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Consumer Reports: Clean your headphones like a pro

Posted at 6:25 AM, Apr 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-12 11:48:47-04

TUCSON, Ariz - Everyone is wearing headphones. But how many people are cleaning them? Consumer Reports says ten minutes and some common household supplies are all you need.

“If your headphones have removable tips, you want to take them off and clean them separately," says Consumer Reports Tech Editor, Thomas Germain. "Here’s where that toothpick comes in handy. You just want to take that kind of gently rub it through here and just pull all that gunk out. You don’t want to be sticking toothpicks inside the inner workings of your headphones, it’s pretty delicate in there and can be easy to damage.

"Also, if your headphones have a mesh screen covering the drivers, that can be a hot-spot for wax and you can just use the toothbrush to clean that off," says Germain. "Going to brush it gently across, you don’t want wax getting pushed further into the screen there."

“Apple recommends using a dry cotton swab to clean their mesh screens, again just be really gentle with it," says Germain.

“For larger, over-ear headphones, if the ear pads are removable you want to go ahead and take those off, and you can clean these separately," says Germain. "For these screens, you want to use your toothbrush again. And just brush gently across, don’t push in, because the drivers here can be delicate and you don’t want to damage those.”

For the outside, a few drops of mild dish soap in warm water is all you need. Just be sure to wring the towel out well. Water and electronics don’t mix.

“So, take your cloth, rub it along the outside, get everything nice and clean," says Germain. "And take your second microfiber towel and wipe it off as soon as your done. It’s better not to let them air dry. Cleaning your headphones every once in a while, will keep them sounding great and help them last longer.”

As far as other cleaners go, Consumer Reports says skip the alcohol. While it’s fine to use on plastic and rubber, alcohol can dissolve foam, so stick to mild soap and water. Baby wipes could be a good alternative. Just be sure to use ones that are unscented and alcohol free.