How to Properly Maintain Your Over-Ear Noise-Canceling Headphones

Over-ear ANC headphones are a valuable investment for any music lover or content enthusiast, and as such, they deserve proper care. This guide will provide comprehensive information on how to clean your headphones, ensuring they perform optimally for many years to come.

Before You Start: Understanding Your Headphones

When it comes to headphone maintenance, it is crucial to understand that not all headphones possess water-resistant capabilities. Therefore, to ensure the safety and longevity of your headphones, it is highly advised to carefully examine the specifications or refer to the manual provided by the manufacturer before initiating any cleaning process.

This step is essential to prevent any potential damage that may occur during cleaning. It's worth noting that different headphones have varying levels of tolerance for moisture, with some being able to withstand a limited amount, while others are more sensitive and should avoid any contact with water altogether.

To begin, it is important to acknowledge the potential risks associated with water damage to your headphones. By adhering to the manufacturer's guidelines and precautions, you can mitigate these risks effectively. Start by reviewing the specifications provided with your headphones, which often include information about their water resistance capabilities. These details will offer valuable insights into the limitations of your headphones and guide you on the safest cleaning methods to employ.


an adult professional having coffee while enjoying Srhythm over-ear ANC headphones

For headphones equipped with water-resistant features, you can proceed with caution and opt for appropriate cleaning techniques. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that even water-resistant headphones have their limitations. They are typically designed to withstand minor exposure to moisture, such as sweat or light rain, rather than full submersion. Exceeding these limits may result in irreversible damage to the headphones, compromising their functionality and potentially voiding any warranties.

On the other hand, headphones lacking water-resistant properties are highly vulnerable to damage when exposed to any form of moisture. In such cases, it is imperative to avoid any contact with water during the cleaning process. Instead, focus on utilizing dry cleaning methods, such as gently wiping away dirt or dust particles using a soft, lint-free cloth. Additionally, it is advisable to store these headphones in a dry environment and minimize exposure to humidity to prevent any potential damage caused by moisture.

To summarize, it is of utmost importance to thoroughly assess the water-resistance capabilities of your headphones before undertaking any cleaning procedures. By adhering to the manufacturer's guidelines and limitations regarding water exposure, you can safeguard your headphones from potential damage. Employing suitable cleaning methods and proper maintenance practices will ensure that your headphones continue to deliver optimal audio experiences for an extended period of time. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to maintaining the performance and longevity of your headphones.

Step 1: Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

Cotton swabs to clean headphones

For this process, you'll need:

  • Cotton swabs
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Soapy water
  • Paper towels
  • Soft cloth

Step 2: Clean Your Headphones

A. Cleaning the Ear Cups and Ear Pads

If you are fortunate enough to own headphones with detachable ear tips, you have an opportunity to thoroughly clean them and maintain their optimal performance. This cleaning process is particularly important for those who own high-quality headphones renowned for their noise-canceling capabilities, such as the Sony WH-1000XM5, Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700, Apple AirPods Max, or Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless.

To begin, carefully remove the ear tips from your headphones. These removable ear tips are commonly found in in-ear headphones or earbuds, such as the Apple AirPods Pro. By detaching them, you can access the areas that accumulate the most dirt and debris.

Once removed, it's time to give the ear tips a deep cleaning. Prepare a bowl or container of warm, soapy water using a mild liquid soap or a gentle detergent. Allow the ear tips to soak in the warm, soapy water for approximately five minutes. This soaking period allows the soap to penetrate and break down any oils or accumulated dirt that may affect the sound quality or noise-canceling performance of your headphones.

Keeping headphones clean is the best way to keep them clean

After the soaking time has elapsed, gently wipe the ear tips using a soft cloth or sponge. Pay attention to any areas with visible dirt or debris. Be careful not to use excessive force, as you don't want to damage the delicate material of the ear tips.

Next, rinse the ear tips with fresh water to remove any remaining soap residue. Ensure that you thoroughly rinse them to leave no traces of detergent behind. This step is crucial, as any residue can affect the fit and comfort of the ear tips.

Once rinsed, it's time to dry the ear tips thoroughly. Use a clean, lint-free cloth or paper towel to gently remove excess moisture. Ensure they are completely dry before reattaching them to your headphones. Moisture can lead to discomfort, affect the sound quality, and even cause potential damage.

Finally, reattach the clean and dry ear tips to your headphones, ensuring a secure and proper fit. This maintenance routine will not only contribute to better hygiene but also help preserve the noise-canceling performance, clarity, and overall sound quality of your headphones.

It's important to note that while this cleaning process is beneficial for detachable ear tips, the main body of the headphones, including the headphone jacks and other components, require different cleaning approaches. Consult the manufacturer's guidelines or manual for specific instructions on maintaining the main body of your headphones.

By regularly cleaning your detachable ear tips, you can enjoy great sound quality, active noise cancelation (ANC), and transparency modes with confidence. Take pride in owning headphones with exceptional noise-canceling capabilities, and keep them performing at their best by incorporating a proper cleaning routine into your headphone maintenance.

B. Cleaning the Ear Tips

If your headphones have detachable ear tips, remove them for a deep clean. Soak them in warm, soapy water for about five minutes, then gently wipe them clean. Rinse with fresh water and dry them thoroughly before reattaching.

C. Cleaning the Headphone Jacks

Dip a cotton swab into hydrogen peroxide and carefully clean the headphone jacks. This not only removes dirt but also helps to kill bacteria. Make sure the jacks are completely dry before plugging your headphones back in.

Step 3: Regular Maintenance

To keep your noise-canceling headphones in top shape, it's essential to practice regular maintenance. After each use, please give them a gentle wipe with a soft, dry cloth to prevent dirt accumulation. Always store them properly in their cases when not in use.

Remember, when it comes to electronics, a little preventive care goes a long way. Treat your headphones well, and they'll serve you with high-quality audio for a long time.

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Step 4: Avoiding Damages

Keep Them Dry

Although some headphones are water resistant, it's generally a good idea to keep them as dry as possible. Always avoid exposing your headphones to rain, heavy sweat, or humidity to prevent any potential damage.

B. Be Mindful of the Cord

A common reason for headphone malfunctions is damage to the cord. Always unplug your headphones by pulling on the plug, not the cord. Avoid wrapping the cord tightly around your device or the headphones, as this can cause internal wires to break.

C. Proper Storage

When not in use, store your headphones in a protective case to shield them from dust and damage. Do not leave them lying around where they can be stepped on or squashed under heavy objects.

Step 5: Periodic Check-Ups

Even with proper care, some components of your headphones can wear down over time. Regularly inspect your headphones for any physical damages and check the sound quality. If you notice a dip in the quality, it might be time to replace certain parts (like ear pads or ear tips), or possibly the entire headphone.


Your over-ear noise-canceling headphones can bring you joy and block out the world when needed. With regular cleaning and proper maintenance, they can continue to serve you well for years to come. So remember, a small amount of time invested in taking care of your headphones can extend their life significantly.