How to clean AirPods: this cheap gadget makes it easy

AirPods and other wireless earbuds can get pretty disgusting, but this can help to keep them clean

Cardlax Earbud Cleaner for AirPods
(Image credit: Cardlax)

No matter how premium you go, the best wireless earbuds all suffer from getting kind of grotty over time, picking up earwax. The all-white finish on Apple AirPods and AirPods Pro help to really show this up there. But there is an easy solution!

Or, at least, there will be an easy solution, once the Cardlax EarBuds Washer (via Cult of Mac) is made real. It's already smashed its Kickstarter goal, and aims to ship to the first backers in June. It costs around $33 (approx. AU$44) for early birds, which is great value for what it does for your AirPods (and what it means you don't have to do). According to the Kickstarter, shipping to the US, UK and Australia won't cost more than $10 (approx. AU$13), either. 

It looks like a little rock tumbler for true wireless earbuds, with a crucial extra brush attachment. Use the rotating brush to get in and clean the mesh over your earbuds drivers (the hardest part to get clean), then put your buds into the main 'washing machine' section with some cleaning spray, and they'll get rotated around with some sponge inserts (the consistency of make-up sponges), cleaning any gunk off the rest.

Here's a GIF of the results. If you're averse to earwax, we apologise.

Cardlax cleaner

(Image credit: Cardlax)

Cardlax says 99% of true wireless earbuds will be supported, though you probably don't want to try with wired ones unless you've got some mad untangling skills. It also says it's work with in-ear hearing aids, but can't guarantee the design will work with hanging-type hearing aids.

The sponge inserts can just be removed and cleaned under the tap, as can the brush. The whole thing is tiny (under 10cm in all dimensions) and powered over USB-C, so it's easy to put away and then just power quickly when you need it.

It sounds like it should work nicely for AirPods 3 as well, so if you need a good way to keep your AirPods from being something you have to hide from other people's view, this looks like a good addition.

Matthew Bolton

Matt is T3's former AV and Smart Home Editor (UK), master of all things audiovisual, overseeing our TV, speakers and headphones coverage. He also covered smart home products and large appliances, as well as our toys and games articles. He's can explain both what Dolby Vision IQ is and why the Lego you're building doesn't fit together the way the instructions say, so is truly invaluable. Matt has worked for tech publications for over 10 years, in print and online, including running T3's print magazine and launching its most recent redesign. He's also contributed to a huge number of tech and gaming titles over the years. Say hello if you see him roaming the halls at CES, IFA or Toy Fair. Matt now works for our sister title TechRadar.