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How to Clean Earwax Out of Earbuds

The third quarter of 2019 saw the sale of 33 million units of true wireless headsets, with Apple’s Beats leading the industry with 46% of all sales. These in-ear headphones are perfect for working out at the gym, talking to friends or family while driving, or even listening to your favorite tunes while you work.

But despite all their benefits, cleaning them is a nightmare because of their fragility and hard-to-reach nooks and crannies, especially the earwax they collect after some time.

A very common question in regards to in-ear headphones is how to clean earwax out of earbuds.

Here, we’ve listed # ways you can clean your headphones quickly without damaging them.

How to Clean Earwax Out of Earbuds

Alcohol Wipes

Alcohol wipes for cleaning headphones

You can find alcohol wipes easily in any first-aid kit at home.

The idea of cleaning your earbuds with any liquid is sure to raise red flags in all our minds, and for good reason. The slightest leak or mistake can lead to impaired sound quality or even headphone death!

So why do we recommend alcohol wipes for cleaning earwax out of earbuds?

Alcohol evaporates fairly quickly and breaks down almost everything, earwax being no exception. It makes cleaning large bits of earwax much easier – all it takes is a gentle swipe!

As long as you don’t press down hard when cleaning, there is no chance of the alcohol reaching critical areas. However, if there is earwax within the headphone grills, we recommend using a combo or alcohol wipes and cotton swabs or toothbrush.

Cotton Bud/Swab

Two cotton swabs standing on a table.

Cotton buds are a great way to clean earwax, simply dip it in alcohol and start wiping it all away.

Cotton buds and cotton swabs are a great way to clean earwax out of earbuds. Simply dip the swab slightly in alcohol (you only need a light coating of alcohol).

Next, wipe the outer area of the earbuds first, moving towards the inside. This will help you clear away the grime, oil, and perspiration left behind as well. Once done, see if the swab needs to be dipped again and wipe down the grill, clearing out the wax one wipe at a time.


Wooden toothbrush on a grey tabletop

Be careful when cleaning your earbuds with a toothbrush. We don’t recommend using the toothbrush after cleaning earwax with it.

Find a nylon-bristled toothbrush, since it doesn’t hold static charge not does it break inside headphones. All you have to do is ‘brush’ the dust and wax away, but be extra careful. Brush gently and in circular motions. Once done, either throw the toothbrush away or store it for later so that you don’t end up accidentally brushing your teeth with it.

There are many other methods of cleaning headphones as well, such as using an adhesive putty, tape, soap and water (we are strictly against this method), etc. However, if you’re looking for a quick, easy, and safe method on how to clean earwax out of earbuds, follow the above-mentioned steps and enjoy your music wax-free!


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Hi, I'm Red, the Chief Editor of Red Diamond Audio.