How to clean AirPods quickly and safely

A photo of the cleaning equipment needed to clean Apple Airpods Pro
(Image credit: Future)

If you’re wondering how to clean AirPods, odds are your earbuds have seen better days. There’s nothing worse than unsightly dirt and gunk collecting inside and around a pair of Apple AirPods or AirPods Pro. Problem is, how do you safely clean them and effectively remove that earwax? 

Don’t worry, here we will take you through exactly what to do step-by-step to clean your AirPods. It’s a quick and simple process — you might already have everything you need at home. Plus, it’s worth doing to maintain your AirPods. Don’t forget to clean your AirPods case at the same time.

If your headphones are looking equally gross, be sure to check out how to clean headphones.

How to clean AirPods and AirPods Pro

A photo of the equipment needed to clean Apple Airpods Pro

(Image credit: Future)
What you'll need

Microfiber cloth

Cotton swabs (optional)

First things first, do not submerge your AirPods in water or any cleaning agents — this will break them. Apple advises you simply use a soft, dry, lint-free cloth for daily cleaning. We recommend the MR.SIGA Microfiber Cleaning Cloth ($12.99 at Amazon) if you don’t already own one. Don’t apply too much pressure and reach into the crevices as best you can, but avoid the meshes, that comes later. 

Using a cloth to clean the apple airpods pro

(Image credit: Future)

If your AirPods have become discolored, be it from hair dye, or just everyday grime, then you can dampen your microfiber cloth (just damp, not soaked), and gently wipe them clean. Make sure you don’t get any liquid in the openings during this step. Following this, dry them with a dry microfiber cloth. Then, leave them out to dry completely for 24 hours before returning them to the charging base or using them. 

Using a cotton bud to clean the apple airpods pro

(Image credit: Future)

You can clean the microphone and speaker meshes using a dry cotton swab. Make sure you don’t use anything sharp or abrasive to do this or to clean any other part of your AirPods as it will end up damaging them. Rotate the swab gently as you clean and use a fresh swab for the alternative earbud. 

Cleaning the buds on the Apple Airpods Pro

(Image credit: Future)

If you own a pair of AirPods Pro, the ear tips can be cleaned by removing them and rinsing each tip with water. Don’t use soap or any other cleaners though. To help remove any excess water, you can gently tap each tip on a microfiber cloth with the opening facing down. You should also wipe each tip over with a microfiber cloth to help dry them. Leave the tips out for 24 hours to dry completely before you reattach them to the AirPods Pro. 

A photo of the cleaning equipment needed to clean Apple Airpods Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Can you disinfect AirPods?

Apple advises that you can wipe over the exterior of your AirPods using 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes, 75% ethyl alcohol wipes, or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes ($10.49 Amazon), but you must avoid the speaker mesh. You shouldn’t use anything that contains bleach or hydrogen peroxide, and you need to make sure no liquid or moisture gets into the openings. 

Cleaning the case of the Apple Airpods Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Your AirPods should now be looking like new again. If you’re wondering how to clean an AirPods case, we’ve got that covered too. If you'd like some tips on using your AirPods, better get started with the basics! Here's how to connect AirPods to an iPhone or iPad. Also check out how this writer tried foam ear tips with his AirPods Pro 2 and they made a big difference.

How often should you clean AirPods?

There’s no exact answer in terms of how often you should clean your AirPods. Most sites recommend cleaning them after 72 hours of listening time — but, generally speaking, you should clean them as often as required. So, should you notice excess ear wax, or debris over the speakers, it’s time for a clean. 

Remember to clean them should you accidentally drop them onto the floor, or should someone else listen to them. In addition, make sure you store your AirPods properly between uses. If left loose in a handbag, or sitting on a side cabinet, they can collect all sorts of dust and gunk. Keep your AirPods in their dedicated case — this charges them as well as protects them from damage in transit.

Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.