This is What Happens if You Never Take Out Earbuds

An ear specialist explains exactly what happens when wearers neglect to take out and clean earbuds on a regular basis.
Shelby Rogers

Earbuds -- they're necessities for a lot of runners, gym-goers, introverts, and people who want to block out noisy office environments. They're also some of the most popular gadgets around. The Apple AirPods in particular remain some of the go-to earbuds on the market; even Apple admitted they couldn't keep up with the demand for the earbuds when they first launched. 

But what would happen if you never, ever took out your earbuds? The team at Digg partnered with otalryngologist (ear specialist) Anil Lalwani about some of the things that come with excessive earbud usage. 

Initially, the first thing that wouldn't happen is excessive wax buildup. Thankfully, only the outer half of your ear builds up the wax, so earbud fans can rest a little easier knowing that they're not jamming in a ton of wax. 

The real problem (and quite possibly the worse effect) comes in the form of bacterial build up. The dirt that gathers on headphones brings in bacteria and the moisture from sweaty sessions at the gym or just normal perspiration fosters the growth of that bacteria. That combination, Lalwani noted, leads to an infection after several weeks of consistent usage. (And definitely take Digg's advice and do not Google 'granuloma'; it's not a pretty picture.)

So what's the solution to these disgusting possibilities? How can someone save themself from ear infections and nasty bacterial buildup? Disinfect your earbuds regularly; most experts recommend once or twice a week depending on how frequently they're used. Store any headphones in a clean, dry case. Finally, stop sharing headphones with friends -- even if they're trusted.