Skip to main content

Yes, there is now a washing machine for your AirPods

Cardlax Earbuds Washer

Until someone invents a cure for earwax, one thing will remain true: Your AirPods (or any other earbuds) are going to become disgusting, filthy messes over time and you will need to clean them.

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
New AirPods teased for 2024, to little surprise
The Apple AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C and MagSafe buds on a table with case in the background.

It's been a little while since we've seen a proper refresh of Apple's AirPods line. And given that we're in the back quarter of 2023 it should come as no surprise that word is starting to trickle out about new products potentially coming in 2024. Those words come by way of Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who cites unnamed sources detailing changes ahead in the new year.

On tap include:

Read more
When it comes to charging AirPods Pro with USB-C, don’t overthink it
Single AirPods Pro in case.

There's been a bit of a to-do over USB-C and charging rates and data speeds when it comes to the iPhone 15 and its switch away from using Apple's proprietary Lightning cable. The same goes for the AirPods Pro, which also are getting a refresh to USB-C.

While there are some very real considerations to make note of when it comes to USB-C cables and iPhones — faster is (mostly) better when it comes to charging and transferring data — I couldn't care less about either of those things when it comes to my AirPods Pro.

Read more
Apple has upgraded the AirPods Pro with lossless audio, sort of
Apple AirPods Pro with USB-C.

Amid the slew of new Apple products launched today, only the tiniest mention was made of the fact that Apple has also given the AirPods Pro Gen 2 wireless earbuds a not-so-minor refresh. Along with the expected addition of USB-C, making the AirPods Pro the first Apple headphones to ditch the Lightning connector, Apple has also given the iconic white noise-canceling earbuds the ability to do lossless audio wirelessly -- something that has never been seen on the AirPods family before, and is even a rarity among non-Apple wireless audio devices.

There is, however, a catch. The "groundbreaking wireless audio protocol" that allows for lossless audio at 20-bit/48 kHz (a better-than-CD-quality resolution) is powered by the AirPods Pro's H2 chip, but for now, it only works when paired with the upcoming Apple Vision Pro headset. At the moment, Qualcomm's aptX Lossless Bluetooth codec (when used with compatible wireless headphones and smartphones) is the only technology that supports lossless audio wirelessly, and even that technology is limited to 16-bit/48kHz.

Read more