AirPods are one of the sturdiest Apple products that have withstood the test of time. But like every piece of electronics, they can wear and tear from some fragile areas, such as the speaker mesh. In fact, many users have complained about their AirPods’ speakers getting damaged or falling off during the cleaning.
Knowing how to clean AirPods properly is important to prevent all potential mishaps. One mistake can lead to something bigger than just dirty AirPods—a defective set of AirPods.
To get started, you need a list of tools. The good thing? You can easily find most of them at home, such as a clean and dry piece of lint-free cloth, 70% isopropyl alcohol, a cotton swab, a toothpick, and a toothbrush. Once you’re all set, follow these steps to begin the actual work:
Step 1: Apply Isopropyl Alcohol To a Cotton Swab
First of all, take a cotton swab and dip it slightly in isopropyl alcohol. You can also use the lint-free cloth instead of the cotton swab. Now, gently clean your AirPods’ surface with the cotton swab or cloth.
Step 2: Use the Toothpick To Clean the Inner Edges
The next step is to remove the dirt particles or debris from the inner sides of the AirPods. Take a toothpick to do that, and ensure you reach every corner and narrow area the cotton swab failed to reach.
Remember not to use sharp objects, including a toothpick, with rough hands to clean the AirPods. Instead, apply slight pressure, especially around the speaker mesh.
Step 3: Use a Toothbrush
Now, use a soft toothbrush to clean any remaining dust particles and debris layers in the AirPods’ hard-to-reach areas. Finish the process with a clean and dry piece of lint-free cloth.
Your cleaning process is most likely to be complete at this point. But if you still see stubborn earwax on your AirPods, you can move on to the next step.
Step 4: Cover the AirPods With Tissue Paper for Stubborn Wax
Earwax development on AirPods’ speakers is normal, mainly when used regularly. Sometimes, the earwax buildup can be so deep that you would need to follow some additional steps.
It may sound gross, but you’d need to suck the earwax to remove it from your AirPods. But worry not; there will be tissue paper in between to prevent the dirt from entering your mouth. Just take a piece of thin tissue paper and cover the speaker’s opening.
Step 5: Suck on the Tissue Paper
After covering the AirPods with the tissue paper, bring them closer to your mouth and suck on their larger opening. Keep doing it until the air starts coming through their speaker’s mesh.
The “suck on the tissue paper” may sound weird. But it is proven to be effective by users on Reddit and is even recommended by Quartz’s executive editor, Kira Bindrim. This process can save hundreds of bucks you would otherwise spend buying new AirPods.
Step 6: Clean the Speaker With the Toothbrush
Finally, use the toothbrush to clean the speaker’s mesh and complete the process. You can follow these steps for all AirPods generations (1, 2, and 3), AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max.
How To Clean AirPods Charging Case
Although not regularly, your AirPods charging case also needs to be cleaned. A diary charging case can cause issues in charging your AirPods and may result in long-term dysfunction.
For instance, the dirt buildup can cover the case’s charging pins, resulting in improper charging of one or both AirPods. It may also cause reset issues with your AirPods. However, if dirt buildup happens in the lightning port, it can prevent the electrical current from entering the case.
To clean your AirPods’ charging case, you need similar tools as the AirPods. Once gathered, follow the below steps to get started:
Step 1: Dip the Cloth in Isopropyl Alcohol
Damp the lint-free cloth with a small quantity of isopropyl alcohol and clean the charging case from the outside. Make sure to be as gentle as possible.
Step 2: Clean the Charging Ports With the Cotton Swab
After cleaning the outside, move to the inner part of the charging case. Use a cotton swab and gently clean the ports where your AirPods go. Be extra careful around the charging pins to prevent any sort of damage.
Step 3: Use a Toothpick for Hard-To-Reach Areas
The next step is to dip the toothpick in isopropyl alcohol and clean those areas of the charging case that the cotton swab didn’t reach. These areas primarily include the charging port, where the debris is mainly hidden. Again, be gentle when using a toothpick in your charging case.
Step 4: Wipe the Debris With a Dry Cloth
Finish the process by wiping the collected debris on the case with a dry piece of cloth, and you’re done. Enjoy your newly-cleaned AirPods charging case!
Here is a step-by-step video for further reference:
5 Things To Avoid When Cleaning Your AirPods
You now know how to clean AirPods and their charging case. But the process still has many risks. To execute your AirPods cleaning plan properly, here are 5 things you should not do at any cost.
1. Never Use Lots of Water
AirPods are not completely waterproof. Although the newer models—AirPods Pro and AirPods Gen 3—do have an IPX4 IP rating, they only offer protection against drizzle and sweat. The same is the case with AirPods 1st and 2nd Generation. This means you shouldn’t use too much water when cleaning your AirPods.
We opted for Isopropyl alcohol as it’s the best electronics cleaner out there because of its bacteria-killing properties. However, it also evaporates more quickly than water and doesn’t leave any traces of liquid.
Note: Always dry the isopropyl alcohol before using or charging your AirPods. That’s because some over-the-counter isopropyl alcohol can conduct electricity.
2. Don’t Use Abrasive Materials
Abrasive materials are hard, meaning they can scratch the AirPods’ outer plastic body. This is why Apple recommends not using these materials to clean their AirPods and charging case.
Abrasive materials include hard plastics, clothes with rough textures like denim, or nail polish removers. So avoid using any of these things when cleaning your AirPods. Instead, choose softer materials, such as toothpicks, lint-free clothes, and cotton swabs.
Also, don’t use harsh cleaning solutions, even if it’s diluted household bleach or 90%+ alcohol. These agents can also damage the AirPods’ plastic.
3. Don’t Use Blu-tack
Surprised? Well, don’t be. As popular as it’s become, Blu-tack isn’t recommended for cleaning AirPods, as it pushes the dirt, debris, and earwax in the AirPods’ speaker mesh further into the earphones.
Not only that, but Blu-tack can also break the debris into smaller particles, resulting in more debris than it is cleaning. This is especially the case when using Blu-tick to clean the speaker mesh. If this happens, you can’t possibly clean your AirPods without separating them.
4. Avoid Compressed Air
When cleaning AirPods, compressed air can make things worse for you. The high pressure of this air can damage your AirPods’ delicate components, particularly the speaker mesh. Compressed air is also not recommended for cleaning the AirPods’ charging case, as it can damage the ports.
5. Never Charge or Turn On Wet AirPods
Always dry your AirPods completely with a dry cloth after completing the cleaning process. However, there might be liquid droplets on the AirPods that you can’t see. To prevent this possibility, don’t turn on or charge your AirPods without air drying them.
If you use wet AirPods, you may put your electronics at risk of an electrical surge. Also, putting wet AirPods in the charging case may lead to corrosion.
AirPods are undoubtedly fantastic, but they need regular cleaning. To preserve the performance of your AirPods, clean them every 72 hours of use time. This will prevent the buildup of dirt and debris in your AirPods and their charging case. Just follow the above “how to clean AirPods” steps to extend your AirPods’ longevity!