It is common knowledge that water and electricity do not blend well. This is particularly problematic in most of the consumer electronics purchased for personal use. Generally, keeping water or moisture off most of the home electronics is relatively easy. You don’t need to carry your TV out in the rain often. Nor do you need a receiver in the shower.
However, people do carry their phones around all the time. For many, it is particularly important when they workout. The added music or entertainment keeps their mind occupied or motivated. It makes the moment a little more enjoyable and manageable. However, the other question is about the shower. Why not enjoy our music there too? Why stop a phone conversation before getting in? If you own an iPhone, then you also have the option to own Apple AirPods. There have been lots of comments and questions and issues over the water-resistant nature of AirPods. This article answers those questions and gives some solutions.
Can You Wear Apple AirPods In The Shower?
So, let’s answer the important question first. Can you wear Apple AirPods in the shower? No, if your goal is to have working AirPods at the end of the shower you should not wear them under any wet conditions. This means that you should under no circumstances wear them swimming, in the shower, in the rain, while taking a moment in the sauna. It is questionable whether you should even wear them while working out if you are a heavy sweater.
Don’t be convinced by Apple’s advertising that because those people are working out with AirPods that you can too.
Why not? Let’s dig into the mechanics. Consumer electronics stop working under wet conditions because moisture and water enter through the casing of the item and short circuit the wiring. The most important method of keeping water on the outside is to block the holes. AirPods are mini speakers. They have lots of holes. However, there are methods for creating a seal over headphones to make them more resistant to water intrusion.
Airpods have a water-resistant rating of IPX4. This means that they are resistant to water splashes. IPX4 is the common rating for consumer electronics to be sweat resistant. This falls well below the rating needed for any type of resistance to direct water contact. Further, Apple acknowledges that the sweat resistance wears off over time.
“Sweat and water resistance are not permanent conditions and resistance might decrease as a result of normal wear.”(From Apple’s Support Page)
On that same support page, Apple even states that the AirPods aren’t even sweatproof, just sweat resistant. So, you should never consider your AirPods safe against any type of moisture.
What Are IPX Ratings?
The IPX or IP rating refers to the Ingress Protection standard the European equivalent is EN 60529. The IP rating is set by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) based in London. They are in charge of setting international standards for a wide range of electronics including consumer and industrial. This could include anything from batteries, solar panels, and toaster ovens, to smartphones or extension cords. You can see the rating chart here.
The IP Rating is actually made up of 3 different ratings. The full term is IPXXX. Each X refers to a different value and meaning. The First X refers to the Dust Resistance and is measured anywhere between 0 – 6. More scientifically, it refers to the protection against the ingress of solid material.
Because water molecules are smaller than dust particles the measurement for water resistance doesn’t measure the dust resistance. All measurements cost money. So, this isn’t saying that something might be water-resistant and not dust resistant. It is just saying it wasn’t measured for dust resistance. So, IPX4 just refers to the fact that AirPods weren’t measured for dust resistance, just water resistance.
The Second X is the measurement of water resistance. This value ranges from 0 – 9 and describes how susceptible the device is to water intrusion and damage. Below is a brief description of each of the ratings:
- IPXX: Water Resistance Not Measured
- IPX0: No protection against water or light moisture
- IPX1: Protection against vertical water drops for 10 minutes up to 1mm/min
- IPX2: Protection against water drops at a 15-degree angle for 10 minutes up to 3mm/min
- IPX3: Protection against a spray of water with an angle differential of 60-degrees for 5 minutes and pressure of 50-150kPa
- IPX4: Protection against splashes of water from any direction or angle. This is the most common protection rating for electronic devices to show a “sweat-resistant” rating
- IPX5: Protect from a jet of water at any angle for 15 minutes at a rate of 12.5 l/min
- IPX6: Protection against strong jets of water from any angle for at least 3 minutes at a rate of 100 l/min
- IPX7: Protection (Meaning no damage) from water during full submersion up to 1m (approx. 3ft) for 30min. Any electronic device with an IPX7 rating is considered fully waterproof.
- IPX8: Protection from water during full submersion deeper than 1 meter, usually 3 meters. However, there is no time component to this level.
- IPX9K: This level of protection is the maximum level of protection that includes protection against high-intensity pressures at a high temperature at close proximity: water (80°C/ 176°F) at a distance of 0.1-0.15m with a pressure of 8-10MPa and the volume of sprayed water of 14-16 l/min. This level is never found in consumer speakers and is usually reserved for other types of electronics. An example would be if something was protected from steam jet cleaning.
The Third X in the IP rating system is an optional or supplementary code that is seldom used. It often qualifies the protection or references of another type of protection. For example:
- C Protection against access with a tool
- D Wire
- F Oil resistant
- H High voltage device
- M Device moving during water test
- S Device standing still during water test
- W Weather conditions
Does Apple Cover Warranties If The AirPods Get Broken?
Most major consumer electric manufacturers do not cover water damage of any kind. If you open up the back of your phone there is a hidden tab that reacts when wet. This indicator will show the technician that your device is broken because it got wet. So, even if you say “but it just stopped working for no reason it is defective” they will know and force you to either buy a new one or pay full price. The same applies to Apple AirPods.
The AppleCare+ plan may cover a damage incident at a reduced cost but you will still have to pay $29 or $89 depending on the warranty and the incident. Never expect any provider or vendor to actually cover the costs of damage due to water. Most warranties only cover damage that is outside the normal “wear and tear”, which means that water damage tends to not be covered. You will need to choose yourself if the AppleCare+ is right for you based on your habits.
Can AirPods Be Saved If It Has Gotten Wet?
It depends. There are many anecdotal stories of people forgetting and washing their AirPods in the washing machine. However, you should never assume that the AirPods are more robust than their IP rating, which is IPX4 (limited water-resistance to sweat, which may decline over time). If you do happen to get them wet here are a few steps to try to save them and keep them running.
First, dry them completely with a microfiber cloth. You want to make sure that you are getting all of the moisture off that you can. Drying them limits any more moisture from invading the holes or cracks and further. If they stay wet the water inside can pull the exterior water into the crevices.
Second, do not under any circumstances put the AirPods back in their charging case or any other charging spot. You don’t want to introduce external electricity or enable any unnecessary circuits while the devices are drying. This is a long process and they need to be kept as inactive as possible.
Third, at this point, there is no solid solution, just a lot of hoping that they will be okay. However, there are some things that you could try to make sure you are doing all that you can do. Many people say that you should immerse the AirPods in a Ziploc bag of rice. The rice is supposed to pull the water out of the device. However, you could alternatively use silica gel packets in the same way. Those little bags of silica gel that are placed inside packages to keep the moisture out make great rice substitute here.
Apple AirPods are great and fun and amazing little devices. There is no real reason not to get them unless your goal is to specifically run in the rain or listen to music in the shower. However, if you are active or partaking in other types of activities you will most likely want 2 sets: your main set of AirPods for everyday type activities; and your active set for athletics and any other type of activity requiring a bit more protection.