Earwax Removal From The Headphones

Earwax is not only smelly, but it can also be very damaging to your headphones. It can be not very pleasant, especially when you need to clean them right away. If you wear headphones frequently, you’re probably aware that ear wax can quickly build up. But you have difficulty cleaning it out because it’s too deep in your ears and earbud holes for you to reach.

Ear wax can grow deep inside your earphones, which is where all the magic happens. We are aware that earwax is designed to protect the inner ear from debris and bacteria. But what happens if the earwax is attached to the headphones? To answer this, I’ll give you some detailed information on the effect of earwax and how to clean your headphones thoroughly.


Photo credits: Wearing headphones can be really helpful in our daily life. You can escape reality by just plugging your headphones into your ears and letting yourself indulge in some music. Conveniently, you can easily put it in your pocket every time your ears want to have a party. But what harm would your headphones do when kept in your ears all the time?

👂🏼 Ear-sore

If you let your ears be covered with earbuds for too long, your ears will feel sore quickly. If you are asking, “Isn’t it the same as hearing aids?” you need a profound explanation. Headphones, especially earbuds, are not designed to sit in your ears for extended periods. In comparison, the hearing aids are made unique for a person and will sit directly in the ear canal to help him hear. Remember that earbuds have only a one-size fit, so most of us don’t really achieve comfort, but we tend to use them continuously because we need them.

But if you keep on turning and pushing your earbuds to get your comfort, this will lead to irritation. You can also scrape off your skin in the ear, especially if you turn the earbuds harshly. 

👂🏼 Ear wax

Headphones can stop foreign bodies from getting inside your ears, but they will also prevent the stuff that needs to get out. Earbuds and headphones can trap moisture and debris that can lead to bacteria growth and infection. 

👂🏼 Granuloma

If you neglect your discomfort, your ears can grow granuloma. This is a mass of inflamed tissue that could rupture your eardrum. You could also think that wearing headphones could build up a vast amount of earwax that can affect your ears badly. But remember that earwax protects and moisturizes the skin to prevent it from being dry and itchy. So, by covering your ears with headphones, you prevent earwax from forming. 

👂🏼 Hearing problems

There are available noise-canceling earbuds in the market nowadays. But wearing them all the time can make it challenging to communicate with other people. You’ll put yourself at risk, especially when crossing the road and not hearing the oncoming traffic or when someone tries to call you because there’s a danger coming. 

👂🏼 Ringing in the ears

After months of wearing your headphones, you may notice some ringing in your ears. You may think that the ring comes from your headphones, but I suppose you might be wrong. That ringing in your ears is called tinnitus, and it is developed from the pressure from the constant loudness of the sound produced in your headphones. 

This happens when the tiny hairs in your ears bend because of the pressure and lose their sensitivity to incoming vibrations. If not treated immediately, you can have temporary or, in the worst case, permanent hearing loss. The combination of the damage to the hair cells in the cochlea of the ear and pumped volume results in ringing, and you are now susceptible to hyperacusis. This is oversensitivity even to regular sounds and can hinder your daily life.

👂🏼 Buds stucked

There are cases where some people have experienced getting the buds out of their ears. Various infections and contusions will cover your ears. And these issues will need medical attention to remove them to avoid further ear damage. 


dirty airpods from earwax

Generally, headphones have only one size (except for in-ear). That is why it is very common to experience fall out while using headphones, especially the earbuds type. And here are the reasons for this issue.

🎧 Materials

Nowadays, headphones and earbuds are made of rigid silicone plastic compared to rubber tips before. But the rubber tips have a way higher coefficient of friction. And because the older version of headphones was intended to go inside the ears, the friction usually drops, causing it to fall as the days pass.

🎧 Positioning

As mentioned, headphones are one-size fit only. But this matters on the falling out of your headphones. The part of the ear that is greatly affected by earphones is the external auditory meatus. That external canal is flexible, and it’s about a quarter-inch wide. This size is very important to traditional headphones because they need to sit in there. 

Unlike AirPods, they only sit in the auricle of the ear. That is why even the AirPods or any earbuds are only one-size fit, anyone can wear them due to the flexibility of the cartilages in the auricle part of the ear, specifically in the concha. Also, keep in mind that the left and right ears are not the same in size or asymmetrical. That is why only one earbud usually falls, but the other one stays.

🎧 Movement

Intense movement is a common reason why your earbuds fall out. It could be in the gym, on the bed, while riding a bus, or just having a good jog in the park: but it’s really frustrating, especially if you lost one. Another movement that is usually neglected is chewing. 

When we chew, the jaw hinges, and all the neighboring joints and muscles also move. To show you how this works, try to touch the outer part of your ear and start chewing. Have you felt any movement? And that’s the reason why your earbuds fall out more often.

🎧 Earwax

Though making the earwax a reason, it is not really a big deal for the fallout. Earwax is primarily fatty acids and cholesterol, so it’s going to reduce the friction between surfaces by dropping the coefficient of friction. This friction minimizes the force required for the headphones to pop out. But, this is not going to drop that friction down to zero totally. Though earwax may sound advantageous, it is still worth cleaning your ears and earbuds from their buildup.

And if you still don’t see the reason on the above list, click here for a more detailed explanation.


components of earwax

Are you still wondering how earwax is formed? Why does earwax looks gross but is advantageous in maintaining ear health? If these questions are popping into your head, this section is for you.

When examined under a microscope, earwax is composed of multi-layered walls of debris such as hair, dead skin cells, and the wax itself. That is why it looks like a scale when you remove the earwax in your ear. Also, sweat can make the buildup of wax fast. This is due to the presence of the sweat glands found in the outer part of the ear canal skin that secrete the cerumen or the substance responsible for the waxy texture.

🗮  Components

Significant components of earwax include 60% keratin from the dead skin cells, 20% long-chain fatty acids, squalene, and alcohols, and 20% cholesterol. Different concentrations of these common components can lead to earwax with other odors as well as how dry or wet it is. Remember that the higher the lipid or fat concentration, the wetter the earwax it builds. 

🗮  Use of earwax

Although many people consider earwax to be a nuisance, it actually provides a protective role assisting in cleaning and lubrication as well as offering protection from the invasion of bacteria and water. But regardless of how beneficial the earwax is, you still need to reduce the amount of buildup inside your ears. We want to prevent the blockage of your ear canal to the eardrum because this can cause irreversible hearing loss. 

🗮  Importance of removal

Aside from the protection from bacteria, removing the earwax is part of the hygiene process. I’m sure you don’t want to smell rotten fish from your ears. That is why you need to reduce the amount of buildup by just simply wiping the outer part of your ear.

Do not use a pointed tool or put a dirty fingertip inside your ear in removing the earwax. This is because you might prick your ear badly and can infect it. Earwax also has the ability to fall out, especially during bath time, and this is the best time to wipe your ears well. Lastly, do not put any chemicals inside your ears or any DIY lubricants just to remove your earwax. And if you are having difficulty reaching the wax, it is better to consult a specialist to remove them for you.


Your headphones can accumulate ear wax and might even start to sound muffled or with uneven volume. Your headphones might not look that dirty at an average distance, but as you focus your eyes on every corner and hole, you might puke as you see how disgusting your headphones are.

🧴 Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is usually popular as a clog remover for ears, and you can also use it for your earbuds. Remember that hydrogen peroxide is not actually a wax dissolvent, but it can make it softer for easy removal. But the question is, does it get inside the speaker? The answer is YES. So be careful when using this liquid because letting the earbuds soak for a more extended period can destroy your whole headphones.

🧴 Isopropyl Alcohol

Aside from hydrogen peroxide, using isopropyl alcohol is one of the most common ways of cleaning your earbuds. Get clean linen and pour out some alcohol and wipe your headphones gently. Remember not to oversoak the headphones because, as mentioned earlier, most headphones are not waterproof. Clean off any debris and reach the corners using your fingers and Q-tips for hard-to-reach holes. 

You can use a plastic tip for harder wax to scrape off the debris. Just be careful not to poke too much, or you’ll push the speaker screen inside. Use a circular motion on the edge of the earbud and gently wipe it off using a cotton swab or Q-tip. 


Though headphones can protect us from the outside world, you still need to protect your ears from overusing this accessory. Avoiding the headphone-induced hearing problem is not hard. You just need patience and a strong will to do it.


The volume of your headphones is the primary suspect of hearing damage. So don’t let your ears use loud sounds. Turn down the volume of your music device, which will provide you with the most significant protection from hearing loss. Limiting your exposure can protect your ears, so start listening to a lower volume to avoid bringing too much pressure on your ears.

Remember that you must know the decibel measurement because it is essential to understand how loud it is appropriate in your ears. The higher the decibel, the louder and the more damaging the noise is: any sound over 85 decibels can be harmful to our ears, especially when exposed for a more extended period. 

Type of headphones

Some users listen to headphones at a high volume to “drown out” or prevent other sounds from being heard. That is why there are noise-canceling headphones on the market. By using these types of headphones, you can avoid making the volume burst because they can block unwanted noise even at a low volume. 

You can also use over-the-ear headphones than those in-ear types. This is because over-the-ear has a greater distance to your eardrum, thus lowering the chance of hearing damage. But if there’s an event where you need to wear in-ear headphones, you must make sure that it’s a great fit. This is because you can scrape your skin inside your ear due to constant twisting and pushing just to find your comfort. 

Limit the use

Aside from the advice mentioned above, it is still remarkably effective if you minimize your listening time. You can follow the 60-60 rule where the volume must not be louder than 60% max and not longer than 60 minutes of listening time. 


If you don’t take care of your headphones properly, they can be worn out in no time. Aside from destroying your headphones due to wax buildup, your hearing ability can also be significantly affected. Remember that hearing loss can’t be prevented because it’s already a part of getting older. But it can happen earlier if you don’t change your lifestyle, which can affect your hearing ability, such as wearing your headphones all the time. 

Earwax buildup can be a real problem when it not only ruins the sound of your headphones but also interferes with their comfort. Whether you have earwax issues or just want to make sure you can keep using your headphones as long as possible, you still need to keep your headphones clean and in perfect frequency with each other.

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