Here’s How To Clean Your AirPods and AirPods Case the Right Way

Close up view of woman cleaning
Erin Lawrence | SPY

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For as much care as you put into cleaning your phone, we hope you apply the same level of focus to cleaning your AirPods. After all, considering the fact they’re such a hefty investment — and that you literally put them inside your body — you’ll want to properly take care of them in order to extend their life. And the last thing you want is to have such a nice product looking janky and gross. That’s why learning how to clean AirPods properly is important for anyone that uses these popular wireless earbuds.

But how exactly should you go about cleaning your AirPods, AirPods Pro and AirPod cases?

Depending on your approach, there are a few different ways you can go. You might be thinking, “I don’t care about what my AirPods look like, why should I have to clean them?” And the answer to that is straight-up sanitation, my dude. Germs are everywhere. Plus, think about all that ear gunk you’re leaving on them. Not cute.

Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning AirPods

  • Don’t run your AirPods under water.
  • Don’t get liquid in the openings.
  • Don’t use abrasive materials on the AirPods or charging case.
  • Don’t get liquid inside the case.
  • Do be gentle and use very little force.
  • Don’t use compressed air.
  • Do clean regularly; it’s much easier than removing built-up dirt after months.

With that said, keep reading to learn how to clean AirPods without damaging them.


How To Clean AirPods: The Tools You Need

Before you learn how to clean your AirPods and AirPods case, it’s time to gather your supplies. You’ll want to have Q-tips, a microfiber cloth, a cleaning solution with isopropyl alcohol, a toothbrush, a fine-edged tool like a toothpick or needle (we’ll use the dull end, if needed!), and perhaps some backup silicone eartips — in case yours are beyond help.

collection of cleaning supplies used to clean AirPods Erin Lawrence | SPY


How To Clean AirPods

For the AirPods themselves, it’s critically important that you don’t run them under water. At this point, sadly, no current AirPods models are waterproof. That means direct contact with gushing water will cause them to stop working.

Instead, slightly wet a microfiber cloth (like this one below from AmazonBasics) and gently wipe them clean of dirt and grime. From there, be sure to let them dry completely.

Next, take a dry cotton swab to clean the actual speakers themselves. That mesh is a magnet for both dirt and earwax (gross), and Q-tips are the perfect tool to clean that delicate mesh. If there’s something really stuck in there, a toothpick can help you very carefully dig it out. Keep in mind that sharp objects can damage your AirPods and the mesh covering the speakers.

What if your AirPods have been exposed to a liquid or gel such as sunscreen, coffee or soap? If necessary, lightly dampen a microfiber cloth or Q-tip and gently scrub away the stain. Allow your AirPods to dry completely before attempting to use or charge them.

AmazonBasics Blue and Yellow Microfiber Cleaning Cloth Courtesy of Amazon

how to clean airpods Courtesy of Amazon


How To Remove Earwax From AirPods

While Apple recommends never using anything sharp to clean your AirPods, reality means you’ll likely need to employ a toothpick, pin or something with a fine edge to remove any wax build-up. Carefully run the tool along the interior crevices to scrape out dirt or wax, and be gentle while you do it. You can also try using Blu-Tack, though you run the risk of lodging some of that material in the crevices while you clean. You can also try a small amount of isopropyl alcohol on a Q-tip. Earwax can be stubborn, so you might need to apply some alcohol, wait a couple of minutes, and then resume trying to dislodge that goop.

Close up view of woman cleaning AirPods tips Erin Lawrence | SPY


How To Clean AirPods Case

When cleaning your AirPods case, that same microfiber cloth will be extremely helpful. Any lint-free cloth will wipe away the majority of scuffs and mess from the exterior portion of the case.

If the case is really, really dirty, feel free to grab a bit of isopropyl alcohol (which is different from rubbing alcohol!) and wet the cloth with a slight drip. Then, gently wipe clean the exterior. It’s important to avoid getting any liquids of any kind inside the case or near the charging port, as that can cause damage to the ports and cause it to stop charging properly.

Close up view of woman cleaning AirPods Erin Lawrence | SPY

To clean the inside of AirPods cases, it’s important to be very specific and targeted with how you clean everything. A Q-tip is helpful here because it gives you a small, precise tool to get into those nooks and crannies that need cleaning. Isopropyl alcohol can be a helpful cleaning agent here, too. Dip the cotton swab into the alcohol, wipe away any excess liquid and then use the tip to effectively clean certain spots. Again, be sure not to touch the charging ports at the bottom with any wet material.

Now, if your charging ports also look grimy, you can clean them, but whatever you do use a dry Q-tip (or a reusable metal toothpick you can keep with you). The connector for the lightning cable may also need your fine-edged tool (i.e. toothpick) again, but you’ll need to be careful not to bend or move the pins inside. Blow very gently to dislodge any dust or debris.

How to clean airpods Courtesy of Amazon

When learning how to clean AirPods cases, the other spot that can get a little gnarly is the interior lip edge of the case. A toothpick will give you a small enough surface to work with to get all of that nastiness out. When you’re done, your AirPods case will look as good as new.

amazon Isopropyl Alcohol Courtesy of Amazon


Apple AirPods Cleaning Kit

If you want to avoid buying all of those cleaning items individually, this AirPods cleaning kit has all of those items, and others, to help you keep your AirPods squeaky clean. It even comes with a handy multitool and cleaning wipes to keep every nook and cranny crud and germ-free.


airpod cleaning kit Courtesy of Amazon


Replace Your AirPod Pro’s Tips

If you have a newer AirPod Pros, you might need to consider replacing the silicone tips after a while. Because these are constantly going inside of your ear, they’re going to get dirty. To make things easier for you, there are tons of reusable earbud tips to consider online and by switching them out, you essentially have to do zero work.

Reusable AirPod Tips Courtesy of Amazon


Get Yourself a UV Sanitizer

UV phone sanitizers have skyrocketed in popularity within the past couple of years. Ever since the beginning of 2020 (for obvious reasons), you couldn’t find these babies anywhere. Now, you can find them all over. The best of the best is always going to be PhoneSoap because they’ve got great reviews and they come at an affordable price.

Although these are made for phones, you can also place your keys, credit cards and yes, your AirPods in here for quick cleaning.

PhoneSoap UV Sanitizer Courtesy of Amazon


Cleaning your AirPods and their case isn’t as tough as it may seem — it just takes a bit of doing. With the right tools and a touch of patience, you’ll have them looking as good as new in no time at all.