There aren't too many things grosser than the inside of your AirPods or worse the inside of your AirPods case. But don't worry, putting buds inside your ears every day is bound to reap some unpleasant, waxy rewards. However, let the build-up get out of hand and your AirPods may start to sound funny or even break. Thankfully, cleaning them is very straightforward. Here's what you need to know to clean all of Apple's best true wireless earbuds including the new AirPods Pro, AirPods 3, and more.
Products used in this guide
- Wipe them down: MagicFiber Cleaning Cloths (opens in new tab) ($9 at Amazon)
- Disinfect: Clorox wipes (opens in new tab) ($4 at Amazon)
- Get the tough spots with a cotton swab: Q-tips (opens in new tab) ($10 at Amazon)
- AirPods Cleaner Kit: Cleaner Kit (opens in new tab) ($8 at Amazon)
How to clean your AirPods
With dirt, dust, lint, grime, ear wax, and more constantly finding its way onto your glossy white AirPods, you're going to want to clean them from time to time. Consistency is your friend, friend: The best way to ward off long-lasting grime is by preventing it from building up. Clean and clean regularly.
Carry a microfiber cloth
Get a little microfiber cloth and keep it on your person or store it wherever you charge your AirPods. Give your AirPods (and the case if you want) a quick buff every couple of days.
If you happen to spot an offending smudge, go ahead and wipe it away. No need to let that dirt and grime build up over weeks.
Disinfect with disinfecting wipes
Apple's AirPods have an IPX4 water-resistance rating, which means you can wipe them down lightly with a disinfecting wipe with no problem, just make sure you use wipes that don't have bleach, as bleach can ruin the finish on the AirPods Pro.
When it comes to using disinfecting wipes with regular AirPods, it should be fine. Even Apple says you can wipe them down with a damp cloth as long as you dry them afterward. As always, don't use any sort of bleach on your AirPods, but a quick disinfecting wipe and then a quick wipe down to dry the AirPods is just fine.
Getting the grime out
As much as I wish Apple's AirPods were a seamless piece of plastic, they're not. And the tiny, tiny little cracks and crevices start to fill up with dust, grime, etc. When a cloth polish just won't do, you have to get up close and personal!
I find a cotton swab is great for thorough cleaning of your AirPods or AirPods Pro. Whether you've got ear wax clinging to the speaker grilles or dirt in the seams, a cotton swab will usually do the trick.
Lastly, if you've got a particularly stubborn smudge that won't wipe away from the surface of your AirPods, you might try giving it a quick swipe or four with a rubber eraser. The rubber will pull the mark from the surface of your AirPods.
Our top equipment picks
To get the best polish shine for your AirPods (and the charging case), nothing beats a good cloth and cleaning solution.
AirPods Cleaning Kit
This multi-purpose cleaning kit contains several different brushes and points for the different crevices and parts of your AirPods. The perfect all-in-one.
6-pack microfiber cloths for days
Microfiber cloths used to come with every Apple device (including the first-gen iPad) and still shows up in a lot of screen-based gadget packages. If you don't have your own stockpile, MagicFiber's 6-pack is a great deal. Each cloth measures 6 x 7 inches, and it comes in black and gray.
Get rid of those germs
Wipe down your AirPods and AirPods Pro and kill all that bacteria that may be on your devices. Just remember to dry them off when you are done.
Get the tough spots
Get the small details with a cotton swab
Perfect for wiping down the smaller areas of your AirPods and AirPods Pro, Q-tips can get a little spot of dirt and grime from out of all the small crevices
If you want to really get into the fine details of cleaning your AirPods, there are some additional tools you could use.(opens in new tab)
OXO Goo Grips Cleaning Brush (opens in new tab) ($5 at Amazon)
It's got a brush on one end and a silicone tip on the other for ultra-detailed cleaning.(opens in new tab)
EcoMoist Cleaner (opens in new tab) ($10 at Amazon)
A more environmentally-friendly version, it's alcohol-free, antibacterial, biodegradable, and hypoallergenic.
Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.