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Tips to Properly Care for In-Ear Headphones

Velodyne's vPulse In-ear Headphone

Personal audio products are invaluable to many of us who can’t live without our music. When I run long distances, nothing keeps me more motivated than invigorating songs. I am fortunate that my current set of earbuds have been with me for over a year, so I haven’t experienced much downtime. Time and time again, I hear of friends complaining that their earphones from all price ranges have stopped working, sometimes after only a few months. Some choose to stick with cheaper brands and go through them like crazy, not thinking twice about tossing them out for a new pair. This practice can become expensive over time. It is ideal to keep them in good working order for as long as possible, especially if you splurged on a pricier set.  Here are some tips to keep in mind to give your earphones the best possible chance at a longer life.

The vPulse comes with a handy case to protect your earphones

  • Keep them in a case when not in use. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, or even specifically for earphones. The goal is to prevent exposure to debris. A roomy pouch or sack that will prevent the cord from getting crimped, caught or tangled is ideal. Avoid stuffing them into your pants pocket, which is very popular, as excessive rubbing and pulling could damage the cord.
  • Treat them gently. It seems the most common method of “caring” for earphones – which I don’t recommend – is to wrap the cord around iPods or other listening devices.  In general, try to avoid tightly wrapping or folding the cord, and unplug it from your listening device. When unplugging the cord, grasp the plug rather than pull on the cord.
  • Replace foam covers from time to time. Some earphones have foam that covers the earbud that is inserted into your ear canal. This material can break down over time and is not meant to last forever. Fortunately, these covers are very inexpensive to replace.
  • Keep them away from water. Submerging your earphones or holding them under running water generally won’t end well. Just sayin’.
  • Keep them clean. Dirt, oils and earwax  may  interfere with listening quality. There are different cleaning methods recommended depending on your specific type of earphone, but a soft cloth with a dab of rubbing alcohol should safely remove any debris from your earbud. If your earbuds come with removable parts, such as a silicone cover, cleaning these occasionally will prevent buildup as well.

If your earphones have stopped working, try cleaning them before you give up on them and move on to another pair. Otherwise, check your warranty information to see if you are eligible for a replacement.

How do you store your earphones when not in use? If you have any other recommendations for general care or tips for prolonging the life of in-ear headphones we’d love to hear them!

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About Penny Lane

I'm passionate about music, a lover of pop-culture, a runner with a mad sweet tooth and an addiction to coffee. Read my musings about life, movie soundtracks and live concerts. If you see me on the freeway I am most likely singing very loudly in my car. Honk and say hi!

14 Responses to “Tips to Properly Care for In-Ear Headphones”

  1. Sport Headphones Reviews April 11, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    Hey, I just needed to say thank you for taking the time to create a thing worth my time to read. I am all over the Net and I see so much useless content about headphones, that is just created for the reason of putting something new on their web page.

    • admin April 16, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

      You’re welcome! I checked out your site and sent you a message. :)

  2. Christine@TheAums April 13, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    I’m paying attention to your tips because I recently discovered running to music. Not sure why I didn’t do this years ago, but lately music is the only thing that motivates me to work up a sweat. My husband would approve of all of these, especially the not wrapping cords around a device which he’s always reminding me about.

  3. admin April 16, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    I know, isn’t it amazing how much more you can put into your workout with the right music? I think nearly everyone wraps the cords around their iPod/etc. without even thinking about it! Happy running!

  4. Wireless Headphones May 3, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    Thanks for the tips to properly care for in-ear headphones. It seems like with proper care you can make your headphones last a long time.

  5. GoHeadphone September 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    Great list of headphone care tips. Many people never clean their earbuds, and that can definitely affect the sound quality and even cause the sound drivers to fail.

  6. The best earbuds October 30, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    Thanks for your post, just searching for these infor, How to care earbuds to prolong their life :)

  7. Kira January 31, 2015 at 8:09 pm #

    Is winding them to fit them in the case bad fro them as well?

    • Ace of Bass February 25, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

      Wrapping them around your finger to get them to fit should be fine, but we wouldn’t suggest to “wind” or twist them too tightly.

  8. jhon headphones February 26, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

    Nice, alove my headphones

    • PricenFees May 19, 2015 at 10:29 pm #

      If you have a good pair of headphones you’ll want to make sure they last a while, and this is a great article in which I happen to share with clients, its not overly wordy but gets to the point.

  9. Kai July 21, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

    Thanks for these tips! :0
    Looks like i’ve been torturing abusing my [many] earbud pairs for years. Never again!

    Especially wrapping them around my phone and such… I also have a fidgeting habit where I constantly play with the cords when I’m using them.

  10. Lillian Moore May 4, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

    Thanks for the advice! I love the idea to treat the headphones gently. Wrapping the headphones around your device can cause the insides of the chord to be damaged and will lower the quality of the headphones. I have not had a very good experience with headphones, I have always like just listening to open air without listening to a bauble in my ear. I really appreciate the insights you have given for earphone maintenance.

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