If you’ve had the misfortune of getting your AirPods wet, you shouldn’t despair. This is actually more common than you think, and it’s not something that cannot be fixed.
First of all, know that all earbuds, in general, are prone to water damage, not just AirPods. It may not be common knowledge for most users, but it is definitely well-known among techies and repair shops everywhere.
Before we get into how to get water out of AirPods, we should take a moment to understand the nature of the malfunction and ensure that it’s water damage that we’re dealing with.
Step 1: Damage Assessment
Before doing anything drastic, you need to ensure that you are dealing with water-related damage and not a more common type of malfunction.
Unlike common interruptions caused by physical damage to your earphones, water damages electric circuits in a rather peculiar way.
When water damages the inner mechanisms of most earphones, the sound is heard distorted or as a rattle.
A good way to determine if the interruptions you experience are caused by water damage is to move them around and gently tap the AirPods to see if any of this affects the output.
If none of this causes any notable changes, then it is likely that your original assessment was correct, and you are indeed dealing with water damage.
Step 2: Clean Them Thoroughly With a Dry Cloth
Once you have determined that your AirPods have been damaged by humidity, you should proceed with cleaning the outside of the pods with a dry microfiber cloth as gently as you possibly can.
You should also do this for the charging case, albeit not as thoroughly. The process shouldn’t take more than a few minutes and should be followed by air-drying and/or leaving them out to dry.
More elaborate cleaning techniques can be seen here.
Bear in mind that in the event of exposure to anything that may cause stains on the inner mechanism, a more thorough and elaborate cleaning effort should be made.
In any case, you are advised to:
- Wipe the AirPods with a dry microfiber cloth in the initial stage to get rid of any humidity
- Follow the cleaning with a wet wipe using nothing but clean water (if any impurities can be observed on the AirPods)
- Ensure that no liquids pour into the openings, and if so, then they should be allowed to dry for a couple of hours
- Do NOT use any sharp objects to try and reach the inside of the pods (especially with AirPods Max models)
Although newer AirPods are water-resistant to a certain degree, their resistance doesn’t apply to liquid hazards such as shampoos, conditioners, lotions, perfumes, solvents, acids, oils, or detergents.
Step 3: Use Desiccant Packets
If none of that does the trick, or if you’re simply not fully satisfied with the results, you should proceed by employing desiccant packets.
For those of you who don’t know, these are the small paper packets that come with shoes, electronics, and other similar products.
These packets are often labeled “do not eat” or “keep away from children” because they contain drying agents like silica gel.
It used to be that Apple AirPods came packed with these packets, and depending on the packaging, some models still do.
You should use silica gel packets because the beads inside them are intended to soak up moisture from any enclosed package they are placed in.
As such, you should place some desiccant packets in a container with your wet AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max, seal it up, and wait for a couple of hours.
By doing this, the silica gel packets will remove any remaining moisture from the pods, presumably rendering them functional in the process.
After waiting for a couple of hours, you can try to use them and see if the audio quality has improved or if the damage is permanent.
Step 4: Soak Them in Deionized Water
A more unconventional method of removing water from electronic devices of all sizes is to employ deionized water to clean the inner parts.
You should know that deionized water has no negative effect on electronics, and by soaking the pods in deionized water, you may very well remove any impurities that are causing the malfunction. To put it bluntly, deionized water may remove the regular water currently obstructing the inner mechanism.
Bear in mind that water damage to any electronic system causes impurities like salts to set upon the electrical setup while causing a fair bit of corrosion in the process.
Step 5: Have Them Replaced
Provided you’ve tried everything so far, and you are now pondering how to get water out of AirPods in a more elaborate way, then you should probably call it quits.
We say this because AirPods, Airpods Max, and the AirPods Pro all share a common build concerning their inner access.
While other companies may employ conventional manufacturing methods, Apple tends to glue everything up from the inside out, rendering all subsequent repairs nearly impossible. In other words, trying to pry the AirPods apart yourself may result in the pods breaking apart.
To avoid this, you should try to cut your losses and contact Apple’s repair service to get a professional perspective and/or get your AirPods replaced altogether.
You will be glad to know that Apple offers a warranty program for the AirPods, and provided that you’re still in the warranty period, you may get a replacement package.
Are AirPods Waterproof or Water-Resistant?
The issue of water resistance isn’t new with Apple products, and it’s not just AirPods that suffer from seemingly confusing labels.
Although standard AirPods aren’t exactly waterproof, they are water-resistant to a certain degree, provided that they don’t get submerged in water for extended periods of time.
We should also point out that 1st generation AirPods are NOT waterproof, while 3rd generation models are marginally waterproof and fully water-resistant.
The limitations on water resistance make the wearing of AirPods in humid environments quite confusing, and the fact that they’re small enough to be forgotten inside pockets makes them even more prone to water damage.
All things considered, it is advised that regardless of the version you own, any AirPods that accidentally went through a washing cycle in the washing machine should be rubbed gently with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth and left to dry.
How Long Does It Take for AirPods to Dry?
Given their general construction, AirPods should dry off in about 24 hours under normal conditions, provided that they aren’t stored in a humid environment.
To be on the safe side, you should probably wait up to 48 hours before turning them on, just in case the water damage is more serious or if there’s any excess water still trapped inside the casing.
Remember that 3rd generation AirPods are relatively water-resistant, and a few splashes of water won’t damage them in any considerable way.
On a related note, you might want to try air-drying them using a hairdryer, a fan, compressed air, or any other tool that might get the job done.
Use a towel or anything similar to dry up the outer edges while occasionally shaking the AirPods to get any excess water out.
What to Do if You Drop Your AirPods Into Water
The first thing you want to do if you suspect water damage is to immediately disconnect the AirPods from any devices it may be connected to.
You can do that by pressing the power button for five seconds then waiting for the light to turn red. Once that happens, you should unplug all chargers and accessories that might be attached to the pods before disconnecting them altogether.
After leaving the AirPods out to dry for up to 48 hours, you may proceed with powering the charger and testing them out thoroughly.
Know that if you operate your AirPods while they are wet, they may get permanently damaged via short circuits. This is mainly caused by impurities in the water, which act as a conductor that electrifies all metallic components they come in contact with.
You should also know that the circuitry inside most earphones is powered by wires, a coil, and magnetic components that act similar to regular speakers, albeit at a much smaller scale.
Before you worry about how to get water out of AirPods, you should first ensure that you don’t cause any long-term electrical damage by keeping them plugged in while wet.
Protecting Your AirPods and AirPods Pro From Water Damage
Provided you’re not spending a lot of time in extra humid environments, the chances that your AirPods will get damaged by water are relatively small.
As we already said, most of the newer AirPods are water-resistant to an impressive standard, meaning that you’re going to have to drop them into actual water for any water damage to happen.
To be on the safe side, you are advised to:
- Avoid wearing AirPods in a sauna or steam room
- Do NOT place your AirPods adjacent to running water like showers or faucets
- Refrain from wearing them while skiing or hiking through snow
- Avoid submerging them into any body of water
- Try your best not to forget them in your pockets while washing your clothes
On a related note, try not to expose your AirPods to any soaps, shampoos, conditioners, solvents, insect repellents, oils, sunscreen, household cleaners, or hair dyes. This is because the chemical components in these products may negatively affect water seals and acoustic membranes, causing long-term electrical damage.
How to Get Water Out of AirPods the Risky Way
Now, we may have talked about the conventional ways you can remove water from AirPods, but bear in mind that there is a rather risky way to do it. You are advised to only try this if the AirPods are no longer under warranty, and you have no other options.
Apple usually glues devices from the inside, so opening up a pair of AirPods may prove quite challenging for most people. If you’re fine with that, then you may begin by using a paper towel or cloth to wipe out the exterior casing to get rid of any excess water and impurities.
Remember when we said that Apple glues their devices rather tightly? Well, you’re going to need to heat them thoroughly to soften the adhesive in preparation for the next step.
You then want to run the sharp tip of a small knife or scalpel across the jamb and move it slowly up and down to pry the plastic open. If the pods are still tightly shut, you may try to use some alcohol on the jamb to soften leftover traces of adhesive.
Provided that you managed to take apart the upper shell, you may now proceed with gently removing the cables, antenna, and microphones in that order.
At this point, you should have successfully taken the AirPods apart and may proceed to blow-drying all the pieces to remove any humidity. You should probably leave them out on the table or a piece of soft, dry, lint-free cloth for up to 24 hours so that they’ll dry naturally.
If you’re impatient, you can always use some compressed air for the job, but bear in mind that there’s a risk of damaging the sensitive cables and speakers if the air pressure is too big.
Once you reach this stage, you should carefully put all the pieces back together and turn them on for a test. Do NOT use any adhesive to close the AirPods up just yet, not until you’re certain that everything works.
If everything works, congratulations. If not, well, at least you tried. Chances are that the water damage was too big and that oxidation caused a series of electrical faults within the speakers and antennas.
Try using the methods mentioned above instead of wondering how to get water out of AirPods.
Should you notice a sudden drop in sound quality after engaging in any activity that might have caused the water damage, you should use a soft, dry, lint-free cloth to wipe the water off.