How to clean your in-ear headphones properly

Cleaning in-ear headphones is of elementary importance. Because they are inserted directly into the ear canal, in-ear headphones easily come into contact with earwax and can get dirty more quickly than other types of headphones.


This can lead to discoloration or even unhealthy germ formation on the one hand, and on the other hand it can also limit the sound and in the worst case scenario irreparably damage the headphones if the dirt gets onto the drivers. To prevent this from happening, there are a few simple tricks for keeping your in-ear headphones hygienically clean. In general, if you use them frequently, you should clean your in-ear headphones at least once or twice a week.

Cleaning in-ear headphones – Working dry on the earphones themselves

When cleaning in-ear headphones, the most important rule is that no water should get to the earphones themselves. However, dirt will always stick to the protective grille behind which the headphone drivers are located. Superficial dirt can easily be blown off the protective grille with a hair dryer at the lowest setting and in cold mode. If the dirt is stuck tighter, a fine brush can be used, which is even included with some in-ear headphone models. Ear sticks are a less good choice here, because if too much pressure is applied, the dirt gets behind the grille and thus into the inside of the earphones. You can also carefully wipe the outer part of the earphones with a disinfectant wipe – more moisture is absolutely taboo and can damage the earphones.

Clean silicone plugs with soapy water

Most in-ear headphones come with silicone plugs that are removable. The material has the further advantage that it is relatively insensitive and easy to clean. To clean, simply remove the in-ear plugs and wash them with your fingers in a mixture of lukewarm water and mild detergent. Stubborn dirt can be removed with a damp ear stick. Then dry the in-ear plugs with a standard dishwasher detergent.

Important: After cleaning, you should wait at least two hours before putting the in-ear plugs back on the earphones to ensure that they are completely dry. It is best to leave the in-ear plugs on a towel. If you are even more concerned about hygienic cleanliness, you can wipe the in-ear plugs with a damp hygienic cloth (or a piece of kitchen roll moistened with disinfectant spray) after cleaning. This is particularly useful if the headphones are used by several people. In this case, occasional intermediate cleaning with the hygiene cloth is also recommended.

Various tricks for cleaning foam plugs

A little more difficult to clean are the foam in-ear plugs, which are included with many in-ear headphones. These are made of porous material in which dirt easily gets caught and is more difficult to remove. There are also models that absorb water and therefore take longer to dry – sports headphones are usually fitted with water-repellent foam plugs to prevent this problem. It is best to clean the foam plugs regularly and thoroughly with a hygiene cloth. If you have a compressed air cleaner at your disposal, you can also use it to carefully remove dirt in the pores of the foam plugs.

Another trick is to carefully press the surface around the foam plugs with a piece of adhesive tape to pull the dirt out of the pores. If you use this method, you should clean the plugs again with a disinfectant wipe immediately afterwards – this will ensure that no adhesive remains on the surface. In general, however, it is advisable to replace the foam plugs occasionally, as residual dirt can always collect in the pores.