How To Clean A Headphone Jack

Be sure to Check Out our Complete Headphones Cleaning Guide HERE

dirtyjack
That’s one nasty headphone jack!

Because I’m a bit neurotic when it comes to my headphones and equipment I’ve got people asking me all the time how to clean a headphone jack.

That’s why I wrote this quick and easy to follow guide as I’m sure a lot of other people can benefit from it.

I believe that if you want to hear the best possible sound out of your equipment, you need to keep everything clean. That’s the basics, right? The problem is, when you have multiple headphones, the headphone connector collects dust from laying around. When you plug in this connector, it will leave dust in the headphone jack. So when it comes to the headphone jack of my JDS Labs Objective 2 amp, I clean it once a week to make sure no dust particles can influence the sound signature. Oh and I also clean the connectors of all my most used headphones.

rubbinalcohol
Q-tips and rubbing alcohol

Okay, so what is the best way to clean those small 3.5mm jacks?  Simple. You use a Q-tip. That’s right. Don’t use them to clean out your ears. Use them to clean hard to reach electrical components, like a 3.5mm headphone jack. Whether it is on your smartphone, iPad, iPhone, laptop or amp. It’s all the same. These little things are brilliant!

Who is this for

  • People who work/play/listen in dusty surroundings.
  • People who have their equipment for more than a year and never cleaned it.
  • If you sometimes experience music dropouts or you sometimes need to tweak the cable a bit to make it work.
  • If you are neurotic like me 😉

Supplies

  • Q-tips!
  • Rubbing alcohol (70% or higher)
  • A thin microfiber cloth

Instructions

  1. Switch off the device before you do anything! Make sure it has no power.
  2. You need to pull off most of the cotton from the Q-tip because it will be too big. For a 6.3mm jack, however, you don’t have to do this.
  3. Dip the Q-tip in the rubbing alcohol. Do NOT soak it! If you soaked it, then squeeze it a bit.
  4. Carefully put the Q-tip in the 3.5mm jack and rotate gently. Don’t forget the headphone jacks if you have removable cables!
  5. Pull out the Q-tip
  6. Use a new dry Q-tip (pull most of the cotton off) and insert it gently in the jack. This will absorb any moisture that was left behind.
  7. Do a little alcohol on the microfiber cloth to clean the headphone connector
  8. Dry off with a dry part of the thin microfiber cloth.
  9. Just to make sure let everything dry for a few minutes

That’s it. You’re done! Good as new!  Now enjoy your music 😉

All shiny and new!
All shiny and new!

13 thoughts on “How To Clean A Headphone Jack”

  1. Yooo this is great. I have wasted a lot of money. Buying this head set and that head set. Now after reading this. I think it’s not the headset. Because I usually buy high end headphones Bose, Beats ByDre, etc. really good headphones. But I have not for one second thought of cleaning out my headphone jack. I did what you said on this post and I’m shocked at how much better the sound is through my headset. Thank you. You are a blessing.

  2. Hi,

    This article was great, I never thought about cleaning headphone jacks before but it makes perfect sense that they would get dust in them and need cleaning.

    For those who have kids who could have anything on their sticky little fingers when they touch the headphone connector, it probably makes even more sense.

    The great thing is we always have rubbing alcohol and Q-tips at home, so I don’t have an excuse not to do it.

    My son has a digital drum set and I’ll bet his connectors and it has a bunch of connectors and jacks, not just for the headphones but each drum pad connects to the control panel with a connector like those for headphones. A whole lot of things to clean. I don’t see any reason why this wouldn’t work for the digital drum connectors as well, do you?

    Next up cleaning time for all our devices! Thanks for this great article.

    Sincerely,

    Xin

  3. Fabulous headphone jack cleaning tips! Very well done DIY! I really do like the way you broke this up with nicely done pictures of before/after and tools needed. I also like how you weaved your words between right and left hand justified pictures.
    Nice techniques!
    I was thinking that some background color behind the white blog space would provide a boundary between your ads and comment section.

  4. Thank you for this very informative article on cleaning the headphone jack. I’m one of those “It’s been more than a year guys” but now I have a clean jack!

    Do you have any tips for cleaning the plug? Mine looks dull so there may be some oxidation on it. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Hey Tom, just use some rubbing alcohol with a q-tip and your plug will shine again 🙂

      If it’s a lot of oxidation, I’ve heard that coca-cola does wonders…

  5. Is there ever a point when you can know that your cleaning is no longer the solution to a good connection? Over time, don’t the jacks and their connectors eventually break down from wear and tear, that cleaning just won’t help anymore? I’ve always wondered that and hoped that you could tell the difference, so that you can replace said equipment without suffering through poor quality.

    1. Hi Sarah, that’s a interesting question! Over time anything will eventually fail. However as long as you keep your equipment clean, there’s not really anything you should worry about. Headphones and cables can last a lifetime. Just make sure you don’t drop them en don’t bend the cables too extreme. Check my Tips & Tricks page. 🙂

      All the best,

      Jurgen

  6. Hi Jurgen I fall in your second category for not cleaning the headphones more than a year. My son would have been the same in this case. It is funny that I used to ask him to clean his auditory canal but never told him to clean his headphones jack. The prolonged dust accumulated around the jack may cause the small noisy interference I think. Anyway I agree that this should be aware if we have extensive use of the headphones.

    1. Hi Tinnakon, yeah it’s something we’re not always aware of. Another positive thing on keeping your equipment clean is that it prolongs the life of your equipment. 🙂

  7. Hey Jurgen,

    I have the same problem with my headphones. Yes, you are right, I would love to hear the best possible sound out of my equipment.

    I clean it every now and then but it never completely clean. After reading your post, I will use Q-tip for sure when I do cleaning next time. How often do you clean your equipments?

    Again, Thank you very much for sharing this very useful tip. Cheers !

    Thiha Min

    1. Hi Thiha, I have a microfiber cloth in my drawer and I notice that I dust off my headphones multiple times a week. It’s a bit addicting 🙂 The q-tip cleaning I do about once a week. Probably a bit overkill, I know 🙂

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