How To Clean Your Headphones

How to Clean Your Headphones
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

How To Clean Your Headphones

Whether you’re a DJ or an avid music listener, it’s safe to say that headphones can go through a lot.  With that in mind, it’s always a good idea to try and keep them clean and well-maintained. Otherwise, you won’t just be risking the lifespan of your cans, but your health, too.

Why Should I Clean My Headphones?

If you use headphones a lot, particularly while DJing, they are going to build up a lot of sweat, and a lot of dead skin.  As gross as that may sound, it is sadly a fact of ongoing headphone use. Bacteria, unfortunately, has a habit of building up and creeping into where it’s really not welcome.  With that in mind, to prevent any of these nasty blighters getting into your ears or even potentially causing illness, you should always have a cleaning strategy in mind.

It might not seem like much of a problem to let headphones go uncleaned for a long period of time.  However, it makes sense that the more we use something, the more worn or clogged up it can get. Headphone integrity is something DJs rely on.  Without cans, DJs have no clear way of carefully monitoring their mixes during play. With that in mind, you should always be showing your headphones and any similar devices some crucial TLC.

How Can I Clean My Headphones?

For the purpose of this guide, we’re going to be looking at cleaning over-ear headphone units, those which encompass the whole of your ear during use.  In many ways, these cans will be an even bigger hive for bacteria and nasty gunk, meaning it’s high time you looked into how to get everything scrubbed up for regular use.

Let’s take this step by step – and be ready to get deep into your cans to really clean them well.  You should be doing this on a regular basis – particularly if you DJ for a living. We change our clothes after a gym session – why shouldn’t we change or clean our headphones?  It’s really expensive to keep having to buy new hardware, however, so let’s focus on keeping things clean.

Take Your Ear Pads Off

Naturally, this should always be the first step you take.  The last thing you are going to want to do is fuse your headphones, which you will likely do if, for example, you choose to dunk them in a bowl of water or subject them to a pressure wash.  To be able to clean your headphones carefully, you’re going to need to take them apart a little. Most good headphones should let you remove your soft covers for this very reason, so don’t be afraid to start dissecting them.

Give Them a Wipe

The best thing to do now is to gently wipe down your headphone covers with a warm cloth, dampened with soap and water.  Don’t go all out on soaking your covers, as they will be a nightmare to dry out. Gently dab around and dry off with a paper towel or kitchen roll, then leave to dry in the air.  Avoid putting them near a radiator to get things done quicker.

Prepare Some Alcohol

The best thing you can use to kill bacteria for good is rubbing alcohol.  Barring that, take some hand sanitizer. You’re going to need to prepare a fresh cloth by dampening it in either alcohol or sanitizer – again, not completely saturating it – and then wipe the outer areas of your headphone pads.  Be careful doing this – and gentle, too!

You’ll then want to take a cotton bud or two, as you’re going to need to clean deeper into the pads.  Gently dip the end of a bud in your alcohol or sanitizer, and carefully clean around the insides of your pads.  You’ll want to get into all the tricky spots – all the nooks and crannies.

Massage the Mesh

Your headphones are likely to have some sort of fabric mesh sewn into the ear pads, in which case, it’s time to apply a little sanitizer or alcohol here too.  Apply a little of the cleaner to the mesh and gently rub them, left and right. This is a sure-fire way to make sure that any bacteria left residing is dealt with pretty swiftly.

You should then leave your pads to completely dry out, again don’t leave them near any heat sources – and be prepared to let them dry out overnight if possible.  Never reattach your pads to your headphones until they are completely dry.

Other Ways to Clean

You may have read up on a variety of ways through which you can clean headphones.  Some involve hydrogen peroxide, while other guides state that you should use washing up liquid, solution, or similar.  While these methods may drive similar results, we feel the above method will make sure you have a safe, quick routine and healthy headphones that you can use again and again.

However, if it is the smell of your headphones which is driving you spare, it may be worth packing them with silica gel packets, which will help to absorb moisture.  Moisture, ultimately, leads to mould, and mould leads to bad odours. It’s likely you’re going to want to get rid of any bad smells if you are using your headphones on a regular basis, especially as a DJ.

Should I Just Change My Headphones?

You really don’t have to!  Changing your headphones or other equipment round on a regular basis is a costly process, one which we think is pretty unnecessary.  In some cases, it may be worth changing your ear pads, however, for clean, usable, smell-free headphones, all you need to do is give them a good clean every now and again.

If you are already a DJ, or are in the process of becoming a professional, don’t let your equipment go to waste.  Take a look at our tips above and make sure you get down and scrub on a regular basis.


If you need advice on cleaning your other DJ equipment please check this guide on cleaning DJ gear and let us know what you think.

Share this post with your friends

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on reddit
Share on tumblr
Share on email
Share on telegram

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top