How to clean your AirPods and their case to improve audio quality and kill germs

  • To clean your AirPods, you'll need a lint-free cloth, some water and alcohol, and a fine-edged tool like a toothpick to dig out earwax.
  • Cleaning your AirPods can help them sound better, as well as reduce the amount of germs you're touching each day.
  • When cleaning your AirPods and their case, be careful not to get water or alcohol inside the devices.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

AirPods are probably the most popular earbuds on the market right now, especially for iPhone users. But like all earbuds - and all devices - over time they get dirty, and will need to be cleaned.

Not only do AirPods get clogged up with earwax, but there's also the grime they accumulate when they're lost under your car seat. And of course, anything that you touch every day will fill up with germs and grease anyway.

Fortunately, cleaning your AirPods and their case is easy.

To clean your AirPods and their case, you'll need at least one lint-free cloth, some water, and a fine-edged tool like a toothpick or pin. If there are dirty spots that won't come out, you might also need some rubbing alcohol.

How to clean your AirPods

The earbuds

To clean the earbuds, you'll need a soft lint-free cloth, and a tool with a fine end. 

For the cloth, we recommend buying a "microfiber" cloth. The fine-edged tool can be a toothpick, dental floss stick, bobby pin, needle, or another household item - if you don't want to use something sharp, a cotton swab works too.

1. Wipe the outside of the earbuds with the lint-free cloth, lightly dampened with water.

2. Use another dry lint-free cloth to dry the earbuds, being careful not to get liquid in any of the openings.

How to Clean AirPods
You don't need to soak the cloth - just slightly dampen it.

3. To tackle earwax that's stuck in the earbuds' speaker hole, grab your fine-edged tool or dry cotton swab. Carefully dig out the earwax, making sure to focus around the edges of the speaker. If you're using a sharp object, be careful not to cut yourself or pierce the speaker.

How to clean airpods 2
Wax gathers easily around the edges of the speaker.

If you have AirPods Pro, you'll also need to clean the silicone tips that cover each earbud's speaker.

1. Remove the silicone tips that cover your AirPods Pro earbuds and rinse them in water. Don't add soap, or any other household cleaner.

2. Wipe them dry with a soft, lint-free cloth, making sure they're totally dry.

3. Once they're dry, reattach them to the AirPods.

How to clean airpods 3
You'll need to invert the earbud tip when you put it back on.

The case

Before you clean the AirPods' case, remove the AirPods.

1. Use a dry lint-free cloth to wipe the outside of the case. For tougher spots, you can dampen the cloth a bit with alcohol, but be sure to dry the spots afterwards. Make sure not to get any moisture inside the case's AirPod holders, or in the charging port.

2. To remove debris from the charging port, use a soft bristle brush.

How to clean AirPods 4
You don't want to pierce the charging port, or get it wet.

3. To clean the inside of the case, use a soft bristle brush or a soft toothbrush - the bristles will help dig dirt out of the nooks and crannies inside of the case.

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