How to Remove Smell from Headphone Pads

white headphones

We all love our headphones, whether they’re delivering our favorite music or immersing us in the world of gaming or virtual reality. 

But there’s nothing worse than putting on your headphones and being hit with an unpleasant smell emanating from the pads. The smell can be off-putting and distract from the overall listening experience. 

In this article, we will explore how to effectively remove smell from headphone pads, ensuring a fresh and enjoyable audio experience.

Let’s begin.

Identifying the Cause of Smell

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s essential to understand what causes the odor in headphone pads. 

Over time, sweat, oil, and dirt accumulate on the pads, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and resulting in an unpleasant smell. 

Extended use and infrequent cleaning exacerbate the problem, making it necessary to address this issue promptly.

Preventing Smell Buildup

Prevention is better than cure, and the same holds true for the headphone pad smell. 

One way to prevent odor buildup is by using headphone pad covers or protectors. These covers act as a barrier between your skin and the pads, minimizing direct contact and protecting them from sweat and oil. 

Additionally, after each use, it’s a good practice to wipe the headphone pads with a clean, dry cloth to remove any sweat or oil residue.

Cleaning the Headphone Pads

To tackle the existing smell, a thorough cleaning is required. Before you begin, gather the necessary cleaning materials, such as a soft cloth, mild detergent, warm water, and cotton swabs

Start by removing the pads from the headphones, following the manufacturer’s instructions if necessary.

Next, dampen the soft cloth with a mixture of mild detergent and warm water. Gently wipe the surface of the pads, being careful not to saturate them. 

For areas that are hard to reach, use cotton swabs dipped in the cleaning solution. Once you’ve cleaned the pads, let them air dry completely before reattaching them to the headphones.

Natural Remedies for Smell Removal

For those who prefer natural solutions, there are a couple of effective remedies to remove the smell from headphone pads. One such remedy is a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water

Simply dampen a cloth with this solution and wipe down the pads, allowing them to air dry afterward.

Another natural option is to use baking soda and water paste. Apply the paste to the pads, let it sit for a few minutes, then gently wipe it off with a damp cloth. 

Both these methods neutralize odors and leave your headphone pads smelling fresh.

Dealing with Stubborn Smells

In some cases, the smell on the headphone pads might be more stubborn, requiring stronger solutions. 

Alcohol-based cleaning solutions are effective for breaking down oils and killing bacteria causing the odor. However, it’s crucial to use these solutions sparingly, as excessive use may damage the pads over time.

Alternatively, essential oils can be utilized to impart a pleasant fragrance to the pads. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a small spray bottle filled with water. Spritz the solution lightly on the pads and let them air dry for a refreshing scent.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

When cleaning your headphone pads, it’s essential to follow the right steps to avoid damaging them. 

Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials as they can degrade the material of the pads. 

Additionally, refrain from soaking the pads or applying excessive pressure during cleaning, as this can lead to irreversible damage.

Replacing Headphone Pads

Despite your best efforts, there may come a time when cleaning is no longer effective in eliminating the smell. In such cases, it might be best to consider replacing the headphone pads. 

Check with the manufacturer or authorized dealers to find compatible replacement pads for your headphones, restoring the original comfort and smell-free experience.

Maintaining Freshness

After successfully removing the smell from your headphone pads, it’s essential to maintain their freshness. Establish a regular cleaning schedule to prevent odor buildup in the future

By wiping the pads after each use and performing a more thorough cleaning periodically, you can ensure a pleasant and hygienic audio experience.


A clean and odor-free pair of headphone pads can significantly enhance your audio journey. 

By understanding the causes of smell buildup and employing effective cleaning methods, you can restore the freshness to your headphones and enjoy an immersive listening experience once again. 

Remember to be gentle, use natural remedies, and replace the pads when necessary to maintain that pristine audio quality.

Does your keyboard look like it could use some deep cleaning? Read How To Clean A Filthy Keyboard With Baking Soda (With Pictures).

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1: How often should I clean my headphone pads?

A: Aim for cleaning the pads at least once every two weeks or more frequently if you use them daily.

Q2: Can I wash the headphone pads in a washing machine?

A: It’s not recommended, as machine washing may damage the pads and affect their functionality.

Q3: Can I use baby wipes to clean my headphone pads?

A: While baby wipes may be gentle, they might contain chemicals that could damage the pads over time. Stick to recommended cleaning methods.

Q4: Are headphone pad covers washable?

A: Yes, most headphone pad covers are washable. Follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Image by Silvo Bilinski from Pixabay