What to Do With Old Headphones?

We’ve all been there – a pair of old headphones sitting around, taking up space and gathering dust.

Maybe they’re broken, outdated, or simply not your style anymore. So, what should you do with them?

In this article, we’ll explore various options for responsibly dealing with your old headphones so they don’t end up harming the environment or cluttering your home.

Are Broken Headphones Useless?

All the broken headphones that you’ve lying around in your drawer might not be as useless as you think they are. Yes, you can’t use them for the purpose they are meant to be used for.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t use them for anything.

So, no. Broken headphones aren’t all that useless, after all! There’s so much that you can do with your headphones other than throw them in the trash!

Also read: How To Dispose of iPhone/iPad?

What Can You Do With Old Headphones?

If not, throw them away, then what can you do with your old headphones? What possible use can you bring these damaged headphones into?

Well, be prepared to have your mind blown because there are not one but numerous things you can do with your old headphones.

Sell or Donate

If your old headphones still function reasonably well, consider donating them.

Many schools, charities, and community centers accept donations of electronic items, where they can benefit others who are less fortunate.

Before donating, make sure to clean the earbuds and give them a thorough inspection to ensure they’re in good working order.

However, if you have your eyes for another pair of cool headphones and you no longer want to keep using your old headphones, you can always sell them to someone at a lower price.

Try posting them on local marketplaces like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or other classified ad websites.

Make sure to add a clear description and good-quality images to attract potential buyers.

Remember to include details about the brand, model, and condition of your headphones as well as the asking price.

Since you won’t be using your old headphones after you get a new pair, there’s no point in keeping them with you.


If your headphones are still in working order, but you’re kind of done with them, you can trade in your old headphones.

Many headphone manufacturers such as Sony, Sennheiser, and JLab support trade-in or take back recycling programs for their products.

Companies like Best Buy also run similar initiatives. These services allow you to trade in your old headphones for a discount on new products or even get store credit.

To make use of these programs, contact the manufacturer of your headphones or check specific retailer websites.

Additionally, look into warranties that might still be valid for your headphones, as some manufacturers will replace broken parts or entire devices under warranty terms.

Simply grab a new pair of headphones that you like in exchange for your old headphones. The benefit of this is that you’ll only have to pay the difference.

This way, you can get a brand-new pair of headphones at a much lower price!

Some stores also give gift vouchers when you trade in headphones that are still working. You can use the gift voucher to buy anything from their store, if not a new pair of headphones.

Also read: How to Dispose of Small Appliances?

Return to the Manufacturer

Some headphone manufacturers have recycling facilities. You can send your old headphones to them or drop them off at a collection unit.

The manufacturers will bring its usable components into use and discard the ones that are not recyclable the right way. They’ll ensure that minimum waste ends up in landfills.

Reach Out to Waste Disposal Companies

Many waste disposal companies deal in electronic waste.

These companies are well-versed with the state rules and regulations. They know the right protocols for disposing of electronic waste.

You can reach out to a reliable waste disposal company and have them discard your old headphones for you. They’ll ensure that each component of the headphones is disposed of as per state rules.

Also read: How to Dispose of Laptop Battery?

Make Mini Speakers from Old Headphones

Not everyone has got a creative side, but if you do, your options are endless. One of the coolest ways to use your old headphones is to turn them into mini speakers.

All you need for this super cool DIY project is a bit of technical knowledge and skill, and you’re all set.

  • Making speakers from old headphones is easy.
  • Remove the external case of the headphones to expose the circuit board and speakers.
  • You’ll also need Bluetooth speakers for this DIY project. Deconstruct the Bluetooth speaker. Use a soldering iron to desolder the speakers from the circuit board of the headphones.
  • Replace the headphone speakers with Bluetooth speakers and solder them in place. Connect your device to the Bluetooth speaker and enjoy a wireless connection!

Try New DIY Ideas

You can use each component of your old headphones for different DIY projects. The cable of your old headphones can be used to make bracelets.

You can add any charms that you like and a super funky bracelet is ready!

Make a Collar Mic

This is one of the coolest things you can do with your old headphones. It’s especially a great idea for those who’ve got to be on calls often.

Just cut the headphone wire to the point where the cord is splitting. Then cut the wire just above the microphone. Discard the part of the wire that was present after the microphone. You won’t need it.

Color the microphone black and cover the wire from the microphone to the point where the wire split with black electrical tape.

Take a tie clip and stick it to the base of the microphone. Connect the wire to your phone or laptop, and speak through the microphone.

Save yourself the hassle of handling a bulky mic during the calls!

Reuse What You Can

Apart from reusing the entire headphones, you can also disassemble the headphones and save the components that are in working order.

These parts will come in handy when another pair of headphones stop working. You might even save yourself some money by not having a need to buy new headphones!

Also read: How to Dispose of Gaming Consoles?

How to Recycle Old Headphones?

One of the best ways to dispose of your old headphones would be to recycle them.

Finding Recycling Facilities

To properly recycle your old headphones, it’s important to find a recycling facility that accepts electronic waste.

You can search for local recycling centers or look for organizations that specialize in handling e-waste.

Some popular recycling programs include Skullcandy. Be sure to contact your chosen facility to confirm they accept headphones for recycling.

Dealing with Electronic Waste

Electronic waste, or e-waste, can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly.

When recycling your headphones, ensure they are properly separated into different components, such as:

  • Foam: Earpads and other cushioning components can often be taken apart and recycled separately.
  • Wires: Copper or aluminum wires inside the cable and cord can be removed and recycled.
  • Headband, metal, and plastic components: These parts can usually be grouped together, as they are often made from similar materials.

By breaking down your headphones into these smaller parts, you can help the recycling facility better process your e-waste and reduce potential harm to the environment.

Disposing of Headphone Components

Each component of your old headphones may require different disposal methods.

To make this process easier, follow these simple steps:

  1. Carefully disassemble your headphones, separating the foam, wires, and headband from each other.
  2. Determine the material of each part (i.e., plastic, metal, copper, or aluminum), and separate them accordingly.
  3. Take the separated materials to the appropriate recycling center or facility for proper disposal.

By following these steps, you’re doing your part in helping the environment and ensuring that your old headphones are responsibly recycled.

Also read: How To Dispose of Floppy Disks?

Why Isn’t It Wise to Throw Away Old Headphones?

When we say we don’t recommend you throw away your headphones in the trash, we say it for a reason.

It’s not just because good headphones don’t come cheap; throwing them away means throwing away cash.

You shouldn’t dump your old headphones in the trash because some materials that go into the making of headphones pose an environmental threat.

Most of the components of headphones are recyclable and don’t pose harm to the environment. However, there are also some that are dangerous.

Let’s have a look at the primary components of a headphone:


The headband is made of hard PVC, which makes it durable. It’s stiff but also offers enough elasticity to be adjusted according to varying head sizes. However, PVC isn’t recyclable.

What makes PVC harmful to the environment is the fact that it takes very long for it to degrade naturally.


The speakers of the headphones that are present inside are made of metal (magnet), plastic cones, and copper coils. All of these materials can be recycled.


Earbuds are made of rubber, latex, leather, or silicone. The earbuds are padded with foams. Both foam and latex are non-biodegradable.


The cord of the headphones is made of aluminum or copper and is insulated by cloth or rubber.

Aluminum, copper, cloth, and rubber are all recyclable.


The headphone jack is made of copper enclosed in PVC or metal. Except for PVC, all other materials are recyclable.

When you throw away the headphones, you’re putting all the components into the landfill.

The materials that aren’t biodegradable stay in the environment for many years, and that’s why you shouldn’t throw away your headphones.

Also read: 6 Easy Ways to Dispose of Cassette Tapes

Making Your Headphones Last Longer

One way to steer clear of trouble with damaged headphones is to take extra care of headphones. Some tips that can help you make your headphones last longer are:

Wrap Them Carefully

Do you wrap your headphones brutally? That’s the main reason why your headphones don’t last too long. Wrap them gently.

Make sure they aren’t getting tangled.

Tangled cords can damage your headphones and make them difficult to use. Here are some ways to prevent tangled cords:

  • Gently loop your headphone cord in a figure-eight pattern and secure it with a twist tie or rubber band.
  • Invest in a cable management tool, like a cord wrap or cable organizer.
  • Opt for wireless earbuds or headphones that don’t have a cord.

These methods will help keep your headphone cords untangled and extend their lifespan.

Keep Them Away from Magnets

There is a small magnetic component inside your headphone speakers.

If you take them close to anything that might interfere with the magnets, the headphones will get damaged.

Don’t Expose Them to Extreme Temperatures

Don’t expose your headphones to extreme hot or cold temperatures.

That’ll damage your headphones irreparably and deem them useless.

Store Them Carefully

Make sure your headphones aren’t getting caught on anything during storage, like in your handbag. If they do and you yank at it, the cord will break, and your headphones will stop working.

Storing them in a case or a small pouch will ensure that they don’t get caught up in things and hence, last much longer.

When we talk about old headphones that are damaged beyond repair, recycling them is the best thing to do. Throwing them in the garbage isn’t an option because headphones come under electrical waste.

Disposing of electrical waste inappropriately can have serious consequences on the environment. The burden on the environment is already too much.

You should educate yourself about ethical and eco-friendly practices. In the case of headphones, throwing them away in the trash is definitely not among them.

Before you toss your old headphones in the trash, go through your options. Recycling and reusing old things can be fun. You’ll know it when you do it!

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