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I have had similar issues. I just tried the bent staple idea you had and was surprised how much came out.

Oh good, I was wondering if what you were trying to clean it with is the problem. I couldn't get paperclips to work well either because they are too fat. They also seem to push on the pin thing too much. Seriously, though, use a wooden toothpick. The roughness on it grabs lint well, and since it's soft, it doesn't feel like you're scratching up the contacts. It also is soft enough not to put much pressure on the center pin thing.