How to Untangle Headphone Cords: Ultimate Guide

Man seriously trying to untangle headphone cords
Man seriously trying to untangle headphone cords

Tried-and-true hacks to untangle that knotty cord on your headphones and tips to keep it that way.

Having wired headphones is great – you can take them on the go and never run out of battery. That is until you pull them out of your backpack and find their cord tangled.

Now, you’ll have to fumble around trying to untangle the cord before making a call or playing your favorite Spotify playlist. This situation can be frustrating, especially if you’re in a hurry.

The good news is, there are quick and easy ways to fix a tangled headphone cord and keep it knot-free. This article will teach you how to untangle and manage the wires on your headphones so you’ll never have to deal with this issue again. Let’s dive right in!

How to Untangle Headphone Cords in 4 Easy Steps

When you need that song to cheer your mood on a Monday, the last thing you want to see is your headphones or earbuds all tangled up.

But don’t let this minor thing ruin your entire day. Here are some tried-and-true steps for how to sort out your headphones’ cord.

In just a few minutes, your earbuds will be free of any knot or tangle.

1. Place them on a flat, clutter-free surface

Unplug your headphones and place them on a flat surface. Doing so allows you to quickly see where the knots are and untangle the wires more easily.

2. Work with the tangles closest to the plug, first

Identify and work on each tangled knot starting from the one closest to the headphones’ plug.

Since the plug is smaller than the drivers in your headphones or earbuds, this makes it easier to work on the knots. And thus, it can get through tighter knots.

Pro tip: Gently pull the tangled sections as far away from each other as possible. This gives you more space to work on the knots without making the problem worse.

3. Loosen the twists

It’s important that you don’t start moving the plug through the tangles immediately. Doing so may tighten up the other knots.

So, to loosen the twists, pull on the knot’s outermost wire or use the tip of a pen to push the outer cord up.

Pro tip: Be extra careful when doing this to headphones with thin cords like Apple’s EarPods. Their cords are more prone to snapping off.

4. Move the plug through the loose wire

After untangling the knot, make a small loop and pass the plug through the loose wire. Repeat steps 2-4 until you completely finish detangling your earbuds.

If you have twisted knots, hold your headphones by the plug and hang it upside down. They should start spinning and untangle the twists. If you have big headphones, hold them by the headband and let the cord hanging instead to prevent damages to the cord. Watch how it’s done here.

Why Do Headphone Wires Tangle?

When you throw headphones or earbuds into your bag and walk around with it, any movement you make can tangle the cord. Over time, the small movements of the cord causes one end to cross over, under, or around itself, creating a mess.

Researchers from UCSD did an extensive experiment titled the “Spontaneous Knotting of an Agitated String”, which aimed to find out why stringy objects tend to end up in a tangle on their own.

They placed strings of various lengths into boxes, which they’d then spin around for a few minutes. And repeated the experiments a total of 3,415 times.

The knot probability versus string length graph. (From: sciencealert.com) https://www.sciencealert.com/the-mathematical-law-that-causes-your-headphones-to-tangle
The knot probability versus string length graph. (From: sciencealert.com) https://www.sciencealert.com/the-mathematical-law-that-causes-your-headphones-to-tangle

As the boxes spin, the strings inside also move. While the string’s movement seems random, it often causes one end to weave between its own loops, making it to twist and tangle.

Since the cord on your headphones is a string, this experiment can apply to it. Note that controllers, chargers, keyboards, and even some expensive headphones cables are also prone to getting tangled.

In other words, your headphones’ cord ends up tangled because it’s unsecured. Check out these accessories to keep your cords tangle-free.

Simple Hacks to Keep Your Headphones Tangle-Free

Sadly, the chance of your headphones tying themselves in a knot is never zero. You might think that a little bit of tangled headphones cord every now and then is no problem.

However, if they happen regularly and to an extreme level, these knots will eventually ruin your headphones’ internal wiring.

And, broken internal wiring means you’ll have to repair your headphones’ cord or get a new pair.

Luckily, it’s very easy to prevent this problem. Here are some ways to keep the cord on your headphones tangle-free.

Learn the over-under method

Audio cables and cords have a natural twist pattern-including the one on your headphones. Rolling the cord one way (over only or under only) goes against that natural twist. This can break the internal wiring, causing your headphones to fail.

A widely accepted rolling method among the audio community is the over-under technique. This technique follows the natural twist of the cable which prevents internal wiring damage and reduces the possibility of tangles and twists.

Here’s how to do the over-under coil:

  1. Over loop: Grab the plug with your left hand. Use your right hand to hold the loose wire and create a loop. Make sure the loop falls on the opposite side of the plug.
  2. Under loop: Grab the loose end again, this time with your right thumb pointing away from you. Form a loop and flip it, making sure your right thumb is pointing toward you.
  3. Create another over loop. Make sure it falls to the right of the previous loop.
  4. Repeat these steps, then tie the wire or wrap a strip of velcro around it. Doing so can help prevent the wire from coming loose.

Improvise with a binder clip

Wrap your earphone wires around a binder clip to keep organized. (From: SpaceTech)
Wrap your earphone wires around a binder clip to keep organized. (From: SpaceTech)

After coiling your cable using the over-under method above, clip one side of the loop with a binder clip.

This prevents the coil from breaking and minimizes the cord’s movements in your bag or pocket.

Steps below show how you can use a medium-sized binder clip not just to organize your papers but to keep your headphones’ cord tangle-free too.

  1. Thread the earphone wire through the metal binder until the buds are against the clip’s body.
  2. Coil the wire around the binder’s pressing levers.
  3. Insert the headphone jack inside the levers to keep the coiled wire from becoming loose.
Don’t clip the cord with the binder clip’s edges as it can break your cord over time. If your cord is too big to fit safely in a medium-sized binder clip, buy a pack of assorted binder clips so you’ll have varying clip sizes that you can use depending on your cord’s length and thickness.

Have a dedicated small storage for your earphones

Earbuds stored in the sturdy FiiO HB1
Earbuds stored in the sturdy FiiO HB1

Instead of shoving your headphones in your bag with other items, you should coil the cord properly using the over-under technique, secure it with a binder clip (or a velcro strap) and put it in a dedicated container.

Depending on your headphones’ form factor, you can use an earbuds pouch or a headphone case.

Doing this ensures that the cords won’t tangle up with other objects in your pockets or bags, like your pens and keys.

Wrap the cord in yarn or embroidery threads

Wrap your headphone wires in colorful yarn or embroidery threads to keep them knot-free. (From: Etsy)
Wrap your headphone wires in colorful yarn or embroidery threads to keep them knot-free. (From: Etsy)

You can protect your headphones’ cord by wrapping it in yarn or embroidery threads. All you need is a little creativity and a few supplies.

Wrapping your headphones’ cord in textured material like yarn or embroidery thread creates friction when it rubs against itself. This makes it more difficult for the cord to wind around it’s coils— giving you twist-free earbuds.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Get a pair of scissors and some yarn or embroidery threads.
  2. Knot the threads near the jack.
  3. Keep the jack in place by taping it on a flat surface.
  4. Start wrapping the threads around the wire.
  5. Once you reach the neck of the earpiece, tie the threads.
If you want to create a proper braided cable instead, here’s our guide on creating Y-split braided cables.

Wind it around an old card

Recycle oldcredit cards into earphone cord organizers (From: CreditCards.com)
Recycle oldcredit cards into earphone cord organizers (From: CreditCards.com)

If you don’t have binder clips, yarns, or headphone cases, one easy way to keep your headphones’ cords from entangling is to recycle an expired credit card or shopping card to hold the cord.

Here’s a step-by-step on how to do this hack:

  1. Get a pair of scissors, a puncher, and an old card.
  2. Make a curved or half-moon cut along the old card’s length.
  3. Punch one hole on one end and two holes on the other.
  4. Cut a slit on each hole.
  5. Insert your earbuds into the two slits, coil the wire around the card’s narrow middle, then slide the jack through the remaining slit.

3 Products That Can Keep Your Headphones’ Cord Tangle-Free

Aside from the methods and tips above, you can choose to buy accessories specifically designed to protect your headphones’ cords.

These accessories have different designs, but essentially use almost similar methods to keep your headphones cord tangle-free.

Depending on your needs and style, here are the three products to consider:

Bluelounge CableYoYo

Close look at the Bluelounge CableYoYo (From: Amazon)
Close look at the Bluelounge CableYoYo (From: Amazon)

The CableYoYo is a cord spool that you can use to wrap your headphones’ cord around to prevent tangling.

Its magnetic center keeps the earpieces in place so they don’t dangle around and bump into other objects.

The CableYoYo’s slim design makes it easy to carry when going for a run or making calls.

ABZON Cable Organizer

Close look at the ABZON Cable Organizer (From: Amazon)
Close look at the ABZON Cable Organizer (From: Amazon)

The ABZON Cable Organizer is a magnetic cable tie for securing your headphones’ cord in place- after coiling it using the over-under method.

These organizers come in packs of five different colors – and, you can use them for other cords and cables, as magnetic note holders or even key organizers.

TOPHOME Leather Earbuds Holder

Close look at the TOPHOME Leather Earbuds Holder (From: Amazon)
Close look at the TOPHOME Leather Earbuds Holder (From: Amazon)

The TOPHOMe Leather Earbuds Holder is a small loop-shaped accessory with a similar function.

This hand-stitched accessory is good for storing and protecting your headphones’ wire, simply wrap your cord around it, and you’re on the go.

Enjoy Having Tangle-Free Wires Anytime

While it may seem minor, knowing how to protect your earbuds from entangling, can help you avoid a lot of hassle.

With the tips and methods above, you won’t have to untangle your headphones’ cords before use. You can simply take them out of your bag or pocket and they’re good to go.

But if you definitely never want to see another knot in your headphones’ cord, consider getting the tangle-free earbuds.

Do you have other tips on detangling earbuds or keeping headphone wires from curling? Share your suggestions with us.

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