How to Clean Your Earbuds After a Workout

Girl listening to music through earbuds at the gym
If you value your headphones — and you probably do! — you'll want to take the utmost care to keep them in quality condition.

by Steven Auger

For many gym-goers, working out and listening to music go hand-in-hand. When a playlist you created helps push you toward your fastest mile or maximum repetitions on the shoulder press, it can be an exhilarating experience!

But when your workout is done, you and your gym clothes aren't all that needs cleaning. Be sure you know how to clean your earbuds too.

How to Clean Your Earbuds

Music can provide plenty of benefits to folks who work out, as noted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). It can enable you to work out harder and faster, and it can also help you better enjoy the time you spend exercising.

Remember, earbuds go in the ears. This exposes them to ear wax, skin cells, and sebum. But just because they get dirty doesn't mean they have to stay that way!

To clean your earbuds, first turn them off and disconnect them from your device. Using a mix of warm water and soap, wipe them down with a damp cloth and dry them immediately with a soft cloth, recommends Wirecutter. Aim to do this once a week. You don't want to clean them with alcohol, as this can cause discoloration or break down the product's material.

Wax Removal

This is not the most pleasant part of the process, but it is a reality of keeping your earbuds clean. Wax is also a sound-killer. You can purchase a kit specifically to remove built-up earwax, but otherwise, you'll likely want to use a small, soft brush to dislodge debris.

If you have rubber earbuds, remove the eartips from the buds and delicately wipe them down with the small, soft brush. Clean the eartips with a soapy wet cloth before reattaching the earbuds.

If you have mesh earbuds, you can use a toothpick to remove the debris from the earphone.

Headphone Care and Storage

If you value your headphones — and since you use them so much at the gym, you probably do! — you'll want to take the utmost care to keep them in quality condition.

For starters, keep them away from excess dust and moisture. "Even if they're water- and sweat-resistant, don't keep your headphones wet for long periods because water can slowly seep into battery compartments or the earbuds themselves and short them out or damage drivers," explains Wirecutter.

When you remove the headphones from your device, don't tug on the cable. Grip the plug instead. Cable care is key when you store your headphones, so avoid wrapping the cord too tightly or letting it become knotted or tangled. If your headphones came with a storage case, be sure to use it for safe-keeping. You also want to avoid storing (or using) your headphones in excessively hot or cold environments as this can be damaging.

If music is a key component of your workout regimen, keep it going! Music is great for knocking out miles during your daily run or passing the time when trying different cardio machines. No matter how you prefer to listen to tunes while working out, be sure you know how to clean your audio equipment!