How To Maintain In-Ear Monitor

Reading reviews of in-ear monitors for drummers isn’t enough to get the best pair for your money. If you really want a long-lasting and great-sounding in-ear monitor, you need to maintain it yourself or by a professional cleaning service. So, in this article, we’ll give you valuable tips for maintaining in-ear monitors for optimal performance and longevity.

Important: Since not all in-ear monitors (IEMs) are created equal, be sure to read your in-ear monitor’s user manual to know the best ways to care for it.

Tips for Maintaining In-Ear Monitors

Tip #1: Always Keep Them Clean

Just because your in-ear monitor is water-resistant and sweat resistant [Are In-Ear Monitors Waterproof] doesn’t mean you clean it only when you feel like it. Dirt and sweat create a good breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, which can cause painful ear infections. Earwax can also affect the sound quality and volume of your IEM as it builds up because sound waves have to pass through the wax in order to get to your ear drum.

The popular recommendation is you shouldn’t clean your ears. But if you’re prone to producing excessive earwax, you can gently clean the opening of your ear canal where your IEM sits using a washcloth, an over-the-counter wax removal kit, or a Q-tip dipped in a few drops of baby oil, glycerin, or hydrogen peroxide.

In addition to that, regularly clean your in-ear monitor. The cleaning frequency depends on your skin type (oily, dry, or combination) and the amount of earwax you buildup. Ideally, do it after every use. If you don’t use it often for live performances or situations that cause you to sweat a lot, do it twice every week or once every month.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure it stays clean and working properly:

  1. Remove the sleeve of each earpiece.Use a soft-bristled brush (or the tool provided by the manufacturer) to clean it. If it’s a silicone sleeve, you can soak it in a small amount of hydrogen peroxide for a few minutes then rinse it with water. If it’s a foam sleeve, you can gently wipe it with a clean, slightly damp cloth.


  • Let the sleeves dry completely after rinsing to prevent the buildup of infection-causing microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi.
  • Experts recommend replacing sleeves every three to four months, or when they become soiled and stiff.
  1. Cover any openings on your IEM to prevent liquids from going inside, where they can damage sensitive components, such as the drivers.
  2. Then, use wipes or a slightly dump cloth to clean the surface of your IEM shell. Wipe it dry.
  3. Get the cleaning tool that came with your in-ear monitor. It usually features a brush on one end and a wire loop on the other. If you don’t have this tool, you can use a children’s toothbrush for the meantime.
  4. 5. Hold the earpiece in such a way that the side with the metal mesh is facing downwards. In that way, earwax and dirt will not fall into the device. Then, insert the wire loop of your cleaning tool to gently remove earwax or dirt that has built up inside the shallow area of the shell canal.

Please don’t insert any non-recommended object into the sound bores in the canals. Remember: There are filters and soft tubes inside the bores that you could easily puncture, which could disrupt your IEM’s sound quality.

  1. The downside of the earwax cleaning tool that comes with custom IEMs is their wire loop isn’t long enough for deep cleaning. Fortunately, you can use a hearing aid vacuum called a Jodi Vac. This compact and portable device has a dull needle, which you can safely insert into your IEM earpiece to suck out earwax and other particles that could distort the sound.
  2. As for the cable, you clean it the same way as the outer shell of your IEM’s earpieces. You can use a microfiber rag or a soft towel with a small amount of rubbing alcohol. Others mix equal parts of isopropyl alcohol and vinegar then dip a lint-free cloth into it.

Note: Don’t worry if your IEM’s clear cable turns green. It’s totally normal and won’t affect the sound. When the wires are always exposed to your sweat, oxidation turns it green.

  1. Make sure the sockets are also clean. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t clean the sockets since they got their in-ear monitors. The sockets are a prime location for collecting sweat. As a result, corrosion develops and damages the socket and/or cable.
  2. 9. Test your in-ear monitor [How To Test An In-Ear Monitor] after a thorough cleaning. Use an IEM listening tube to save you from so much troubleshooting time. Simply probe every port using this device in order to determine if the drivers are working properly.

Tip #2: Store Them Properly

Avoid Moisture Build Up

As what we previously mentioned, moisture can really affect the performance and shelf life of in-ear monitors. So, before storing the cable and earpieces, make sure you’ve wiped them dry.

If you sweat a lot, or if the weather is humid, you can use the following to prevent or absorb excess moisture:

  • Silica gel – This is a type of drying agent, or a desiccant, that’s stored in a small pouch. When you put back your IEM into its case, try to also include this to draw moisture away from the drivers and other sensitive components. Once it changes color (from blue to purple to pink), it’s time to reactivate or replace it.
  • Dehumidifier jar – This is a sealable container that contains a disc of desiccant crystals, which are able to absorb moisture from your in-ear monitor and environment. For best results, place your IEM inside every night. When the crystals become black or dark green in color, it means they can no longer absorb moisture.
  • Uncooked rice grains – We’re not kidding. Some people place their water-exposed earpieces inside a bag of uncooked rice grains for 24 to 36 hours (1 to 3 days). As a hygroscopic material, uncooked rice grains can absorb moisture or water from the air.

Keep Them in a Protective Case

A hard and water-tight case is a great way to keep your in-ear monitor safe when not in use or while traveling. It doesn’t only keep your IEM organized, but it also makes sure the cables don’t get tangled and damaged. There are even micro cases, like the Pelican, which can float.

Wrap Your IEM Cable Properly

The cable of in-ear monitors are highly susceptible to damage, especially if you don’t wrap them properly. There are many suggestions on how to properly wrap IEM cables. Below are the steps for the over-under wrapping technique:

  1. Grab one end of the cable with your dominant hand, while making sure the female or male end is facing away from you.
  2. For the first coil, twist the cable in one direction then release it to your collecting hand (dominant hand).
  3. Untwist it to make the next coil.
  4. Repeat the previous steps until you’re done.
  5. Prevent the cable from unwrapping by using a Velcro strap or something similar.


If you take care of your in-ear monitor well, it’s going to last you many years. Remember: Clean it after every use to get rid of dirt, earwax, and grease that could affect the sound and your ear health, and then store it in a protective case with a desiccant agent. And not to forget, use the correct technique for wrapping the cable to keep it kink-free in the long term.

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