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How to clean earplugs, with or without soap

  ADVANCED earbuds Model 3 in the hand
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

For all their benefits, earbuds have a major drawback: they are an absolute nightmare to clean. But keeping them in flawless condition is not only essential for your health, but also for sound quality ̵

1; let enough gunk accumulate in each earphone and it will eventually mute the audio.

Whether you have built up a good amount of earwax or you are just disease-conscious, here is our comprehensive guide to keeping your earplugs spotless.

Before cleaning

  1More ANC review lightning
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

Disconnect the earbuds

Earbuds usually draw power from the phone or the device to which they are connected. Be sure to unplug the power cord from the wall outlet before cleaning. The chances of being electrocuted here are infinitely small but better than cure. Plus, if you somehow short-circuit the earphones themselves, at least your device won't be zapped.

Assess the damage

Your cleaning method can depend on how dirty those earplugs are – and where that dirt (or gunk, etc.) lives. More often than not, you have to deal with an accumulation of earwax (and other coarse things) on the grilles from which sound is emitted. With most earplugs you can remove the ear-tip (the small silicone or foam part that actually goes into your ear canal) to get a better view.

If most annoying things are on the mesh, you have to be very careful here. If that part is usually clean, you can scrub the rest with impunity.

Cleaning phase

Below are various methods for cleaning earplugs. None of these solutions will be expensive, but you may have to spend a few dollars if you are worried about damaging some more expensive earbuds.

Note: Never immerse your earbuds in liquid. It might work, but even if they are waterproof, there are safer and more effective options.

Soap and water

Your first instinct is probably just to make a solution with soap and warm water, then use a soft cloth to wipe your earplugs. Guess? That is a great idea! Soap and water do wonders on the outer sheaths and wires of the earplugs for a pittance. Fill a bowl with warm water and add a few drops of hand soap or liquid detergent. Dip a soft cotton or microfiber cloth into the solution, wring it out until it does not drip and go to work.

However, you do not want to use such a method to remove the slurry from the slats. If water gets into the earphones, nothing good can come of it. In the best case, your buds survive fear. In the worst case they die. When cleaning in this way, make sure you avoid the input connection and be careful where the wire comes from the earphone itself (water can penetrate here).

Once the earphones look clean enough, place them to dry somewhere for an hour or two, making sure they are not in a position where water can drip into the bowels of the buttons. Disinfecting Alcohol

Disinfecting alcohol, also known as isopropyl alcohol, is a common cleaning solution. Just like with soap and water, it is a good choice to clean the less sensitive parts of your earplugs, such as the covers and wires. Because sanitizing alcohol is slightly more powerful than soapy water, all you have to do is dip a cotton swab into the bottle, shake it until it is almost dry and then wipe off any dirt or wax on the earplugs.

Ash with soap and water, you don't want to use this method to clean the actual grates, for two reasons. First, you don't want alcohol to drip into the earphone. Second, cotton buds leave small pieces of cotton on everything they touch. Metal filters can hold skeins of cotton, making them much more difficult to clean in the long run and even dampen noise.

Once again, put the earbuds somewhere to dry.

Using a toothbrush

For this solution you want to buy a spare toothbrush with nylon bristles – luckily nowadays almost every toothbrush, and certainly every toothbrush in the dollar shop – because nylon bristles do not break and get stuck in your buttons . Nylon is also antistatic, so it will not conduct electricity.

Toothbrushes are good choices for cleaning mesh screens because there is no risk of unwanted moisture coming in, but you have to be extra careful, gently brush with circular movements and not press too hard, otherwise the dirt you try may to be removed in the grid, making the process much more difficult. When you're done, throw the toothbrush away or drop it in the dishwasher to disinfect it. We do not recommend using it on your teeth.

Use of glue

Thanks to Geek Detour for this idea. Although toothbrushes can prove too powerful and liquid-based solutions pose other problems, the use of a dry adhesive mass such as Blu-Tack is an almost infallible method for cleaning even the most sensitive parts of your Earphones.

You want to shape the putty so that you can press one end on the mesh grid of the earphone. The putty must pick up dirt or wax and pull it off, although you may have to mess with it a little to make sure it gets into all the little corners and holes.

Combination Methods

If none of the above methods work well enough, you can always use more than one of these methods in your search for clean ear plugs. Perhaps you can use self-adhesive putty to remove wax from the grille, then tape over the opening and use a soapy cloth to shine the other parts of the earbuds. If you are careful, you can even use a needle or thumbtack to pull dirt out of hard-to-reach areas (although you don't want to go too fast here because you can scratch the finish of the buttons). [19659005] Cleaning earbuds

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Most earbuds come with silicone earbuds. Some (usually more expensive models) come with memory foam earbuds or an accessory package with different sizes. Cleaning silicone earbuds is easy. Carefully remove the ear-tip, create a solution of warm soapy water and wipe it with a cloth. Because silicone ear plugs are hard to damage, the only time you need to be a special ginger here is to remove them, as some tend to stick. The same applies to silicone ear wings or other removable silicone parts. Just don't lose them!

Foam tips, on the other hand, are difficult to clean. You can try it, but most manufacturers will tell you that foam earplugs are disposable and not intended for cleaning. Earwax and build-up will nestle in the foam, and attempting to remove it can rupture the foam, making the earbuds unusable. We recommend switching to silicone or splashing for a new pair of foam ear plugs (they are not that expensive).

Cleaning Real Wireless Earbuds

Real wireless earbuds – such as the Amazon Echo Buds and Apple AirPods Pro – are becoming more common. How do you clean them? Well, the above steps should suffice. And don't forget: we do not recommend immersing them in water and hoping that they will wash away the mud, even if they are watertight. Soaking is not a substitute for a good wash. Instead, it is best to use a toothbrush or glue to clean them.

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