You’re absolutely sure that headphones aren’t plugged into your iPhone, because, well, they’re not. You see “Headphones” above the volume slider when you press the volume buttons, but your iPhone isn’t making any sound. You’ve tried a hard reset, putting your headphones in, and taking them out again, but it’s not working. In this article, I’ll explain why your iPhone is stuck in headphone mode, an awesome trick to get junk out of your headphone jack or Lightning port, and how to fix the problem for good!
My iPhone Doesn’t Have A Headphone Jack! How Can It Be Stuck In Headphones Mode?
Apple got rid of the headphone jack when they released the iPhone 7. It was very controversial at the time, but many people have moved onto using Bluetooth headphones like AirPods.
However, Apple didn’t completely eliminate the ability to use wired headphones on newer iPhones. Your purchase of an iPhone 7 or newer model includes a pair of wired headphones that plug directly into your iPhone’s Lightning port (also known as the charging port).
A new iPhone 7, 8, or X also includes a dongle which lets you connect your old headphones to your iPhone’s Lightning port. However, Apple stopped including this dongle with the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR.
Even though the iPhone 7 and newer models don’t have a traditional headphone jack, they can still get stuck in headphones mode! The steps below will help you fix any model iPhone that is stuck on headphone mode.
No, iPhone, There Aren’t Headphones Plugged In!
Your iPhone is stuck on headphone mode because it thinks headphones are plugged into the headphone jack or Lightning port, even though they’re not. This is usually caused by a problem with the headphone jack or Lightning port itself. 99% of the time it’s a hardware problem, not a software problem.
Eliminate The Possibility Of A Software Problem
The easiest way to make sure a software problem isn’t causing your iPhone to stay stuck in headphones mode is to turn it off and back on again. To turn off your iPhone, press and hold the power button (also known as the Sleep / Wake button) and slide the button next to “slide to power off” across the screen.
If you have an iPhone X or newer, press and hold the Side button and either volume button until “slide to power off” appears on the screen. Swipe the power icon left to right to shut down your iPhone X or newer.
It can take 20 seconds or so for your iPhone to turn off, and that’s completely normal. To turn your iPhone back on, hold the power button (iPhone 8 and older) or the Side button (iPhone X and newer) until the Apple logo appears on the screen. You can let go of the power button or Side button when the Apple logo appears.
If your iPhone is still stuck on headphones mode after your iPhone turns back on, there’s a hardware problem with your iPhone. At this point, this problem is being caused by one of two possibilities:
- Debris stuck inside the headphone jack or Lightning port is fooling your iPhone into thinking that headphones are plugged in.
- The headphone jack or Lightning port is damaged, either physically or by liquid.
Take A Look Inside Your iPhone
Grab a flashlight and shine it inside your iPhone’s headphone jack or Lightning port. Is there any debris stuck inside? I’ve seen everything from rice, to brown goo, to broken-off tips of cheap headphones stuck inside. Trying to extract something from your iPhone’s headphone jack or Lightning port is extremely difficult, and some Apple techs won’t even try.
Poking around in your iPhones headphone jack or Lightning port can cause damage, but most people I’ve worked with agreed it was worth the risk because they really had nothing to lose. If I had to guess, I’d say I was successful about 50% of the time when I tried to extract something from a customer’s headphone jack when I worked at an Apple Store.
How Do I Get Junk Out Of My iPhone’s Headphone Jack?
There’s no right way to do this, and Apple Stores don’t have any tools designed to extract debris from headphone jacks. There are, however, some unofficial tricks that Apple techs sometimes use to get stuff out. Be careful — none of these are Apple-approved methods because they can cause damage, but I’ve had success with each of them in different situations.
The BIC Pen Trick
I really wanted to write this article so I could share this trick with you. An Apple Genius showed me how to do it, and I still think it’s brilliant. Be warned: Your pen will not survive this procedure. Here’s how to use a BIC pen to remove debris from an iPhone’s headphone jack:
- Use a standard BIC pen and remove the cap.
- Use pliers to pull the pen tip away from the plastic housing.
- The tip is attached to a circular plastic cartridge that contains the ink.
- The opposite end of the cartridge is the perfect size to remove debris from the headphone jack.
- Insert that end into the headphone jack and gently twist to loosen the debris, and then shake it out of your iPhone or iPad.
I’ve saved lots of headphone jacks using this trick. Be careful not to press too hard. If the debris isn’t coming out, move on to the next tip.
Try using a can of compressed air to blow air directly into your iPhone’s headphone jack. This may work even if you don’t see anything stuck inside. Compressed air can loosen debris just enough to shake it out or blow it out completely. Be gentle: Don’t stick the hose all the way into your iPhone’s headphone jack and start blowing. Start from the outside of your iPhone and work your way in.
If you don’t have a can of compressed air, you can try blowing it out yourself, but I don’t particularly like that option because our breath contains moisture that can damage your iPhone’s internal circuitry. If you feel like you have nothing to lose, then by all means, give it a try.
Really thin tweezers can sometimes reach just far enough inside to pull a piece of rice or other debris out of an iPhone’s headphone jack. Using tweezers is risky, though. It’s a lot like the game called Operation (by Milton Bradley). It’s very easy to damage the sides of the headphone jack if you shove tweezers in too far.
I Don’t Recommend This, But…
Some tech-savvy people (and secretly, some Apple Geniuses) have had success extracting debris from iPhone headphone jacks by disassembling the iPhone and poking the debris out from the underneath of the headphone jack. There are some excellent teardown guides of iPhones if you’d like to try, but I don’t recommend you do.
How Do I Get Junk Out Of My iPhone’s Lightning Port?
Just like a headphone jack, it can be difficult to remove gunk and debris from from a Lightning port. The safest way to remove debris from an iPhone Lightning port is to use an anti-static brush.
If you try to clean out the Lightning port with an object like a paperclip or a thumbtack, you can run the risk of causing an electrical charge within your iPhone, which could cause even more damage. Toothpicks are also risky, because they can splinter and get stuck inside your iPhone.
However, most people don’t own an anti-static brush, and that’s okay. A brand new, unused toothbrush makes a fine substitute if you don’t have an anti-static brush.
The Cocktail Straw Trick
This method could also be called the “coffee stirrer” trick, as either utensil can be used. Flatten out the tip of your cocktail straw or coffee stirrer so it can fit inside your iPhone’s Lightning port. Use the flat tip of the straw to scrape or scoop any gunk out of the Lightning port.
Compressed air and tweezers are also possible solutions if something is lodged in your in your iPhone’s Lightning port.
I’ve Tried Everything And My iPhone Is Still Stuck On Headphone Mode!
If your iPhone still isn’t working after you’ve tried everything above, there’s a good chance your iPhone needs to be repaired. Usually, the headphone jack or the Lightning port on an iPhone will stop working for one of two reasons:
A very common reason for iPhones getting stuck in headphones mode is water damage, and a lot of the time people don’t know how it could have happened. Here’s how the conversation went: I’d ask, “Are you an athlete?”, and they would say yes. I’d ask, “Do you listen to music when you run or work out?”, and they’d say yes again. Can you guess what happened?
A lot of the time, this is problem is caused when sweat runs down the cord of an athlete’s headphones. At some point, a small amount of sweat gets inside the headphone jack or Lightning port and causes their iPhone to get stuck in headphone mode.
Other types of water damage can cause this problem too — it doesn’t take much. The headphone jack on older iPhones and the Lightning port on newer iPhones are two of the only openings on the outside of the iPhone, and that makes them particularly susceptible to water damage. Even if the rest of an iPhone works perfectly after it gets wet, the headphone jack or Lightning port may not.
If your iPhone is smashed into 1000 pieces, you probably know what’s wrong. If it’s still in one piece, there is another very common reason why iPhones get stuck on headphone mode: The headphone jack or Lightning port gets pulled away from the logic board.
“Wait a second. I keep my iPhone in great shape.”
Plugging headphones in and out of your iPhone should never cause this problem. I’ve never seen it occur from normal use. Here’s the question I’d ask: “Do you wrap your headphones around your iPhone when you’re not using it?” The customer would say yes. (Come to think of it, the same Genius who turned me on to the BIC pen trick told me this, too. I’d give him credit if I didn’t think he could get in trouble.) Can you guess what happened here?
After a while, the strain from the headphones wrapped around the iPhone on the end plugged into the headphone jack or Lightning port becomes so great that they entirely start to pull away from the logic board. It’s OK to wrap your headphones around your iPhone, as long as you unplug them when you do.
Unfortunately, if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance the damage is already done and you’ll need to repair your iPhone.
Repair Options: Apple vs. Puls
This problem is especially frustrating for people who go to the Apple Store because the only repair option Apple offers to fix a broken headphone jack is to replace the entire iPhone. A lot of people simply refuse, opting instead to use a Bluetooth headset or speaker dock to make and receive phone calls, but it’s a major inconvenience when the sound doesn’t work on your iPhone.
The case is similar for broken iPhone Lightning ports. Apple will typically just replace your iPhone if its Lightning port is broken. The replacement is covered by your AppleCare+ warranty.
To make matters worse, debris stuck inside your iPhone’s headphone jack or Lightning port isn’t covered under warranty, so repairing this simple problem can be very expensive.
If you’d like to repair your iPhone today for a lot less than Apple, Puls will meet you at home or a location of your choice in less than an hour, and they offer a lifetime warranty on parts and labor.
Get A New Cell Phone
You may want to consider getting a new phone instead of having your current one repaired. iPhone repairs can get expensive quickly. If more than one component is damaged — which isn’t uncommon if you dropped your iPhone or exposed it to water — the repair company typically has to replace every part, not just the headphone jack. Check out the UpPhone cell phone comparison tool to review your options!
Wrapping It Up
It’s frustrating when an iPhone gets stuck in headphones mode, because it seems like a simple problem should have a simple solution. It’s unfortunate that a tiny piece of debris or a little drop of water can have such a detrimental effect on your iPhone. I sincerely hope that your iPhone is no longer stuck on headphone mode, but if it is, at least you know what to do next. Feel free to leave a comment below. I’d like to hear about any creative ways you’ve found to remove debris from the headphone jack or Lightning port of your iPhone.
This is amazing Info it worked out perfectly on my iPad. Thanks. Blessings
I was in the shower. My phone was near. Suddenly, music stopped. I didn’t notice any single water drop on the phone. I tried restarting it several times, blowing the headphone jack and Lightning port, still my phone was in headphone mode (speaker and mic didn’t work). I turned off my phone and I pulled dirt from the Lightning port with tweezers (corner edges of Lightning port had some junk). Phones works once again!
Hi Stan! Glad to hear you were able to get your phone out of Headphones mode. Next time you try cleaning out your charging port, I’d suggest using a toothbrush instead of blowing air into the port or using tweezers. Pressurized air can blow dirt and debris further into the charging port and cause more damage, and metal items like tweezers can also cause damage to the Lightning port’s connectors.
Thanks for your article. Very informative. I successfully sorted the problem by holding a Hoover attachment over the end of jack opening! Who knew?!
I have also learned not to leave headphones plugged in with the wire wrapped around my phone. Thank you.
I’m sure my phone won’t ring because I put the charger in the wrong way and pushed it in and now it doesn’t ring it only vibrates when I get a call. The ringer tunes all work. I must have damaged the headphone port. I have an original iPhone SE.
I really carefully used a plastic tooth pick (on mini-Swiss army knife) instead of the bic pen, it worked! Thank you!
I used the body of a q-tip since I don’t have any BIC ballpen here in my house. Thank you.
The first step worked. I used a bit of tissue rolled up with 70% alcohol and got in there four times with compressed air right after. Thank you.
Hi Tian! I’m glad to hear that solution worked for you! However, we generally recommend against using tissues or compressed air to clear out a Lightning Port or headphone jack. In the case of tissues, the tissue itself can rip apart and get stuck in the charging port. Additionally, compressed air can sometimes push debris even further into your iPhone.
Our favorite solution for cleaning out a charging port is to lightly brush it with a brush that won’t conduct electricity. An unused toothbrush is a great tool for the job!
Oh my thanks a lot. My phone was stuck in the headphone mode. I literally tried everything within my power. I even had to reset my phone settings nothing happened. Not until I asked Siri. The Bic pen tip came through for me. It saved me from HBP?
I tried the compressed air one it didn’t work then I use a piece of paper then it came. Thank you so much
Thanks, Dave. I have an iPhone 6 that WAS stuck in headphones mode. The Bic pen method did not rectify the issue. I followed with compressed air. That worked. Maybe the pen ink tube loosened the stuff and the compressed air removed it. In any case, thanks for presenting this info! Not sure how many users you have helped but for sure you helped this one. I appreciate your knowledge and willingness to share it!
Thanks for saying so, Jim! Glad it helped!
IPhone 6s still ain’t working
I’m sorry to hear that Abdul! If you’ve already tried all the steps we suggested in this post, I’d recommend reaching out to Apple’s support team about your repair or replacement options. I’m sorry we couldn’t be of more help, best of luck getting your 6s working again!
I was literally about to give I promise. My iPods 6 had gotten water into the headphone port from a water bottle that was dripping. I tried everything. I tried blowing into it really hard and I tried the pen trick but nothing was working. I was scrolling through the comments trying to see if there was any hope and someone had suggested to put a q-tip into the port and at first it wasn’t working but then I heard Siri’a beautifully annoying voice and I was so relieved. So best thing to do for water damage is to jam… Read more »
Hi Julie! We’re glad you were able to save your iPad, though we wouldn’t recommend that solution to everyone!
Thank you, The Bic trick worked! But first I used a sewing pin bent slightly at the very end to clear stuff out of the headphones jack and lighting port. It was mostly lint.
Hi! My iPhone volume kept indicating headphones were inserted but they were not. I was not getting sound unless I actually did use earphones. To fix this, inspired by the Bic pen idea, I used a plastic ‘q-tip’ cut in half and inserted the thin hollow plastic tube to clean out headphone jack. Not the cotton tip, which might have left lint. There was a tiny amount of black residue on the plastic tube. This was enough for the iPhone to perceive earphones were in there.
Very resourceful, Nan! I’m so glad we could inspire you to get your iPhone working normally again.
Big thanks for this tip. Nothing worked for me until I tried this. Same play out with the black stuff
I did that too with removing the cotton (I had water damage) and it didn’t work so I tried using the cotton as a last resort and it worked.
Glad to hear this solution worked for you Julie! However, we wouldn’t recommend it relying on that in the future. The cotton might break apart and get stuck in your charging port, bringing you all the way back to square one!
Worked thanks!!! I also used a tightly rolled up piece of toilet paper. Rolled into a tight tube and wiggled around inside.
Hi Andy, glad we could help you find a solution! However, I do need to recommend against using toilet paper to solve this problem in the future, as tiny pieces can break off and get stuck in the charging port as well.
The Bic pen worked. Thank you soooo much
The pen strat is where it’s at yo thanks so much
Thanks man, you really saved me with that bic pen trick. I really shouldn’t have had it in my pocket when working with a water hose lol
Thanks. it works fix my headphone model
I had a water problem. I ended up cleaning my jack port with a q-tip soaked in isopropyl alcohol at first. Didn’t work. Then i remember i had a can of compressed air laying around. Gave it a good amount, and it worked. The english vocab isn’t able to express my relief. I thank this thread. Hope this can help
I was stuck. I tried everything. I lost all hope, till I saw your comment and tried again with the compressed air and it is working like a charm. Thanks 🙂
i phone 5s. Little squirt of 91% isopropyl alcohol and a thin rolled up piece of paper towel worked for me
Nothing on the list worked for me at all, finally i soaked a tiny piece of paper towel in electrical contact cleaner (NOT actual wd-40, electrical contact cleaner is its own specific thing) and shoved it all the way up inside the headphone jack, twisted it around a bit, pulled it out and repeated a few times with different pieces of soaked paper towel. The speaker works now! Saved me a few hundred dollars and I get to hold onto my iPhone 6 a bit longer. Hope this helps someone out.
I just used a toothpick and it worked foe mine.
Thanks Guys!!! ?
It worked for me by using the cap of a bic pen! I jammed it in there and wiggled it around a bit! Dunno if it will last though, but great nonetheless ?
I just used a cotton bud (q tip), took off the cotton and gently twisted it inside the headphone port and it worked!!
For me nothing was working no matter what I did it just wouldn’t work. I tried the if I ignore it for long enough it might figure itself out and it did I left it over night and in the morning it was fixed sometimes just leaving them instead of asking them to do even more and then getting confused works.
ask Siri the volume then turn the volume up. It worked for me
I just tried it and it worked for me as well, thanks a lot Molly
Thanks Molly it worked for me too
Thank you, this really work!
Molly you are brilliant! That has fixed mine too, thank you!
This was so helpful, the comments too. I realized mine was a water problem. Whatever factor actually did the trick, I put a q-tip in the jack and set it upright overnight, by morning it was fine! woohoo
What do u mean?
Omg I did this overnight with my phone and it worked!!!
It works when my iphone got stuck in headphone mode. I used toothpick to remove the dust from earphone jack. Thanks a lot for your suggestion..
Toothbrush works for the headphone jack too
Thanks David. I will try.
but my issue is. If i receive a phone call or video call or skype call they cant hear me I hear them but if i put on my headphones all is normal. And if in a phone call I dont use the louder speker and place phone near ear i can hear them and they can too
any suggestions. Is an i phone 6 s
A tip for those who have hearing aids. After trying everything under the sun to fix the default headphone problem, by chance and my wife’s excellent hearing, I found that the headphone mode problem on my i10 was due to the phone connecting to my Bluetooth capable hearing aids as they sat in their charging cradle. My Bluetooth did not acknowledge the connection and therefore I had no idea they were connected. Turned them off and the headphone problem went away.
this didnt work but was very helpful to see other reasons
I’m just a kid idk how to get it fixed where do I get it fixed
Check out our article about iPhone repair options. It might be able to help you out!
hey thanks for the advice. It was very difficult to diagnose the headphone jack issue until I read your article. I used a wooden skewer to dig the lint out of the lighting port. Now its fixed. Great result after numerous other tactics failed.
Hi, my daughter got water in her IPad headphone jack and we’re having this problem, what should we try, was there a solution for water damage?
Hi, we left the iPad upright overnight, with the headphone jack at the bottom, hoping gravity would work and any water inside would drain out. We turned it on tonight and this has worked, it is no longer stuck in headphone mode – yay!
tysm! This totally works!
Thanks for the tip! I used my hair dryer (no heat) to blow on the port for a while, and then left it propped up overnight. Today it’s working perfectly! Hurrah!
Thank you very much, it worked!
Thank you very much, it worked!
OMG! all day nothing would work but I was getting ready to have a shower when I heard the amazing sound of someone trying to FaceTime me! You cannot fathom how happy I was! I changed the volume and it said iPod instead of volume ???
This worked for me. Thank you so much.
Left a cotton swab in my phone for a minute or two and it worked!!! Weirdest thing ever. I don’t know what happened.
This worked for me! Thank you!
This worked for me! Thank you!
There was no debris in the port. The cotton swab, just pushed in as far as it would go, which wasn’t much, did it. Cheers!
Holy crap, this worked for us!!
Our iPad 6 had water damage (no son, you can NOT watch youtube in the bath tub). Tried EVERYTHING, but couldn’t get it out of headphone mode. Saw this comment and as a last effort I stuck the q-tip in the lightening port (it would barely fit, even after I tried to flatten the end a bit by squeezing it between my fingers). Held it firmly in place for about a minute, took it out, and BOOM! Annoying youtube videos back in business!
I did this and then used a toothpick to get some gunk out and it fixed (I threw my phone into the snow earlier), thanks for the tip!
I tried everything it didn’t do anything even read the comments and did those things still didn’t work:( anyone know what to do??
Do you have a space heater?
wait, if its water damage, is it unfixable at home or do i need to go and repair it? If it is i can’t do that because of the pandemic
Apple has a repair-by-mail service. You can read more about it in our article about repair options.
why cant i just disable to headphone jack ??????
Unfortunately, disabling the headphone jack is not yet a feature of iOS. Even on Android devices with headphone jacks, you’d probably have to root (jailbreak) the software to do something like that.
Thank you David. I think it’s time to replace my phone??♀️
this has happened so many times to me and the best trick is to just leave it overnight and it fixes itself
Same thing happened to me my phone felt inside a toilet and since then the screen has been damaged and blurry I kept it Inside rice no difference I switched it off and left it for a while it eventually fixed itself but now it’s stickied on headphones mode I’ve tried all the options but nothing is workingggggggg?
Hi Peppy, sorry to hear you’re having trouble still! Water damage can be pretty unpredictable. Your safest bet from here would be to reach out to Apple’s support team directly to inquire about your repair options. I’m sorry we couldn’t be of more help, good luck getting this straightened out!
i6 Phone is stuck on headphone mode, Tried your bic pen trick but not succesful can we check by opening i phone then pl guide ho w to open.
Had attempted to turn on and off severally but wasn’t working. After reading your article I tried the bic pen idea. Worked like a charm! THANK YOU for saving me phone repair costs ??
these tips are awesome however at first they weren’t working for me. i took apart a pen and put the plastic against my headphone jack and used a hoover to loosen the debris. afterwards i cut a cotton stick thing and used the plastic to twist out the rest of the debris. anyways im gonna go eat my spicy chips now. cheers, this article really helped! 🙂
I haven’t been able to make it ring yet, it just buzzes OK. All the ring tones sound off beautifully but nothing when someone is actually trying to call.
However, thank you for your article, written in such a helpful and, dare I say it, normal way.