Ear Buds: How to Care For Your Ears While Using Ear Buds

Happy girl in red listening to music with phone and wireless earbuds in the night sitting on a couch in the living room at home

Technology has opened the door to all sorts of personal entertainment, including the ability to listen to music or take part in a conversation from tiny devices inserted into the ears. Though small pieces of equipment, wearable listening devices can have a damaging effect on your ears and hearing if both your ears and the equipment aren’t properly cared for. For the good of your ears and the longevity of your tech, consider the following guide on how to properly use and care for your in-ear headphones.

Clean Your Ear Buds

Your ears are a source of oil, wax, debris, and soap or shampoo residue, and anything put into your ears is a magnet for attraction. Wireless headphones that sit inside the ear need to be cleaned if you are to keep from developing a buildup of bacteria and germs, but a cleaning routine also helps the wireless headphones last longer. Here are some thorough cleaning practices to adopt with your ear pods.

  1.  Weekly Cleansing With Soap
  2. Though you probably use your headphones more than once a week, it is acceptable to wipe them down with a cleaning agent once a week. Using a gentle soap and warm water, wipe down the tips and earpads of the headphones with a damp cloth. Make sure the pods have been powered off before starting. Don’t have the cloth dripping wet, and be sure to dry the pods thoroughly once finished. Avoid using alcohol or alcohol pads as it will cause the material and coloring to fade and break down over time.

  3.  Daily Wipe Down as Needed
  4. For those with an active lifestyle, sweat can contaminate your headphones with germs. Even when a pair is labeled sweat or water-resistance, you should never allow them to remain damp for an extended period of time. With enough exposure, moisture is able to seep into the device and create a short circuit. Individuals who use their devices in the gym or while exercising are more prone to have excess moisture around the bud itself. Putting your pods in a gym bag or tossing them into a pocket won’t allow them to dry thoroughly. Wipe them down with soap and water, drying thoroughly once finished.

  5.  Clean the Interior of the Buds
  6. The wax and residue in your ears can collect on your ear pods, muffling the sound in the process. There are inexpensive cleaning tools designed specifically for use in this situation. Some of the brand name in-ear models have a cleaning tool included in the initial purchase. Only use approved tools when cleaning the interior, as these tools are designed to prevent damage to the equipment when used correctly.

    To start, pull the tips from off the top of the bud. Using the metal loop in the tool, gently maneuver the tool through the tip to remove any build-up of ear wax. Don’t do this while the tip is still connected, as it could push the wax down into the bud itself and cause damage. You can use a small soft brush to remove any debris or gunk left attached to the earpiece. You can use a damp, soapy cloth to clean the tips, then dry thoroughly and reattach them to the earpiece.

Care for Your Ear Buds

In addition to making sure your in-ear headphones are clean and free from germs and residue build-up, you should also pay attention to how your store and use your pods. Following the manufacturer’s recommendation for storage and use preserves the lifespan of your device and ensures you made a good investment. Most manufacturers recommend developing the following habits.

    • Store your ear buds in a protective case or bag when not in use to prevent damage from impact, scratches, or dirt.
    • Avoid storing or using your headphones in extreme temperature environments as it can impact battery life.
    • Protect the battery charging port at all times to prevent moisture or dust from getting inside the device.

Care for Your Ears

Your ear buds won’t bring much enjoyment if your ears aren’t working properly. Prolonged exposure to abnormally loud noises or improper ear hygiene can lead to hearing loss, and continually wearing wireless pods increases the risk of developing both of these bad outcomes. Here are several of the best suggestions for caring for your ears.

  1. Set an appropriate volume.
  2. The World Health Organization has uncovered how systemic the problem of hearing loss is beyond those that are naturally aging. According to one study, there are over 11 billion young adults and teenagers at risk for developing noise-induced hearing loss because of their listening habits with audio devices. Listen to your device for no more than 60 minutes a day and only at 60% of the possible volume.

  3. Set a recovery time.
  4. Ears that are exposed to loud noises for a long period of time need to recover from the trauma. Similar to experiencing ringing in the ears after going to a loud concert or being on a worksite without hearing protection, your ears need between 16 and 48 hours of rest to overcome symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss. Choose to use alternative listening devices, such as a Bluetooth speaker, every other day or so in order to give your ears a break.

  5. Set a cleaning schedule.
  6. Just like you should be cleaning off your ear pods from wax and other materials, it is important to clean your ears out as well. A little bit of wax in your ears is healthy, as this substance stops harmful particles and dust from getting into the eardrum. However, too much wax buildup can cause sounds to be muffled. Don’t use a cotton swab to clean up the excess. Instead, use a damp towel to clean around the canal.

Consult a Professional

When faced with hearing loss or concerns with ringing in the ears that won’t go away, consult the audiologists at Happy Ears Hearing Center. Your listening habits may be the root of the problem, but a professional opinion can provide the answers.