How To Clean Smelly Headphones: The Right Way

Long exposures to smell can result in different health effects ranging from mild discomfort to some serious symptoms. 

Similarly, when your headphones become smelly due to dirt, moisture, grease, or sweat, they can become a health hazard. Gamers, who use their headphones for a prolonged period, might relate to it. 

What is the solution then?

To be on the safe side, make sure that you are cleaning your headphones every now and then. 

How To Clean Smelly Headphones?

Briefly, to remove the smell from your headphones, start by removing the earpads and rubbing hydrogen peroxide on them using cotton swabs. To clean the inside of headphones, use rubbing alcohol or wet wipes to get rid of the strong odour. To wipe them regularly, keep a microfiber cloth with you. 

To provide you with a better understanding of how to clean smelly headphones, given below is an 8-step guide. 

how to clean smelly headphones

How To Clean Smelly Headphones In 8 Simple Steps

The steps mentioned can be applied to both over-the-ear headphones and in-ear headphones. 

Step 1: Preparation

To get started, make sure that you have all the supplies at hand. Here is a quick list of cleaning items required:

  • A microfiber cloth
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Lukewarm water
  • A sponge
  • Cotton swabs/ wet wipes

Once you have gathered the above-aid material, proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Remove the earpads/ear tips from your headphones

To ensure a better cleaning, remove the earpads or ear tips from your headphones. Make sure that you are storing them in a safe place so that you don’t end up misplacing them. 

It is very important to clean all the removable stuff as a lot of sweat gets trapped in such parts. 

Step 3: With the help of hydrogen peroxide, get rid of the odour

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild antiseptic solution that is great to remove odor. To proceed, add a fifty-fifty solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. Ensure that you are not soaking your headphones directly in the solution. Instead, take the solution on a cotton swab and scrub your headphones. 

This method will help you to prevent your headphones from getting too wet or ruined. 

Some professionals also recommend using hand sanitisers. Hand sanitisers contain rubbing alcohol, which is good for getting rid of bacteria and smell. You can use it with the help of a cotton swab to get rid of earwax, sweat stains, and every other trapped particle. 

Step 4: Scrub the headphone pads with detergent

Detergent can be a lifesaver as it has a wonderful smelling ingredient to clean your clothes. Make sure that you are using it in a small quantity. A small pinch of detergent should be added to around 2 cups of water.

Now, with the help of a cotton bud/ Q tip or a sponge, gently scrub the removable headphone pads. 

However, if you see any material ripping off the headphone pads, make sure that you do not damage that. Moreover, some of the detergents used are too harsh and can worsen the condition of your headphones, make sure to test it on a small portion before covering the whole pad. Better safe than sorry. 

After you get rid of the smell using the detergent and water, pat dry them with a microfiber cloth. Please remove each and every droplet of water before reattaching them. Otherwise, the headphones may corrode or show poor performance. You can also leave them in front of a fan so that they can dry completely. 

For earbud tips, you can soak them in the 20/80 hydrogen peroxide and water mixture for around 2 to 3 minutes. Afterwards, let them dry completely and reattach them when you are done with the process. However, if you are worried about soaking them into the mixture, you can take the solution on a sponge or a q tip and gently scrub the dirt off. 

Step 5: Clean the wires and the cable jack

Most of us, when cleaning, forget the wires and the cable jack of our headphones. When asked, how to clean smelly headphones, it is highly recommended to clean each and every part of them, including the wires and cable jack. 

Although the wires and the jack do not collect sweat, dirt or dust can be accumulated on them. If you want to have fresh headphones, do not leave them dirty.

Use a clean and dry microfiber cloth to wipe the wires and the jack starting from top to the bottom. And, that is it. This part of the process is the easiest and does not require much time. 

Step 6: Wipe the headphones

Now that you have cleaned the detachable parts and the wires, come to the remaining plastic part of your headphone. For this step, take wet wipes or add some rubbing alcohol to a cotton swab. Now, in small circular motions, get rid of the dirt and smell trapped on the plastic.

There is a risk that rubbing alcohol might leave a stain or streak on your headphone plastic. Test a small portion to decrease the risk. If it is not working, use a dry cloth. Add some water to a small soft cloth and clean the headphones with it.

Step 7: Storing the headphones

To increase the life of your headphones, storing them properly is important. 

A simple way to store them properly is by keeping them with silica gel. These gel packets are able to absorb any extra moisture that helps to prevent smell. 

If you own water-resistant headphones, such as that of Sony, learn how to clean sony headphones and store them properly. 

Step 8: Dust them before each use

Keep a small cloth of microfiber with you. Every time you pick your headphones up for use, dust them with a cloth.

Also read, How To Fix Broken Headphones Plastic

How To Clean Smelly Headphones

Why do we need to clean our headphones?

There are a few reasons why it’s important to keep your headphones clean. First, dirt and grime can build up on the headphones and eventually cause them to break down. Second, if you share your headphones with others, you may be exposing them to bacteria and other germs. Finally, dirt and earwax can actually block the sound from coming through the headphones, so it’s important to keep them clean so that you can enjoy the full sound quality.

How do I stop my headphones from smelling?

The best way to stop your headphones from smelling is to clean them regularly. Use mild soap and water to clean the ear cups, headbands, and earpads. Allow them to air dry completely before using them again. You can also use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean the areas that are most prone to sweat and bacteria build-up.

How do you clean sweaty beats headphones?

There are a few different ways that you can clean your sweaty beats headphones. One way is to take a damp cloth and wipe down the outside of the headphones. Another way is to use a cotton swab or Q-tip to clean the inside of the headphones. Finally, you can use mild soap and water to clean the headphones.

How To Clean Over-Ear Headphones

To clean your over-ear headphones, start by removing the ear cushions and wiping down the outside of the ear cups with a soft, dry cloth. If there is any buildup on the ear cups, you can gently scrub them with a mild soap and water solution. Be sure to rinse the ear cups thoroughly and dry them completely before reattaching the ear cushions.

Once the ear cups are clean, you can wipe down the headband and microphone with a soft, dry cloth. If there is any buildup on the headband or microphone, you can gently scrub them with a mild soap and water solution. Be sure to rinse the headband and microphone thoroughly and dry them completely before using your headphones again.

Can sweat ruin headphones?

Sweat can ruin headphones by causing the earbuds to slip out of your ears, making them uncomfortable to wear. In addition, sweat can damage the electronics inside the headphones, causing them to malfunction. If you’re sweating a lot while using headphones, it’s best to take them off periodically to allow your ears to breathe and to prevent damage to the headphones.


This post sums up how to clean smelly headphones so that you can prevent catching any health disorders. Moreover, keeping your headphones clean also help with the longevity and quality of your headphones.