Throw Your Earbuds Away Immediately If You Notice This

Earbuds are everywhere, helping us keep our tunes and podcasts to ourselves. The popularity of these little in-ear listening devices soared after 2001 with the introduction of Apple's iPod (per The New York Times Magazine).

It feels like earbuds have been around forever. Ok, maybe not forever, but earbuds are definitely older than 20 years. The ancestor of today's earbuds was patented in 1891 by Ernest Mercadier (per Headphonesty). This device was intended to be used with a phone long before we were taking Zoom calls.

With all kinds or wired and wireless options, you can find earbuds as cheap as five dollars or as expensive as several hundred dollars (per Lifewire). The average lifespan of a pair of earbuds is 6 months to two years (per Headphone University). If this seems all too short, you can often make your earbuds last longer with proper handling and care.

Earbuds are a prime hangout for dirt and germs, so be sure to clean them thoroughly. Otherwise, wax buildup and bacteria can lead to ear infections, according to Jamaica Hospital.

But even with your best efforts, earbuds, like other electronic devices, reach their end. So how do you know when it's time for a new pair?

Time to recycle your earbuds

If your earbuds have a cord, avoid getting it tangled or stepped on. With repeated injury, the cord can break, making it time to ditch those earbuds (per Ear Rockers).

For wireless models, it's all about battery life. Rechargeable batteries weaken with time and age. To keep earbuds small and light, the glued-in batteries aren't replaceable (per Wirecutter). If they can't hold a charge, it's game over.

According to Headphone University, moisture is an arch-enemy to earbuds. An accidental trip through the wash could ruin them. If you wear earbuds while working out, frequent sweating could end their lifespan. Next time, choose a more gym-compatible model.

Playing music too loud can damage your ears and your earbuds. According to the CDC, loud sounds can damage the hair cells in the cochlea, causing hearing loss. Loud sounds can also damage earbuds by warping the tiny internal components. When this happens, you'll notice a loss of sound quality, along with annoying sounds like buzzing (per Ear Rockers). Time to invest in a new pair and make a commitment to quieter volumes, especially for your ears' sake.

Once you've determined that pair of earbuds is toss-worthy, take care to dispose of it properly. Seek out an electronic recycling event in your community. Or use a manufacturers recycling program. JLab recycles all brands of earbuds through the mail and offers a 30% off code you can use towards your next pair.