Your earbuds are gross - here’s how to clean them the right way

It’s a bit stomach-turning when you think about the germs, viruses, grime, and other crud covering our devices. 

Dust can do a surprising amount of damage to your TV. Particles find their way into every crack and crevice and stay there unless you do something about it. Tap or click for the safe steps to clean out your TV’s ports — and shine up the screen

Your TV is probably clear of nasty germs, but your phone is another story. Think about everything you touch in a day and all the times you grab your phone. Tap or click here for a guide to sanitizing your smartphone without ruining it

And then there are your earbuds. Unless you clean them regularly, crud builds up in a way that would be embarrassing if anyone else saw it. Here’s how to get rid of it. 

Woman with Phiaton Bolt earbuds

Woman with Phiaton Bolt earbuds

Wiping away the crud 

Compared to other gadgets, earbuds rack up an extraordinary amount of nastiness. They collect dirt and skin particles, earwax, grease, and sweat. They’re like portable Petri dishes for our biological debris. Yuck. 

Luckily, it’s not hard to wipe it all away. First, grab a microfiber cloth. I like this 6-pack from EliteTechGear, which you can get for less than $10.  

Lightly dampen it and wipe down the cord and body of each earbud. You can use these steps for your earbuds’ charging case, too, but avoid anything wet on the speaker area of your headphones. 

If you prefer cleaning wipes as I do, grab a big affordable pack, so you never run out. I always order Care Touch’s box of 210 wipes. Again, avoid the speaker. 

Pro tip: If you have white corded headphones covered in dirt and scuffs, use a pencil eraser to buff the dark streaks away. 

When cleaning your earbud speakers, you need to be careful. Sharp objects like toothpicks or safety pins can do severe damage. A plastic tool, like a flosser, is a safer option for scraping earwax or other buildups from around the edge. Once you’re done, use a dry cloth to wipe away the junk gently. 

One viral TikTok trick recommends Blu Tack, the reusable adhesive putty used to hang up posters, as a safer option. Sculpt it into a ball and press it into your earbud speakers. When you pull it away, it should have picked up all the junk inside your buds.  

JBL Endurance Peak Earbuds 

JBL Endurance Peak Earbuds 

Here’s what you need to avoid 

Whatever you do, don’t run water over your earbuds. Sure, you can use a slightly damp cloth or cleansing wipe — but make sure you soak up that moisture with a dry, soft, and lint-free cloth when you’re done. 

Avoid metal or wire brushes. You’ll also want to skip chemical detergents. Plain water should be more than enough for the cord and body of your headphones or earbuds. 

Of course, make sure to be super careful when you wipe — no rough tugging or harsh pulling over the mesh speakers. Avoid any cleaners here. 

And once you’re done, be sure to dry your earbuds with a clean, soft cloth. Don’t charge them until you’re 100% sure they are moisture-free. 

(NuForce Wireless earbuds, Credit: Optoma USA)

Bonus Tip: A unbelievable story about hackers hitting a hospital up for ransomware 

Ransomware hackers recently hit a hospital, and everything from the cardiac machines to IV pumps stopped working. Doctors and nurses had to use pen and paper. There were no electronic patient records. But what happened when the hackers found out it was a hospital will undoubtedly surprise you.  

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Explains” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player. 

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.” 

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television, or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts. 

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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters, and more, visit her website at 

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