How to Care for Your Headphones

Last Edited: December 18, 2016 | Published: December 18, 2016 by


We talk a lot here about choosing the best headphones, but have you ever given much thought to what you should do with those headphones once you get them home? Of course you have considered all the different ways you plan on using them, and that’s to be expected. But do you want those headphones to last? I’m sure you do.

Most good headphones are surprisingly durable when you consider what they are made of. Look at them. Most of them are made of combinations of plastics and wires. With those materials, it is surprising they last as long as they do. Still, there are things you can do to properly care for your headphones to keep them in great shape and make them last as long as possible. That way you don’t have to go shopping for another set quite as soon as you may have to if you don’t try to care for them properly.

Today, we take a look at several things you can do to care for your headphones so you can make them last and sound great for as long as possible.

Clean Your Headphones

Your headphone can get very dirty. This is especially true if you have earbuds that fit inside your ear. On top of dirt and sweat, most headphones can collect earwax from inside your ear. This leaves them dirty and nasty to look at. Over time, this can even impact the quality of the sound if you let it go long enough without a proper cleaning. Even worse, there are cases of ear infections that have been caused by dirty headphones. While that is kind of gross to think about, it does happen. All of this is easily avoidable if you just clean your headphones.

Now it’s not like they sell headphone cleaner in the store, but there are easy ways you can clean them yourself. I recommend you grab some of following:

  • Cue Tips
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Alcohol Swabs
  • Soft Cloth

All of these can be used to give your headphones a good cleaning. Personally I recommend using a combination of the swabs and cue tips, but use whatever you have handy. Here’s what you do to clean them.

  1. When you are done using them, take them off and allow them to cool to room temperature. They won’t be that hot, but I still recommend waiting.
  2. Using the swabs, clean off the earbuds or ear covers.
  3. Take a cue tip dipped in rubbing alcohol and use it to clean out any cracks or other thin surfaces that the swab can’t reach.
  4. Take another alcohol swab and slowly rub down the entire area of the headphones.
  5. Next, use an alcohol swab to clean the cable by wrapping the swab around the cable and slowly and gently running it across the entire length of the cable.
  6. Allow the headphones to dry.

That’s all there is to it. The whole process should only take you a couple of minutes to complete. With something so easy to do, it’s a wonder why we all don’t do it more often. Try to make this a ritual that you perform every time you are finished with your headphones. While you can skip the process occasionally, I definitely believe you should do it if you were using them when you were sweating because of working out.

Mind Those Cables

It’s amazing to me how many people ignore the cables attached to their headphones. Now I have already covered how to clean them above, so we won’t go there. But there is more to proper cable care.

The biggest problem that I have seen with headphone cables come when people wear their headphones. Many (me included) often just let the cables dangle precariously in the air while we use them. This increases the chances of them getting hooked on something and ripped out of our ears. The stretching of the cables can easily damage them beyond repair, as the delicate wires inside tear causing an interruption in the signal that transfers the audio to the speakers.

Another big problem I have seen is how people store the headphone cables. Often they just wad them up or hastily roll them up and then toss them on their desk. When you aren’t using your headphones, you should carefully roll up the cables making sure you don’t stretch any part of them and then put them somewhere safe. If you don’t, you could end up damaging the cable simply by not rolling them up properly.

Store Them Properly

What do you do with your headphones when you’re not using them? I’m betting that you don’t store them properly. I’m guilty of the same thing. Most of us quickly roll up and then toss them on our desk or into a bag without much thought. However, improper storage can damage them.

Instead, why don’t you designate a specific place to store your headphones? Some newer and higher end headphones come with small bags or even a hard case to store your headphones in when you aren’t using them. These containers can be the key to keeping them in the best shape possible. I know sometimes it is hard to get them back into those small cases, but I recommend that you try. When you first take them out, make a note at how they are stored in the case. After you are done using them, then you should return them to their case in the same manner that you took them out.

If you don’t have a case, why not try to find a pocket in your bag or a nice place in a drawer to designate as your headphone storage. Roll up the cables properly as we have discussed already and then always put them in that same place. This will keep you from losing them (something I’m bad about) and will keep them safe so they are ready for use on another day.

Wear Them the Right Way

Headphones can really take a beating when we wear them. Headphones are great companions while we are working or even exercising, but that means sweat and dirt can easily make their way into your headphones. This is really unavoidable when you think about it. Don’t worry, that’s what the other steps above are for.

At the same time, you don’t want your headphones damaged while you are wearing them. To prevent headphone damage, wipe away excess sweat when you can and lift them off your ears to catch little air while you work. The biggest damage risk while you wear them are the cables. These cables can hang down and get caught on all sorts of things while we wear them. Try running the cable inside your shirt while you use them to reduce the chances of this happening.

If you do set up your cables this way, make sure there is enough play in the cables so they don’t get stretched or pulled simply with your movements. In most cases, they are probably attached to your smartphone inside your pocket. If they get pulled, you could damage your headphones or even the headphone jack on your smartphone. This can be avoided if you go with wireless headphones, but many of us still stick with the tried and true wired headphones these days. So be careful. You don’t want to accidentally damage them while you use them.


So, were you surprised to see so many things you can do to keep your headphones in great shape? I know before I started working on this article that even I didn’t realize what all could be done. Remember, you want your headphones to last as long as you possibly can. But the ways we use our headphones can be quite rough on them.

By taking a few steps to properly care for them while we use them and after, we can extend the life of our favorite and potentially expensive pair of headphones. If you don’t, you could find yourself shopping for a new pair much sooner than you think.

What steps do you take to care for your headphones? Is there anything here that you don’t do or did I leave anything out? If so let me know in the comments below.

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