And while there are plenty of tried-and-true ways of doing this manually — we have a comprehensive AirPods cleaning guide right here — there’s now a device that promises to make the task a lot easier. Enter the Cardlax Earbuds Washer, a miniature washing machine made specifically for Apple’s AirPods and AirPods Pro.
Currently being promoted via a Kickstarter campaign, the tiny white washer is powered by a USB-C cable and uses a motorized cleaning brush, a small vial of cleaning solution, and a sort of tumble dryer/polisher (the part that looks like an actual top-load washing machine) to get your AirPods sparkling clean.
How clean? “After Cardlax is done with cleaning your earphones,” promises the campaign, “you will be amazed by how clean and neat they turn. They will look like the way when you first bought them!”
And though clearly aimed at the white-plastic-earbud-buying population, the campaign’s founders say the washer will also work with 99% of other true wireless earbuds.
I have no idea how well the Cardlax actually performs this duty in real life, but at least it’s not too expensive to find out. Early backers of the campaign are being promised a Cardlax for $33, a price that is about to up to $39 as the early bird offer is nearly full.
It’s also not entirely clear if the Cardlax actually saves you any time or effort. You still need to carefully clean the earbud openings using the brush tool, which is 90% of the job. The fun part — popping the earbuds into the rotating sponge cavity and snapping the lid shut — is likely something you can do yourself with a cleaning cloth in the same amount of time.
The sponges inside the washer will need to be changed periodically, which could be a problem if the founders don’t maintain an easy way to buy them over time.
Nonetheless, as someone who reviews true wireless earbuds for a living, I can personally attest to the workplace hazard that is a filthy set of earbuds, and anything that can make the task of cleaning them easier is at least worth a look.
As with all crowdfunded campaigns, it’s backer-beware. Do not assume that just because you throw money at the project that you’ll necessarily get the promised reward or that it will be as great as the campaign promises.
Still, the campaign had already far exceeded its stated goal of $5,000, and had 764 backers at the time of this article, with 57 days left before the project closes to new backers.