So, my phone rather surprisingly spends a lot of its life in my pocket. In the course of its day to day life, it gets what I assume is pocket lint in the headphone jack. This buildup has made it so that I can't use my headphones.

A friend suggested joining the 21st century and getting a set of Bluetooth headphones, but I don't want to deal with another device to charge. Tweezers are too big to fish the lint out, and a toothpick seems too blunt to snag it. Any suggestions as to what I can use to extract the buildup?


3 Answers 3


Drop into a drug store and in the toothbrush section look for a proxabrush which is long tiny VERY rugged and with flexible bristles that are stiff but not hard. Use the brush in the same manner as directed for the woodscrew (insert, twist, withdraw, remove stuff, repeat) but with no fear of damaging any delicate parts in the phone jack.

The short bristles that stick out at 90° are arranged in spirals that are great for snagging lint fibres, threads, and "stuff." There's no metal-to-metal contact so there's no need to power down, or remove batteries, etc. They come in different lengths, shapes (cone, straight), thicknesses, and widths. I use them for cleaning and applying lubricant to tiny things. All my needs have been met with a few sales samples. The handles are colour coded to tell one size and shape from another.

GUM™ Proxabrush™

  • A proxabrush is one of those substitutes for dental floss, right? Aug 2, 2016 at 17:38
  • Hey, @BrettFromLA A "proxabrush™" is the offspring of a toothbrush and a toothpick according to a description I found on the Web. I added detail to my answer. They should be in eveyone's lifehack's kit.
    – Stan
    Aug 2, 2016 at 22:30
  • It sure sounds like a great hack for this! Aug 3, 2016 at 4:05
  • Wow. This is exactly what I need. I had a devil of a time cleaning my USB-C phone charger port with a toothpick.
    – HyperNym
    Jan 9, 2023 at 17:24

You can pull soft materials out of a narrow space using a screw.

First, check the size of your phone's audio jack (it is likely 3.5 mm), then pick up a wood screw that is about 0.5 - 1.0 mm narrower than that space.

Power down your phone completely. Then, holding the screw between your thumb and index finger, gently "thread" the screw between your fingers, moving the screw into the space of the audio jack. Be mindful so not to push too hard against the back end of the audio jack component, or to unnecessarily scrape up the metal contacts inside.

When it feels like you are far enough to be into some foreign material, gently pull the screw straight out, trying to draw out any foreign obstructions caught up in the treads.

Repeat as necessary until no more foreign material is removed. This should clear out any excessive obstructions lodged in the audio jack space.

  • Great solution, Robert! It seems to me that the point shouldn't taper TOO much, but you don't want it to be blunt either. Aug 2, 2016 at 17:36
  • As Robert mentioned, take care you don't catch an edge of the screw thread in the leaf spring contacts inside the port. The contacts protrude slightly in order to touch the tip, ring, and sleeve of the headphone plug.
    – Stan
    Aug 2, 2016 at 22:41
  • As a guide to the depth, mark the plug length on the screw so you know how deep you are. You could use a turn of tape around the screw or mark the screw threads with a sharpie or clearly visible marker.
    – Stan
    Aug 3, 2016 at 0:23

Use a vacuum cleaner with a small nozzle attachment. Apply the suction directly over the hole for the headphone jack to remove loose debris.

As an added bonus, this will get some heavier materials that may have migrated down the hole.

Once you have successfully removed the foreign materials, purchase a simple plastic plug for the jack to keep it clean. They even come in fun designs.

  • 1
    Some fast-food outlet straws make great micro-attachments for vacuum cleaners. A stopper fitting the vacuum hose with a hole fitting the straw makes the connection easy. Bad fitting straws can be sealed with wet tissue paper at the problem location for the occasion.
    – Stan
    Aug 2, 2016 at 22:34
  • 1
    Help the vacuum with gravity. Tip your phone so the jack is on the bottom while you vacuum.
    – Stan
    Aug 2, 2016 at 22:50

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