Here is How to Clean Your Headphones the Proper Way

Headphones are great to escape the world around you and enjoy some really great music. Especially while commuting or when doing an activity (such as a workout, or studying), listening to music can either be extremely relaxing or motivating. So it’s only logical you want to take good care of your pair of cans. Cleaning them every so often will help them stay sanitised, so they don’t start to smell or change colour.

How do headphones become dirty?

Your headphones can become dirty quite easily, for example after gym or another type of activity that makes you sweat. Next to sweat, another threat for your headphones is oil. Your hands, ears and hair contains oil naturally. Also oil from food (after eating) will end up on your precious headphones. Lastly, general dirt will end up on or in your headphones: sand is a great example, but earwax is part of this as well.

Zoomed image of bacteria

Option 1: simply use water

The very first option you have to clean your headphones or earbuds is the use of some water in combination with a clean cloth. Make the cloth wet and rub it against the headphones.

Once finished with removing the dirt from the headphones, take a dry cloth (or kitchen towel is fine too) and make sure you dry your headphones.

A cloth is great for flat surfaces, but a toothbrush or cotton buds you can help you reach some harder to reach areas.

Using water will likely not help to remove sticky dirt, but this is your best bet to start when you are in the cleaning process: it will certainly not damage your listening device (given you don’t use too much water).

Option 2: hand sanitizer

A hand sanitizer often contains alcohol: something that can really help remove stains and bacteria.

Hand sanitiser can be bought in small tubes

The same principle applies as with water: use a cloth, cotton buds and a toothbrush to clean your pair of headphones or earbuds and remove any dirt.

Option 3: Remove sweat stink from headphones

Sweat will built up in the (faux) leather of the headphones after some months of use, especially in warmer climates (or with people who sweat easily).

If you have these funny packs of silica gel laying around, you can use them when you store your headphones. Silica gel will absorb moist and odours, which makes a perfect item to remove the smell of sweat from headphones.

For which headphone brands does this work?

Most headphones are made out of the same materials: plastic and (faux) leather. As such, the cleaning method will be the same for all of them.

  • Bose (QuietComfort)
  • Sony (WH-1000-MX3
  • Samsung (Galaxy buds)
  • Beats (Solo)
  • Sennheiser
  • Apple (AirPods)
  • Jabra


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Thank you for your interest in my blog! On this miniblog, I write mostly short (technical) blog posts that might interest other people. Read more about me or feel free to contact me.


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  1. Pingback: How to Remove Smell From Headphones in 8 Quick Steps – DIY By Hand

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