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How to Clean Sweaty Headphones: Quick and Easy Tips

how to clean sweaty headphones

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Sweaty headphones are a common issue, especially for those who love listening to music while working out, gaming or doing just about anything in warmer climates.

Over time, sweat accumulation can lead to unpleasant odours, discomfort, and even a decline in sound quality.

So it’s essential to know how to clean your headphones properly and maintain them to increase their lifespan and improve your listening experience.

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Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s vital to prepare your headphones for cleaning, understand the steps involved, and be aware of ongoing maintenance and storage practices. By following these guidelines, you can prevent your headphones from getting sweat-soaked and ensure they stay fresh and clean for the long haul.

Key Info

  • Regular cleaning of headphones is essential to improve hygiene and maintain sound quality
  • Following proper preparation and going through step-by-step is the best way to effectively clean your sweaty headphones
  • Pay attention to post-cleaning care, storage tips, and prevention measures to help extend your headphones’ lifespan and keep them fresh in the long term.

Preparation for Cleaning – Things You’ll Need

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Before I start cleaning my sweaty headphones, it’s essential to gather all the necessary tools and cleaning agents to make the process easy and efficient.

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I will need the following items:

  • A soft cloth or microfiber towel
  • A small brush or toothbrush (preferably a soft-bristled one)
  • Cotton swabs or Q-tips
  • A cleaning agent of choice (could be a mild detergent, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or a diluted bleach solution)
  1. The first thing I do is of course unplug my headphones if they are connected to any devices and power sources for safety precautions.
  2. Then, I inspect the headphones for any visible damage that might require repair or replacement.
    Before you use any liquids to clean the headphones. check that they don’t have any previously unnoticed damage that might take in liquids.
  3. Next, I prepare a cleaning solution that’s appropriate for the materials of my headphones. For most headphones made of plastic and metal, I use a mixture of water and mild detergent or a diluted rubbing alcohol solution.
    If the headphones are made of wood, warm soapy water or a mild wood cleaner is ideal.
    Whatever the material, I avoid using any harsh chemicals that might damage the headphones’ materials.

One thing I always remember is that if I am using a liquid cleaning agent, I never apply it directly to my headphones. Instead, I dampen my soft cloth with the solution and wring out any excess liquid, ensuring that the cloth isn’t overly wet.

With everything prepared, I am now ready to clean my sweaty headphones thoroughly, restoring them to a crisp and fresh state.

Step-by-Step Guidance on How to Clean Sweaty Headphones

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As someone who uses headphones regularly, I have faced the issue of sweaty headphones multiple times. So, I will share my step-by-step guidance on how to clean them, regardless of whether they are over-ear, on-ear, or true wireless earbuds.

  1. First, I gather all the necessary cleaning materials: soft cloth, cotton swabs, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, detergent, a small bowl of lukewarm water, and a clean toothbrush. It’s important to have all these items handy for an efficient cleaning session.
  2. For over-ear and on-ear headphones, I start by removing the ear pads gently. These can usually be wiped with a damp soft cloth and a small amount of detergent. To avoid soap residue, I rinse the cloth and wipe the pads again before leaving them to dry.
  3. For true wireless earbuds, cleaning the ear tips is the equivalent – simply remove them and wash them with soapy water before rinsing and drying.
  4. Next, I dampen a cotton swab or Q-tip with rubbing alcohol and use it to clean the nooks and crannies of the ear cups of over-ear and on-ear headphones. This helps in removing accumulated dirt and lint. For earbuds, I gently clean the charging case and the earbud’s outer surfaces using a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol.
  5. In the case of wired headphones, I use a soft cloth with a little rubbing alcohol to gently wipe the wire and headband. But take note, I am cautious not to make them too wet to avoid causing any damage. For true wireless earbuds, I wipe the charging case with a cloth dampened with a little rubbing alcohol.

If there’s any stubborn dirt on the headphones or earbuds, I use the clean toothbrush to gently scrub those areas – being careful not to scratch the surface.

Lastly, after cleaning all the components, I leave them to air dry before putting them back together. It’s essential not to assemble or use them until they are completely dry, as moisture can cause damage to electronic components.

I hope this step-by-step guidance helps you effectively clean your sweaty headphones and enhance the overall listening experience.

Post Cleaning Maintenance and Storage Tips

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After I’m done cleaning my sweaty headphones there’s a few things I do to keep them looking that way.

So I’m going to share some handy hints for maintaining them in top-notch condition. By following these tips, your headphones will stay clean and fresh for a longer period.

Firstly, I ensure my headphones are completely dry before storing them. Air drying them for a few hours prevents any chances of mildew growth and potential damage to the earcups.

To keep my headphones tidy and safe, I invest in a sturdy case or storage bag. Not only does this protect them from dust and debris, but it also prevents potential damage during travel. For AirPods, I recommend using a dedicated AirPods case. For other headphones, like Bose, a case designed specifically for the brand and model is ideal.

If I’m particularly concerned about keeping my headphones moisture-free, I pop a few silica gel packets into the designated case. Some of my more expensive headphones I don’t use for weeks or months at a time so moisture can be a problem.

how to clean sweaty headphones silica gel

These little packets are excellent at absorbing excess moisture and keeping my headphones fresh. Silica gel packs can be easily found online or just see if you have any lying around the home, the little packets come with many electronic products or footwear.

For earbuds users, it’s essential to store them in their dedicated case or a pouch. I always ensure my earbuds are neatly coiled to avoid any unnecessary tangles, making my life easier when retrieving them for use later on.

By following these post-cleaning maintenance and storage tips, I’ve found it easy to maintain the longevity and cleanliness of my headphones. Happy listening!

Preventing Headphones from Getting Sweat-Soaked and Dirty

I know how frustrating it can be when our headphones get dirty or filled with sweat after using them, affecting sound quality and comfort. I’ve gathered a few tips to help prevent this annoying occurrence.

1. Choose the right headphones for your needs: If you tend to get sweaty while using your headphones especially if you’re working out in them, consider investing in sports-specific models that have sweat-resistant and water resistant features. Over-ear and on-ear headphones usually don’t come into direct contact with your ears and are usually considered a good option to avoid sweat and earwax buildup but not all of them are as robust as we thing.

The very popular Apple Airpods Max for example do not handle moisture very well at all and are not easy to repair..

2. Regular cleaning: Make a habit of cleaning your headphones frequently. By gently wiping them down with a soft, damp cloth, you can remove dust particles, sweat, and earwax before they become a significant issue. Don’t forget to also clean the jack to prevent any debris from clogging it and affecting the function.

3. Use headphone covers: Headphone covers can help protect your over-ear or on-ear headphones from sweat, dust, and even pet hair. Just slide them over the ear cups, and you’re good to go! Make sure to wash them regularly with a gentle detergent to keep them fresh and clean.

4. Store your headphones properly: When you’re not using your headphones, keep them in a case or a designated storage area to avoid any unnecessary exposure to dust and dirt. This can often be a simple solution to keeping them clean without too much effort.

5. Keep your ears clean: If you’re prone to producing earwax, make a conscious effort to keep your ears clean and dry. By doing so, you can reduce the chances of your headphones getting dirty from excess earwax.

By following these tips, I hope you’ll find it easier to maintain your headphones in good condition, avoiding the issues that come with sweat, dirt, and debris. Remember, a clean pair of headphones usually means better sound quality and a more enjoyable listening experience.

Step by Step: How to Get Sweat Smell out of Headphones

I understand the struggle of dealing with the odour or sweat in headphones. So, here’s my friendly guide to getting that unpleasant sweat smell out of your headphones in just a few simple steps.

Firstly, remove the padded parts of your headphones if they are detachable. This makes it easier to clean them thoroughly without causing any damage to the electrical components.

Secondly, I find that using hydrogen peroxide is a great way to tackle the sweat smell. Mix equal parts of water and hydrogen peroxide, dip a cotton swab in the solution, and gently rub it on the padded parts. Be sure to not soak the padding – only dampen it enough to remove any lingering odours.

Next, prepare a mixture of warm water and a small amount of detergent. Submerge a soft microfiber cloth in the solution and wring it out until it is damp (not dripping wet). Gently clean the ear cups and headband with the damp cloth, carefully not allowing any liquid to seep into the headphones themselves.

Quick Tip – When Buying Secondhand Headphones

Once you’ve cleaned the headphones with the detergent solution, use a wet wipe to give them a quick wipe down and remove any remaining residue.

Now you’ll need to clean the cables. I recommend using rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer for this step. Apply a small amount to a cotton bud and gently clean along the cables, being sure to avoid any electrical contact points.

Finally, it’s time to dry your headphones. Use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to gently pat down the padding, cables, and other components. Leave the headphones in a well-ventilated area to air dry completely before using them again.

To prevent the headphones from developing an unpleasant smell in the future, I suggest storing them properly after each use. This means wrapping up the cables neatly and placing the headphones in a breathable case or bag. If possible, let your headphones air out for a while after each workout session, as this will help to keep them smelling fresh and clean.

And that’s it! By following these simple steps, you can keep your headphones free from that dreaded sweat smell and enjoy your workout sessions without any distractions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I remove sweat from headphone foam pads?

To remove sweat from foam pads, I carefully remove them from the headphones and soak them in lukewarm water with a mild soap or detergent.

Then, I gently rub the pads to clean them and rinse them in clean water. Afterwards, I squeeze the excess water out and let them air dry completely before reattaching them to the headphones.

Air drying is very important. It may be tempting to use a hairdryer but this can actually damage the pads.

What’s the best method to clean non-removable ear pads?

For non-removable ear pads, I use a soft cloth or cotton swabs dampened with a mild soap and water mixture to carefully wipe around the ear pads.

To avoid liquid getting into the headphones, I ensure the cloth or swabs aren’t too wet. I then allow the ear pads to air dry before using the headphones again.

How can I clean my headphone headband?

To clean the headband of my headphones, I gently wipe it with a damp cloth or disinfectant wipe, taking care not to get the headphones wet on the inside. I make sure to dry it off completely with a clean, dry cloth or towel.

What is the proper way to clean in-ear headphones?

For in-ear headphones, I first remove the silicone or foam ear tips and then soak them separately in lukewarm water with mild soap.

For the earbuds themselves, I use a cotton swab or a soft brush dampened with a little rubbing alcohol.

I gently clean the earbuds while avoiding any openings. After cleaning, I allow everything to dry completely before reassembling.

How can I clean headphone mesh safely?

To clean headphone mesh, I use a soft, dry brush, like a toothbrush, to gently brush away any debris or dirt.

If it’s necessary to dampen the brush for stubborn grime, I use a small amount of rubbing alcohol. I’m cautious about not applying too much liquid to avoid damaging the headphones.

Is it possible to wash my headphone pads in a washing machine?

I usually avoid washing headphone pads in the washing machine because it can damage the foam, cushion material, or stitching.
Instead, I prefer to handwash them with mild soap and water (as mentioned earlier). This ensures a gentle and safe cleaning method that will effectively remove sweat and dirt but also lessen the chances of you damaging your headphones.


Avatar of Stuart Patrick
Stuart Patrick
Stuart Patrick is a health and fitness lifestyle journalist who writes for ListedFit.com.

“I've spent a lot of time trying to get in shape and change my body and I realised there are so many untruths in the health and fitness industry that can slow down or stop your progress, so I share my knowledge and experience to help others to cut through the BS.”

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