How to Clean AirPods? Properly Clean AirPods (even Pro & Max) at Home

Since their launch in 2016, Apple AirPods have been a premium brand of earbuds in the exponentially increasing market of true wireless earbuds. As the number of people working from or attending online meetings is increasing, especially in the last two years, the sales of AirPods are also increasing. Even though they are a premium product, the AirPods can become dirty, accumulate dust, earwax, sweat and lint. Apart from being gross to look at and wear them, dirty AirPods are unhygienic and can be a serious health hazard as they can be home to bacteria which might cause ear infections.

In this article, we will learn How to Clean AirPods easily at your home. Whether you have regular AirPods or AirPods Pro, the cleaning process remains very similar with some additional steps needed for AirPods Pro. We will see the list of things you need to clean AirPods and even steps to clean the case. So, let’s get started.

Keep Your AirPods Clean

It is very important to keep your AirPods and its case clean and tidy (even if you own other wireless earbuds, keep them clean). The first reason is dirty AirPods are unhygienic and are home to bacteria. Yes. The sweat and moisture from your ears after a long-time use of AirPods can lead to growth of bacteria and might cause severe ear infections.

The other reason to keep your AirPods clean is if lint or debris is sitting near the speaker mesh of the AirPods, then you can notice a drop in performance and sound quality. Earwax is another culprit as it can dry up and mess with audio or microphone.

We recommend you to clean your AirPods every 3-4 days. It hardly takes any time and the important thing is you won’t damage your ears or AirPods with regular cleaning. Also, make sure that your ears are clean from wax.

What Do You Need to Clean AirPods?

If you have all the tools at your disposal, then cleaning AirPods is a very easy job. Following is the list of all the things you need to clean your AirPods.

  • 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • Micro-Fiber Cleaning Cloth (lint-free)
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Toothpicks
  • Soft toothbrush (or small painting brush)

As you can see, all the tools mentioned here readily available in most homes. Even if you don’t have one or two in the list, you can easily buy them from your local store or supermarket.

How to Clean AirPods?

First, we will see how to clean regular AirPods. If you have AirPods Pro, then skip to the next section.

Step 1: Take out the AirPods from the case and inspect them for the type of dust and debris accumulated in the opening of the AirPods.

Step 2: Using a toothpick, slowly and carefully remove the lint, earwax or other grime and dirt from the AirPods. Be very gentle and do not pierce the speaker mesh.

Step 3: Once all the visible debris is removed, you can use a soft toothbrush or a small painting brush to clean the fine dust. Again, be very careful when brushing the dust neat the mesh.

Step 4:  Even though AirPods look clean after the above three steps, you still have invisible bacteria and germs to kill. Take a cotton swab or a micro-fiber cloth and dip it in Isopropyl Alcohol. We recommend cotton swab as you can easily maneuver it around the edges of AirPods. Slowly clean the AirPods using this wet cotton swab. You can use Isopropyl Alcohol to clean the surface of the AirPods and also the speaker mesh. But be careful and do not let any alcohol to creep into the speaker opening.

Warning: Isopropyl Alcohol is flammable. Do not use it near fire or electricity.

How to Clean AirPods Pro?

If you have the pro version of the AirPods i.e., the AirPods Pro, then cleaning them needs a couple of extra steps. AirPods Pro consists of silicone ear tips at the end of the earbuds.

Step 1: Take the silicone ear tips from the AirPods and clean them using Isopropyl alcohol dipped cotton swabs or micro-fiber cloth. Properly clean them inside and outside and cover all the gaps.

Step 2: You can further disinfect the ear tips by placing them in a small cup and pouring Isopropyl Alcohol until they are fully submerged. Leave them for 20 – 30 minutes and after that thoroughly clean then with a micro-fiber cloth until they are dry.

Step 3: Cleaning the remaining AirPods Pro is similar to regular AirPods. Use toothpick to remove wax or debris, use toothbrush to clean fine dust and finally, use isopropyl alcohol dipped cotton swab to disinfect the entire AirPods Pro.

Step 4: After everything is dry, you can re-attach the silicone ear tips back to the AirPods Pro.

How to Clean AirPods Charging Case?

After learning how to clean AirPods, we will now proceed with cleaning its charging case. Most people owning AirPods clean only the AirPods and often forget about the charging case. It is important to regularly clean the AirPods Charging Case as dirty AirPods can make the case dirty.

Step 1: Take out the AirPods from the case and disconnect the charging cable, if it is connected.

Step 2: Use a cotton swab and dip it in isopropyl alcohol. Remove excess alcohol from the cotton swab and start cleaning the case.

Step 3: Be careful near the charging pins. If you feel that cotton swab is not able to reach any place, you can use a toothpick that is dipped in isopropyl alcohol.

Step 4: Before final cleaning, you can once again use a cotton swab to remove the dust. Now, take paper towel and dry the charging case. Do not insert the AirPods without drying the case.

How to Clean AirPods Max?

AirPods Max are a premium (at least in its pricing) over-the-ear headphones from Apple. Even though many criticized the design of the AirPods Max, they are definitely unique. If you happen to own one, then make sure that they are clean as one of the main problems with AirPods Max is the buildup of condensation near the driver, which can lead to bacteria.

Step 1: First, we will see how to clean the head band mesh. Take two small plastic bags and cover the ear cups and seal the bags with elastic bands so that they do not get wet.

Step 2: Take a small cup and pour detergent in it. Mix small amount of cold water. Pour this diluted detergent on the headband and clean it with a soft toothbrush. After brushing, clean it with cold water. Be careful and do not let the water fall on the ear cups. Let the headband dry completely.

Step 3: Detach the ear cushions from the cups. Use the diluted detergent and gently rub the cushions with your hands. Do not use any brushes. Do this a couple of times and finally rinse it off with cold water. Hang the cushions and let them dry completely.

Step 4: Take a cotton swab and dip it in isopropyl alcohol. Clean the ear cups using this swab completely. Be very careful and dot not let any wet content (water or isopropyl alcohol) to fall on the driver.

Step 5: After everything is dry, you can attach the cushions back to the ear cups.

Dos and Don’ts While Cleaning AirPods

Here are some quick tips while cleaning AirPods.

  • While using toothpick to remove wax or lint, do not put too much pressure while working around the speaker mesh as you can break them and the repair can be expensive.
  • Do not dip the AirPods directly in Isopropyl Alcohol or other cleaning solutions. Only use alcohol dipped cotton swabs or micro-fiber cloths to clean AirPods.
  • Use only Isopropyl Alcohol or Clorox Disinfectant Wipes (or other similar cleaning products) to clean AirPods. Do not use soap, shampoo or detergent to clean the surface of the AirPods as it can damage the body or in worst case, the electronics inside.
  • Let the AirPods dry or make them dry completely using a micro-fiber cloth. Do not use the AirPods with water or alcohol still on them.


Regularly cleaning AirPods and its charging case is very beneficial, both for your ears and the AirPods itself. We have seen all the tools you need to clean AirPods and also the steps you need to follow in order to clean AirPods, AirPods Pro and the charging case.

With clean AirPods, you can expect the best performance from your AirPods and also you can avoid ear infections.

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