You may have noticed white dust on the rubber coating of some audio cables or even encountered white powder inside certain wires.

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the appearance of this white dust or powder and its influence on the cable.

Quick Takeaway

White dust appears on rubber-coated audio cables due to mold growth, rubber degradation, or mineral deposits. White powder are also stuffed inside audio cables to enhance flexibility, improve thermal conductivity, resist moisture, or fireproof the cable.

White Dust on Rubber-Coated Cables: Causes and Remedies

The presence of white dust on the rubber coating of audio cables can occur due to various reasons.

Understanding the root causes can help you address the issue effectively.

How does white dust materialize?

Some common reasons for the occurrence of white dust on rubber-coated cables include:

Mold Growth

Harmful mold formation on an audio cable
Harmful mold formation on an audio cable

When exposed to moisture and organic matter, the rubber coating of cables can become a breeding ground for mold.

Besides damaging the rubber coating over time, handling these mold-covered cables can also lead to health problems such as allergies, asthma, or infections.

Rubber Degradation

White dust on a degraded rubber connector part of an audio cable connector
White dust on a degraded rubber connector part of an audio cable connector

Exposure to heat, light, oxygen, or ozone can degrade rubber.

Depending on the type of polymer, the rubber may harden or soften, which can affect appearance and performance.

For example, rubber may crack, peel, or lose elasticity. This can attract mold or cause surrounding dust to stick to it, giving a white dusty appearance.

Protective Coat by the Manufacturer

High humidity and temperature can affect the plastic and rubber materials used as the outer layer of wires and cables, making them soft and sticky.

Later when the humidity and temperature stabilize, it again hardens, but if it’s in contact with another cable, they bond each other.

This can lead to damage and tangling, which can be difficult to manage.

To avoid this, manufacturers apply cornstarch or talc on the wires and cables, which prevents them from adhering to each other.

Mineral Deposits

Sometimes water in contact with the rubber coating of cables may contain minerals like calcium and magnesium.

When this water dries, it leaves behind white dust, which is the residue of these minerals.

This can make the otter rubber coating of cables look dull or dirty.

Removing White Dust from Rubber Coating

You can remove the white dust from the rubber-coated wire using the following methods:

Gentle Cleaning

Use a mild detergent and water to clean the rubber surface. After cleaning, make sure to dry it thoroughly.

You can also create a paste using baking soda and water and apply it to the surface to remove stubborn stains.

If you want to go a step further, there are products made specifically for cleaning and restoring rubber.

They might be costly, but it’s worth protecting your precious cables.

Scraping Technique

Use a blunt tool like a plastic spoon or a wooden matchstick to remove the white dust gently. However, try not to abrade the rubber surface.

White Powder Inside Audio Cables: Its Purpose and Types

An audio cable with wide dust

Contrary to the white dust on rubber coatings, white powder found inside audio cables serves specific functions and varies depending on the cable type and capacity.

The Functionality of White Dust Inside Cables

Some of the primary functions of white powder in audio cables include:

Enhancing Flexibility

The white powder reduces friction between wires and outer insulation, thus enhancing the cable’s flexibility.

This helps prevent kinking, twisting, or breaking of the cable, enhancing its durability.

Improving Thermal Conductivity

The white powder increases thermal conductivity by filling air gaps between wires and insulation.

This aids in heat dissipation, minimizing the risk of overheating the cables and causing fire hazards.

Moisture Resistance

White powder can absorb water or humidity that might enter the cable due to an accidental breach in the exterior layer of the cable.

This prevents any immediate damage to the circuit, avoiding short circuits or electrical shocks, and halts corrosion.


In a fire, the white powder inside wires/cables can act as a flame retardant or a fire barrier, protecting the cable and its surroundings from damage.

Types of Powder used inside Audio Cables

The type of white powder used in audio cables depends on the voltage rating, insulation material, conductor size, and application.

Common types include talc, mica, kaolin, and alumina trihydrate.


Talc is a soft mineral composed of magnesium silicate widely used as a lubricant and filler in various industries.

It is often used in low-voltage cables with PVC insulation.


Mica is a group of silicate minerals with excellent thermal and electrical properties.

It is often used in high-voltage cables with XLPE insulation.


Kaolin is a clay mineral known as china clay or white clay. It is often used in medium-voltage cables with EPR insulation.

Alumina Trihydrate (ATH)

Alumina Trihydrate is a compound of aluminum hydroxide that acts as a flame retardant and smoke suppressant.

ATH is often used in halogen-free cables with LSZH insulation.

Final Thoughts

Don’t panic if you see white dust or powder on and inside your audio cables. They’re not always bad.

Sometimes they have a purpose and are actually helping your cables work.

Other times, they are just regular dust or flour that somehow got stuck to your cables because you didn’t store them properly.

In that case, you can just clean it off, and you’ll be good to go.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any specific types of audio cables that are more prone to developing white dust?

Yes, rubber-coated audio cables and metal connectors can get white dust or rust more easily. This is because the rubber coating can wear out and grow mold. This can then make the metal parts of the cables more vulnerable to corrosion, which can cause white dust or rust. To avoid this, you can keep your audio cables clean and dry. You can also use a cable protector to shield the cables from the surrounding elements.

Are there any health risks associated with handling or inhaling white dust from audio cables?

There may be health risks associated with handling or inhaling white dust from audio cables, as the dust may contain materials such as lead, cadmium, and other harmful substances. Take safety precautions like wearing gloves and a mask when handling the cables, washing hands thoroughly after handling them, and avoiding inhaling the dust. It is also important to properly dispose of any cables containing hazardous materials.

Does the presence of white dust on audio cables affect the sound quality or performance of the equipment?

Yes, the presence of white dust on audio cables can affect the sound quality and performance of the equipment. The white dust is usually caused by oxidation of the metal connectors, which can lead to a decrease in conductivity and an increase in resistance. This can result in a loss of signal strength, increased noise and distortion, and a reduction in overall sound quality. In extreme cases, it can even cause equipment failure. Therefore, it is important to regularly clean and maintain audio cables to prevent the buildup of white dust.

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