How to make a DIY stylus for your tablet or mobile device with just a few household supplies

  • It’s easy to make a working stylus for your tablet with just a few household supplies. 
  • You can make a stylus by inserting a cotton swab in the tip of an empty pen and wrapping the pen in foil.
  • Make sure the cotton is damp and then you can use the homemade stylus to control your tablet.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

A replacement stylus isn’t cheap; Samsung’s S Pen is $30 and Apple sells its 2nd generation Apple Pencil for a formidable $130. That suggests there must be a lot of technology packed into these devices, but the reality is that you can make a working stylus with a few pennies worth of household supplies in less than 5 minutes. 

You probably don’t want to use it in the office — you’ll get stares — but it’s good to know you can make a homemade stylus in a pinch, and it’s a great exercise to do with your kids. 

How to make a homemade stylus

Before you get started, round up the following list of supplies.

The supplies you’ll need

  • an ink pen that you can remove the tip and ink cartridge from
  • aluminum foil
  • a cotton swab
  • scissors
  • tape
  • water

1. Remove the ink from the pen so it’s just a hollow tube. 

2. Cut the cotton swab in half so it’s a ball of cotton at one end and a stick at the other. Handy tip: Cut the stick at an angle, because you’re going to have to push it into the end of the pen, and the swab’s stick is probably thicker than the pen’s opening. 

3. Force the cotton swab into the pen so that the cotton sticks out where the ink tip used to be. Push the cotton all the way to the tip of the pen. If it’s loose, use a little tape to hold it in place; otherwise, let the tension hold it in place. 

4. Cut a square of aluminum foil and wrap it tightly around the pen. It should start at the cotton, covering most of it, and extend down the length of the pen far enough so you’ll make solid contact with it when holding the pen normally in your hand. Use a little tape to secure the foil to the pen – apply it to the tail of the pen, not the cotton, and make sure the foil wraps tightly around the full pen and a portion of the cotton. 

5. Dab the cotton tip in some water. Make sure it’s thoroughly moist, but not dripping with water. 

That’s it – your stylus is complete. Test it by holding the pen and using it to control your mobile device. If it doesn’t work, the most likely problems are: the cotton isn’t sufficiently wet, the foil isn’t in solid contact with the cotton, or your hand isn’t touching the foil.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

  • How to charge either Apple Pencil model with your iPad, and what to do if it won’t charge

  • The Apple Pencil doesn’t work with the iPhone, but other styluses do — here’s how it works

  • Not all iPads can use the Apple Pencil — here’s a breakdown of which iPads are compatible with which version of the Pencil

  • How to properly clean a Samsung Galaxy S10 without damaging your device

  • How to properly clean an iPad’s charging port when it won’t charge

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