There’s an endless number of times I’ve forgotten to take something out of my pockets before throwing the clothes into the washing machine. But believe it or not, headphones can be washed, whether that was intentionally or not.

Whether can headphones work after being washed depends on many different factors. How did you wash your headphones, for how long, and what’s the IPX rating of your headphones are just some of the questions that matter.

If you’ve accidentally left your earbuds in your back pocket of your jeans, there still might be hope for them, and you shouldn’t just go and get the new ones straight away.

Therefore, in this post, find out whether your headphones can work after being washed, but also what are some of the steps to take as a precaution if this has already happened to you.

I washed my Headphones Now What?

Getting your headphones washed don’t need to be the end of the world. However, don’t just freeze and do nothing about your headphones.

It’s very crucial that you take some necessary steps if this happens to you. And the steps that you need to take will mostly depend on the type of your headphones and their specifications.

But there’s a lot to do with the way you washed them, the detergent you’ve used, the temperature, amount of time they’ve been washed for, and such things.

Sometimes, you might find it crazy, but you’d have to wash your headphones once again as a way to help them after they’ve been accidentally washed! It might sound stupid but that’s what it is.

And if you got to do something about it, hope for the best results along the way. Let’s start with the types of the headphones and the steps for the successful solutions.

Steps for Earbuds

If you’ve washed your earbuds, you still have a big chance to get them to work again. The reason for that is their build type and their size.

Most earbuds are also made to be waterproof and are sealed so no dust, debris, or water can come into the earbuds.

Here is what you shouldn’t do if you washed your earbuds.

  1. Don’t force-dry them with heat
  2. Don’t power them on until they’re dry

Here is what you should do if you washed your earbuds.

  1. Assess the damage by checking the detergent you’ve used
  2. Decide whether you’ll wash your earbuds with a rinse cycle to clean the possible ionic surfactants or you’ll let the earbuds dry naturally and hope for the best.
  3. Get quality de-ionized water
  4. Soak your earbuds in a DI water for a few times (each time change the water)
  5. For the last soak, soak your earbuds into alcohol to remove the excess water
  6. Put earbuds in a warm place
  7. Let them dry naturally

Washing your earbuds again might seem crazy, but it’s actually one of the best ways to go if you have used a strong detergent. The second wash will be a rinse cycle where you won’t use a washing detergent. This way, you will flush out the ionic surfactants that might destroy your earbuds.

Soaking them into the water might help as well, and then dipping them into alcohol will help to remove and dry out any water inside the earbuds.

If you have waterproof earbuds, you definitely don’t have anything to worry about. However, if you are using earbuds that aren’t waterproof, your result will depend mostly on the type of speakers in your earbuds and the corrosion levels.

Steps for Over-Ear Headphones

The thing with over-ear headphones is the size of their speakers. Therefore, it might be extremely hard to get them to work, especially after they’ve been washed in the washing machine.

You can hope for the best but expect the worst.

Here is what you shouldn’t do if you washed your over-ear headphones.

  1. Don’t turn them on.
  2. Don’t force-dry them with hot temperatures.

Here is what you should do if you washed your over-ear headphones.

  1. Try to remove any excess water if it’s possible
  2. Act quick
  3. Purchase DI water from your local store
  4. Soak your over-ear headphones in the DI water a couple of times
  5. Change water after each soak
  6. Dip your over-ear headphones in the alcohol for the last soak
  7. Let them dry in a warm place  (not hot or pre-heated)
  8. Optional: put them into rice

There’s not much you can really do since most of the over-ear headphones don’t come waterproof and yet have a lot of space and ways for the water to get to the speakers.

It will depend on the quality of your over-ear headphones and the type of the speakers whether they will work again or not.

In most cases, they might work, yet not as good as before. Therefore, some people recommend putting them into the rice after you’ve let them dry naturally. While I haven’t tried this, it’s definitely not a bad idea to try out.

Rice is known to take out excess water, and so is the alcohol. But doing it twice won’t hurt at all.

Steps for On-Ear Headphones

On-Ear headphones have a bit smaller speakers located inside the headphones, and yet they have fewer ways for the water to reach the speakers.

If your headphones don’t work, water most likely did damage the speakers. However, if you react quickly, there’s still hope.

Here is what you shouldn’t do if you washed your on-ear headphones.

  1. Don’t turn them on
  2. Don’t force-dry them
  3. Don’t just put them into rice
  4. Don’t give them another rinse cycle

Here is what you should do if you washed your on-ear headphones.

  1. React quickly and don’t lose hope.
  2. Try to remove any excess water by tapping them
  3. Get DI water
  4. Dip the speakers into DI water for a few times
  5. Change water between each dip
  6. Get alcohol
  7. Dip it for the last time into alcohol and leave for 10-15 seconds
  8. Let them naturally dry
  9. Optional: put them into rice

There is actually 50-50% chance that on-ear headphones will work after they’ve been washed and you shouldn’t lose hope.

Don’t ever rush and turn them on. You should give them a few good days of drying in the warm place. Even if it means that you’ll be missing out on the over-ear headphones. Simply get a replacement, stay patient, and hope for the best.

The last thing you want to do is turn them on while they haven’t completely dried. You just might ruin the chance of getting them to work after being exposed to the water and harmful washing detergent.

Steps for Noise Canceling Headphones

The noise canceling headphones have the lowest percentage of success to work after they’ve been washed. The reason for that is basically the noise canceling feature.

It increases the complexity of the electronic components and the speakers itself. If you own an active pair of noise canceling headphones, you might not get them to work again. There’s a small chance, but definitely give them your best.

While with the passive noise canceling headphone, the chance might be a bit higher. However, as I said before, hope for the best but be ready for the worst.

Here is what you shouldn’t do if you washed your noise canceling headphones.

  1. Don’t turn them on
  2. Don’t try to force-dry them
  3. Don’t lose hope
  4. Don’t put them through a rinse cycle process
  5. Don’t throw them away or put them into rice immediately

Here is what you should do if you washed your noise canceling headphones.

  1. Act as quickly as possible
  2. Make the headphones your priority
  3. Get DI water
  4. Dip the speakers of the headphones into the DI water
  5. Repeat as many times as possible (change water after each dip)
  6. Stay patient
  7. Rinse into alcohol for last few dips
  8. Put them into rice in a warm place (not hot or pre-heated)
  9. Hope for the best

Noise canceling headphones have the least protection from all types of headphones. Therefore, they might get damaged very quickly. And if you don’t react on time, the corrosion might be faster than you.

It’s important to stay focused instead of shocked and never give up on them. It might be just an expensive mistake after all, but at least you know you gave it your best.

On the bright side, hopefully, you will get them in a good shape where they’re safe for use and don’t require replacement.


Believe it or not, sometimes headphones and earphones can sound way better after they have been washed than they sounded before.

The reason happens to be the metal and its reaction to the water and wash detergent. In some cases, it cleanses the metal and gives it better performance.

Other times, it destroys the speakers and makes headphones unusable.

As mentioned earlier, it might be just an expensive mistake, and other times it can be a call to pay better attention to your personal belongings!

It might be unusual, but I’ve seen it happen, especially with small earbuds.