I use my AirPods almost daily, but I'm embarrassed to say I don't think I've ever actually cleaned them — other than giving them the occasional quick wipe-down with a paper towel.
But from multiple years of frequent use, they've accumulated quite a bit of dirt and gunk, both on the case and in the earbuds themselves. Thankfully, I discovered an Amazon tool that makes it easy to clear all of it away.
I first discovered the Hagibis Cleaning Pen during Amazon's recent Prime Early Access Sale. It was heavily marked down, and multiple members of the Shop TODAY team were eager to take advantage of the deal (commerce analytics manager Amanda Smith ended up buying six to give as stocking stuffers). And they weren't the only ones — the handy little tool was one of the top products that our readers bought in October.
Seeing everyone else get the gadget (and looking at the then-current state of my AirPods) inspired me to add one to my cart. Even though my AirPods and their case were pretty gross, I'm ashamed to admit that cleaning them hadn't been at the top of my to-do list before. But after reading plenty of rave reviews about how easy it is to use, I figured that I might as well give it a shot.
As it turns out, the reviewers were right — it really did make the cleaning process a breeze. The tool comes packaged in a tube, about the size of a typical mascara. The tube opens up to reveal a "pen" that is actually three different tools in one. On one end, there's a long sponge-like tip that can be used to clean dirt and grime from the case, on the other is a sharp metal tip that is perfect for scraping the caked-on gunk from the speakers and other small gaps and edges. And then in the middle, there's a brush to sweep away the remaining excess.
Because the dirt had been stuck on my earbuds for a while, I found the sharp pointy end to be the most helpful for cleaning because I could use it to scrape stuff off both the case and the speakers. I was astounded (and frankly pretty disgusted) by the amount of dirt and wax that came out from inside the bud.
The best part came post-cleaning, when I was finally able to put them in my ears to listen to music. I had recently noticed that one of the earbuds wasn't as loud as the other one (or as clear as it used to be). I chalked it up to frequent use and time and thought it might be a sign to get a new pair in the near future. But, as it turns out, it was just all the filth covering the speaker that was preventing me from hearing the sound clearly. After I scraped all of it out using the sharp tip, I realized that I didn't have to turn the volume up as much to listen to music — and the sound was so much crisper.
The tool didn't take all the dirt off the case, but it came pretty close. After scrubbing with the sponge-y end for a while, I concluded that I would probably need some water to get the last remains off, and I was too scared to try that for fear of damaging the buds.
The one thing that I wasn't sure about was how to clean the tool itself. And considering how much dirt was originally on the case, the gadget was definitely in need of a clean by the end. I didn't see anything on the Amazon listing about how to do that, so I just rinsed it under water for a few seconds, carefully rubbed it clean with a paper towel and set it out to dry, which worked well enough.
Because the tool is so small, I can easily keep it in my purse and break it out whenever my AirPods need a clean — and now that I know how easy it is to use (and what a difference it makes for the listening experience), I plan on doing it much more regularly. And since it's currently on sale for just $9, I'm debating grabbing a couple more to gift to my friends and family this holiday season. And if you're also in the market for a new set of headphones, don't miss out on shopping the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) at their lowest Amazon price ever, according to the price tracker Camelcamelcamel.