If you’re ashamed to take your earbuds out of your ears in public because of what might be caked inside them and yet too disgusted to clean them at home, you better believe there’s a Kickstarter product to solve that. Imagine a washing machine miniaturised to sit on a desk that cleans earbuds instead of clothing. That’s what the Cardlax EarBuds Washer promises.
Cardlax admittedly sounds like a bizarre name for a product like this, especially since it kind of, but doesn’t really, rhyme with earwax. The name is actually a carryover from a previous product its creators successfully crowdfunded: a credit card-sized electrical muscle stimulation massager. The two products seemingly have nothing in common, except for doing work on a user’s behalf: massaging muscles vs. cleaning earbuds.
Popping open the lid of the EarBuds Washer first reveals a tiny spinning brush that’s used to dislodge larger chunks of dirt from an earbud, as well as clean out deeper crevices and harder to reach areas. Once the pre-wash is complete, the earbuds are dropped into what looks like a cleaning drum with a spinning core that’s made out of the same lightweight foam that makeup sponges are made from, while a misting of 70% alcohol is added. As the core spins, the earbuds rub against it and the walls of the drum, removing finer particles of wax until what’s left is a pair of wireless buds that should look as new as the day they came out of the box.
The inner parts of the machine itself can be removed and rinsed under water afterwards (to the best of our knowledge no one makes a tiny washing machine for the EarBuds Washer…yet) as all the unwanted bits that are cleaned away end up at the bottom and will collect into another ugly mess over time. The creators promise that cleaning process is gentle and causes no damage to earbuds, and while the promotional videos show Apple’s earbuds being cleaned, the machine works with many brands of buds, including Samsung and Bose.
Those preordering now with a Kickstarter pledge can claim a Cardlax EarBuds Washer for just $US33 ($43), with shipping expected as early as June if all goes well as the project moves from the fundraising stage to actual production. With the pandemic still raging around the world, and boats clogging up the Suez Canal, it’s a good time to be extra cautious about crowdfunded products, and to be prepared for unforeseen delays. If you don’t think you don’t have the patience for that, just go buy a box of Q-tips.