Why sharing headphones is a really bad idea

After reading this, we promise you'll never share your headphones again, or let your kids do it.

Like most people, we’re pretty generous when it comes to hiring our earbuds out – mate at work lost hers? Have mine! Kids want to borrow? Sure! But now we might think twice…

Because a new study has explained just how gross it is to share your earphones with other people, and why you should be cautious about doing it again…

Basically, the ear wax that’s hiding in your inner ear is not only a little sticky and unpleasant, but it’s actually full of bacteria too.

What makes this bacteria build-up even worse is that the earbuds cover up the exit point for the wax, meaning it traps in moisture and heat to really make that bacteria thrive.

sharing headphones

We also leave our earphones on all kinds of surfaces too – our desks, in our bags – so they have plenty of opportunities to pick up germs.

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When you share, you’re giving the other person all of this wax and germ-laden bacteria, and it doesn’t even matter if they’re family – everyone’s ear bacteria is totally unique to them.

‘Studies have shown that earbuds cause an 11-fold increase in bacteria in the ears’, Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental health at the University of Arizona also told Buzzfeed US. ‘When you share headphones, you’re doubling the microbial flora in your ears and introducing new bacteria’.

The consequences are dire – fungus, ear infections, spots and blackheads could all pop up due to sharing headphones. So make sure you clean them regularly.

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‘When you disinfect, make sure to clean any waxy residue off first, then wipe down the earbuds with a cotton ball dampened with disinfecting spray or rubbing alcohol,’ Reynolds added.

Obviously, the safest option is not to share your headphones at all. But as long as you’re thoroughly cleaning your headphones out, you should be fine.