Rubber tip styluses are a popular choice amongst people who want the convenience of a stylus for the cell phone and tablet screens without paying premium prices. However, since these are consistently the cheapest options on the market, they have a tendency to struggle performance-wise.
In this article, we’ll discuss the 5 most common reasons why a rubber tip stylus pen isn’t working and what you can do to fix the issue. We will focus on passive rubber-tipped styluses that don’t contain internal electrical components and are compatible with capacitive screens.
1. Clean Your Rubber Tip and Device Screen
When you first notice that your stylus’ rubber tip isn’t working as smoothly as usual, the first solution that comes to mind might be to immediately replace it with a new tip. While this is an option, there are several simple steps you can take first that might solve the problem in seconds.
You should clean your stylus’ rubber tip and your device’s screen. They can accumulate a layer of dust, oils, and other contaminants that create a barrier between your stylus and the inner mechanisms of your device. This inhibits your device’s ability to recognize your stylus tip’s location properly.
It can also impede the stylus’ ability to glide around your device’s screen smoothly, which is crucial for artistic works that need smooth, continuous lines. Hopefully, after you give both your stylus and screen a quick clean, the issue is resolved. Here’s how to safely and properly clean both.
How to Clean a Rubber Stylus Tip
Cleaning the rubber tip of your stylus doesn’t have to be a big process. If you’re in a pinch, simply wiping the tip on a clean cloth could do the trick.
If you want a deeper, more thorough clean, then we recommend doing the following:
- Mix a small amount of mild dish soap with some lukewarm water and wipe the tip with this mixture using a clean towel. A microfiber towel would be best, as this material is gentlest on surfaces.
- Once you’ve cleaned the tip, apply clean, lukewarm water to a different section of the microfiber towel to remove any soap from the surface.
- You can then let the tip air dry or choose to towel dry it.
Now, let’s see how to clean your device screen.
How to Clean a Device Screen
The process for this might vary slightly depending on the type of device you’re using. Since most people who purchase cheap styluses pair them with a cell phone or tablet, we’re going to assume that’s the type of screen you need to clean.
When cleaning a tablet or phone screen, we highly recommend only using clean products dedicated to these devices. Using harsh chemicals like bleach or window cleaning can strip away the screen’s protective coatings and damage the surface.
A few squirts of a screen cleaner made for electronic devices should do the trick here. Again, make sure you wipe it away with a microfiber towel to ensure you don’t inadvertently scratch or otherwise damage your screen.
2. Tighten the Rubber Tip
If you notice your stylus still isn’t working after you’ve cleaned both your rubber tip and screen, the next thing you’ll want to do is check to see if the rubber tip is loose.
A stylus’ rubber is held in place by its plastic or aluminum body and cap. Over time, the tip can loosen from regular use moving it askew from its normal position, or a damaged piece no longer holding it firmly in place.
If the tip has too much room to move, it won’t have the stability it requires to make firm, consistent contact with your touchscreen. As a result, you might see skips in your lines or other mistakes.
Oftentimes, tightening your stylus’ rubber tip simply requires you to tighten its cap so the tip isn’t moving around as much within the housing. Another option would be to remove the cap entirely and readjust the tip before reapplying the cap. This process might be easier for some styluses than others, depending on their design.
3. Restart Your Device
Sometimes, the issue of a rubber-tipped stylus not working right doesn’t actually lie with your stylus at all, but your device instead.
If you notice your rubber-tipped stylus was working fine a second ago and then suddenly start experiencing accuracy issues, the problem might be that your device is struggling to read its input accurately.
This shift could be caused by a series of factors, such as your device prioritizing updates over your stylus input or operating with too many apps and tabs open.
No matter the cause, the solution is generally the same: restart your device. This will close all currently running apps and clear any processes that might be bogging down your device, allowing it to start fresh.
4. Replace the Rubber Tip
Once you’ve gotten to this point in the guide and still have a rubber stylus tip that isn’t working properly, your options for a solution are fairly limited.
The more budget-friendly choice of our last two solutions is to purchase a replacement tip. These can be found in packs 0f 10-30 online for less than $10. Just make sure you know what type of stylus you have so you can purchase a compatible rubber tip replacement.
It’s extremely common for stylus tips to wear down over time. Replacing them is a necessary part of maintenance, both for your stylus as well as any device you use it on. If you were to use a damaged or worn stylus tip on your touchscreen, your chances of scratching the screen and breaking the stylus increase.
So, before it gets to that point, take the time to give your stylus tip a once over. If it looks cracked, torn, or simply isn’t working well on your screen anymore, then swap it out for a new one.
5. Purchase a New Stylus
Most people prefer to have their stylus up and running before they get to this point, if you’ve tried all of the solutions above and still can’t get your rubber tip stylus to work properly, it might be time for an upgrade.
A new stylus might be in order if your rubber stylus tip isn’t working because parts of the stylus housing or cap are broken and preventing it from making clear contact with your device’s screen.
While this is a less common scenario, your old rubber-tipped stylus might not be working because you’ve paired it with a new device.
As phone and tablet models continue to improve, fewer work smoothly with the cheap, passive-designed, rubber-tipped styluses. Instead, they require active styluses that contain electrical components and other features necessary to communicate with the device effectively.
Brands like Apple and Wacom will also push consumers to purchase their styluses over cheap alternatives, and to help drive these sales, they’ll design their phones and tablets to have limited compatibility. So, if you recently upgraded your device, you might need to find a new stylus that works with it.
Most styluses with a rubber tip that aren’t working properly can be fixed using the methods listed above, like a quick clean or a device restart. If those don’t work, don’t be afraid to upgrade to a new stylus. Opting for a slightly pricier active stylus will likely yield superior results for much longer than budget-friendly competitors. Which means more consistent, problem-free performance for you.