How can I get this piece of rubber out of my phone's headphone socket?
March 23, 2010 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Phone headphone socket with FieldTurf crumb rubber particle deep inside. How to remove?

My phone has a particle of rubber from a FieldTurf surface embedded deep inside its headphone socket.

I know it is one of these particles (which are apparently called crumb or cryogenic rubber, and seem to be made out of recycled tyres, if that helps anyone understand its properties), because I saw it on the way in. Half-witted attempts to prise it out have failed and it is now pushed deep down into the socket.

I know that for dust and dirt people recommend compressed air, but this is a particle of rubber which may be gripping all sides of the socket, so, even though I don't have any compressed air, my guess is it won't work. I'll certainly buy some and try it if it comes to it, but any MeFi suggestions on possible ways to get this out would be welcome. That includes persuasive claims of faith in compressed air.

I can only think of a pin with a bent point, that perhaps could lodge into the rubber and then drag it out. But, I don't know if I should try that.

Thanks for any help.
posted by galaksit to Technology (15 answers total)
Stab it with a needle ?

Put a VERY TINY amount of super glue on a toothpick end and attach it to the rubber, then pull it out ?
posted by iamabot at 9:42 AM on March 23, 2010

Fish hook? You'd have to bend it out straight.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:50 AM on March 23, 2010

I would combine iamabot's suggestions and put a very tiny amount of super glue on the end of a needle and then poke it into the nubbin, leave it there for 30 seconds for the glue to dry and then try to pull it out.

With a fishhook (which I thought too), I would be concerned that it would be too large, or would be more likely to scrape up the socket.
posted by BobbyDigital at 9:55 AM on March 23, 2010

Do you have a very, very tiny drill bit? You could try inserting it an twist it between your fingers to get it past the rubber and work it out.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:57 AM on March 23, 2010

Go see a jeweller or a watchmaker. Watchmaker's/Jeweller's forceps ought to be thin enough to extend into there and pinch the piece.

You can also buy them through scientific suppliers, so if you know of any biologists that work with small tissues or organisms, they may be helpful too.
posted by dnesan at 10:02 AM on March 23, 2010

I had a similar problem a couple of weeks ago and tried all kinds of things. In the end, the solution that worked was this: I bound two needles tightly together at one end using some heat-shrink tubing (although tape might also have worked). I then forced the unbound ends apart slightly by pushing the tip of a third needle between them about halfway along, and then pushed the unbound (pointed) ends into the hole. Removing the third needle from between the two bound ones allowed them to move back together, gripping the foreign body (a little ball of paper in this case). So basically a very small set of makeshift forceps.

Other methods mentioned above will probably do the trick, although I'd be wary of getting superglue inside the socket.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:04 AM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

It seems like a vacuum cleaner attachment would probably suck it out.
posted by jefeweiss at 10:12 AM on March 23, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks to all! A lot of good suggestions and I will report back with what worked once I've had a chance to try my luck.
posted by galaksit at 12:01 PM on March 23, 2010

Go with the method you suggested, i have removed a pebble that way from my sister's ipod. Pin with the very tip bent. Just fish it out.
posted by lizbunny at 3:09 PM on March 23, 2010

It seems like a vacuum cleaner attachment would probably suck it out.

Along these same lines, maybe suck it out with your mouth. Or use a straw.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:58 PM on March 23, 2010

If you have a vacuum hose and a funnel, you can put the funnel with the wide end of the funnel on the vacuum hose and use the narrow end to suction out the device.
posted by jefeweiss at 5:59 AM on March 24, 2010

Toothpick + Patience.

I would avoid putting anything wet in there. There's a moisture senor in the socket, and tripping it will void your warranty.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:56 AM on March 24, 2010

A little late to the party, but you haven't reported back, so... Point tip tweezers. You can get a suck pair for about 10$ at the grocery store. You can get a good pair for 20-30$ at Sephora or online (I have these). They're amazing at stuff like this, I use them for getting broken, jammed in wire ends out of breadboards, when none of the wire sticks out. If you get the good kind, be careful, they are quite sharp.
posted by anaelith at 8:22 PM on March 31, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions.

In the end, I bought a pair of tweezers/forceps that I hoped would be narrow enough, and they were.

I got these #5 watchmaker forceps. So, I can say that these fit inside a 3.5mm stereo jack socket.

I was surprised how easy the extraction was, because in the interim I'd once or twice had to jam my headset connector into the socket, pushing the particle as far as it could go in the process. (I use the phone for hands-free Skype conference calls on occasion when I can't get to a computer.)

I am sure several of these suggestions would work. I did try the bent pin method, but didn't get enough tactile feedback from it to feel that the pin was embedded in the particle (which is quite tough when compressed). So after scraping the socket a few times, dragging what I thought was the particle but was in fact just the pin on its own, I gave up on that.
posted by galaksit at 8:06 AM on May 26, 2010

Response by poster: I should add that while it might have been something a jeweller / watch shop could have done for me (as dnesan suggested), I decided to get the forceps myself when I saw they were so cheap, since having this happen again is not out of the question: I am on these kinds of surfaces frequently and the particles follow you home in shoes, clothes, etc.

Thanks again to all!
posted by galaksit at 8:20 AM on May 26, 2010

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