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Cleaning AirPods: 2 Tricks to Get Rid of Your Annoying Earwax



airpods-how-to-clean-copy

With some Fun-Tak and a toothpick you can safely clean your Apple AirPods.

Matt Elliott / CNET

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the crisp, white shine of my Apple AirPods. When I don’t use them during large parts of the workday in my suddenly overcrowded house with a woman working from home and two remotely educated children, I wear them when I work in the yard and walk the dog.

With all this use, especially sweating from lawn mowing, mulching, raking leaves, chopping wood, or shoveling snow off the driveway – I’ve reached full daddy status – my AirPods have jammed with dirt, debris, grime and, yes, ear wax. (I regret wearing them during my week of mulching last spring.)

With a tarnished pair of AirPods ($ 199 at Walmart), I started looking for the best way to clean them. This is what I found.

Apple’s AirPod Cleaning Instructions

Apple instructs you to use a slightly damp cloth and a soft, dry, lint-free cloth, and warns you not to use soaps, shampoos, and solvents, or to submerge your AirPods in water. To dig out the nasty bits in the microphone and speaker mesh, Apple recommends using a dry cotton swab and a soft brush.

In front of AirPods Pro, you can remove the earplugs and rinse them with water, Apple said, but without soap or other cleaning agents. Apple wants you to follow the general rules: use a soft, dry, lint-free cloth to wipe the earbuds and let them dry completely before reassembling them.


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Apple says it’s okay to gently wipe the outside (but not the speaker mesh) with a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or a Clorox disinfectant wipe to kill any germs that may have gotten a lift to your AirPods. And it would be good not to use a cloth that is too saturated as you don’t want to get moisture into the openings of your AirPods. Finally, no matter how dirty and disgusting your AirPods are, don’t submerge them in cleaning products.

I’ve put Apple’s methods to the test. I tried to use a cotton swab, but ended up slathering the wax and dirt in further. I then used an old toothbrush to try to remove the coarseness but had no better results.

Fun-Tak and a wooden toothpick

I was fine with wiping the outside of my AirPods (and their case) with a dry cloth to rub the dirt off, but I needed a better way to get the wax and grime out of the mesh and cavity of the speakers.

I looked for help on the internet (like you are doing now). This Cult of Mac article pointed me to the solution. More precisely, the reader’s comments of the article were the solution. And it concerned two items that I already had: Fun-Tak (because I have children and my children have posters in their rooms) and wooden toothpicks (because my wife bakes and tests the doneness of cakes and brownies with a toothpick ).

To remove the wax and debris stuck in the cavity of your AirPod speakers, just grab a small piece of Fun-Tak and stretch and knead it a bit to warm it up. Then press it against the speaker a few times and it will pick up the wax and debris.

The wooden toothpick can then be used to gently remove the stubborn bits that get knocked against the sides of the speaker cavity. A wooden toothpick is pointed enough to distinguish individual features from coarse, waxy dirt, and it’s much safer than a sharp metal object like an unfolded staple that can scratch the plastic or tear the speaker mesh.

Looking for more AirPod tips and tricks? look at the best AirPods tips, 11 Great AirPods Pro Tricks and learning how to pair AirPods with your Windows 10 PC in 1 minute.


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