Perhaps the most popular Apple product over the last year has been the AirPods wireless headphones. These headphones have been selling out almost as quickly as Apple gets them in stock.
Unfortunately, the high price tag for a set of earphones is a bit of a pill to swallow, especially if you end up leaving the AirPods in the pocket of your favorite jeans. It’s time to do laundry; you forget they are in there, and into the washing machine they go. Before you know it, you think it’s too late, and the AirPods could be ruined.
Are Apple AirPods and AirPods Pro waterproof?
Before going over the different ways to help make sure that your AirPods are unharmed, let’s take a look at some precautions to take. First and foremost, you should know that there is no water indicator on these headphones. And no AirPods model is designed for use when showering or swimming and other water sports.
While there is no official water-resistant rating for AirPods 1 or 2, AirPods Pro are both sweat and water-resistant, complying with an IEC standard 60529 for a rating of IPX4 (resistant for the splashing of water from any direction.) So if you sweat a lot during your workouts or in everyday activities or live in an area where rain showers and other water splashes are common occurrences, the AirPods Pro model is your best choice.
Since no current AirPod models are waterproof or totally sweatproof, including AirPods Pro, AirPods 1 or 2, and all AirPods’ cases, if you end up washing them, there is no easy way to tell how bad the damage is.
The Impact of Water on AirPods:
AirPods, like most electronic devices, are sensitive to water. While the newer models boast some level of water and sweat resistance, they are not waterproof. The washing machine not only exposes the AirPods to water but also subjects them to detergent, agitation, and varying temperatures, all of which can be detrimental to their functionality.
Immediate Steps to Take:
- Remove from Case: If your AirPods were in their charging case, remove them immediately. The case is not water-resistant and can damage the AirPods further if they remain inside.
- Dry Gently: Use a soft, lint-free cloth to gently dry the AirPods and the case. Avoid using heat or direct sunlight.
- Let Them Air Dry: Place the AirPods and the case in a dry place with good airflow. Let them sit for at least 48 hours. This allows any internal moisture to evaporate.
What Not to Do:
Avoid Charging: Do not attempt to charge your AirPods or the case until you’re certain they’re completely dry. Charging wet electronics can cause short circuits.
Steer Clear of Rice: The old myth of putting wet electronics in rice doesn’t hold up. Rice can introduce dust and starch into the device, causing more harm.
No Compressed Air: Blowing air can push water further into the device. This includes using a blow dryer, as there’s still a chance the water can get pushed into places that would render your AirPods useless.
Testing and Troubleshooting:
After the drying period, test your AirPods. Connect them to your device and check for sound, microphone functionality, and battery life. If you notice any irregularities:
- Reset Your AirPods: Sometimes, a simple reset can resolve minor glitches.
- Check for Debris: Ensure no lint or debris is blocking the AirPods’ speakers or microphones.
- Update Software: Ensure your device and AirPods are running on the latest software.
Follow these quick tips if you mistakenly washed your AirPods or AirPods Pro
- Clean your AirPods with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth such as a microfiber cloth and try to absorb as much water/liquid from them as possible
- Allow them to completely air dry before using them or placing them in the charging case–never use heat, compressed air, or a hairdryer to dry out your AirPods
- Do NOT place them into your ears or put them in the charging case within the first 12-24 hours after getting washed
- If unable to air dry or if it didn’t work, try using silica gel packs to pull out the moisture
- AirPods Not Working? Troubleshoot Your Problems
- AirPods Pro – The Complete Guide
- Use Silica Gel Packets to Dry Your Wet iPhone, iPad, or AirPods
- Why AirPods are Apple’s Best Product in Years
- How to Clean your AirPods
- A Wish List for Apple’s Next Generation of AirPods
Write down the Serial Number
One precaution that will come in handy is taking note of the serial number. You should do this for all of your tech products, as it’s needed for Apple to replace the charging case.
Locate the serial number on the underside of the AirPods case lid–true for all AirPods models.
Another option to see your AirPods’ serial number is to follow these steps on your iPhone:
- Go to Settings
- Tap General
- Tap About
- Scroll down and select AirPods
This screen shows the serial number for your product.
If you have the original packaging or receipt, you can find the serial number next to the barcode or on the original receipt and invoice.
From here you will either want to take a screenshot, copy that number down to Notes, or keep it stored somewhere else.
With AirPods Pro and AirPods 2nd generation, each AirPod also has its own serial number, printed on the AirPod itself.
- If you need to send your AirPods or charging case in for service, refer to the primary serial number, printed on the case lid or on the packaging or receipt
- You don’t need to provide Apple Support the serial numbers on the AirPods themselves
What to do if they get wet?
Alright, so back to our original scenario. You’ve put your favorite jeans in the wash, while unknowingly leaving your AirPods in a pocket. The washing cycle completes, and your AirPods fall out while transferring laundry to the dryer.
Your first reaction is going to be devastation, as you likely think that your favorite headphones are done-zo. Before throwing them away and heading to buy another set, there are a few steps.
This situation actually happened to me. Although I didn’t leave the AirPods in the washing machine for the entire duration. My AirPods were left in the washer for about 15 minutes before I realized what happened.
After I stormed downstairs and retrieved them, I proceeded to grab a dry cotton swab and microfiber cloth. Then I removed the AirPods from the charging case and started drying off everything that I could.
Do NOT plug them in within the first 12 hours after being submerged, as you may mess up the electrics inside the case. Instead, leave them out to dry overnight, after you have removed all of the water.
Try silica gel for wet Airpods
Chances are, you would think that a suggestion would be to use a bag of rice. However, there has been some debate about whether rice really removes the water from electronic devices.
Staying away from the argument in general, we are going to suggest using a chemical desiccant (drying agent) like silica gel packets.
These are the little bags that are usually shipped with electronic devices and are designed to absorb any moisture.
If you don’t have any of these sitting in your home, you can get pick up a pack of 20 from Amazon for just $8 with Prime shipping. You can also head to your local Walmart and see if there are any available in the store.
You will want to put your AirPods and case in a Ziploc bag with a few of these Silica Gel packets and leave them there for a day or two. If everything all goes to plan, you will be able to remove your AirPods, and everything will work properly.
What about the AirPods Pro?
Apple’s newest AirPods addition the AirPods Pro are a hot-ticket item since its release during the 2019 Holiday season. These new AirPods are touted as being both water and sweat resistant, however, they are not waterproof or sweatproof.
AirPods Pro (the ear pods, not the case) currently has a rating of IPX4 under IEC standard 60529, which essentially means your AirPods Pro offers protection from splashing water, no matter the direction the water splashes from. Additionally, your AirPods Pro sweat, splash, and water resistance are not permanent and likely decreases with time and normal wear and tear.
And no, the AirPods Pro charging case is not sweat, splash, or water-resistant.
This means that you still should take extra care to remove them from your pants before doing your laundry. In some cases, folks have reported everything being just fine after going through the wash, but that’s just more of a stroke of luck than an expectation.
Sign up for AppleCare+
With the AirPods Pro, Apple has made it possible to sign up for AppleCare+ for these headphones. We would recommend signing up for the protection plan, as it offers replacements for either AirPod or the charging case itself. There is even some support in the event that your AirPods Pro needs a new battery.
Here’s a breakdown of the cost:
- Replacement AirPods Pro – $29
- Replacement Charging Case – $29
- Lost AirPods Pro – $89
- Lost Wireless Charging Case – $99
- Battery Service Fee- $0
The best part about this is that AppleCare+ will cost you just $29 to sign up and your AirPods are protected. There are instances where you will have to come out of pocket for an “Out-of-Warranty” replacement. Usually, those are reserved for when you lose either AirPod or the charging case.
What to do if the AirPods Pro get wet
The first step that you will want to take is to find a soft, dry cloth and wipe the AirPods Pro and the case down. Obviously, you want to try and remove as much moisture as possible, so we would recommend having an extra cloth around to switch to.
Perhaps the most important step is to not try to use them. If you try to charge or use the AirPods Pro, you can potentially cause an electric shortage rendering them useless. When it comes to the charging case itself, wipe it down with the dry cloth and then place the case upside down with the lid open. Then head to the section above and try the route of Silica Gel packets and a Ziploc bag.
Water takes a long time to air-dry so you will want to give your AirPods at least a few days (at the absolute earliest) before using them again. Some users have reported waiting a month in the Silica Gel/Ziploc bag combo before taking them out.
Assuming the worst
So you have already run through the steps above and your, AirPods are still not functioning correctly. If you don’t have AppleCare on the AirPods, you may feel like things can’t get any worse and will have to fork out another hundred+ dollars!
If you have AppleCare, you’re in for quite the savings!
AppleCare+ for AirPods extends your coverage to two years from your AppleCare+ purchase date and adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a service fee of $29 plus tax.
Even without AppleCare+ for AirPods, you can still take the AirPods and case to your local Apple store, you can still get these replaced individually.
If your AirPods are not under warranty, it’s likely cheaper to buy a new set unless you are confident that either the case or one of the AirPods still works.
If they are still under warranty, and you need to replace one of the AirPods, then you should be able to do so for a small accidental damage fee.
It’s probably a good idea to not mention that your headphones went through the washer, as Apple won’t replace these under warranty.
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.