How to Clean Headphone Muffs

  • Wearing headphones opens doors to a wide variety of options—a set of headphone pads lets you work, study, commute, and exercise—while listening to your favorite song or another valuable audio resource (French audio lessons, anyone?). 
  • It would be best if you cleaned your headphones regularly. You’ll notice they need a touch of cloth when they start to smell bad. Clean your headphones when one earphone is louder than the other. Do it also if headphone pads visibly get dirty or haven’t been cleaned for some time already. Imagine all the ear wax trapped inside and bacteria that reproduce there! Take it easy; use soap water, wipe them with a clean cloth, or use a cotton bud to ensure your muffs get clean.
  • How and how often should you clean your headphones? Considering the ear wax and sweat from the ear and the outside debris, cleaning your headphones regularly is necessary. Read our tips on dealing with the nooks and crevices of headphones pads.

It’s a headphone world

You may not use them daily, but you most probably have a pair or two at home. 

Headphones serve in various situations, from studying, commuting, cleaning, work, and exercise to gaming to talking on the phone and passing the time when waiting for an appointment at the dentist.

What you get from them depends on which customer decisions you make and how much attention you pay to: 

  • cleaning your headphones, and 
  • keeping them in good condition; 

Types of headphone

They can serve diverse activities. Here’s what we’ve got to pick from:

  • earbuds 

Also known as in-ear headphones. Since they’re the most lightweight to carry, they are popular with anyone who moves—like runners or commuters. 

Also, these high quality accessories work great for teenagers who listen to music discreetly (because they should be doing something else). 

  • wireless (Bluetooth)

The Bluetooth technology connection (i.e., via radio waves) lets you stop struggling with this pesky cord always getting in your way.

  • circumaural

This sophisticated word, which means “around the ears,” simply refers to headphones that fit over your ears. 

They have squishy, big earcups, perfectly fitted to an adjustable headband that sits on top of your head. 

Also, over-ear headphones often will be called circumaural.

  • supra-aural

Another type of on-ear headphones. 

The earcups are typically smaller than a circumaural pair—this feature makes them more stable for athletes. 

A stylish vintage look is another pro. 

Hipsters are dying to get a pair of those!

  • noise-cancelling

All headphones cancel external noises when you play the sound on them—that’s for sure. 

However, these headphones do more. 

If you’re on a noisy train or airplane, you need those. 

The earcups are cozy. 

They isolate you and your audio content from any outside noises.

  • bone conduction

There is some structural and functional difference between the previous models and this one. 

Most headphones block the ear canal—it allows no other sound to enter the ear. 

Bone conduction headphones do something else. They send vibrations to the bones in your inner ear. 

We wear this type of headphones above the ears.

Important: Bone conduction headphones are excellent for anyone with hearing issues.

  • closed-back

What does it mean that your headphones are closed-back?

If you wish to keep your sound private, a closed-back design is made for you. 

The speaker is on the inside of the cups, which allows you to keep the sound close by.

  • open-back

Open-back, also called open-air headphones, have the speakers fitted on the outside of the earcups. 

We typically use this type of headphones on soundstages or in music studios—i.e., where the songs are performed live.

  • semi-open

We’re in the middle between a closed-back and open-back pair here. 

They neither completely seal the speaker nor open it. 

They naturally allow in some air and ambient noise. 

They’ll be perfect for casual listening and relaxing at home.

  • waterproof

That’s a unit for special purposes among headphones!

If you consider swimming or taking a bubble bath while wearing headphones—now, it’s doable!

Manufacturers and designers created this style of headphones purposefully to make them withstand contact with water.

  • DJ

The truth is—a DJ can use any style of headphones.

However, at some point, many professional DJs will start looking for a pair that allows different sounds on the left and right speakers.

What are headphones made of?

Some headphones and earbuds are lightweight and comfy to wear. 

It’s thanks to the combination of materials:

  • soft materials—we refer to pads using silicone, memory foam, fabric (like artificial leather), and vinyl—these materials create the cups or earbuds that rest on or in your ears,
  • hard materials—like rubber, plastic, ceramic, or aluminum—are used to create the shell, and
  • copper—in the wiring that produces the sound;

The better quality materials were used to manufacture your pair of headphones, the better the design and sound quality that you experience. 

Headphones vs. earbuds—differences

What should you consider when you’re about to pick the perfect pair of headphones?

First, reflect on whether you need headphones or earbuds. 

What are the fundamental differences between headphones and earbuds?

1. We wear headphones on top of the ears. Earbuds—inside the ears.

2. Headphones are more comfortable to wear. They will also last for a more extended time.

3. With sound quality, headphones are considered better than earbuds.

4. Earbuds are easier to clean (we’ll get to it later in this article). It’s safer to carry earbuds than headphones when you’re on the go. Earbuds are smaller and will typically also be less expensive than headphones.

5. Both earbuds and headphones come in a variety of designs. You can customize their colors and styles. Also, both types can include Bluetooth technology. 

How to clean headphone muffs?

Are you wondering if this nasty ear wax and dirt will ever go away when you clean it? 

We’ve got good news. We will assist you when you clean headphone pads, and the solution is just around the corner!

Tip: Don’t throw your headphones away when you notice that one earphone is louder than the other. First off, try to clean the dirt, earwax, or debris interfering with the audio. 

If you see the dust with a bare eye or your headphones and don’t function properly (not as well as they used to), try cleaning headphone pads! 

What to do first when you need to clean headphone pads?

First off, make sure they are powered off and disconnected from your device (a computer,  smartphone, or others). 

When it comes to moisture, dry them fast with a clean cloth if your headphones get wet. 

Important: If you use alcohol for cleaning—do it according to the tips we share below. Using a cloth with rubbing alcohol can remove color or break down leather or fabric. 

You don’t need to clean them with alcohol when they get dirty; soap water solution will clean off any moderate nasties instead.

The proper care and maintenance can go a long way (and your headphone pads will thank you). 

Take your headphones or earphones and check:

  • the inside of the ear pads, or 
  • a wire mesh of the earbuds;

After using your favorite sound accessory for months—trust us—there will be some clogged earwax, grease, dirt, and dust in its tiny crevices. 

Tools that you’ll need to clean your headphones:

  • a small cloth or microfiber cloth,
  • rubbing alcohol/ hand sanitizer, or hydrogen peroxide,
  • q tips or cotton buds,
  • rubbing alcohol or soapy water,
  • blu-tack/multipurpose adhesive,
  • leather conditioner (like Leather Honey or Audeze);

You are on your way to super clean headphones!

Cleaning headphones also involves cleaning more delicate parts, like the leather or foam ear pads, which can tear easily. 

Treat these parts gently when cleaning your muffs. 

If you don’t feel like linking to just now (earn advertising fees) and buying a fresh pair, conduct the cleaning process gently.

First, remove the ear pads (muffs) and gently wipe their exterior down. Next, dampen a small cloth in some soap and warm water. 

After you clean headphones, wipe them dry with some paper towels and leave them to air dry completely.

Now comes the risky part. Dampen a small cloth with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer and gently wipe down the exterior of the ear pads. Don’t rub too hard if you want to clean headphone pads but not destroy them.  

Soak a q tips/cotton buds in alcohol/hand sanitizer. Clean the nooks and crevices of the ear pads.

Dab some alcohol or hand sanitizer also over the surface of the foam mesh.

Gently rub both the right and left sides together. This process is supposed to kill off the bacteria living in the ear pads. Gentle rubbing should also help to dislodge any dirt or grime.

Leave the ear pads to air dry completely before reattaching them. Next, use a few paper towels and ensure your now clean headphone pads have dried off completely.

How to clean your headphone jack?

The interior of the headphone jack is white. There’s no way you won’t notice the color change when it gets dirty. 

You can use a can of compressed air to clean it. You could also use an interdental brush, a pipe cleaner, or a bent paper clip with double-sided tape. 

Insert it and whisk the inside of the jack—until you remove any visible blockage.

Clean the jack gently as there’s a risk of damaging the metal interior of the headphone jack if you act too rough.

Another handy tip?

Silica gel is a little gel packet you can find within the packaging of food and electronics. 

These tiny gel beads help control the humidity level—they absorb moisture well. Place them in the ear cups. It should help mitigate the issue with a foul smell.

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Frequently Asked Questions

If you want to keep it safe, wear them for an hour or less each day. Experts recommend following the 60/60 rule. It refers to keeping your volume under 60% and listening to headphones for about 60 minutes every day. If you want to listen for a more extended period, take at least 5-minute breaks every hour.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and Harvard Health, listening to loud headphones may cause hearing loss, tinnitus, dizziness, or even an ear infection.
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