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Although Apple didn’t invent TWS earbuds, they definitely made them mainstream. Nowadays, everybody (or at least those who can afford it) is flaunting wireless AirPods wherever they go. AirPods are more compact than headphones and less troublesome than wired earpods.
However, despite the convenience afforded by True Wireless Stereo over Wired/Wireless counterparts, many users have faced the issue of accidentally leaving the AirPods in their favorite jeans and putting their jeans in the washing machine. (Only to realize their mistake later, when they take it out from the dryer.)
This can happen to anybody, and when it does, your primary concern should be: Can my AirPods survive a good soak?
Thankfully, in most cases, your AirPods will come out unscathed. Apple has already thought of this issue and designed the charging case (and AirPods) to be able to handle the force of a washing machine.
However, AirPods do not have great water resistance. Therefore, you need to check them for water damage and let them dry out. On top of that, there are a couple of extra things you need to know, just so you can prepare for the worst-case scenario.
So in that regard, I’ll be addressing some common concerns such as:
Can Apple AirPods survive a washing machine cycle?
What should I do if my AirPods go through the washing machine?
What should I do if my AirPods don’t work after drying?
Table of Contents
Can Apple AirPods Survive a Washing Machine Cycle?
Apple kicked up a storm when they announced the AirPods. The world was not yet prepared to handle TWS earbuds. After their initial launch, many people had issues with AirPods falling down the drain, falling off while running, or in this case: mistakenly putting them into a washing machine or dryer.
Thankfully, after several models have run their course (and brought to light many issues that users face with AirPods), the third-gen vanilla AirPods have arrived with an official IP-rated water resistance enclosure; IPX4.
On top of that, they have an impressive ability to survive a 10ft drop, making them more than capable of withstanding the force created by your washer. (Especially when it’s spinning.)
That said when the AirPods are safely tucked inside the case; the case is safely stowed inside a pocket (shirt pocket or jeans), there’s a very good chance that your AirPods won’t get damaged.
What About AirPods Pro?
When it comes to AirPods, the Pro model (in my opinion) is the better option. You can’t beat those silicone tips and active noise cancellation, no matter how good the sound quality is.
In that same regard, the AirPods Pro is built for the active lifestyle, and like the third-gen vanilla pods, they too have an official IPX4 rating and will do their part to try and resist as much moisture as possible.
Unfortunately, this sliver of hope is guaranteed only for the newer third-gen AirPods and AirPods Pro. The original model (first and second-gen) has neither an official IP rating nor an exceptional impact resistance. So, these older earbuds are fundamentally dead in the water.
What About the AirPods Case?
When inside the washer, the AirPods’ charging case is going to be taking the brunt of the damage; hence, it makes sense to have a waterproof (or at least water-resistant) enclosure for it.
Unfortunately, that is not the “case” here. Apple has stated that the MagSafe charging case for the third-gen AirPods is only water and sweat-resistant, not waterproof.
To make matters worse, the MagSafe/Wireless charging case for the AirPods Pro does not even cover the basic water-resistant IPX4 rating. Therefore, you are at an even bigger disadvantage if you accidentally wash the AirPods Pro charging case.
What Should I Do if my AirPods go through the Washing Machine/Dryer?
Now we know that there’s a good chance to save the vanilla AirPods (third-gen) and the AirPod Pros from water damage. Nevertheless, you have to be careful when you are “fishing out” your AirPods from your washing machine.
Also, before you start letting them air dry, there are some things you should never do. For starters, you should never charge your headphones after you’ve just fished them out. Many users panic and, during the heat of the moment, forget that the charging port and the internal components are still wet (even if AirPods look dry). They might try to switch on the AirPods or try to recharge them, assuming that the battery has drained.
Another couple of things that you should never do are to use a hair dryer to dry the AirPods or use rice as a desiccant. These two methods, although effective (and used in getting water out of a headphone port), are not safe for the device, and if you don’t know what you are doing, you can aggravate the situation.
Wipe them Down
First, you need to take out your AirPods and separate the case and the earbuds. After that, you should wipe down both your AirPods and the charging case using a clean and dry microfiber cloth (or any other lint-free cloth paper towel, or dry cloth).
When doing so, try to get all the water droplets in and around the AirPods and the case. You have to wipe them down properly so you can let them dry faster.
Also, don’t forget to take a dry cotton swab and wipe down those hard-to-reach areas such as the speaker grilles, underside of the stem, inside the case, charging terminals, etc.
Like I mentioned previously, do not recharge or try to use them straight away, and make sure you don’t pop them back into the case. (This might activate the AirPods’ recharging cycle.)
Let them Dry
When it comes to saving electronic devices from water damage, your only option is to let them dry and hope they didn’t reach the sensitive electronic components.
After wiping them down, it’s time to let them dry. (and no, I’m not talking about putting them in the dryer, again.) just let them lie flat on a table and keep them there for at least a couple of days.
Also, when drying out the case, don’t forget to keep the lid open and keep the case upside down to let the water drip out more easily.
Instead of using a hair dryer (which I highly discourage), you can keep the buds out in the sun (where it’s not too warm) or use a fan to blow air and accelerate the drying process.
(Optional) Use Silica Gel Packets
Although many sources would tell you to bury your AirPods in a bag of rice, it is not recommended because rice grains and starch can get inside the electronic components and create an even bigger problem.
Instead of rice, I recommend using silica gel. You can easily find silica gel bags in medicine containers (Pill organizers) or dry food products. You can also buy silica gel bags at your local Walmart or order them online.
Silica gel is great at absorbing moisture and does an even better job of drying out many devices, whether it’s phones, earbuds, headphones, or any other consumer electronics.
Here’s what you should do to dry your AirPods using Silica Gel:
Get a dry Ziploc bag or a small watertight Tupperware container
Put your headphones/earbuds and the silica gel packets into the Ziploc bag/container
Close the bag and keep them closed for a couple of days
The Silica gel method will dry out your AirPods. However, like all the other methods, it’s not guaranteed.
After you’ve left your AirPods to dry for a day or two, you can try using them and seeing if they work normally. If you get a battery low notification, you can attempt to recharge the AirPods, but make sure the charging port is dry.
Look for the green light in the case; if it comes on, your case might be okay. After letting the case charge for an hour or so, take out the Pro pods and see if they connect to your phone. (For safely charging the case, I recommend wireless charging.)
What Should I Do if my AirPods don’t Work After Drying?
If you’re wondering why the case doesn’t charge (or the AirPods won’t connect to your phone), your Apple devices might have gotten washed a little too thoroughly; rendering them useless.
Even so, it doesn’t hurt to check if at least one of the pods inside is working. If one of the AirPods or the case is working, you can get a replacement part for the damaged devices without splurging for new pair of AirPods Pros.
Also, if you’re signed up for AppleCare+, you can get a replacement earbud or case for only $29 (plus tax). Otherwise, you’ll have to pay $89 to get replacement parts because it counts as an out-of-warranty/out-of-AppleCare+ pair of AirPods Pros.
Either way, here’s what you need to do before Apple support can get you a replacement.
Note Down the Serial Numbers
The serial number is printed on the underside of the case lid. If not, you can also find the serial number in the original packaging or receipt.
However, if the serial number has faded from the lid and you can’t find the receipt for the AirPods Pro, you can use your iPhone to find the number; head down into Settings -> General -> About -> AirPods, and you will find the serial number.
Unfortunately, for the second method to work, the AirPods should have connected to your iPhone beforehand.
Take Them to the Local Apple Store
After finding the serial for your Apple devices, you should take your damaged AirPods to the local Apple store. If you have a warranty or signed up for a protection plan, you can get the damaged parts replaced or serviced for a small fee.
That said, Apple won’t provide warranty claims if they find proof of the AirPod Pros suffering from moisture or sweat damage.
How Do I Keep My AirPods Safe From Water Damage?
Use Water-Resistant Accessories
Despite the rantings of the average Android fan, the average iPhone enjoyer can safely use the Apple Pods without constantly worrying about moisture damage. (Even if they accidentally washed the pods in the machine.)
Regardless, if you don’t want to risk it, you can use third-party accessories to make your AirPods more durable and water-resistant. Also, since this is Apple we are talking about, there’s always going to be a ton of accessories.
For the earbuds themselves, you will have to be careful and keep them dry as much as possible.
Avoid Using AirPods in the Swimming Pool/Shower
The reason why the new AirPods pros and the third-gen pods come with an official IPX4 rating is that they are designed to be used while working out. Therefore, you can wear these new earbuds running or working out.
The IPX4 rating makes the AirPods able to withstand light splashes of sweat or rain from all sides. This is also why you might hear the term “water and sweat-resistant.”
Now mind you, this does not imply that the earbuds are watertight/waterproof. You cannot plop your AirPods into a tub full of water and expect them to work perfectly fine; that’s only possible with “waterproof” IP67-rated headphones and earbuds.
So don’t wear your AirPods while showering or swimming. Also, remind yourself to wipe them down whenever you finish working out.
Sign Up For Applecare
In every situation involving AirPods and washing machines, the worst-case scenario is the AirPods dying out. Thankfully, if you have signed up for AppleCare+, you can get your case or earbuds individually replaced.
For the AirPods, AppleCare+ will provide accidental damage coverage for two instances per year. For each incident, you will only have to pay $29 (plus taxes) instead of the $89 maximum to replace an earbud.
All you have to do is sign up for AppleCare+ within the first 60 days of purchasing the AirPods. To purchase AppleCare+ for two years, you need to pay a fee of $29.
However, please note that it doesn’t cover lost or stolen earbuds under this protection plan. Instead, for the AirPods Pros, you will have to pay $89 for an earbud and $99 for a new wireless case (Magsafe or otherwise.)
In most situations, the AirPods will not come into contact with water when the case lid is tightly shut and protected inside a pocket. Even if they did, the IPX4 rating (for the AirPods 3rd gen and Pros) will save the earbuds to some extent.
Regardless of the IP rating, I highly recommend following the proper steps to dry out your AirPods before attempting to use them again. AirPods are not cheap, and you should be careful with them.