AirPods Went Through Washer? (Can they Survive?)

Author: James Potts | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

AirPods may be small, easily lost, and look delicate, but they’re actually pretty tough. They’re also the most popular headphone in the world, despite their hefty price tag. So what happens to them if they accidentally go through the washing machine?

This is a more common problem than you might think, and despite how bad it sounds, it’s actually not a death sentence for your beloved AirPods (most of the time)!

As long as you take the proper steps after you retrieve your earbuds from the washer, your AirPods should be fine to keep using, with no lasting damage or impact on the sound quality!

Picture the scene – you’re pulling your laundry out of the machine, wishing you could remember where you left your AirPods, when you see a glint of white plastic from the corner of your eye…

Here’s what you should do next!

Apple Care and Warranties

Before we get into it, let’s take a quick look at what kind of protection you have as a consumer if you accidentally subject your AirPods to a spin cycle.

Remember, you’ll need the serial number for your AirPods if you want to contact Apple for a repair or replacement under either scheme, so take note of it. It’s on the underside of the lid of your charging case – but be warned, if your case has also gone through the wash, the number may be illegible.

As always, hindsight is a wonderful thing, so if you’re reading this article, it may already be too late. You can find it via your iOS device or on your Mac, but you’ll need your AirPods turned on, working, and connected for that to work.

One-Year Limited Warranty

Unfortunately, the standard one-year warranty that comes as standard with AirPods does not cover accidental damage, including water damage.

So, if that’s all the protection you have, you may want to skip to the next section, and fast!

AppleCare+

If you were smart enough to purchase AppleCare+, Apple’s optional insurance, then you’re in luck. The AppleCare+ policy for AirPods does cover accidental damage, including water damage. But, it’s not free.

To make a claim on your policy, there is a service fee of $29 (plus tax) each time.

Are AirPods Waterproof?

Technically – no. While they might be able to survive the washer, neither AirPods nor AirPods Pro are classed as waterproof pieces of technology. This is a piece of misinformation that has circulated online, probably due to the happy surprise of many AirPods users that found their headphones still worked even after a trip around the washing machine.

AirPods, like all electronics, are tested for their ability to withstand water damage. This is measured in what is known as an ‘ingress protection’ rating, or IPX number.

AirPods are rated IPX4, which means that the internal electronics should be safe from splashes, drips, and sprays of water (and other liquids).

Now, most washers tend to use quite a bit more water than what could be considered a splash, drip or spray… so don’t assume that just because most other people’s AirPods are ok that yours will be too. Follow all these steps to ensure your AirPods have the best chance of surviving.

AirPods Went Through Washer – First Steps

The good news here is that AirPods are designed to be water and sweat resistant – to an extent. The bad news is that the older the model of AirPod that’s been through the wash, the less likely they are to survive.

Water-resistant features have only been implemented in later model AirPods, that is 3rd generation AirPods and 1st and 2nd generation AirPods Pro.

Remove your AirPods from the washer as soon as possible! If you notice they’re in there in the middle of a cycle, go ahead and stop the machine and retrieve them. If you notice them while you’re unloading the machine, get them out of there as fast as you can and begin the drying process.

At no point during this process should you try to turn on, use, or charge your AirPods. This will increase the chances of permanent damage!

Although it may be tempting, avoid the impulse to use a hairdryer or heat gun on your AirPods with the hopes of speeding up the drying process. This too is likely to cause irreparable damage! Definitely don’t put them in the microwave or the oven!

Wipe and Air Dry

The first thing you’ll want to do is shake out as much water as you can from your AirPods and give them a wipe with a lint-free microfiber cloth. This will help to blot any excess water from the internal compartment of your AirPods and ensure that nothing in there stays wet, which would cause the electronic parts to corrode.

After you’ve shaken out and blotted off as much water as you possibly can, you need to leave your AirPods to air dry for 12-24 hours.

If your case has gone through the wash too, follow the same steps as above, but try to avoid shaking the case too vigorously. Place it upside down with the lid open to let everything drip out, and place it on a paper towel to soak up any remaining leaks.

Drying Aids

There are some other things you can use to aid the drying process too. Silica gel is a desiccant often used by logistics companies to avoid any excess moisture building up and damaging products during the shipping process. You’ve probably seen the small packets in boxes you’ve had delivered. They work by absorbing any moisture in the surrounding environment.

If you have some, place your AirPods in a sealed container with silica gel and leave them for the recommended 12 hours.

If you don’t have any silica gel, dry, uncooked rice will also work, as the grains will absorb moisture in the same manner that silica gel does. Place your AirPods in a sealed container with some rice and leave for the recommended 12 hours.

If you don’t have rice or silica gel at your disposal, a warm, dry area should do just fine. Leave the AirPods on a paper towel to soak up any remaining droplets of water that seep out, and leave them in indirect sunlight if you can. A warm sill by an ajar window on a sunny day is ideal.

Try not to leave your AirPods or the charging case in an area that’s humid or in direct sunlight. An area with a gentle breeze is the best option for drying your AirPods out as quickly as possible.

What to Do Next

After a good 12-24 hours of air drying, assisted or otherwise, your AirPods are probably as dry as they are going to get on their own. Give them another shake and see if any more moisture comes out. If it does, they still need more time, so pop them back down and leave them be for another 6-12 hours.

Once there appears to be no more water coming out, it’s time to go ahead and test your AirPods.

If your case went through the wash too, ensure that it is completely dry (as best you can) before you place your AirPods in there or put the case on charge.

Charge your AirPods up, or connect them to your phone and see what happens. If they appear to turn on and/or charge, it’s looking good. Now it’s time for the hearing test…!

Put your AirPods in your ears as usual and test them out. Listen carefully for any kind of rattling, distortion, muffling, or failure of Active Noise Cancellation. These are all good indicators of water damage, so if you’re noticing that your AirPods don’t sound quite right, it’s likely that they’re either still not completely dry, or they have succumbed to irreparable water damage.

Final Thoughts

Of course, the best thing to do to prevent your AirPods from getting damaged is to avoid them going through the washer in the first place! But that’s probably not what you want to hear right now, especially if your AirPods didn’t survive.

Try to get into the habit of checking your pockets before you put clothes in the laundry, or, even better, make a habit out of placing your AirPods and/or charging case in a certain place every day when you get home, to charge or just to keep safe.

The most important thing you can do in this situation is act quickly – get those AirPods out of the water as fast as you can and begin the drying process. And avoid heat, as this will likely make things worse.

The likelihood of your AirPods surviving the washer is pretty high, based on anecdotal reports online. Apple is clear that their headphones are not waterproof, and as mentioned earlier in the article, your one-year warranty won’t cover this, so don’t take it for granted that your AirPods will be fine just because everyone else’s are!

If in doubt, head down to your local Apple Store, or find a registered Apple Care provider and ask their advice on the best course of action. Don’t rush to buy a new pair when repairing may be cheaper!

Good luck, and remember to check those pockets before laundry day!

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About James Potts

James is an amateur guitarist and home-recording enthusiast. He loves all things music related - writing songs, playing in a band, and finding the best ways to listen to it. It all interests him, from the history of acoustic guitars, to the latest Bluetooth headphones, to his (ever-growing) collection of vinyl records.

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