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How to Clean Headphone Ear Wax

author image Brynne Chandler
Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.
How to Clean Headphone Ear Wax
Earwax can get stuck on headphones, so it's a good idea to clean them regularly. Photo Credit Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media

Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a beneficial substance that helps protect your inner ear from dirt and infection-causing organisms. But if you wear earphones regularly, you are more likely to have a buildup or impaction of earwax -- which can not only get earwax on your headphones but interfere with hearing. Headphones or earbuds caked with earwax can also interfere with the sound quality. The good news is that removing headphone wax is not difficult. Even the most well-loved -- and well-coated -- headphones can be cleaned. Cleaning earbuds and headphones may involve a little bit of trial and error, so always start with the most gentle method first.

Step 1

Read the instructions for your headphones or earbuds, if available. Cleaning guidelines may be noted. This way you'll know if there are any cleaners or steps you need to avoid, to prevent damage to your earphones. Following the recommended steps may be important if you want to keep your warranty valid.

Step 2

Gently remove the headphone or earbud tips, if applicable. Fill a bowl with warm water and add a small amount of dish soap. Soak the tips in this water to help loosen the wax and debris. Rinse the tips thoroughly and allow then to dry completely. Wipe the tips thoroughly with a clean cloth as needed to remove all wax.

Step 3

Use a dry, soft toothbrush to gently brush the metal screen of your headphones. Be careful, as using water could damage the electronics in the headphones. If needed, use a toothpick or a coated, straightened paperclip to remove any visible earwax that has collected in the speaker holes of your headphones. Be careful not to poke the wax farther into the headphones.

Step 4

If the above steps don't successfully get rid of the wax, add a few drops of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution to the toothbrush or to a cotton swab, and gently brush or rub the metal screen to remove the earwax. With metal screen facing down, gently tap the headphone to remove the hydrogen peroxide. Use the can of compressed air if needed to remove any liquid.

Step 5

Place the tips back on the headphones. Listen to music with your headphones to ensure they provide the desired quality of sound.

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