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Smartwatches and fitness trackers aren't the only wearables that need cleaning regularly. Earbuds and headphones need some cleaning TLC, too.
Cleaning earbuds and headphones of lingering earwax and surface disinfecting aren't only good practices for hygienic reasons. It may improve the sound quality.
If you use your headphones while working out, sweat can build up inside and cause them to start smelling bad. In addition, a buildup of earwax can clog the drivers and reduce the volume and clarity of sound.
Here's how to go about cleaning earbuds to protect your ears - and the quality of the sound.
A recent study found that aside from being coated in sweat and wax (gross but true), the average pair of personal in-ear headphones is home to 119,186 CFU, or colony-forming-units - more than 2,700 times the bacteria on an average cutting board and 330 times more bacteria than on a kitchen countertop.
Not all headphones in the study were crawling with germs, however. One pair had a CFU count of 20; another tipped the scales at 830,000 CFU.
Even with such a wide range and the possibility of your headphones falling toward the lower end, researchers concluded that it couldn't hurt to disinfect them every so often.
Common bacteria that can live on your earbuds include Staphylococcus that can cause a painful ear infection.
Then there's all the dirt, bacteria, and other microbes you can't see that might make you sick.
Studies have shown that headphone use increases bacterial growth inside the ear. Clean earbuds and headphones are just more sanitary.
How you clean your over-ear headphones will vary.
Many brands are designed for easy cleaning, with removable cups and cables that unplug at both ends.
If yours are not so cleaning-friendly, you'll need to be careful not to dame them. Consult the manufacturer's cleaning instructions, if available.
To clean and sanitize over-ear headphones, you'll need:
If you have concerns about damaging any fabric on your headphones, first test the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area.
In-ear headphones (earbuds) are generally less hygienic because you actually put them inside your ear.
Thanks to their silicone tips, some sit pretty deep in your ear canal to form a seal. While the sound is superior, the risk of getting an ear infection is greater with these devices.
To clean and sanitize earbuds, you'll need:
If your earbuds have removable silicone ear tips, remove and clean them separately after each use, being careful not to tear the silicone.
Cleaning earbuds and headphones aren't that difficult, after all! It just requires knowing the safest sanitizing solution for each type.
By regularly sanitizing your tech toys, you're not only helping to keep yourself healthy, but you're also helping protect the health of those you encounter daily.