How to Clean Out Your Headphone Jack

The 3.5mm headphone jacks have been around for a while and don’t like going away anytime soon. However, a headphone jack is still a hole in your device, and holes are notorious for accumulating dirt, lint, grease, etc.

Knowing how to clean your headphone jack is essential. Some of the tips that follow may seem like no-brainers, while others may surprise you. But, most importantly, this will hopefully help you realize what not to do in order to clean your headphone jack. Here’s how to clean it.

Why Clean It?

No, it’s not at all about aesthetics. The headphone jack, as mentioned, is a hole, and doesn’t really influence the physical outlook of your device, positively or negatively. However, over time, the jack can get so clogged with dirt, lint, and who knows what, to the point where you won’t be able to use your headphones normally. In fact, you may even not be able to plug them in.

The worst thing here is that the more you prolong the cleaning of your headphone jack, the more difficult it will be to clean. So, instead of waiting until you have to take your device apart or visit an expensive repair shop, do the following maintenance on at least a yearly basis. It really doesn’t take too long and it’s easy to do.

headphone jack

Methods of Cleaning

Essentially, there are three main ways to clean your headphone jack: using compressed air, a cotton swab, and taped paper clip. Every one of these methods is effective, but some may work better on certain devices than others. The best way to go here would be to try all of these methods, just to be safe, and stick to the most effective one for future reference. Above everything else, however, you need to be careful. Don’t overdo it, use moderate amounts of force, and be patient.

Compressed Air

This one is as simple as they come. Simply buy a can of compressed air. These cans are often found in electronics stores and are very efficient, versatile, and intended for electronics, in general. Make sure that the can of compressed air that you buy comes with the needle-like metal extension (this is where the air comes out) that isn’t too thick.

Now, take your device and get cleaning. Do not insert the “needle” into the jack. Not only because you may damage it, but also because this will prevent dirt and lint from coming out. Instead, keep the metal part of the air compressor a few millimeters away from the jack and press the button on the top of the can.

Air is definitely the safest way to go with jack cleaning, as it’s least likely to cause damage to your device.

Cotton Swabs

Invariably, you’ll have a cotton swab or two at home. These are also known as Q-tips and are used for cleaning ears, applying certain types of makeup, etc. Generally, cotton swabs are very versatile.

In order to clean your 3.5mm jack with a cotton swab, make sure that you use a Q-tip that’s as thin as possible. Tear the cotton from the swab until it’s roughly the size of the 3.5mm hole on your device.

clean headphone jack

Now, gently push the swab into the 3.5mm jack. Don’t use too much force, be gentle. If you encounter difficult debris, use rubbing alcohol. Dip the swab into ethanol or another type of rubbing alcohol until it’s coated. Avoid soaking and dripping. Insert the swab again and spin it. This should help you get rid of the stubborn dirt and lint. Finally, dry the jack out with a clean Q-tip.

Taped Paper Clip

Take a paper clip, open it until an end is straight. Keep in mind, though, that the metal may scratch the electronics inside the jack, so be careful. Then wrap some standard office tape to add a smooth end to the paper clip and gently insert the taped clip into the jack. Don’t use force, don’t jam it, spin it around slowly, gently, and carefully.

headphone jack how to clean

Cleaning the Headphone Jack

These three methods of making sure that the headphone jack on your device is clean should help you perform annual maintenance on the device. Keep in mind that you need to be as careful and gentle as possible, in order to avoid damaging the electronics.

Have these methods worked out for you? Which one, exactly? Do you know of another method for cleaning the jack? Don’t be a stranger, hit the comments section with any tips/advice/questions that you may have.

One thought on “How to Clean Out Your Headphone Jack”

Avatar Michael says:
I have found that an interdental brush (straight, not tapered, with spiraling bristles) works very well to pull out dust from the ports on my devices. The brush is soft, and the very small amount of exposed metal (the tip) doesn’t touch the contacts in the port. Power off the device, insert the brush, and twist in the direction that pulls debris out of the port.

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