Dear Lifehacker, I own a pair of over-ear headphones (Corsair Vengeance 1500, to be precise), and they're getting rather grubby. The actual ear-covers are made out of a carpet-like material. What can I do to remove dust, sweat and grime from them without damaging the headphones in any way? Thanks, Filthy Listener
Gross, dude. But seriously, your best bet is to apply the same cleaning principles you would to delicates like silk or lace: this means using a gentle cleaner (e.g. -- soap mixed with warm water) and carefully wiping the affected areas with a cloth.
The trick is to only use a small amount of cleaner -- too much soap could leave a residue behind, while too much water could seep into the internal cavities. As long as you're careful, the components should be fine.
An alternative solution we've discussed in the past is restaurant wet wipes, like the type you get at KFC. These are specifically designed to remove grease from human skin, which makes them suitably gentle on headphones. The same goes for baby wipes.
Another option is to carefully apply a few drops of hand sanitiser to the outer surface of the pads and then rub them together -- the combination of antiseptic and friction should be enough to banish all but the most stubborn stains. As an added bonus, this will also kill most bacteria.
If the stains aren't budging, you might need to get a bit more heavy-duty: try using cotton balls soaked in rubbing alcohol. Again, this will also get rid of germs but you'll need to be careful where you rub and use the solution sparingly. As a general rule, the less moisture you expose your gear to, the better.
If any readers have ideas of their own, let FL know in the comments section: he's all ears!
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