How to Clean Your AirPods and AirPods Case

Use these quick tips to prolong the lifespan and audio quality of your little earbuds.

January 08, 2021

Dirt, dust and wax routinely come into contact with your Apple AirPods, making your expensive earbuds and their expensive charging casement look ragged and worn. What happens when you delay cleaning them? Bad things. Not only do they start to look really grimy, but as you might expect, all that gunk wreaks havoc on their performance as well.



Young woman sitting on her living room floor at home wearing wireless earbuds and streaming something on a laptop

Photo by: Getty Images/Goodboy Picture Company

Getty Images/Goodboy Picture Company

Maintain your AirPods to retain superior sound quality, and keep the charging case clean to make sure your product continues to work. We suspect you’ll be happy if you simply go years without losing an earbud, but we know you’ll thank us when your prized audio equipment outlasts its life expectancy.

Cleaning a dirty pair of Apple AirPods.

How to Clean Apple AirPods and the AirPods Case

Learn how to clean Apple AirPods to remove dirt, dust, and ear wax.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Cleaning Your AirPods

We’ve all been there. Whether it's an AirPod, a Bluetooth accessory or another wireless earpiece, even the cleanest human ears produce wax that can come off onto the product. If you think you can wash them easily, think twice. Cleaning them incorrectly can do more harm than good, causing irreparable damage to the electronic components and critical sensors.

What to do:

  • Use dry microfiber cloths to remove visible build-up, lint and wax that’s on the outer plastic.
  • Remove excessive earwax build-up before it pushes through the black mesh; a clean toothpick can help clear this off the black audio output or sensors. Clean more frequently if you have wet or sticky ear wax.
  • Use a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol to clean the exterior of the AirPods, but avoid excessive moisture; eyeglass cleaning wipes are a safe bet as they aren’t likely to contain enough alcohol to damage the elements.
Cleaning a dirty pair of Apple AirPods.

How to Clean Apple AirPods and the AirPods Case

Learn how to clean Apple AirPods to remove dirt, dust, and ear wax.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

What not to do:

  • Avoid hand sanitizer gels, sprays and water; too much moisture is the quickest way to permanently damage your AirPods.
  • Don’t use your AirPods immediately after getting out of the shower or swimming pool; too much moisture left in your ears can damage the inner workings.

Cleaning Your AirPods Pro

The extra silicone component on the earpiece is the only thing you should clean differently if you use an AirPods Pro product. The silicone tip can be removed and cleaned separately from the speaker. Soap and water will gently clean wax and dirt off the silicone, but be sure to allow it to try completely before reattaching it to the device.



One beautiful young woman, black woman, standing downtown by the river and listening music on wireless headphones.

Photo by: Getty Images/South_agency

Getty Images/South_agency

Cleaning Your AirPods Case

A clean AirPods case renders better charging capability, so it’s important to clean the essential charging areas of the product. Just like the AirPods themselves, the case can become a breeding ground for bacteria and can be affected by moisture or wax build-up.

Keeping the case of your AirPods clean is just as important as keeping the earpieces themselves clean. Carried in pockets, purses and backpacks, the exterior of the case comes into contact with lots of dust and debris, which can make its way into the lid and the USB-C lightning port.


10 Cute AirPods Cases to Brighten Your Work Day

Treat yourself to any of these AirPods cases, and instantly improve your work-from-home routine.

What to do:

  • Use a dry microfiber cloth or a soft, dry brush to dust the interior, the lightning port and inside the lid of your AirPods case.
  • Use a small amount of rubbing alcohol applied to a dry cloth if you need to remove scuffs and stains from the outside of the case.
  • Use a dry cotton swab to gently reach and wipe down the interior elements to maintain good charging connections. (Tip the case upside down to let gravity do its part, too.)
  • Be mindful of how and where you carry your AirPods. Keep them in a small, clean pocket, versus on the bottom of your purse or briefcase.
  • Consider using a protective skin over your case; many designs are adapted with port covers to decrease the likelihood of dust getting into the case or USB-C lightning port.
Cleaning a dirty pair of Apple AirPods.

How to Clean Apple AirPods and the AirPods Case

Learn how to clean Apple AirPods to remove dirt, dust, and ear wax.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

What not to do:

  • Avoid getting moisture inside the case; don’t put AirPods back into the case if there’s any moisture that might get sealed in, for example, if you were wearing them in the rain.
  • Avoid abrasive cloths.
  • Don’t put anything sharp or abrasive into the lightning port.

Should You Share Your AirPods?

Quick segue from the main topic to remind you that allowing anyone else to use your audio accessories comes with some risk:

  • You can transfer your germs and bacteria to them.
  • They can transfer their germs and bacteria back to you.

If you’re going to share your AirPods or co-listen to your favorite podcast with a friend or family member, make sure you clean the product before you offer to share it and after they return it to you. A delicate wipe down using a spritz of rubbing alcohol on a cloth, or an eyeglass-cleaning alcohol wipe will reduce the spread of germs.



Essen, NRW, Deutschland, w28

Photo by: Getty Image/Westend61

Getty Image/Westend61

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