How to clean Apple AirPods: Your quick guide to keeping the wireless earbuds fresh

It's time to break out the cloth and clear out the grime
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Apple AirPods are the world's most popular pair of smart earbuds, which means there's plenty of ears out there filling the grill with gunk.

With the AirPods being suitable for running, commuting and everything in between, it's likely you spend most of your waking hours with them in your ears. However, with great use comes great responsibility... to keep everything hygienic.

Essential reading: Everything to know about Apple AirPods 2

So, just how do you clean Apple AirPods without damaging them? It can be tough to know how to do properly, but it's all pretty straightforward stuff. Follow on below, as we guide yo through do's and don'ts of getting your AirPods clean.

How to clean Apple AirPods

How to clean Apple AirPods: Your quick guide to keeping the wireless earbuds fresh

The most important thing to be aware of when looking to clean your AirPods is that they're not waterproof - or even water resistant. That means you need to keep any moisture away from the openings, whether you're rocking the original 'Pods or the newer generation.

More help: How to connect AirPods to MacBook

If they do come into contact with moisture, such as sweat, you'll need to dry them off with a cloth. However, here's some more steps to follow:

  • Use a soft, dry, lint-free cloth around the frame of the AirPod bud.
  • Again, make sure no liquid is in the openings.
  • Clean the microphone and speaker meshes using a cotton swab, and take are of any grime stuck in the mesh grill with a dry, soft-bristled brush.
  • Naturally, you'll have to avoid using any sharp or abrasive objects on any part of the AirPods.

How to clean the Apple AirPods case

How to clean Apple AirPods: Your quick guide to keeping the wireless earbuds fresh

Cleaning the case, whether it's the standard charging case or the newer generation that charges wirelessly, is much the same as cleaning the buds themselves. However, Apple does recommend using a slightly damp cloth with some rubbing alcohol, if necessary, to clean the outside of the case. Obviously, though, just don't get it into the charging ports, where the AirPods rest. Here are some more tips:

  • If there's any grime or ear debris in the Lightning connector, use a clean, soft-bristled brush to remove.
  • Again, avoid using abrasive materials to clean the charging case.
  • In order to avoid damaging the metal contacts, don't put anything in the charging ports.

How we test

Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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