How to Clean AirPods (Because They Definitely Need It)

It just takes a quick swipe once a week

how to clean airpods: Woman wearing airpods in the city
helenaak/Getty Images

In the 8 years since Apple launched its AirPods, the little in-ear audio headphones have become ubiquitous. The design has since expanded to include the AirPods Pro and, in late 2020, the over-ear versions called AirPods Max. Now, it's hard to imagine a world without hours of listening time on a single charge, or even bougie teens wearing the AirPods Max as fashion accessories. (Shout out to novelty charging cases as gifts for teenagers.) However, all that usage equals a lot of exposure to environmental dirt and grime, overspray from beauty products and the occasional puddle moisture when they accidentally get dropped. That’s why it’s recommended that you give your AirPods a quick clean once a week. Fortunately, doing so only takes a minute or two—but you have to know what you're doing in order not to harm the audio tech or degrade the casing. Here's our tips for fast, easy and effective cleaning of the AirPods, AirPods Pro and the AirPods Max.

How to Clean AirPods & AirPods Pro

What You'll Need:

  1. First, use a dry, soft, lint-free cloth to gently buff the exterior of the AirPods. We like these microfiber cloths from Amazon that come as a set of 24. FYI: These wipes are also ideal for cleaning your computer or phone screen. 
  2. Next, use a dry cotton swab to clean the microphone and speaker meshes. (Let’s be honest, this is probably the dirtiest part of your AirPods and most likely filled with at least a little bit of ear wax.) Run the cotton swab over the area a couple times to gently remove all that gunk.
  3. Need a little more help? You can also use a clean, dry soft-bristled toothbrush to carefully remove additional debris. And that’s it—simple.

How to Clean the AirPods’ Charging Case

Use a microfiber cloth to get rid of any dirt or dust in the case. If you need a little more oomph, Apple suggests slightly dampening the cloth with isopropyl alcohol. Just make sure no liquid gets into the charging ports.

How to Clean the AirPods Max

What You'll Need

  • microfiber cloths
  • liquid laundry detergent
  • fresh water
  • Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, or wipes made with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol or 75 percent ethyl alcohol (optional)
  1. If you spilled anything that could potentially stain or damage on your AirPods Max, gently wipe the microfiber cloth across the surface of the device. Be careful not to get any liquid into the mesh or other openings. Apple suggests using this method when your device has been exposured to soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, perfumes, solvents, detergent, acids or acidic foods, insect repellent, sunscreen, oil or hair dye. Allow to fully dry before using
  2. For quick disinfecting, swipe a cleansing wipe across the surface of the AirPods Max. Avoid the knit mesh canopy and ear cushions.
  3. Mix one teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent in one cup of clean water together to prep for a deep clean of the cushions and headband,
  4. Remove the ear cushions from the AirPods Max.
  5. Hold the AirPods Max upside down to prevent liquid from flowing into the headband attachment.
  6. Dip a lint-free cloth into the soapy water solution, wring it out a bit and rub it across the cushions and headband for one minute each.
  7. Slightly dampen a fresh cloth with clean water and wipe down the cushions and headband.
  8. Finally, take a dry cloth and remove any excess moisture.
  9. Lay the AirPods Max flat to dry for a day before you reattach the cushions and use them.

How to Clean the AirPods Max Case

What You'll Need

  1. Wipe the case with a dry, lint-free cloth.
  2. Optionally, dampen a cloth with isopropyl alcohol and wipe down the case.
  3. Allow the case to dry.

How Often to Clean AirPods

At minimum, your AirPods should be cleaned once a week. Additionally, Apple recommends cleaning them after workouts, or after your device has been exposed to liquids such as sweat, soap, shampoo, makeup, sunscreen and lotions that might irritate your skin. Additionally, whenever you see dirt or earwax on the silicone tips of your AirPods or AirPods Pro, it's time for a cleaning.

How to Keep AirPods Clean

  • First and foremost, keep your ears clean! According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Foundation, you should not use cotton swabs to clean the inside of your ears, since this might impact wax. Instead, simply wipe the outside of your ear with a washcloth when bathing, and visit your ENT annually.
  • Keep your AirPods in their charging case when not using them.
  • Wash your hands often, in order to prevent any bacteria, oil or debris on your fingers from being transferred to your AirPods.

The Only Noise-Canceling Headphones PureWow Editors Trust in a Loud Office

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Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...

dana dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...