How to Clean In-Ear Headphones

Soiled ear buds could not only degrade the clarity of your music, they can also raise your risk of ear infections, such as Otitis Externa, commonly known as swimmer's ear. To maintain healthy ear hygiene and retain optimal listening quality, keep your in-ear headphones clean using a combination of mild detergent and hydrogen peroxide.

Man listening to music
Cleaning in-ear headphones helps maintain good personal hygiene.
credit: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

Cleaning the Removable Head

If your ear buds have a removable rubber or plastic head, remove them and wash each with a solution of mild detergent and water. As long as they're detached, you can submerge them for thorough cleaning and subsequently wipe them dry with a clean, soft cloth. Let any remaining moisture naturally evaporate before reattaching them to the cleaned ear buds.

Cleaning the Ear Buds

Wipe the plastic body of the ear buds with a cloth dipped in a solution of mild detergent and water. Don't use excess solution on the cloth or attempt to submerge the ear buds. Wipe the fine, metal mesh with a soft, dry cloth or a soft-bristle toothbrush to dislodge loose dirt or debris. If ear wax is caked on the mesh, wipe with a soft cloth or soft-bristle toothbrush dipped in a 3 percent concentration of hydrogen peroxide; if you hold the bud pointed down, you don't have to worry about excess liquid dripping through the mesh. Shake excess liquid off the mesh and wipe with a dry cloth before reattaching the removable heads.