How to clean audio connectors

Written by nick davis
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Hissing, static, crackling---all are sounds you hear from dirty audio connectors. Dust and dirt not only collects on the case of your audio receiver, but also on the audio cables, the connectors attached to the cables and the ports that the audio cables are plug into. To keep dust and dirt to a minimum, you should clean your audio equipment and connectors regularly.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Compressed air (canned air)
  • Isopropyl alcohol (99 per cent or electrical contact cleaner)
  • Latex gloves
  • Two lens-grade, lint-free tissues
  • Small brush
  • Long cotton swabs with skinny tips

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Unplug the power cable to avoid shocks. Unplug the audio cables you want to clean from the pieces of audio equipment (for example, disconnect the cable connecting a CD player to a receiver, and follow these procedures for both pieces of equipment).

  2. 2

    Spray the piece of audio equipment with short bursts of air from a can of compressed air. Spray the equipment's case, any connectors on the back of the device and the ends of each of the audio cables used with the piece of equipment.

  3. 3

    Apply 2 teaspoons of 99 per cent Isopropyl alcohol or a spray of contact cleaner on to a lens-grade, lint-free tissue. Wear latex gloves to protect your hands.

  4. 4

    Wipe the connectors on the audio cables with the alcohol or contact cleaner-soaked tissue. Re-apply alcohol or contact cleaner to the tissue as needed.

  5. 5

    Wipe the ends of any speaker connection cables with the alcohol or contact cleaner-soaked tissue. Re-apply alcohol or contact cleaner to the tissue as needed.

    For stubborn build up on speaker cables, scrub the connectors gently with a small brush to break up any dirt or debris.

  6. 6

    Wipe fibre optic connectors (ferrule) gently with a lens-grade, lint-free tissue folded twice so it is four layers thick. Rotate the ferrule several times on to the alcohol-soaked tissue. Use 1 tablespoon of 99 per cent Isopropyl alcohol only. Do not use a contact cleaner unless the product states it can be used on fibre optic connectors.

    If cleaning fibre optic connectors, do not clean the connectors attached to the fibre optic audio equipment--just clean the fibre optic cable's ferrule. The fibre optic connectors on the inside of the audio equipment come in direct contact with the fibre optic cable and liquid can damage the internal fibre connectors.

  7. 7

    Apply 1 teaspoon of 99 per cent Isopropyl alcohol or a spray of contact cleaner on to three or more long, skinny-tip cotton swabs, which are available at electronic stores and online. If you can't find long, skinny-tip cotton swabs, remove a layer or two of cotton from a regular cotton swab.

  8. 8

    Push a long, skinny-tip cotton swab into each audio connector on the back of the piece of audio equipment. Change cotton swabs frequently and push the swabs in and out of the connectors to clean any cake-on dirt inside of the connectors. Continue pushing the cotton swabs until the swab comes out clean.

  9. 9

    Push the audio cables into the equipment's connectors to scrape off any oxidation that may be present inside of the connectors. Push the cables in and out of the equipment's connectors at least three times to ensure a good connection.

  10. 10

    Push a long skinny-tip clean cotton swab into the equipment's audio connector one last time to dry the connector.

  11. 11

    Reconnect the audio cables and any speaker wires to the audio equipment.

  12. 12

    Plug the audio equipment's power cord into an electrical socket.

  13. 13

    Turn on the piece of audio equipment to test it. You should hear audio that is hiss and static free. If you don't hear any audio, check the connections.

Tips and warnings

  • For weekly cleaning, use a can of compressed air to blow dust and dirt from your audio equipment.
  • If cleaning fibre optic connectors, do not touch the fibre-end face of the fibre optic connector. Only clean the ferrule on the fibre optic cable.

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