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How to clean your Apple AirPods

Keep those AirPods pristine

How to clean your Apple AirPods (2019)
(Image: © TechRadar)

Worried about keeping your Apple AirPods clean? Apple's true wireless earbuds are designed as a handy everyday companion – whether you're using  them in the gym, on your commute, or just to dull the noise of your coworkers – but if you're keeping them in your ears on the daily, and taking them to all sorts of public places, it's not surprising that they might be picking up some dirt alone the way.

The downside to the Airpods' white coloring is that they can start to look shabby pretty quickly if you don't keep them in good nick – though the upside is you can spot any build-up of dirt a bit quicker than on other wireless earbuds.

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 model costing $159 / £159 / AU$249 with the standard charging case, and $199 / £199 / AU$319 with the new Wireless Charging Case bundled in. 

But at that price, it's worth learning how to take care of the hardware – especially if you're forking out for the $249 / £249 / AU$399 AirPods Pro.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to cleaning your AirPods and charging case without damaging your precious true wireless earbuds. 

how to clean your airpods

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

What’s the best way to clean my AirPods?

Which headphones style is best for you?

Check out TechRadar's exhaustive guides to the best headphones, including the best over-ear headphones, best on-ear headphones and the best in-ear headphones.

For some more specialist pairs, take a look at our guides to the best wireless headphones, best true wireless earbuds, best wireless earbuds, and the best noise-cancelling headphones.

Need a specific brand? We have guides to the best Sony headphones, the best Bose headphones, and the best Audio-Technica headphones.

Looking for some headphones you can work out with? Check out our guide to the best swimming headphones and the best running headphones

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. 

how to clean your airpods

The Powerbeats Pro could be a good workout alternative to the Apple AirPods (2019) 

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.