If this hasn’t happened to you yet, chances are it will at some point: When you answer the phone, the person on the other end is way too quiet, so you turn up the volume. Then you notice that the volume is already at its highest level.
You think that something must be wrong with the earpiece on your phone. Even though it’s possible that your device has a more complicated problem, this problem is much more likely to be caused by dirt, which is the bane of all electronics.
Even if you are very careful about keeping your iPhone or Android clean, the tiny holes in the earpiece can easily get clogged with dust and dirt.
There is a quick, easy fix that will cost you about a quarter and could keep you from having to go to a smartphone repair shop, which can be very expensive and waste your time.
How to make an old iPhone or other smartphone’s earpiece volume work again
You’ll need an interdental brush and either a cleaning cloth or a can of compressed air.
Estimated time: 2 to 3 minutes
Cost estimate: 25 cents or less per brush. Most packs of interdental brushes that you can buy at drug stores or online cost between $4 and $10.
A small tool for cleaning teeth called an interdental brush is the key to this trick. These brushes are made to do the same things that dental floss does. They are especially helpful for people with braces or other orthodontic devices.
The fact that their bristles are only about 0.02mm to 0.03mm wide makes them perfect for our needs. This is much smaller than most brushes used to clean electronics and thinner than most human hairs. Because they are so small, they can get into the almost microscopic holes in your phone’s earpiece, which most other brushes can’t reach.
Best of all, depending on the brand, you can buy bags of 15 to 75 of these for $4 to $10. Most of the time, this means that each brush costs less than 25 cents. You can even use them more than once before having to throw them away.
You can bend the wire so that it fits best in the earpiece of your phone. Most of the time, this will be a 90-degree angle, but try whatever feels best to you.
2. Brush your teeth.
Use the brush to gently scrub up and down and side to side across the surface of the earpiece, making sure to get into every nook and cranny. Do this again and again for about 30 seconds.
Once you’re sure you’ve gotten rid of all the dirt, use a soft cloth, a soft brush, or some compressed air to wipe or blow away any debris that got loose while you were brushing. This keeps it from getting stuck in the earpiece again by accident.
3. Test your phone’s volume
Make a call to see how loud your earpiece is. If it sounds better, but you still want it to be louder, try doing the same thing again, but this time press a little harder on the brush head. Be careful not to push too hard, because the grilles on smartphone earpieces can be fragile. If this doesn’t help, it’s likely because your device has a more complicated problem.
Still, neither I nor any of the many friends and family members I’ve done this fix for have ever had it fail. People are usually surprised by how quiet their phones have gotten over time and how loud they can be again.
What else can you do with an interdental brush?
If you’re like me, you get a special thrill out of finding new and very useful ways to use cheap little things like these. In this case, Interdental brushes can be used to clean many other parts of your phone and other electronics that are hard to keep clean and healthy. Because the bristles are so small, they can be used to clean everything from dusty USB ports to fan grills and charging ports.
Is it possible that this method could hurt my device?
If you don’t clean something right, you can hurt it. In this case, the risk is that too much force will be used. To figure out how much force is safe, I’d suggest using one of these tiny brushes as it was meant to be used: to clean between your teeth. If you are pushing hard enough to hurt yourself, you are also pushing hard enough to hurt your device. Gentle strokes in more than one direction should be all you need to make your phone or teeth shine like new.
Is there anything else I could use to do this?
Compressed air and softer, bigger brushes can be used to get rid of loose debris, but I haven’t found anything else that works as well for the first cleaning. If you use compressed air first, it can actually make the problem worse because it pushes the dust and debris further into the pipe instead of getting rid of it. Most of the time, softer brushes or even things like toothbrushes with thicker bristles don’t help.