For earphones with removable tips or ear supports, manufacturers recommend taking them off and cleaning them separately. The first step is to clear out any earwax that’s lodged inside them. A paper clip should to the trick—just be careful not to scratch or puncture the earpieces.
Once you’ve removed excess wax, wipe down ear tips and ear supports with baby wipes or soap and water. You can turn some ear tips inside out without damaging them for a cleaning as well, and cotton swabs can help with the detail work.
Again, alcohol is an option for rubber and silicone, but it will destroy foam. No matter what, use alcohol sparingly and wipe it off right away.
Next, take a look at the body of your earphones. There’s usually a mesh screen made of cloth, plastic, or metal to protect the drivers. Those screens can be a hot spot for wax.
Chen says he often gets questions about earphones that are quieter on one side, and a simple clog is usually the culprit. He recommends taking care of this problem sooner than later, because earwax can become impacted and hard to remove.
Use a clean toothbrush to gently wipe away anything that’s stuck, but be careful not to push debris deeper into the screen. A dab of hydrogen peroxide will help to get things moving, if necessary, but apply it carefully and don’t let it drip inside.
Some in-ear style earphones don’t have a screen, and there’s just an opening at the front of the cylinder that extends into your ear. You can use a paper clip to remove any visible contaminants. Handle the job delicately, and make sure not to make contact with the inner workings of the earphones, which can be easy to damage.