Is Sharing Earphones/Headphones Hygienic?

You probably agree that Music is an important element in our life, and like anything that is meaningful to us we like to share it with our loved ones!

Even though we’ve all shared our wireless Bluetooth earbuds with someone at least once, do you know that it can increase the bacteria in your ears by 11 times according to studies made by Kelly Reynolds PhD and the University of Arizona?

No matter how nice and healthy your friends are, you don’t know when last they cleaned their ears. Some earbuds like the xFyro xS2 are extremely easy to clean, in case someone borrows them. If you’re wondering how bad it is to share earbuds, please read this article carefully! 

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Why Should You Never Share Earbuds or Headphones?

You don’t need to look further for the answer: individualized, unique bacteria flora balance.

Every individual has a unique bacteria (micro-organisms) flora balance in our ears. These bacteria are found in earwax, which protects the ears against bacteria attacks and ear infections. It is also responsible for lubricating the inner ears against dryness. It also rids the ears of clouds of dust and dirt.

Every time you decide to be generous with your audiophile headphones by giving them out, you run the risk of disrupting your bacteria floral balance and prone to ear infections.

As human beings, we form a habit of leaving our headphones or earbuds in many different places like in our car, desk drawers and many other places. All these places are full of dust, which means they are full of germs, which readily latch on to the muffs and other parts of our audiophile headphones and earbuds. Our handbags are also a unique place for our audiophiles to trap strange germs and bacteria because handbags provide perfect incubation grounds for microorganisms.

When you use your Bluetooth wireless earbuds or headphones, you potentially block the path in which the ear waxes leave the ears. This, in turn, increases moisture and heat, creating the optimum condition level for bacteria and other microorganisms to thrive. Sharing your earbuds and headphones doubles your bacterial or microbial flora, introduces your ears to new bacteria, disrupts your bacterial balance, and exposes you to infections.

Furthermore, infections are not the only thing you should be bothered about. It can cause blackheads, fungus, pimples, and even spots. Depending on an individual's line of thought, people may ask a few of these questions:

  • Can Headphones or Earbuds Cause Earwax Build-Up and Accumulation?

Genetically, some individual ears produce more wax than others. However, some external forces can also cause an increase in earwax and its subsequent build-up. One of those external factors is audiophile earbuds. Using these technological devices for long increases ear pressure and stress. The Apocrine glands located at the outer part of the ear and responsible for wax production, behaves like the sweat glands. An increase in stress results in more sweat; likewise, an increase in ear stress will lead to an increase in earwax build-up and accumulation.

  • Can Sharing Headphones and Earbuds Cause Diseases or Infections?

If you are not yet convinced about how unhygienic sharing your headphones or earbuds are, maybe a few of these points might freak you out a bit. Your wireless headphones, no matter how comfortable and hands-free they are, can be a transport medium or commuter for head lice, yes lice! Being negligibly generous with your headphones can expose you to getting a few of these friends. Although lice outbreaks happen a few times in a year, there is every chance that you could become a carrier for these parasites if you are not stingy with your headphones or if you happen not to have a good hygiene measure. All that is required is for one of these “friendly pests" to get stuck in your audiophile headphones, and the rest of the story might become a little unpleasant.

It is also possible to contact other infections like influenza or flu by mere sharing audiophile earbuds or headphones. If you use your wireless earbuds or headphones after an infected friend has used it without cleaning it properly, chances are you are at risk of getting the flu too. As a standard rule, we do not normally share our personal effects with people having a cold or flu, so, why not start seeing your earbuds or headphones as a personal effect and eliminate the possibility of getting any contagious disease.

Finally, ear infections like middle ear infections, swimmer's ear, and a whole lot of nasty ear ailments can be transmitted through earbuds. Furthermore, if you have an open wound, cut, or skin break in the ear, the introduction of foreign bacteria could also lead to serious skin infections.

How to Keep Your Headphones and Earbuds Clean?

Experts believe that risks associated with earbuds or headphones are more with the use and maintenance than the mechanics. This means that ear infections are likely to happen to those who don't take proper care of their wireless earbuds or headphones. Below are a few tips to help keep your audiophile earbuds clean and hygienic.

  1. Disinfect

You must regularly clean your headphones or earbuds. Ensure that you treat your devices with the right cleaning agents. Disinfect your audiophile earbuds or headphones using alcohol or disinfected spray before and after every use. Wipe down the earbuds or headphones with cotton wool or ball dampened with the cleaning agent.

  1. Remove Earwax

After every use, make sure to get rid of any earwax residue on your earbuds or headphones. Take a little time to pick them all off meticulously.

  1. Replace Ear Muffs

It is highly recommended that you change your earmuffs (the rubber or sponge cover of your headphones or earbuds) if you can every 2-3 months interval. This is because they tend to accumulate and get covered with bacteria and germs over a prolonged time.

  1. Store Them in a Cool Dry Place

Bacteria will always thrive wherever there are moisture and heat. Keeping your audiophile earbuds and headphones in a dry, cold place where bacteria cannot grow. Ensure you keep them away from your handbags as they can provide optimum conditions for breeding bacteria. Also, keep the devices away from dusty surfaces as they might be micro-organisms infected. 

  1. Protect Them Using Disposable Covering

Regularly replace old ear pads with new ones and cover them with disposable coverings. Disposable coverings are not reusable, ensuring that your earbuds and headphones are hygienic and stay far away from bacteria.

  1. Never Wash Your Devices in Water

Though there are waterproof earbuds and waterproof headphones for swimming, you generally should not wash your earbuds or headphones. It can ruin them, causing damage to the electrics of your device. You can use a disinfectant spray and damp cloth to wipe any earwax and dirt off. Washing your audiophile earbuds and headphones can also lead to bacteria breeding if not dried very well.

There is one final thing to note- never purchase second-hand earbuds or headphones. This is because you do not have the slightest clue as to where those devices have been, who have used it, and what type of bacteria is resident on it. If you cannot purchase a new set of audiophile earbuds, at least try to change the earmuffs to protect yourself against bacterial infections. You should also clean them as thoroughly as possible before you place them over your ears and head.

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Sharing your headphones or earbuds with anyone (children, friends, or even making use of public ones) may not sound like you are doing something wrong, but it is also not right. A study conducted by the India Manipal University confirmed that the majority of people that share headphones have high levels of bacteria.

It is harder to say “no” when your friends are asking for your xFyro earbuds because of its amazing features. We are not saying that you cannot listen to music together with loved ones, but it is best to do so using speakers, or you can get auxiliary cables that allow you to plug in two sets of earbuds or headphones into one jack.

Headphones are generally more hygienic than earbuds as they don't fit in-ear, so switching to headphones if you are an earbuds user limits the ease at which bacteria are spread.