How to Clean Ear Wax Out of Earbuds: A Step-By-Step Guide

For quite some time, earbuds have been the go-to choice for many audiophiles because of multiple reasons. Since they are used regularly, you are bound to find ear wax accumulating in them, thus affecting their sound quality and overall experience. If you’ve faced this problem, then you’ve probably wondered how to clean ear wax out of earbuds.

Ears usually self-clean but putting ear tips in your ear canal can increase wax build-up, which eventually settles on your listening device.

After using our earbuds for a while, you will notice they seem gross when you look at the ear tips. As a result, you should clean them every once in a while.

Whether you use wireless or wired earbuds, their cleaning process is generally the same. The frequency of cleaning your earbuds will depend on how often you use them and for how long.

It is important that you occasionally clean your earbuds to prevent damage to the electronics, driver, and protective mesh.


How to Clean Ear wax Out of Earbuds

In this article, I will take you through multiple steps that you can use to clean your earbuds using basic tools that are available in most households.

My goal is to get your earbuds sparkling clean without damaging them so you can have an improved listening experience. Below is a step-by-step guide on how you will achieve this:


1. Turn Off or Disconnect Your Earbuds

1. Turn Off or Disconnect Your Earbuds

The first step of the cleaning process is the most important. Disconnecting your earbuds from the connected device will ensure their safety during the cleaning process.

Make sure they’re disconnected or even turned off so there will be no risk of any electrical damage to their electrical components.

Recommended: How To Make Your Earbuds Louder: A Step-By-Step Guide.


2. Remove and Clean the Ear Tips

2. Remove and Clean the Ear Tips

The ear tips of the earbuds are easily detachable, as you only need to pull them off. Once separated, you can start working on the ear tips, as they can hold the highest amount of earwax.

Though ear tips can be made from different materials such as silicone, rubber, and foam, the cleaning procedure for all materials is the same.

Create a cleaning solution by mixing a quarter teaspoon of dishwashing liquid with half a cup of warm water. Let them soak for a minimum of 30 minutes before you rinse them with warm water, and allow them to dry on a lint-free piece of clothing.



3. Clean The Mesh

3. Clean The Mesh

After removing the ear tips, you will notice that the mesh of the earbuds also has some accumulated earwax. To clean effectively, you need first to start applying a “less is more” approach.

These are a series of simplest and less risky cleaning techniques that will help you remove most of the wax without risking damaging your earbuds. Some of these ways include:


Using Compressed Air

This is the process of using compressed air to remove the debris stuck on the mesh of the earbuds. While blowing air from your mouth might seem like a good idea, you should avoid doing so.

The air you blow with your mouth is not as dry as you think. You will likely deposit a bit of saliva into the earbuds’ electrical components, which can cause electrical problems.

Using compressed air is a better approach for cleaning the mesh of the earbuds. You can start by pointing the dirty speaker grill away from you to prevent any debris from potentially flying into your eyes.

After using compressed air to clean all visible earwax from the mesh, take a microfiber cloth and wipe all the surfaces.

With hardened wax build-up, removing the dirt with compressed air might not be easy. You might need another approach to clean your earbuds effectively. I’ll guide you through a more invasive procedure to help remove the accumulated ear wax.


Using Toothpicks, Brushing Tools, and Cotton Swabs

If compressed air isn’t good enough at cleaning ear wax out of your earbuds, this step will help you get rid of that accumulated wax with minimal risk of damage.

Before you start cleaning your earbuds in this next step, it is important to note that you should be very careful and cautious.

Wet the cotton swabs with rubbing alcohol, let the excess alcohol dry a little, then start by gently wiping the mesh of your earbuds to break down the hardened earwax on the surface.

Using a toothpick, scrub all the visible wax, and run the toothpick around the edges of the mesh to remove all dirt. Wipe the toothpick on the cotton swabs and repeat the process several times.

Using a clean toothbrush, brush off the mesh while it is facing down. By angling the earbuds downwards, you will let gravity do most of the work, as most of the remaining dirt will easily fall off.

You can then use compressed air to blow away any remaining ear wax.


Using Putty or Painter’s Tape

If you look at the earbud mesh’s interior and still see debris from deep inside, then putty or painter’s tape could be the solution. The adhesive element of painter’s tape is strong enough to pick up dirt but light enough not to leave a mark.

If the wax is deep into the earbuds, you do not need to open it up as you might risk damaging its components. Putty can be helpful as you only need to warm it up and roll it over your earbuds. Gently remove, and the dirt will come off with the tape.



4. Clean and Disinfect Your Earbuds’ Case

4. Clean and Disinfect Your Earbuds' Case

Now that your earbuds are clean, it is important that their charging case is clean as well. Since they previously housed earbuds that were dirty, they are prone to have some ear wax in them.

To effectively clean the casing, wet a piece of cloth with rubbing alcohol and clean any visible residue inside and outside the case. If you are using a fabric pouch for your earbuds, soak it for ten minutes in a dishwashing liquid and warm water solution, then rinse and let it dry.

Recommended: 5 Reasons Why Your Earbuds Keep Cutting Out [How to Fix Them].


Last Words

Though ear wax accumulated in your earbuds can rarely destroy it, it can affect your listening experience, and you will not be able to enjoy using your gadget as you used to.

This guide on how to clean ear wax out of earbuds offers different steps that you can take to attain their cleanliness by using equipment and materials that are easily available.

Your earbuds’ cleanliness will depend on how frequently you clean them. If you are regularly cleaning them, you will need fewer tools and time to remove accumulated wax as there will be less built-up dirt and ear wax.

It is important to note that taking preventative care will go a long way in ensuring the cleanliness of your earbuds.

Always put your earbuds in a clean case when not in use. The earbuds’ casing will provide an adequate shield to your earbuds from further build-up.


Sharing is caring!

Is a musician and journalist with over 13 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands. Ray loves getting nerdy about everything from guitar gear and synths, to microphones and music production hardware.

Leave a Comment