Why do headphones & cables get sticky? SOLVED & How To Avoid

Why do headphones & cables get sticky? | integraudio.com

One problem many users face with using headphones daily is that the cables, and sometimes headphones themselves, can get sticky over time, which is not an alien obstacle that’s new to us. However, there are specific reasons why such inconvenience can occur, and by applying appropriate measures, you can fix them.

Why do headphones & cables get sticky?

Unless they’re made from pure plastic or cloth material, headphone wires use rubber that may get softened and gummy from long-term use. It also happens because the synthetic or natural rubber in the cables releases a sticky substance.

With the exception in some cases, the release of such material isn’t excessive but enough to make the user annoyed or feel dissatisfied with the unwanted feelings of the gluey fabric on their hands.

The molecules present in raw states in the rubber headphone wires can form a lengthy chain of weak links that connect, resulting in the rubber getting tackier, and the long-term use of the headphones also adds up to forward the process. In addition, there are more causes of this phenomenon which we’re going to discuss later.

This article will take a deep dive into why the headphone cables get stickier and how you can prevent that.

Reasons Why Headphone Cables Get Sticky

Here are a few reasons why your headphone wires might have been releasing the sticky substance:

Why do headphones & cables get sticky? | integraudio.com

  • Carelessness
    A headphone cord wears out when a user accidentally spills something on their headphones, such as sticky liquid like tea or something with a gluey feature), which can cause the substance to get stuck around your wire or headphones surface. If identified quicker, you can just clean off the area where such substance was exposed. If the liquid is stained and older, you may want to apply a small amount of alcohol, preferably isopropyl alcohol, for the cleanup. Other causes include dropping your headphones somewhere dirty or rusty, not packaging them properly while traveling or going out, and similar carelessness. Try to avoid such habits as much as possible to stop your cables from getting pastier every time.
  • Natural causes
    Over time, rubbers tend to perform chemical reactions that trigger the outer surface of the headphone cable, which could be a very annoying situation since not only a few areas but the entire length of the wire will get gluey.
  • Cheap product
    Usually, fake brands, second-hand products, and cheaply produced wires can reveal stickiness all over the cable, resulting in an irritating experience. Since the wires will get attached to many things, even materials that attract less grip, such as leathers, wallets, and such, the plugged-in end of the cable may get detached.
  • Overuse
    Headphone wires may shed their outer shells if overused or left unmaintained, revealing the inner rubber skin, one of the root causes of sticky cables.
  • Skin oil
    Grabbing your headphone cord might be a bad idea because they gather the collective amount of fats and dead skin cells from your fingers, ultimately making them gluey/oily.

How to clean a sticky headphone cable?

Here are some solutions you can apply to clean off the gluey feel from your cable:

Why do headphones & cables get sticky? | integraudio.com

  1. Use Soapy liquid
    Warm some water and apply a mixture of detergent or soap, creating a sudsy solution. You can then let a sponge or cloth absorb the liquid to clean the debris off of your headphone cord. Be careful not to let the liquid enter the earbuds. To finish off, apply a mix of water and baking soda over the cable surface. Finally, use a clean and soft cloth to dry it.
  2. Apply isopropyl alcohol
    If the stickiness is severe, you might want to use a bit heavy solution. A tiny amount of Isopropyl Alcohol rubbed around the cloth can help clean off clinging rubber and sticky thickness around the cord.

Related Readings:

Do headphones get worse with age? Answered & Explained

Can Headphones Break in Cold Weather? (Wireless, Wired & Bluetooth)

Does Heat Damage Headphones? Answered & Explained

Side Effects Of Sleeping With Your Headphones On

How do you not damage your headphones while cleaning?

It is recommended to use a relatively soft, lint-free, dry cloth to clean your headphone cords. Soak up as little mixture as possible. Be careful not to spill the cleaning mixture, whether soap or alcohol solution, onto the listening portals, which could damage it ultimately.

Only wipe around the cable surface, do not move further up. This maintenance can be done every few days, or at least once a week, to ensure that the sticky material does not appear again.

Concluding Thoughts

Using a headphone with a sticky cable can be very frustrating. Make sure you choose a high-quality product when buying it; therefore, you won’t have to worry about it getting sticky later on. If you already have such a headphone, apply the above-mentioned methods to clean the cable properly and take care of it in the future, cleaning it regularly and minimizing excessive and unnecessary use.

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