Over time, wear and tear can cause your headphones to lose sound in one ear, produce quieter sound, cut out intermittently or stop working entirely. Most of the time, these problems occur due to damaged wiring and connections inside the cable or dirt buildup in the earpieces. To keep your headphones working longer, protect the wiring with looser wrapping and gentle use, clean the earpieces and make sure to buy models with durability in mind.
Safely Wrapping the Cable
When wrapping earbuds or the cable on full-size headphones, pulling the cord tight places strain on the wiring and can break it over time. Instead of wrapping the cord around your music player, loop it gently around your hand until you have about six inches left. Pull your hand out and wrap the remainder gently around the center of the looped cable. Place the plug through the upper loop to tie the loop together, but do not pull as tightly as you would when tying a regular knot.
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Protect the Weak Points
Every connection in your headphones' wiring presents a potential point of failure. These include not only the plug and the earpiece, but any in-line splitters, remotes or volume sliders as well. When disconnecting your headphones, pull directly on the plug, rather than yanking the wire out. Similarly, when removing earbuds, pick out the earpieces directly. Don't pull on the cable around in-line devices and splitters, and don't let your headphones dangle off the end of a table.
Cleaning Your Headphones
Dust and earwax can get into your headphones, causing the sound to go out or become quiet. If you have in-ear headphones, pull off the covers and remove any debris from them. Wash the earpiece with a mild dish detergent and water, or with isopropyl alcohol. If the covers on your headphones have a mesh screen and it contains dried earwax, dampen the screen with 3 percent or weaker hydrogen peroxide for a few minutes to soften the wax. If one ear sounds too quiet, even after cleaning, try blowing into it. This can help realign a crooked speaker.
Buying Durable Headphones
No matter how well you care for headphones, some models have weaker wiring that will fail over time, but a higher price tag alone doesn't mean better quality. When buying headphones, look for models with thicker cabling, especially around the connections. Models with right-angle plugs help protect the end of the wire when you pull out the plug. To add protection to existing headphones and extend their lifespan, you can buy a right-angle adapter for your plug or apply shrink tubing around the connector.