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Are Apple AirPods waterproof?

Are AirPods waterproof? It can be hard to tell if you've got an older model, but don't worry. We've got you covered.
By
January 17, 2023

Water resistance and waterproofing are important things to look out for when you’re shopping for new tech, and that’s especially true if you’re interested in buying something as small and droppable as the Apple AirPods. Thankfully, almost every model of AirPods you can buy right now has some form of water resistance, but it’s not totally uniform across every device. Let’s go over how waterproof different AirPods are, as well as what you should know about water resistance and waterproof ratings.

Do all Apple AirPods have water resistance?

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case open with one of the earbuds on a burlap sack, and the Nothing Ear 1 case in the background.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) extends its water resistance to its charging case, in addition to the earbuds.

Not every generation and iteration of the Apple AirPods has some form of water resistance, but most of what you’ll find in a store these days do. The Apple AirPods (1st generation), Apple AirPods (2nd generation), and the Apple AirPods Max have no IP Rating whatsoever. This means if you’ve got an older model of Apple’s main true wireless earbuds, or you’ve just dropped a big chunk of change on its top-of-the-line noise cancelling headphones, you should be careful about listening to music in the rain or at the gym. Basically, if you’re not inside or in fair weather, you should probably leave them stowed in your bag or pocket.

However, the Apple AirPods (3rd generation), as well as both generations of Apple AirPods Pro feature an IPX4 rating. The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) charging case also features this water resistance rating, though the charging cases of the other models don’t.

Waterproof vs water resistant: what’s the difference?

UE Wonderboom 2 floating in a pool. The speaker is in red.
IP ratings cover most forms of consumer tech, whether it speakers, phones, or earbuds like the AirPods.

The answer is in the name. When something is water resistant, it’s capable of resisting the negative effects of getting wet—generally limited to getting splashed or sprayed—up to a certain volume of water and amount of time. Waterproofing also has limits, but the key difference generally comes down to submersion.

If something is certified to function normally after a period of complete submersion in water, it’s considered waterproof. If it’s only rated for surviving splashes or jets of water, it’s not considered waterproof. In consumer tech, these distinctions are relayed through a product’s ingress protection (IP) rating.

An IP rating describes how durable a device is, based on two environmental factors: dust and water. When reading a device’s IP rating, there will be two numbers associated with it (written out as IP65, for instance). The first number relates to the devices’s dust resistance, and the second relates to its water resistance. When something has an IP rating for one kind of contaminant, but not the other, the unrated criteria is denoted with an X. All models of Apple AirPods with water resistance have an IPX4 rating, which means water resistance and no dust resistance.

Water-resistantWaterproofCan withstand
IPX0
Water-resistant

Waterproof

Can withstand
Not water-resistant
IPX1
Water-resistant

Waterproof

Can withstand
Dripping water (1 mm/min)
Limit: vertical drips only
IPX2
Water-resistant

Waterproof

Can withstand
Dripping water (3 mm/min)
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
IPX3
Water-resistant

Waterproof

Can withstand
Sprays
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
IPX4
Water-resistant

Waterproof

Can withstand
Splashes, omnidirectional
IPX5
Water-resistant

Waterproof

Can withstand
Water jets (12.5 L/min)
Example: Squirt guns
IPX6
Water-resistant

Waterproof

Can withstand
Strong water jets (100 L/min)
Example: Powerful water guns
IPX7
Water-resistant

Waterproof

Can withstand
Complete submersion
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min
IPX8
Water-resistant

Waterproof

Can withstand
Complete submersion
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min

As you can see in the table above, higher ratings can be considered waterproof, and the difference between an IPX6 rating and IPX7 amounts to how deep a device can be submerged before risking its protection becoming compromised—remember, the deeper you go in water, the more pressure it exerts on you! Higher ratings for dust proofing also indicate a greater degree of protection, but these days it’s pretty uncommon to see anything below a 6 rating when a device has dustproofing.

Dust-resistantDustproofCan withstand...
IP0X
Dust-resistant

Dustproof

Can withstand...
Not dust-resistant
IP1X
Dust-resistant

Dustproof

Can withstand...
A solid object > 50 mm
IP2X
Dust-resistant

Dustproof

Can withstand...
A solid object > 12.5 mm
IP3X
Dust-resistant

Dustproof

Can withstand...
A solid object > 2.5 mm
IP4X
Dust-resistant

Dustproof

Can withstand...
A solid object > 1 mm
I5X
Dust-resistant

Dustproof

Can withstand...
Dust-protected, small solid objects won't interfere with device operation
IP6X
Dust-resistant

Dustproof

Can withstand...
Any amount of dust, completely dust-tight

What is an IPX4 rating

The Apple AirPods Pro charging case next to a gold swiss army knife in the pocket of a bag.
Even if your AirPods earbuds have an IP rating, the case probably doesn’t (unless it’s the newest AirPods Pro), so you’ll need to store it safely on rainy days.

All current-generation Apple AirPods earbuds have an IPX4 rating. This means your Apple AirPods (3rd generation) and Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) have no dust protection rating, but are considered protected from splashes, drips, and sprays of water. Basically, if you get caught out in the rain, or you sweat a lot at the gym, these will perform without issue. Again, this isn’t the case with products like the Apple AirPods Max or the first and second generation AirPods—you’ve got to be more careful keeping these products dry.

What to do if your AirPods get wet

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) earbuds rest on a black surface with the case in the background.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
If they get really wet, the best thing to do is wipe your AirPods down and then leave them alone until everything dries out.

No model of AirPods is rated as waterproof. If you get them very wet—maybe they get hit with the spray of a hose, run under a tap, or heaven forbid, dropped in the pool—there’s a chance they’ll be broken forever. However, to maximize the chance of being able to use your AirPods again after something like that happens, there are a few steps you can take.

The first thing to do after your AirPods have taken an unfortunate dunk, is to dry them off thoroughly with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth. After that, the most important thing you can do is leave it alone until the interior dries out on its own—don’t put the earbuds back in the case to charge, or leave the case on a wireless charger. Just set it all down separately on a table and leave it alone for at least 24 hours. Apple doesn’t recommend using anything to hasten that drying, like moving your device close a radiator or other direct heat source. All this goes just the same if your AirPods charging case gets wet too.

If you follow those steps, and a few days later, you find that your AirPods sound normal and hold a charge just fine, congratulations! You’re lucky enough to not need a replacement. If your AirPods don’t work after following these step, you are very likely out of luck, but who knows, you may be able to find a new pair on sale.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Impressive ANC • Comfortable fit • Wireless charging
One of the best true wireless earbuds for iOS users
The second generation of AirPods Pro features top-quality active noise cancellation in a water-resistant package.