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I killed my Powerbeats Pro with my sweat — how to avoid this happening to you

A photo of the Powerbeats Pro with an Apple Watch
(Image credit: Future)

For a while now, I’ve been experiencing a super-annoying issue with my Powerbeats Pro — only one headphone has been charging. After browsing Reddit and Twitter, I discovered that I wasn’t alone, but this didn’t make it any less irritating, and I was fed up with being ready to head out for my run, only to discover my left earbud was, once again, dead. 

It’s important to note here that I’ve run, and sweated, in these best running headphones a lot. I’ve had them for three years and worn them for, pretty much, every single run I’ve been on during that time. I’ve run a (very wet) marathon in these headphones and used them for sweaty spin classes during the lockdown.

Like a trusted running companion who, until now, hasn’t let me down, my Powerbeats Pro has kept me entertained and plugged into my playlist for hours upon hours. I don’t want to admit how many times I’ve used them to listen to the Harry Potter audiobooks, or The Greatest Showman playlist, but it’s safe to say we’ve been through a lot. And now, sadly, we’ve reached the end of the road, so to speak. 

After going through the various steps on Apple Support — cleaning the case to ensure there was no debris preventing the earbud from connecting, and resetting the headphones, I was left with one choice — to head to the Genius Bar and have the Powerbeats Pro looked at by an expert. While I could get the left earbud to charge by holding it firmly in the case, this wasn’t exactly a long-term solution and I was hoping for an easy fix. 

After inspecting my headphones, an Apple Genius came to tell me the verdict — I had eroded the metal connector on the left earbud by sweating too much. While Apple says the Powerbeats Pro has a, ‘reinforced design for sweat and water resistance during tough workouts or running’, my Apple Genius explained that sometimes, rarely, people sweat too much, and can effectively cause the earbuds water damage, preventing them from charging. Lovely. 

Replacing one earbud with Apple comes with a $100 price tag, so I’ve opted to return to my trusty Powerbeats for now, which are similar in design to the Powerbeats Pro, but are connected via a wire, rather than being separate earbuds. I’ve also got an eye on the new Beats Fit Pro, which are also said to be water-resistant, while still having  exceptional sound and call quality. 

a photo of the Powerbeats Pro in a female's ear

(Image credit: Future)

How to protect your headphones from sweat 

But how can you stop this from happening to your running headphones? My Apple Genius had one simple solution — wipe down your headphones with a towel or a tissue after they’ve been in your ear to ensure there’s no residual sweat, or liquid, on the earbuds before you return them to the case. While a little bit of moisture is unlikely to damage your headphones, excessive, or prolonged exposure to sweat can shorten the life of your tech. 

When it comes to cleaning your Powerbeats Pro, or any Beats headphones, Beats recommends in their cleaning guide that you use a dry cleaning cloth and avoid aerosol sprays, solvents or abrasives. They also add that looking after the case is just as important as, "The charging case is not waterproof, sweatproof, sweat resistant or water resistant, so be careful not to get moisture in any openings."

Jane McGuire

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past four years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.