What is a Stylus?

what is a stylus

A stylus is a pen-shaped tool with a rubber tip. You use the rubber piece to type or tap on touchscreen devices. Some styluses also have a ballpoint pen at the bottom.

You can buy a stylus at any price point, from cheap styluses at stores like Target to expensive Apple Pens. In most cases, the more you spend on a stylus, the longer you can expect it to last.

Why is My Stylus Not Working?

First, let’s roll up our sleeves and identify the problem. Here are common issues associated with stylus pens!

  • Broken or cracked
  • Worn out rubber nib
  • Missing rubber nib
  • Sticky
  • Dirty
  • Loose rubber nib
broken stylus pen

Broken or Cracked

If your stylus pens are cracked, or a piece is missing from the tip, it might be a minor issue that you can fix yourself. However, if it’s totally in pieces, then it’s beyond repair and it’s time to buy a new one.

worn out stylus pen

Worn Out Nib

Think of a stylus like an eraser. The more you use it, the more it wears down over time. Luckily, you can find replacement rubber tips on Amazon, or you can order them directly through your cell phone provider.

missing stylus tip

Missing Nib

Let’s say the rubber nib of the stylus pen is totally MIA! In this case, you also want to look for a replacement rather than throwing out the entire pen.

sticky stylus pen

Sticky Stylus Pen

Stylus pens should glide smoothly and effortlessly across your screen. If yours is sticking, try to rub the nib using a microfiber cloth.

dirty stylus pen

Dirty Stylus Pen

Oops! You accidentally dropped your stylus outside in the mud. Wipe it down by dabbing a soft washcloth in a mixture of gentle dishwashing soap and cool water.

loose stylus tip

Loose Nib

Your stylus’s tip is wobbly and just isn’t sitting right on the pen. Usually, you simply need to screw the stylus back together for it to work right again.

Once you figure out your problem, it’ll be easier to go about fixing your stylus. It can be an easy repair, or something that’s more involved. It just depends on the situation.

How to Replace the Nib on a Stylus

The most common way to fix your rubber tip stylus pen is by replacing the nib. You can do this yourself by following the steps below!

  1. Unscrew the metal piece, known as the ferrule, from the barrel. If it’s not easy to remove, try using a blow dryer to heat it up.
  2. Hold the metal piece firmly so you can put on the new nib tip.
  3. Pop the nib back onto the metal piece.
  4. Screw the ferrule with the new nib back onto the barrel. You can use glue if it isn’t fitting together.
  5. Apply a product called Nanotip onto the nib of the stylus. This product is designed to make gloves touchscreen, but you can also use it to bring a stylus pen back to life.
  6. Restart your phone. Your stylus should be as good as new!

Step One: Unscrew the Ferrule

The first step is to remove the metal piece (ferrule) that holds the nib in place. Is it really stuck on there? Try using a hair dryer to heat it up, while swirling the pen around in your hand.

Step Two: Hold the Stylus in Place

Once the ferrule is removed, hold the stylus in place so you can put the new nib on top.

Step Three: Put the Nib in the Ferrule

Pop the nib back onto the ferrule. Be sure it’s on correctly, or your stylus might still not work right.

Step Four: Screw on the Ferrule

Screw the ferrule with the new nib back onto the barrel. You can use a little bit of Gorilla Glue if it isn’t fitting together.

Step Five (Optional): Use Nanotip

Apply a product called Nanotip onto the nib of the stylus. This product is designed to make gloves touchscreen, but you can also use it to bring a stylus pen back to life. Let the product sit overnight.

Step Six: Restart Your Phone

Restart your phone, check for updates, and then test out your stylus. It should now work! If there’s still an issue, you may need to buy a replacement or make a DIY stylus pen instead.

This solution works best for cheap rubber tip stylus pens and not for more expensive pens like S-Pens or Apple Pencils. It’s also by no means an official diagnosis.

If you try these steps and your stylus pen still doesn’t work, reach out directly to the manufacturer for more information! It could be a bigger issue that’s beyond an easy do-it-yourself fix.

How to Make a Stylus Pen

When in doubt, you can always make your own stylus at home! It just takes a few basic household items and about 10 minutes of your time.

Here are DIY stylus pens you can create right at home!

Q-Tip, Metal Pen, & Aluminum Foil Stylus

Q-Tip, Metal Pen, & Aluminum Foil Stylus
DIY stylus using aluminum foil, Q-tip, and pen

Make sure your metal pen is totally out of ink and then insert a Q-tip into the barrel. From there, wrap a piece of foil above the cotton swab and secure it with tape. Boom – you’ve just made a DIY stylus pen!

Pen & Sponge Stylus

Pen & Sponge Stylus
DIY stylus using pen and sponge

Grab a cheap click pen and wedge a piece of sponge onto the end in the unclicked position. Try your best to make sure the sponge’s fibers are rounded and aren’t overly frayed. You can now use this as a stylus!

Chopstick & Sandpaper Stylus

Chopstick & Sandpaper Stylus
DIY stylus using chopsticks and sandpaper

Here’s a good excuse to order Chinese takeout! After you’re done with your Chow Mein, use a chopstick to make a homemade stylus. Sharpen the chopstick into a blunt tip and then rub it down with sandpaper. That’s all there is to it!

Paintbrush, Eraser, & Foam Stylus

Paintbrush, Eraser, & Foam Stylus
DIY stylus using paintbrush, eraser, and foam

Remove the bristles from the end of an old paintbrush. Next, stick a piece of foam onto an eraser and put the entire thing on the paintbrush. The eraser needs to touch the metal for it to be conductive. Your new stylus is now ready to go!

Highlighter, Wire, & Electrical Tape Stylus

Highlighter, Wire, & Electrical Tape Stylus
DIY stylus using highlighter, wire, and electrical tape

You can use a highlighter to make your own stylus pen. First, wrap a piece of electrical tape around the barrel. Next, insert a piece of wire into the barrel and wind it around the outside. Finally, put a piece of conductive foam on the end of the wire.

Final Thoughts

Broken technology is the worst, but you don’t have to hurl your stylus pen angrily at the wall! Try to replace the tip of the pen with a new nib, try a product like Nanotip, and when in doubt, remember you can always use conductive foam, a metal pen, or a chopstick!

You may not be that handy, but it’s okay! These hacks are pretty simple, and you’ll be happy to have a stylus you can use for all those rounds of “Candy Crush.”


Profis, S. (2012, March 16). DIY: The 2-Minute Stylus. https://www.cnet.com/tech/computing/diy-the-2-minute-stylus/

Agomuoh, F. (2020, May 11). How to Fix It When Your S Pen is Not Working. Retrieved from, https://www.lifewire.com/fix-s-pen-not-working-4628132

wikiHow. (2020, December 10). How to Make a Stylus. Retrieved from, https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Stylus

Maxzmillion. (2012, December 2). How to Fix a Soft Rubber Tip Stylus. Retrieved from, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpBdtMb2PtY

Itors, M. (2020, October 29). Sticky? How to Clean a Stylus With a Rubber Tip. Retrieved from, https://saharacase.com/blogs/saharacase-tech-news/how-to-clean-stylus-rubber-tip

Henry, A. (2012, February 27). Make Your Own Tablet Stylus From an Arrowhead Pencil Eraser and a Paintbrush. Retrieved from, https://lifehacker.com/make-your-own-tablet-stylus-from-an-arrowhead-pencil-er-5888522

Tech Access. How To: Make Your Own Stylus. Retrieved from, https://www.techaccess-ri.org/make-you-own-stylus/

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