This Is How Often You Should Be Cleaning Your Earbuds

When you think of health problems related to earbuds, you might think of hearing loss. This is a problem that The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center points out is irreversible and can impact adolescents as well as older adults. The concern over permanent hearing loss is why some devices, such as Apple iPhones, have built-in features that alert users when earbud and headphone audio levels are dangerously high.

Some may argue, however, that devices should also offer another alert related to earbuds: when to clean them. Ear, nose, and throat specialist Dr. Nicholas Dewyer told Banner Health that frequent earbud use can contribute to infections. "Using dirty earbuds could cause pimples or otitis externa, a painful infection of the ear canal that's also known as swimmer's ear," he explained to Banner Health. This is because earbuds are often covered in old earwax, dirt, and bacteria, especially if they aren't cleaned regularly.

That being said, just how often should you clean your earbuds? Here's the answer and easy tips on how to do it.

Earbuds should be cleaned regularly to prevent infection

To give your ears the best protection against infection, Healthline says that experts recommend disinfecting earbuds after each use. However, this may be difficult for people who use these devices multiple times each day. Instead, cleaning earbuds at least once a week is typically sufficient. If you exercise with headphones or earbuds, make sure to give them an extra cleaning after hitting the gym or going for a run, as sweat can leave behind moisture and bacteria (per The New York Times).

To do a proper cleaning, Orlando Ear Nose & Throat Associates says to first wipe a dry, lint-free cloth over the surface of the earbuds before digging into the nooks and cracks. You can also use a cotton swab with a little water to clean hard-to-reach spots. For disinfecting — and for earbuds that shouldn't be exposed to water — use an alcohol wipe instead.

If you struggle to remember to regularly clean your earbuds, consider over-the-ear headphones instead. ENT Dr. Sreenivasa Murthy T M told Doctors' Circle that earbuds may be especially likely to cause infections in the ear canal compared to traditional headphones.