Earbuds: The Hidden Germs In Your Ears
Imagine yourself completely immersed in your favorite tune, blissful sounds bouncing around your noggin as you drown out the auxiliary noises and worries of the world. As your jam roars through your noise cancelling earbuds, you replay your song to your heart's content, head ferociously bobbing to every beat. As you yank out your earbuds after a cathartic session of audio escapism, you are violently smacked back to reality as you notice nasty ear nuggets clogging your once spotless earbuds. We’ve all been there, reminded of our bodies’ repulsive creations and we’ve wondered how to keep our tune tunnels clean.
Nowadays with digital dependencies on the rise, earbuds are being used more frequently to communicate and conduct work or school. This habitual usage can come with some hygienic flaws as earbuds can act as a battering ram for bacteria. As earphones plunge in and out of our tune tunnels, they become waxy and moist, providing a prime sticky environment for bacteria to latch on and hitch rides into your ear canal. This adhesive nature of earbuds can gather germs from numerous surfaces, collecting crops of illness invaders from tables, pockets, floors and carrying bags. Scientifically speaking, a recent study has shown that earphones can carry 119,186 colony-forming units (CFU), in other words housing 330 times more bacteria than a kitchen countertop (1). Furthermore, extended periods of inserted earbud activity can physically trap heat and moisture in the ear, creating a garden for germ growth.
During this pandemic with packed homes and families, earbuds can satisfy the courtesy of noise reduction or destruction for other household inhabitants. This practical purpose is justifiable for increased earbud usage, but it’s important to stay aware of the risks paired with constantly cramming in those virus vessels. Poorly attended earphone hygiene can increase one’s candidacy for contracting ear infections, ear fungus, pimples and more foul complications. The least desirable outcome of unsanitary earphones could result in middle ear infections (otitis media), potentially disrupting workflow for weeks.
Through employing a simple weekly cleaning, bacteria buildup can be eradicated and likelihood of infection can be greatly reduced. Firstly, removing visible wax shrapnel gets rid of unsightly gunk and clears up some of the germ absorbing stickiness. To finish the sanitation process, sparingly dampen a cotton ball with disinfecting spray or rubbing alcohol and carefully wipe down the earphones. Emphasis on “sparingly dampen” to avoid adding more moisture to the earbuds and to avoid meddling with the circuitry.
Voila, a simple solution to a sneakily irritating problem that could snowball into an arduous ear infection. To prevent bacterial accumulation further, an earphone carrying case could be purchased or a simple repurposed tin of mints could be used to seal off those sticky microbial magnets.
Editor: Dean Sekol
Germs on Your Phone. (2020, October 05). Retrieved October 21, 2020, from https://www.seniorliving.org/research/germs-on-your-phone/