp cloths to coat the mesh on both earpads in rubbing alcohol. Then, gently rub those two halves to dislodge debris and clean them thoroughly. Those having trouble with their earbuds might want to ask, “Why won’t my earbuds connect?” to solve their issue.

STEP 4 Let Everything Dry Out

Finally, it’s time to let everything dry out. You can gently use a dry cloth to help speed up this process. Then, lay all of the parts out on a paper towel. Keep in mind that you should leave the headphones taken apart for at least an hour to make sure all moisture has dissipated. After that, you should have clean headphones ready for use.


Using an incorrect cleaning solution can cause damage to your over-ear models.

STAT: According to a Statista survey, 46 percent of respondents said that they like different kinds of headphones for different occasions. (source)


Why should I clean headphones?

There are several benefits to cleaning headphones. The first is that sound quality will improve, especially if cleaning the mesh properly. Built-up debris can cause a significant decrease in volume, as well.

Can I use soapy water on my open-back headphones?

You can use soapy water to clean any type of headphones. However, it isn’t necessarily recommended. A gentle soap can help clean off excessive grime but may damage sensitive electronic parts.

Are wireless earbuds worth the investment?

That depends on your personal preference. Generally speaking, most people find that wireless earbuds are a massive improvement over their wired counterparts. They’re far more convenient, at least.

How do I ensure excellent sound in my headphones?

You can do a few different things to ensure great audio quality. The biggest is to ensure you’re maintaining your headphones properly by cleaning them regularly.
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