Best Practices for Noise-Cancelling Headphone Maintenance

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Anders Lindsborg

Apr 29, 2023   •  9 min reading time


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Noise-cancelling headphones are one of the most popular products on the market in the auditory world, and for good reason. They can isolate you from the outside world and give your music the sound quality and attention it deserves. It’s only fair that these headphones get the same kind of care in return.

Proper maintenance for noise-cancelling headphones comes down to a number of factors: the right cleaning techniques, cord management, storage, and preservation of noise-cancelling performance.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss the benefits of regular maintenance for a pair of headphones and give you the tools you need to manage each aspect of noise-cancelling headphone care.

Benefits of Properly Caring for Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Taking the time to understand what proper care means for noise-cancelling headphones–and following through on a cleaning schedule for all of the components– results in a number of benefits for you and your headphones. Here are a few of the most notable advantages.

Improved Audio Quality with Age

Believe it or not, regular care of noise-cancelling headphones can actually maintain its audio quality as it ages. In this way, you get out of your headphones what you’re putting in.

Taking the time to clean dust and debris out of the headphones, as well as following a cord management system, guarantees you won’t have anything interfering with the sound delivery system. Plus, the passive and active noise cancelling technology will continue to be flawlessly functional, ensuring an immersive experience.

Increased Longevity

If you pay a lot of money for a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, you want them to last. Regular maintenance is one of the main contributing factors for longevity. With the number of ways headphones can be damaged (compacted dirt and debris, bent cords, squashed ear pieces, etc.), even following a monthly maintenance schedule can help extend the lifespan of your headphones significantly.

Financial Savings

In the long run, regular headphone care can save you some money. Not only does better longevity translate directly to financial savings through less frequent headphone replacements, but maintenance will also reduce the need for costly repairs or replacements of cords and other accessories.

Better Comfort

Taking care of your headphones is a great way to guarantee long-lasting comfort. A clean and hygienic headband and sterile earpieces will prevent odours from developing and help the materials hold their form for a longer period of time. As a result, you’ll be able to enjoy the same comfortable fit years down the line.

Recommended Cleaning Techniques

If you want to care for your headphones properly, a cleaning routine should become a part of your weekly and monthly schedule. If you are putting the headphones through an intense workout session or exposing them to the elements, an extra cleaning session afterwards won’t hurt.

Clean the Ear Cushions

The ear cushions built into on-ear and over-ear noise-cancelling headphones will be exposed to dry skin, sweat, and oils on a regular basis. Keeping them clean is a simple process that only requires a few steps:

  1. Remove the ear cushions from the headphones carefully (instructions can be found in your owner’s manual).
  2. Wipe the cushions with a soft cloth and a small amount of soapy water.
  3. Rinse the ear cushions with fresh water.
  4. Give the cushions time to air-dry before reattaching them to the headphones.

Wipe the Headband

Some headphones will be equipped with a removable headband, and in that case, you want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. In all other cases, the headphone band can be cleaned in just a couple of steps:

  1. Use a damp cloth to gently wipe the headband.
  2. Allow the band to air dry.

One important note to keep in mind is that you should avoid saturating the material, as this can cause damage to the internal components of the headband. If you accidentally apply too much moisture, be sure to wipe it quickly before it can drip.

Clean the Exterior and All Crevices

There are a few things to keep in mind when cleaning the exterior of the noise-cancelling headphones. First of all, you want to refrain from using any harsh or abrasive cleaners, as this will negatively affect the appearance and structural integrity of the material.

To clean the exterior of the headphones, you can use either a soft brush or a microfiber cloth to wipe the exterior. To do a complete clean, you have to pay attention to the buttons and input jacks, too.

Crevices and other awkward areas can be easily cleaned with a soft-bristled brush or a dry cotton swab.

How to Care for Cords and Connectors

The cords and connectors that you use with your headphones need just as much care as the noise-cancelling headphones themselves. To do so, you need to store them properly, inspect them for damage, and prevent tangles.

Store Them Properly

Safe storage for headphone cords relies on proper coiling. Rather than winding them tightly around the headphones, you should coil it in a loose circle or figure-eight pattern. This will prevent strains and kinks in the internal wiring.

Perform Regular Inspections

Regularly checking the integrity of your cords will ensure you can make replacements in a timely manner. If you aren’t sure where to start, we have the answers. You need to check the headphone jack and other connectors for damage and stuck debris. You should also inspect the entire length of the cord for loose connections, fraying, and kinks.

Keep Them Organized and Tangle-Free

One of the easiest way to care for cords is to keep them organized. Make use of twist ties, clips, or Velcro straps to keep cords in an orderly state. It is also a good idea to fully unwind cords before use to protect against damage and strain while they are operational.

Maintaining Performance of Passive and Active Noise Cancelling Technology

The noise-cancelling abilities of the headphones is crucial for full functionality, and whether your model uses passive or active noise cancelling technology, you should preserve them and protect them.

Protect Against Moisture

Moisture is recipe for disaster for noise-cancelling technology, so we advise you to store the headphones in a cool, dry place. It isn’t ideal to use them while sweating excessively or in rainy conditions, but if you must, make sure you dry them immediately afterwards.

Take Care of the Battery

Active noise cancellation relies on a strong battery, so you need to take care of it. Avoid overcharging the battery, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for battery care and the type of charging cord to use.

Install Firmware Updates as Needed

Headphone maintenance includes firmware updates, as they are essential for peak performance and active noise-cancelling capabilities. The headphone manufacturer will have recommendations for the appropriate updates.

Tips for Safe Storage

Proper headphone storage is essential for longevity and organization. To do this correctly, you have to choose a good case, manage the environment, and implement the correct storage positioning.

Use a Protective Case

The right protective case for your headphones will be sized appropriately, well padded, and outfitted with a sturdy exterior to protect against dust, moisture, and damage from impacts. If you use cords or adapters, choose a case that has extra pockets for accessories.

Manage Environmental Conditions

Extreme temperatures can be damaging to headphones in a number of ways, just like excess moisture. Ensure the headphones are always stored in a temperature-controlled environment without exposure to heating vents or direct sunlight.

Store Headphones in the Correct Position

Positioning matters for proper storage. The best position is lying flat with the ear cups facing upwards. This will ensure they do not become squished. If you are able, you should avoid hanging your headphones by the headband as this can result in deformations.

Wrapping Up

Anyone who invests in a quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones is sure to appreciate them and want them around forever. While no product will ever survive for a full human lifetime, these care and maintenance tips will give you as many days as possible with your beloved headphones.