A friend just boarded an Emirates flight, with his phone full of podcasts ready to play. He's found his headphone jack is full of paper / dust(!). Given you're not generally allowed sharp items on a plane, is there a common item found onboard that he could use to clear this?

(He has 20 minutes before departure but later answers would be accepted)


Friend reported back, he successfully resolved it in flight using two items from the inflight-meal, Macguyver style:

  • A broken off prong of a plastic fork
  • a drop of water from his free water

the two combined were able to extract said items from the headphone jack.

  • 1
    A drop of water inside an electrical component does not seem like a good idea.
    – JoErNanO
    Nov 19 '14 at 15:55
  • @JoErNanO I agree, just saying what worked for him ;)
    – Mark Mayo
    Nov 19 '14 at 22:14
  • 1
    @JoErNanO A drop of water / a wet item in your jack plug won't really hurt your device in dry environment.
    – yo'
    Nov 20 '14 at 1:40

A few options:

  1. Use a straw, place it over the jack and then inhale a bit till the dust is in the straw - discard the straw.

  2. Toothpick, although this might only be given after the plane is above its initial climb.

  3. Just blow across the top of phone, holding it perpendicular to your mouth.

  • 2
    Option 1 seems like you're going to get a mouthful of whatever was in that port. Ew. Nov 22 '14 at 17:10

Before attempting any of these solutions, turn the device off just to be on the safe side.

I thought of a few more plausible solutions:

  1. You could try with a cotton swab (Q-tip). First remove any excess cotton from the tip and use the hard plastic to poke at the paper until it comes out. You could even deform the plastic to make a sharp point out of it, using your teeth, your nails, or any other improvised cutting device.

  2. Another option could be using a paper clip, which he might already have in his bag (holding documents together, for example). Be careful because with a metal probe there is the chance of damaging the jack slot. Also turn the device off to avoid shorting it.

  3. Finally, building on the blowing-air-into-the-slot idea, if your lungs aren't strong enough you could use the air vents in the aeroplane. Often these produce a strong air stream, which could be used to blow out dirt from the jack slot. See picture below:

    Plane air vents

  • 1
    How would one get the stream of air to the slot? I don't generally have an appropriate hose among my carry-on items.
    – phoog
    Nov 29 '16 at 23:29
  • @phoog Hose? What hose? Lift the device close to the air vent and aim the stream correctly.
    – JoErNanO
    Nov 30 '16 at 23:04
  • Ah! I read the question too quickly so I thought he was talking about the jack in the arm rest!
    – phoog
    Dec 1 '16 at 1:46
  • @phoog I thing you owe me a +1 then. :P
    – JoErNanO
    Dec 1 '16 at 13:52

A paperclip bent out a bit.

It also works as a tool to change SIMs (when traveling internationally) and hardware reset button tool.

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