If you spend more time with your Apple AirPods (2019) in your ears than out, you may have noticed they’re starting to look a little worse for wear and in need of a clean.
It can be difficult to know the best way to clean your AirPods – after all, they’re not waterproof and they aren’t exactly cheap, with the second generation of the true wireless earbuds costing $159 / £159 / AU$249 with the standard charging case, and $199 / £199 / AU$319 with the new Wireless Charging Case bundled in.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide to cleaning your AirPods and charging case without damaging your precious true wireless earbuds.
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What’s the best way to clean my AirPods?
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Apple says that you should use a “soft, dry, lint free cloth” to clean the exterior housing and stems of your AirPods, and that you must “make sure not get any liquid in the openings”.
You should be able to remove any day-to-day dirt without any cleaning agents or water, and it’s important not to use any abrasive materials to buff away grime.
To clean the microphone and speaker meshes, Apple recommends using a “dry cotton swab” to gently sweep away dirt.
If there’s any debris stuck in the speaker meshes, you can also use a clean, dry, soft-bristled brush to remove it; a small silicone pastry brush should work well enough (just make sure it hasn’t been used for cooking in the past in case you inadvertently introduce any damaging substances to your earbuds).
Apple says that you shouldn’t use sharp objects to clean the speaker grilles, otherwise you could risk damaging them.
How do I clean my AirPods’ charging case?
The best way to clean your charging case is with a microfiber cloth. Although you should try to remove most of the dirt with the cloth alone, Apple says you can “slightly dampen the cloth with 70% isopropyl alcohol” (rubbing alcohol, to you and me) if you’re struggling with stubborn stains, but it’s important not to get any liquid in the charging ports at the bottom of your case.
You also shouldn’t place anything inside the charging ports; if there’s debris inside, you could try spraying compressed air into the opening to dislodge it.
Like the AirPods themselves, you can clean the Lightning connector using a soft bristled brush.
When should I clean my AirPods?
Any debris blocking the speaker grilles could reduce the sound quality of your buds, so it’s worth giving your AirPods a quick sweep with a cotton bud once a week.
You should also wipe them down with a microfibre cloth any time they come into contact with moisture (although you should try to avoid this anyway).
This includes if you use them for working out and they come into contact with sweat, so it may be worth looking into a pair of running headphones to use for working out, and save your AirPods for casual listening sessions.
If you’re a fan of the Apple AirPods’ (2019) fast connection times and “Hey Siri” functionality, you may be interested in the Beats Powerbeats Pro. These true wireless earbuds use the same H1 headphone chip as the updated AirPods, but have a workout-friendly design, with water-resistance, silicone eartips, and ear fins that hold the buds in place while you run.
- Read our full analysis: Apple AirPods (2019) vs Powerbeats Pro: the battle of Apple's true wireless earbuds