Top 5 Ways to Clean a Headphone Jack


 By Joseph Albanese

Easy Methods to a Clean Headphone Jack

Follow the steps below to learn how to keep this area clean.

I recently had my iPod Touch in my pocket without the headphones in. I then discovered that a large piece of pocket lint got wedged inside of the jack. I couldn’t plug my headphones in since they wouldn’t lock in all the way. The partial amount that could only resulted in some music and white noise. So I then proceeded to think of a solution that wouldn’t result in my jack being broken, but would do the trick. Here are some tips I recommend to clear dust, lint, and debris from most headphone jacks. Before trying these ideas, make sure to power off your device and weigh the options before you.

  1. Compressed Air 

    A can of pressurized air, buy-able at most tech stores such as Radio Shack and Best Buy,

    Normal can of air.

    is one of the easiest ways to upkeep crevices in most devices. It has a long, thin tube for the concentrated air to blow out dust and will most likely clear it out without harming the device. Air cans are also popular for cleaning hard drives and fans in opened computers. 

  2. Cotton Swab 

    Remove the cotton from the swab until it is able to fit inside the jack. Insert and rotate inside to clean the jack of dust. One can add rubbing alcohol to this as well, but follow steps below.

  3. Headphone Jack 

    WARNING! Improper use could cause damage to device. 

    Sometimes, repeatedly inserting and removing headphones into the jack can clean it out. This won’t reach the very inside of the jack, but when combined with rubbing alcohol, can be very effective. Make sure device is off before ever using liquids on a device. Rubbing alcohol has a chance of corroding metal and should be used scarcely. Put some alcohol on the end of your headphones on the jack (do NOT pour it in the headphone jack hole). Wipe the jack with a clean, dry towel before inserting. Repeatedly insert and remove your headphone jack from the device after the alcohol has dried.

  4. Paper Clip 

    WARNING! Improper use could cause damage to device. 

    A paper clip doesn’t have a sharp end and therefore can easily be used to scrape large particles out of the jack. Placing tape on the end after unfolding the clip can also make it able to stick dust to it while also being a blunt tool. This IS metal so there is a chance of it harming your device.

  5. Needle 

    WARNING! Improper use could cause damage to device.

    This method was actually the one that worked for me since the piece of lint was large and needed to be scraped out; however, this method would have the highest chance of damaging the device since sharp objects are being jammed up in it. Take a normal sewing needle and carefully insert it inside the headphone jack and try to work it around until the lint comes out while holding the device upright so gravity can help out. This method should be used for large pieces of debris as it would be impractical to use for simple cleaning. A pipe cleaner could also be used as a substitute, but could also damage the device.

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Published by fierytechtips

Joseph is a junior at Northeastern University and enjoys technology and helping others use tech more efficiently.

34 thoughts on “Top 5 Ways to Clean a Headphone Jack

  1. I have hard stuff in my earphone jack and I don’t know what it is! I’ve trued and tried to get it out but how? please please help

  2. The paper clip step works exactly as I though it would.It was prefect, and saved me a trip to apple and saved me money.Thank you!!!!

  3. I was able to clear much lint using a toothpick from Walgreens called The Doctor’s BrushPick. One end of this this plastic pick has a tiny brush. If you insert this end and twist it around, the lint come out attached to the bristles. Also excellent toothpick BTW.

  4. There is a small piece of what looks to be metal in my iPad Mini headphone jack. I’ve tried and tried to get it out but it seems stuck to the inside. Also, my headphones work sometimes if I press them in hard enough but it always goes back to not working again when I stop pressing/bending or whatever. Please help, I’m desperate. It’s been like this for months and I can’t go to the Apple store because my warranty is up and it’s really far away. I have tried seriously everything.

    1. What you can do if you are in fact very careful(this is a good job if you have any friends who are surgeons), is dab a tiny bit of super glue(less is more here) on to the end of a paper clip or an other long thin piece of metal. Then, insert the metal piece into the jack. Then, hold it still while the glue dries. After around 10 minutes or so carefully remove the the metal which should remove the piece inside.
      Best of luck!

  5. Thank you so much buddy…The paper clip 1 worked for me..Never knew there was such piece of paper stuffed inside…You are awesome

  6. I dropped my iPod in a puddle (it was actually a stream that had flooded the bridge I was walking on) about 3 inches deep. After retrieving it, I was happy it still turned on, and quickly dried it off and took all precautions. My only problem was the headphone jack had dirt in it, and believed there were headphones still plugged in. I tried EVERY method, and none worked. The rubbing alcohol did nothing. So as a last resort, I grabbed a pipe cleaner, bent it in half so the sharp part wouldn’t damage anything, and spun it around. Suddenly I had sound again. I think, if this ever happens to you, it is the best method to use because the fibers can dig out any smaller dirt and grime particles. Just in case it’s more severe than lint in the pocket.

    1. It’s been a long time since you left this comment but THANK YOU! My brand new iPad got gunked up (life as a mom with six kids!). Your pipe cleaner trick was the answer!

  7. Thanks! Found my headphone jack wasn’t going all the way in the iPhone 5 and popping out while walking and listening to music. Thought it was the external case blocking things but tried a small needle and out popped a blob of lint…and another…and yet another.

    For the small charger port it too had been blocked up months ago and for that I cut a 45-degree angle on a small plastic zip lock and rooted around in that to pull out lint that wasn’t coming out with compressed air. Didn’t want to use metal in that zone.

  8. Im so freakin depressed right now. I was cleaning the headphone jack then the q-tip broke. Now thats stuck deep in the headphone jack and I cant get it out. Any ideas would be very much appreciated.

    1. Hey Briana,

      Did any of the tips posted help? If it is the cotton from the q-tip, then it is similar to lint and could probably be lightly scrapped out with the needle. Hope this helps!

  9. A piece of headphone has broken off the end of my headphones and got stuck really far in the headphone jack…. any suggestions?

    1. Hey Lucy,

      That seems odd, the end of the headphone aux part broke in it? If metal is stuck inside, then removal would have a higher chance of damaging more than just the headphone jack on the device.

  10. Did everything listed above, expect the air spray. What worked for me was the rubbing alcohol. I put a little bit on the tip of my earphones and plugged it in my phone holding it like I would if I were texting. Left it there for about a minute, took it out, and put in a q-tip, and blow into it 3 times. Surprisingly it worked!!! Amazing. I thought I had to buy a new phone. But now I don’t. This just awesome thank you 🙂

  11. OMFG!!! Thank you soooo much bro. I been lookin all over the internet and whenever i see things like this they’re basically dont work for me but for everyone else. I tried the cotton swab with out alcohol and it actually worked. At forst i was scared because it had a few strings on it but know after i tried it, it works. I wasn’t even expecting it to work but it did. Thank you u hepled so much and i had this problem woth many phones and now i have solutions. U literally changed my moral because i can listen to loud upbeat music on my headphones.

  12. I will definitely try these! Any tips for what to do when the inside of the headphone jack looks a bit green?

  13. Thank you!
    I turned off the phone (didn’t actually think of that myself *blushing*),
    then held it up above me with hole down, used a paperclip end – and a lot of dust and small particles came out.
    After that, I used a q-tip (removed some of the cotton, sprayed the tip with iClean) and – volia! Everything is fine!
    Thank you!

  14. duuudeee!!! thank you!
    my computer headphone jack got filled up with dust and the paper clip one got it out! youj deserve to be president

  15. The paper clip, which has worked in the past, failed me this time. But the stripped down Q-tip, dipped in and old tape head cleaning solution did the trick! Would never have thought of that. Thank you!

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