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How to Clean Your AirPods Case: Without Causing Damage

Don’t be embarrassed to take your AirPods out in public anymore.

If you bring your Airpods with you everywhere — listening to audiobooks, music, and podcasts — then there’s a good chance your case is dirty, scratched, and stained.

It can be a bit daunting to clean the case if you don’t know how. The last thing you want is to ruin your expensive Airpods.

Thankfully, you can easily clean your Airpods case at home. We’ll show you how to clean the interior and exterior case properly without causing damage.

Key Takeaways

  • Clean your AirPods case every week to avoid dirt and bacteria buildup.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush, lint-free cloth, and isopropyl alcohol to clean the interior and exterior of the case.
  • Avoid getting liquid on electrical components and charging ports to prevent damage.
  • Protect your AirPods case with a silicone wrap or skin to prevent scratches and stains.

How Often to Clean Airpods and Airpods Case

You should generally aim to clean your Airpods and the case every week. Not only can you have an unsightly build-up of earwax inside the case, but the outside will be covered with germs and bacteria.

The bottom line, though is, if your case looks dirty — clean it.

Safety Instructions

Airpods aren’t cheap. We don’t want you to ruin them, so listen carefully to these safety instructions.

  • Avoid too much liquid: Don’t use too much liquid when cleaning. You don’t want to saturate the case; otherwise, you will cause damage. It’s necessary to avoid getting liquid into the charging ports as this will damage the electronics.
  • Avoid cleaning the charging ports: While our method is great for cleaning the case, don’t use it to clean the charging ports. If you notice gunk in your charge ports, compressed air is best. Don’t use cleaning liquid.
  • No abrasives: Don’t use abrasive cleaners like salt, powder, or baking soda when cleaning your case. Also, avoid sharp objects when cleaning as this will scratch your case.

How To Clean Your Airpods Case

We’ll show you the best way to clean your Airpods case. This method is directly from Apple, so you can be sure that it is specifically aimed at your brand-name earbuds. While they don’t make their own AirPod case cleaner (yet), Apple recommends using isopropyl alcohol.

Let’s get into how to clean your Airpods case, inside and out.

  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

What You’ll Need

Interior of Case

Let’s start by cleaning the case’s interior, where it can get pretty gunky, considering all the nooks and crannies.

  1. Remove the Airpods: This post isn’t about cleaning the Airpods themselves, just the case.
  2. Scrub with a bristled brush: Using your soft-bristled brush or toothbrush, get into the nooks, crannies, and grooves to remove excess dirt and debris. The soft-bristles make it easy to get into tight spaces without damaging the case. Since the brush isn’t wet, you can also go over the electric parts, such as the charging ports.
  3. Wipe with a cloth: Use your soft, lint-free cloth to wipe the case’s interior. Apply a small amount of pressure on stubborn stains.
  4. Dampen the cloth: If necessary, slightly dampen the cloth with your isopropyl alcohol. Wring it out, so it’s not dripping wet. Gently wipe the interior with the cloth, avoiding electrical parts, including the charging port. This will disinfect the case and help to remove tough stains.
  5. Air dry: Leave the case open to thoroughly air dry before reinserting your Airpods.

Toothpick Tip

Some experts recommend using a toothpick to remove stubborn grime. The small pointed tip can help get into tight corners, such as the charging port. You can try this if you want, but Apple specifically suggests avoiding the use of sharp objects to clean. The pointed toothpick can leave scratches if you’re not careful. It’s up to you!

Exterior of Case

Now let’s start cleaning the Airpods exterior case. The case can get pretty unsightly after spending tons of time in your pocket or the bottom of your bag. We’re talking stains, black marks, discoloration, scratches, and more.

  1. Wipe with a cloth: Use the soft, lint-free cloth to gently wipe the case’s exterior to remove as much dirt and debris as possible.
  2. Dampen the cloth: If stains are still visible, dampen the cloth with isopropyl alcohol. Wring it out, so it’s not too wet, then wipe the case down with the cloth. Focus on stubborn stains. You might need to work a little harder to remove them. Repeat if necessary.
  3. Erase stains: If stains or discoloration are still an issue, you can try one more trick. Rub the stains with a white eraser. This can help to eliminate them altogether.
  4. Wipe clean: Since you now might have eraser residue on the case, wipe the case with a soft-bristled brush to remove it. Also wipe it with a cloth as an extra measure if need be. This can give the case a polished look.
  5. Air dry: Let the case air dry before using it again.


When cleaning the case’s exterior, make sure to avoid getting near any charging ports with the dampened cloth. You can wipe near it with a dry cloth or a soft-bristled brush, but liquid or even eraser residue can cause damage.

How to Clean AirPods Case Without Alcohol

While Apple recommends isopropyl alcohol, you might not be able to get your hands on it. What’s the best way to clean Airpods case without it? You could try:

Apple suggests these three products. The bottom line is that they warn against using any products that contain bleach or hydrogen peroxide.

While not recommended by Apple, a 1:1 solution of distilled white vinegar and water can replace the need for isopropyl alcohol. Apple hasn’t specifically stated not to use it. It will work fine as long as you don’t over-saturate your cloth. It might not be as effective as the isopropyl alcohol, but it will still make a dent in cleaning and disinfecting your Airpods case.

Tips For Caring For Your Airpods

You’re here because you care about your Airpods. They’re high-quality, portable earbuds that give you a chance to listen to music or podcast all day long. You want to take care of them, maintain them and ensure they last. Here are our top tips for doing so:

  • Avoid cleaning the mesh: When cleaning your Airpods, don’t use any liquid cleaner on the speaker mesh, the kit mesh canopy, or the ear cushions. This can ruin the speakers and distort the sound quality.
  • Never run under water: Some Apple products are waterproof, but you should never run your Airpods under water. This can cause damage.
  • Limit exposure to products that cause staining: If you pop your Airpods into your bag with the rest of your stuff, they can quickly become dirty. Consider keeping them in a separate compartment of your bag. Things like detergent, acidic foods, oil, hair dry, shampoos, and lotions can cause discoloration on your Airpods.
  • Avoid getting liquids in the wrong parts: When cleaning your Airpods, don’t get liquid in any openings, electrical components, or charging ports. If you get water in or on the case, place the case upside down with the lid open to air dry.
  • Clean the ear tips: The ear tips can get pretty dirty. You can actually remove the rubbery ear tip and rinse it with water. This will remove earwax and other dirt. Dry them with a soft, lint-free cloth, and air dry them before returning them to the Airpods.
  • Know if your case is water-resistant: The Airpods Pro and third-generation AirPods are water and sweat-resistant. However, the first and second-generation Airpods, Airpods Max, and Smart Case aren’t waterproof or water-resistant. You mustn’t expose these to water. If you do get them wet, even if that’s sweat from a workout, wipe them with a microfiber cloth, then dry the case upside down with the lid open.
  • Switch out the tips: Another great way to lengthen the lifespan of your Airpods is to swap out the tips to the correct size. Use foam tips that are comfortable in your ears, so you aren’t squeezing the tips.
  • Inspect regularly: Inspect the AirPods regularly for dirt and debris. After each use, you can take a little look and either blow it out or use a soft-bristled brush to remove it.
  • Keep your ears clean: Earwax is one of the biggest culprits for making AirPods filthy. It’s no doubt that keeping your ears clean can also keep your AirPods clean. This will also ensure maximum sound quality.
  • Store your AirPods case properly: Keep the AirPods in a clean and dry place. Don’t leave them in really hot or really cold places, such as your car, overnight. Be very careful when handling your Airpods so that you don’t drop and break them.


Why Do AirPod Cases Get So Dirty?

Firstly, the AirPod case is made from plastic which accumulates dirt quicker and is more challenging to clean than, for example, metal.

Secondly, most people keep their AirPods case in their pocket or bag. You put your hands in your pocket often. Meanwhile, many items in your bag rub against the case.

Over time, the case is subject to other dirty items, scratchy items, and oils from your hands, leading to dirt and stains.

Does the AirPod Case Scratch Easily?

As we mentioned, the case is made from a soft, smooth plastic that scratches easily. The best way to avoid this is to store your Airpods away from other items. You can also buy silicone wraps or skins for your AirPods case, so it has an extra layer of protection.

Can Earwax Damage AirPods?

Yes. Earwax can clog your AirPods speakers and ruin the sound quality.

But what’s maybe even more surprising is that AirPods can also damage your ears, causing excessive earwax and ear pain (1). If you don’t clean your AirPods enough, you can actually get fungal and yeast infections in your ears.

How Do You Clean AirPods Microphone?

All you need to do is wipe the microphone down with a dry cotton swab. Use this method for speaker meshes, too.

Did You Know

While Apple doesn’t have a specific cleaning service, you might want to try your luck by taking your item into the store. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or worried about cleaning your AirPods at home, ask in-store if they’ll do it for you. Some customers reported that the staff cleaned their products free of charge.

Why is My AirPod Case Turning Yellow?

Your AirPod case is turning yellow because of smoke or steam. They are made from a porous plastic that absorbs smoke or steam.

Why is One AirPod Quieter Than the Other?

There are several reasons why one AirPod is quieter than the other, including a difference in sound quality between each AirPod, or one that doesn’t fit as well as the other.

Can I Use Nail Polish Remover to Clean an Airpods Case?

You can’t use nail polish remover to clean an AirPod case because it contains chemicals that damage the plastic.

Protect the Pods

Knowing how to clean your AirPods case can ensure that it looks good and functions well for a long time. When you invest in an Apple product, the last thing you want is to ruin it.

You should clean your AirPods and the case every week or whenever it’s looking dirty. Cleaning them with alcohol, a soft-bristled brush, and a lint-free cloth is easy and quick.

Remember never to get the electrical parts or charging ports wet.

Last but not least, consider protecting your AirPods case with its own case to avoid scratches and stains.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!