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How to sterilize headphones?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
What tools and materials do you recommend for cleaning headphones, both for the one-time thorough sterilization when you buy used phones as well as periodic cleanings over the long term? Especially those with nonremovable pads?
post #2 of 12
Well the best would be to give the headphones a blast of gamma radiation, the same technique used to sterilize surgical instruments. 99.99999% bacteria free headphones
post #3 of 12
Alcohol wipes have always worked well for me. Repeat as often as you deem necessary.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
I was also thinking of using alcohol, but doesn't that cause damage to the pads over the long term?
post #5 of 12
Originally Posted by hammerhead View Post
I was also thinking of using alcohol, but doesn't that cause damage to the pads over the long term?
Obviously you shouldn't drench them in alcohol. Just wipe them moist. If they are removable, wash them in detergent water, followed by hair conditioner/fabric softener water. My squashed-up HD-650 pads actually returned to new-like state after this treatment and it is very hygienic now.

post #6 of 12
You can't sterilze headphones, but you can disinfect them. Several disinfectants on the market will do nicely. Heck, Lysol is pretty solid in that regard. Best to spray it on a clean cloth and wipe things down. You don't want to get into the drivers with it. As for the pads, if you're really worried about them, simply buy a new set. Be aware that long term/repeated use of alcohol will dry out most materials. It will also lead to cracking and peeling of the surface finish on most headphones. We've gotten away from alcohol based disinfectants in my business due to that very problem. As I said, it will get to rubber, plastics, vinyl, leather, etc....if you use it long enough, eventually it will happen.

Bottom line, Lysol wipe and buy new pads. Btw, for alcohol to "sterilize" it would have to be in direct contact with the surface for at least 30 minutes, but I just don't recommend "headphone dipping/bath".
post #7 of 12
Alcohol can strip low grade driver windings of their coating and cause them to short, so they won't driver the diaghram.
post #8 of 12
A 200 degree bake in the oven always seems to do the trick for me.
post #9 of 12
If you have removable earphone pads, you can nuke them in to microwave (assuming there is not metal in them). That kills most all germs.
post #10 of 12
Give me your headphones and I'll sterilize them in a gamma ray machine.
post #11 of 12
or..... let no-one touch your 'phones who does not present you with his Official Head-Fi I'm Sterile Certificate beforehand. It's a much easier way to handle your problem(s).
post #12 of 12
Not all germs are bad, and since most don't lend out their phones, this may not be a big issue.

But at least one kind Head-Fi'er is lending out phones to fellow users, and nearly everybody has at least someone sample a tune or two. And if the American Academy of Audiology is nervous...


...maybe we should, too. And, as previously noted, there's a difference between disinfection and sterilization. The article above contains some good tips, though some solutions (like hydrogen peroxide) can discolor your pads.
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