August 02, 2021 6 min read

Apple has been a mainstay in tech for over twenty years. They have carefully designed products that have helped them cultivate a true cult-like following that has fully taken over the mainstream in the past ten years. 

One of the main reasons they have been able to do this (stay relevant over two decades) is their ability to ergonomically appeal to the masses. Their packaging and design of products are second to none. They have the same beautiful, heavy white packaging that makes the consumer feel like they are embarking on something significant when they open an Apple product. 

Unfortunately, life is not as clean and simple as Apple products. Instead, after a bit of time, the exterior surfaces of these shiny white products are caked with dirt, grime, sweat, gunk, bacteria, and all manner of grossness. This is totally natural, but the age-old question of how to restore these products to their out-of-the-box condition rages on. 

Perhaps the most frustrating of these never-impervious products are the Airpods. Airpods are wireless headphones put out by Apple in 2016 (though an interesting longer story is worth a read).

They are one of the most commonly-researched things to clean. Here we will break down how to clean your AirPods, AirPods case, and how to restore your purchase to the beautiful, clean, white original look. 

How To Get Clean AirPods

This is probably what you really came here to figure out. There are a million and one tips and tricks floating around the internet, and not all of them seem to follow the Apple guidelines for device cleaning.

After testing Apple’s advice and a few of the (seemingly sane) household tricks, there is a clear winner. We will break down the recommended methods as well as a super effective one from a household. 

While the Apple guidelines are generally good for maintenance, they fall short in a few ways.

Apple’s Guidelines and How They Fall a Bit Short

Apple has set out a few cleaning guidelines for their AirPods. They recommend not, under any circumstances, submerging your AirPods in any cleaning agents at all. This will allow moisture to freely enter your apple AirPods and ruin them permanently. They recommend only using cotton swabs and a microfiber lint-free cloth for the outside. 

Testing this theory out, it seems as though the cotton swabs really do not get the nasty ear wax and grime from the speaker meshes. Without anything to lift the dirt and debris themselves, this method really does not work to our liking. Even without much pressure, this tends to push the gunk down further into the grate of the speaker.

In addition, the sanitizing should be done with a slightly damp one-use disinfecting wipe. Try to make sure you do not use one that is soaking wet toward the bottom of the container, as you do not want too much moisture getting into your AirPods. Clean AirPods aren't worth much with damaged audio quality. We would recommend sticking strictly to this guideline. 

Home-Grown Methods That Work

Because Apple has to take a million things into consideration when putting out their guidelines, there is a large bit of caution that comes into those guidelines at the expense of actual cleaning power. 

Because of this, we will explore a very effective method developed by people who do not have to worry about lawsuits: people on the internet. 

First of all, microfiber towels are essential as they do not leave any fibers behind when wiping something down. In addition, we will stick to the Apple guideline of not using any direct moisture on the AirPods: they are not water-resistant. 

Instead, we will use any brand of cleaning putty. These substances are designed to go on surfaces and stick to them without being too adhesive and pulling paint, or damaging the wall or surface. Because of this, it is the perfect substance to use for the pesky grate over the earbuds' speaker that seems to hold a beehive’s amount of earwax from the ear canal. 

Roll the putty in your fingers to warm it up, then press it on the grate and peel back repeatedly until it is cleaned to your satisfaction. This type of adhesive is enough to get a majority of the dirt and grime without leaving behind too much residue. 

In addition to this, instead of using a dry cotton swab to scrape up the caked-on bits on the edges of the AirPod, we recommend using a toothpick. The wooden toothpick is stiffer than the q-tip, but it has enough give to not scratch or harm the AirPod in any way. It is the perfect middle ground. In general, avoiding abrasive materials is always a smart approach for cleaners. 

Sanitizing is recommended in the same way that Apple recommends it, as their advice on this is pretty straightforward and effective. 

Cleaning AirPod Pros are a bit easier as the rubber inserts can come out and be run under soapy water and non-harsh chemicals or detergents to clean them. It is an upgraded design that takes the difficulty of cleaning the original AirPods into consideration. 

How To Clean Your AirPod Charging Case

Cleaning your AirPods is quite easy in comparison with the case. The AirPod does not have nearly the same amount of cavernous space as the case does. The case's holes that the AirPod goes in can be stuffed with lint, dirt, and messes, which makes charging the AirPods much harder. Not to mention fingerprints. The case is meant to protect the more delicate AirPods, which means they take a bit more abuse. 

Because of this, cleaning them will be a bit more challenging than cleaning the AirPods themselves. However, the protection aspect might be your biggest question area. We will briefly go over cleaning tips, then give insider tips for protection. 

Cleaning

For cleaning your AirPods case, review the tips above. Using the toothpick will be your best tool against the extremely caked-on dust particles. The case has a few magnetic bits that help it stay closed and keep your AirPods in place as you go throughout your day.

Because of this, any magnetic mineral tends to stick on there extra hard. Use the toothpick to scrape off as much as you can and dampen a microfiber cloth with light cleaning soaps or warm water to try to loosen some of this off.

Another tip is to buy a hearing aids cleaning kit online. They are affordable and come with a variety of brushes to help get into all the nooks and crannies of your case. A soft toothbrush or anything with gentle bristles can help. This is extremely helpful for the small charging ports at the bottom of the case because of the charging pin. Getting underneath with a brush may also improve the charging speed of the AirPods. 

The charging pin is what connects the battery of your AirPod to the battery of your case. It is one of the more integral things to the charger, yet it routinely will get caught with lint and other manner of grime. It is also a delicate piece, which is why being cautious with it is a must. 

Once you have cleaned your case with the methods shown here, it is important to think about other ways of preventing having to clean as intensely again. This is where a case for your case (who can resist a pun?) comes in handy. 

Protection

Because your AirPods case is essential to keeping your AirPods safe, we think it is smart to have protection for your case as well. That is why we designed The Madera. The Madera is a wooden case for your AirPod case. Not only does it protect your case from being crushed, scratched, or any other type of damage, it also looks beautiful because it is made from either walnut or maple wood and has a touch of our distinct and quality full grain leather. 

Not only will the Madera allow your AirPod case to maintain its beautiful look, but it will also keep the impact minimal and extend the life of your AirPods. Like other products, Andar’s collection of leather goods, The Madera provides a great mix of style and durability designed to last a long time. If you bring your AirPods on the go often, consider the Caddy. Just like the name suggests, this case goes everywhere you do. With the help of a high-quality leather and metal clip, you can always keep your Airpods nearby. 

By using a mix of factory-recommended and home-grown methods, you can return your AirPods to the condition you found them in: fresh-out-of-the-box cleanliness. Be sure to always keep them from moisture and care for their delicate parts.

Long-Lasting Legacy With Leather

Apple has been around a long time and is also committed to quality in their own ways. Their products have always received the love and care to make them one of the most profitable companies in our history. Learning to take care of their products (like your iPad or laptop) is a great way to pay homage to their work and craftsmanship. 

 

Sources: 

How Steve Jobs' Love of Simplicity Fueled A Design Revolution | Smithsonian 

The surprisingly long history of the Apple AirPods | Apple Insider

How to clean your AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and EarPods | Apple Support