A few years ago, AirPods were the ultimate target of online mockery. People criticized the wireless headphones for being expensive, for being easy-to-lose and of course, for looking ridiculous. They were the punchline of countless jokes. It seemed like the product would instantly fail, destined to sit in the pile of terrible Apple ideas like Apple Maps and automatic uploads of U2 on iTunes.

As you can see, the tables have turned since AirPods were first announced. Now you can spot the white buds everywhere you go, whether you’re riding on a bus packed with passengers or you’re waiting in line at your favorite café. The headphones are now considered Apple’s most popular accessory according to the analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities, and they’re likely to sell a lot more.

If you’ve been swayed by the recent praise and popularity, you will want to take good care of your AirPods. Read on to get some simple tips for keeping your pods and case in perfect condition:

How to clean your AirPods:

You pull the pod out of your ear and grimace in horror — part of it is coated in a thin layer of ear wax. Even if you clean your ears every single day, your buds are bound to collect residue over time. You don’t have to hang your head in shame. It’s easy enough to get rid of that disgusting grime.

The best way to clean your AirPods is to collect simple cleaning supplies like a bottle of rubbing alcohol, lint-free cloth and cotton swabs. You will also need a tool to scrape dried wax away. A pair of tweezers or a toothbrush could work. Start by gently scraping the wax off of the mesh grille that covers the audio hole, being careful not to puncture it. Wipe up the loosened wax with the cloth.

After clearing the opening, you should lightly moisten the cloth with rubbing alcohol. The reason why you should choose rubbing alcohol over water is that it evaporates quickly, so you don’t have to worry about lingering moisture ruining the efficiency of your tech. Wipe the outside of the pod. The technique will keep the headphones pearly white, and it will make the surface clean and germ-free.

How to clean your case:

If you’re going to wipe up the pods, you have to tackle the case, too. Otherwise, you’re going to get those pristine pods dirty all over again.

You will need similar materials to clean your AirPod case properly: a bottle of rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, a microfiber cloth and a tool for scraping. Start by using your scraping tool to get rid of stubborn dried wax. Then, dampen a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and clean off the remaining wax and dirt, both inside and outside of the case. Leave the top open, so that the rubbing alcohol can dry faster.

While cleaning the inside of the case, be sure never to get moisture into the charging ports — this will damage them. If the area looks like it needs to be wiped, use a dry cotton swab. When that’s finished, wipe down the outside of the case with the microfiber cloth.

Cover up case scratches:

Rubbing alcohol and elbow grease may not be enough. Many users have found that their AirPod case scratches easily and looks banged up almost immediately after the initial purchase. You’ve noticed that your own white case has been scuffed beyond belief by the house keys and loose change sitting in your pockets.

One way to get rid of micro scratches on your AirPod case is to buff them out with sandpaper and then wipe them with cotton balls dampened with rubbing alcohol. After repeating the steps a few times, the surface should be clear and smooth. But this is not a long-term solution. If you put it back in your pocket, it will just get damaged all over again.

A better idea is to get a 3M vinyl skin that can protect your case from cosmetic damage like micro scratches, scuff marks and oily fingerprints. If the case is already covered from top to bottom in ugly scrapes, you can hide the problem with the new skin. Whether you’re trying to prevent scratches or conceal ones that have already happened, this accessory will come in handy.

Skins come in a variety of colors, patterns and designs. Take the opportunity to give your case a stylish makeover — don’t let them look like dental floss that you’ve decided to carry around. You can coat it in a black Matrix, red carbon fiber or pure gold pattern. If you change your mind, you can always take it off and replace it with a different skin.

There’s no point in spending such a hefty sum on AirPods and then getting them filthy. Letting the pods get caked in wax and the case get coated in scratches seems like such a waste. By following these quick tips, you can make sure these incredible gadgets look just as good as the day you bought them.  

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