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Can headphones survive the washing machine?

It’s easy to forget your AirPods or other wireless headphones in your pocket, but will they be ok?

apple airpods on iphone 7
Image: Unsplash

One of the best things about true wireless headphones, such as AirPods, is that they fit in your pocket easily. That’s also one of the worst things about them, as not everyone remembers to check their jeans pockets before putting them in the wash. If you’ve accidentally put your earbuds into the washing hamper, and didn’t realize until partway through the washing cycle, you know the sinking feeling that realization brings.

The thing is, most earbuds nowadays are IPXX rated, which is a measure of how long they can survive dust or water at certain levels. We can use that rating as part of our purchasing decisions, but is it actually accurate? Can it protect our headphones against a more violent test, that of a hot wash cycle?

So, can your headphones survive a full wash cycle?

Short answer: It depends on your headphones

If you’ve accidentally put your headphones through the wash, just know that it’s not the end of the world. If you’re careful, the worst that will happen is you have to wait a while to use them again. That’s because when your headphones were first made, they were probably washed in an industrial version of a dishwasher to remove water-soluble flux (that’s the stuff that helps the solder flow properly over electronic components).

That means if you can dry out your headphones properly, you’re probably fine. Don’t try to force dry them with a hairdryer or other heat source, instead, try putting them on a windowsill, letting sunlight do the job for you. Leave them for a few days before trying them again. If you want proof, check this video from EverythingApplePro, who put a pair of AirPods through the wash (and the dryer!), and they still played fine afterward.

Now, we don’t recommend you do this on purpose, but it’s good to know just in case the worst happens.

What do you think? Has this ever happened to you? Did your headphones eventually start working again? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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