If you’re wondering how to hydro dip AirPods, you’re in the right place! To customize your AirPods with awesome colors, photos, or unique designs, hydro dipping is the way to go.
What is hydro dipping? It’s a fun and relatively easy method to paint any design you want onto your stuff. All you need to do it is spray paint (or hydrographic film) and water.
As long as you do it properly, it’s safe to dip your AirPods into water. And you can bet they’ll come out looking way cooler! (If you’re still worried about your AirPods, jump to the Alternatives section below).
To get started, just follow this tutorial on how to hydro dip AirPods.
To hydro dip your AirPods, you’ll need:
- AirPods with Charging Case (Gen1 or Gen2)
- Mack’s Moldable Silicone Putty Ear Plugs
- Painter’s Tape and X-Acto Knife
- Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2x Ultra Cover Flat White Primer
- Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2x Ultra Cover Clear, Semi-Gloss
- Container with warm water (75-85 degrees Fahrenheit)
For the spray paint method:
- Spray Paints — Rust-Oleum’s Painter’s Touch Paint+Primer is a good pick.
For the film method:
Step 1: Plan Your Design
There are two methods to hydro dip your AirPods: the spray paint method and the film method. Choose the method you’re going to use and follow the steps accordingly.
The spray paint method is the most hydro dipping popular method. You can use the spray paint method if you want an unpredictable swirl, marbleized effect, and to feel the layer of paint on your AirPods.
For this method you want to start by selecting two or three colors. Use contrasting or complementary colors so that they stand out from each other (such as blue-yellow, purple-orange, etc.).
You can use as many colors as you want, but more than four might look crowded on a small item like AirPods.
Hydrographic film is a clear water soluble film that is placed on top of the water for hydro dipping. It is usually sold with a white protective cover on one side. You can either buy one with a design already printed, or print your own.
To print your own, buy blank film and make sure you have an inkjet printer. Print your pattern or photo onto the clear or sticky side of the film. Do not touch the printed side.
When you have your film (printed or store-bought), lay it down, design-side up, and frame it using 1” to 2” painter’s tape. This will allow for easy handling when it comes to dipping.
Note: Different manufacturers have different instructions for their films. Check the instructions carefully to see if you have to apply a special activator for the ink to hold.
Step 2: Putty and Tape
Grab your AirPods and case. Wipe them clean.
For this step, you’ll need some putty to waterproof your AirPods. One trick is to use Mack’s Moldable Silicone Putty Ear Plugs.
Insert the waterproof silicone putty into all the openings on your AirPods themselves and the case. Include the charge port and pod spaces in the case, and the openings in the pods themselves. Make sure it’s a tight fit, so no water or paint leaks in. Gently skim off excess putty with a razor blade.
Important: Cover the metal ends of the AirPods with tape (otherwise, they might not be able to charge).
If there are any parts you do not want painted, cover them with masking tape now.
Important: Wrap a small piece of extra tape to the very end of each AirPod. This will give you something to hold on to while dipping.
For the case, after you fill the pod spaces with putty, tape over them. Then, where the lid closes, attach an extra piece of tape (on the heavier part of the case). Close the lid on top. This piece of tape will serve as your handle for the case.
Step 3: Primer
Spray the flat white primer onto the AirPods and case. This is for the inks from the spray paint or film to bond well to the plastic surface.
Step 4: Paint the Surface of the Water
Grab a container that is large enough to dip the AirPods. Fill it with warm water (warm to the touch).
Shake your spray paint cans well. Start generously spraying the colors in quick succession.
As the first rings float away, keep spraying till the width of the concentric circles are to your liking. You can use a metal stirrer to swirl the pattern if you like (optional).
Get a container wide enough for your sheet of film, and deep enough to fit the AirPods Fill it with warm water. If you have a thermometer, check that it’s between 70-85 degrees fahrenheit.
Peel off the white paper. Lay the film on the water, print and taped side up. Make sure there aren’t any air bubbles.
After a few seconds, spray the hydrographic film activator to dissolve the film. Wait one more minute and then you are ready to dip. You’ll need 3 films if you plan to dip the AirPods after the case.
Step 5: Dip
Start dipping the AirPod case at a 45 degree angle, holding on to your tape handle. For film, align the AirPods to the design.
Dip slowly and steadily. Once fully in, with your free hand push away surrounding paint. Take it out slowly.
With the AirPods, hold on to the taped edge and dip starting with the outer side.
For film gently rinse off any residue with warm water. Do not rinse for spray paints.
Step 6: Clear Coat
Let the AirPods dry. Spray a clear topcoat to seal and protect your work (ideally 2-3 coats). Let it dry completely before handling.
Step 7: Remove Putty and Tape
Once dry, it’s time to remove the tape and putty!
You can remove the putty by using more putty. Roll a tiny ball and stick it to the putty to pull it out. In places where the clear coat has dried over the putty, use a razor to cut it off, and then pull it out.
- If your AirPods are still under warranty, you will void it by hydro dipping.
- If the film you purchased doesn’t come with a peel-off cover, then print on the non-sticky side. The sticky side goes face down on the water. Remember, you want the graphic face-down.
- If the film didn’t come with an activator to hold the print in, and you notice the inks are dissolving when in water, try spraying the clear coat after you print, and before laying it on water.
- Store your excess film away from heat, light, and moisture.
- Use gloves to avoid contaminating your paint.
- Always use a mask around aerosols.
Check out some cool design ideas to inspire your own project!
Note: Some of these photos are of cases that go on the outside of your AirPods. However, you can achieve any of these designs by printing the pattern using the hydrographic film method. This way you can get the pattern on the AirPods themselves, too!
Alternatives to AirPods
If you prefer not to dip your actual AirPods, there are a few alternatives. You can purchase cheaper wireless earbuds comparable to AirPods. Or you can buy a hard case and dip that instead! However, this will only cover the AirPods case itself and not the buds in your ear.
You can hydro dip your wired Apple earphones too, or any other brand. Tape the length of the wire, and insert silicone putty into all openings same as above. Use either hydrographic film or spray paint to achieve customization.
You can dip over-ear headphones too. Insert silicone putty into the input jacks. Tape up the ear cups, cushions and drivers. Place a square piece of tape on the logo and gently cut out the excess tape around the outline.
Dip just one side that needs printing, then the other. For the spray paint method, you can do this in one session. For hydrographic film, depending on the design, you may need two pieces of film and two sessions to cover both sides.
Hydro dipping is a fun and unique way to customize anything! You should have a good idea now of how to hydro dip AirPods.
Of course, like any craft, hydro dipping can take some practice. So we recommend to first hydro dip some other items before you dip your AirPods. Alternatively, you can use some knock-off AirPods.
Both spray paint hydro dipping and film hydro dipping work well and offer a world of customization. Happy dipping!