Why do my headphones keep falling out of the smartphone jack?

headphones keep falling out of the smartphone jack
Jacked up: fluff in the headphone socket can stop play

This, to give the problem its Latin name, is normally down to Detritus Pocketitus. Or pocket fluff, to give it its common-or-garden definition.

Dust, fluff and fragments of the tin foil from Polo wrappers find its way into the headphone jack and is then compacted at the bottom of the socket when you plug your headphones in. Eventually, this stuff accumulates to such an extent that you can’t plug the headphones in properly or they keep falling out at the slightest movement.

So how do you resolve this most modern of technological crises?

How to clean your smartphone’s headphones jack

You can go for the tried-and-tested method of blowing hard into the jack, but that’s unlikely to bear fruit (or fluff). The jack is too small for the fluff to escape and you run the further risk of blowing moisture right into the guts of your phone, which isn’t advisable.

Instead, fetch yourself a pin. Gently – and I do mean gently – scrape at the bottom of the jack to dislodge the cruft. The fluff can be horribly stubborn and it’s often taken me a good few minutes of picking to get a compressed clump of fluff free. I generally find it best to poke into the fluff at the bottom and then try and drag it up the side wall of the jack.

Don’t be too forceful, as there are fairly sensitive elements on the side of a headphone jack that help keep the plug in place. That said, I’ve done this several times and the phone has never suffered any lasting damage. And if you can’t get your headphones to sit in the socket properly, it’s not much good anyway.

What to do if the jack remains blocked or there’s some other irremovable obstruction in the socket? You can always opt for Bluetooth headphones. They’re a little more expensive than a regular corded set and will need charging themselves from time to time, but it’s a cheaper solution than buying a new smartphone!

Now read this: what’s a safe volume level for headphones?

Main pic credit: Gauthier DELECROIX – 郭天

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at

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