One reader suggested just using a cotton pad with a little alcohol. That does a surface job, but here’s the way to get all of holes completely clear.
In a recent issue of the Recomendo newsletter, Mark Frauenfelder suggested a three-tool kit for cleaning earwax out of the mesh screen of your AirPods. My AirPods were in dire need of a deep clean, and the cleaning method we once recommended on Lifehacker is just gross, so I ran out and bought the wax-loosening tiny brushes, wax-catching poster putty and work-checking magnifying light Frauenfelder recomendo’ed.
I’m here to report that this method is indeed effective, but I’d like to modify it. Save a couple bucks on the brushes and use an old toothbrush to loosen the wax, then go to town with the poster putty. There is little more satisfying than lifting loosened earwax from a mesh screen with a gummy—but not so gummy it gets caught in the screen!—wad of putty that you then throw away. (Suffice it to say this is a project best done in private, kind of like zit popping.)
Instead of the magnifying light, which is nifty but not essential if you’ve got decent eyesight, I’d recommend taking a cotton swab and dampening it ever-so-slightly with 70% rubbing alcohol and running it gently over the plastic parts of the buds and the top crevices of the case to remove whatever’s built up there. Apple sanctions this method but cautions against getting any liquid in the charging ports or any of the openings on either pods or case, so swab at your own risk.
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