Is sharing Headphones hygienic?

Many people share their possessions on a daily basis. We are unaware of the hygiene risks when we share certain objects such as sharing straws, cutlery, suckers, and even our headphones.

I must be honest, I have always been cautious when it comes to sharing my possessions due to the fact that you are not sure what germs and bacteria the other person is carrying and sharing with you.

Sharing headphones does not seem like a big deal. After all, the headphones fit over your ears and on your head not in your ears… headphones are not hygienic and is not something you should be sharing with other people.

A unique bacteria flora balance

Every person has a unique bacteria flora balance inside their earwax. Whenever you decide to share your headphones or earphones with someone else, you risk disrupting this balance. Believe it or not but your earwax is there to protect your ear from frequent ear infections. If you disrupt this balance, you put your body at risk of getting an ear infection.

We tend to leave our headphones in all different types of places, the car, the desk draw, tabletops, our bags, and other strange places. All these places carry their own germs and those germs tend to latch onto your headphones.

Now you share these germs with your best friend and you then place the headphones over your ears… you introduce your ears to new bacteria and you double the microbial flora in your ears which puts you at a higher risk to infections.

‘Studies have shown that earbuds cause an 11-fold increase in bacteria in the ears, Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental health at the University of Arizona. Infection is not the only thing sharing can cause, it can also cause fungus, spots and even blackheads due to the disruption of the bacteria balance inside your ear.

Lice outbursts and influenza

If we look at a more superficial approach, sharing headphones can also cause you to get a few new friends on your head… lice. Lice outbursts happen a few times a year and if you are not careful, you can become a carrier for these insects.

All you need is one nit to crawl onto your headphones and then you are going to become the latest victim of lice. Are you freaked out yet about how unhygienic sharing headphones are?

Other infections such as influenza can be caught when you share headphones. There is a good chance that if your friend has the flu, they have a slight ear infection. If you place your headphones or earphones on your ears without cleaning them, you can be at risk of getting the flu.

You would not share your straw with someone who has a cold so why should you share your headphones with someone who has the same contagious disease?

The worst thing you can do is buy second-hand headphones!

You have got no idea where those headphones have been and what kind of bacteria is sitting on them. Try your best to buy first hand headphones. If you are unable to buy your own set of headphones, then at least change the earmuffs to try and protect yourself from bacteria as much as possible.

Please make sure that you clean the headphones properly before you place them over your ears and head.

Sharing headphones or earphones might not seem wrong to you however, it is not right either.

A study was conducted in Indias Manipal University recently confirmed that 93% of test swabs done on people who share headphones came back with high levels of bacteria and only 8% of those test patients came back with a positive result due to the fact that they did not share their headphones with anyone.

This just proves that sharing headphones spreads bacteria and that is not something you want to share.

We reviewed the most hygienic headphones on the market. Check out our complete review of the Best Headphones under 500$ here.

How to clean your headphones


Disinfect your headphones with disinfected spray before and after every use.

Remove earwax

Make sure that you remove any earwax on your headphones or earphones.

Wipe down

Wipe down your headphones at least once a week to ensure that they are as clean as possible.

Change ear muffs

If you are able to change the earmuffs, make sure you do that every 3-4 months.

Keep in a dry, cold place

Keep your headphones in a dry, cold place to ensure that bacteria cannot grow.

Protect with disposable covering

You can also ensure that they are hygienic and won’t spread any bacteria.

Do not wash them in water

Please note that you do not wash them in water. Water is going to ruin the headphones. You use a disinfectant spray and a very damp cloth to ensure that you do not damage the headphones and electrics with water.


It is always nice to listen to music with friends and share your latest musical interest but try your best to do that using speakers or you can get adaptable AUX cables that allows you to plug two sets of headphones into one port to ensure that you are getting your ears in the balance as well as your friends and family.

Headphones are more hygienic than earphones as your ears do not go directly onto the earbuds. It is advised that you switch to headphones to ensure that you do not spread bacteria as easily as well as to ensure that you look after your hearing.

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