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How to safely clean your iPhone's charging port

Don't even think about what that gunk is clogging up the charging port.
March 20, 2023

When you put your phone into your pocket, one of the first things that will happen will be the charging port getting congested with gunk from the pocket. This can consist of fluff, skin, dirty tissues, tobacco, and anything else you store there. But to keep your phone charging optimally, you need to keep that charging port clean and clear. Here’s a quick and easy guide to cleaning your iPhone charging port without electrocuting yourself or killing the phone outright.


You will need a toothpick, a can of compressed air, and a strong light to clean your iPhone charging port. You can replace the toothpick with Q tips, cotton balls, or paper towels if you prefer. Exercise extreme caution and proceed slowly to avoid damaging the sensitive electrical components inside the charging port. Under no circumstances should you introduce anything metallic or liquid into the charging port.


Things you should avoid when cleaning your iPhone’s charging port

iPhone 11 Pro Max Charging Port clean

There are some things you should avoid doing when cleaning the iPhone charging port. It’s all basically common-sense stuff, but we should quickly recap them anyway. You never know if someone is having a dozy day and not thinking things through properly.

  • Never insert anything metallic or sharp into the charging port.
  • Never get the charging port wet. If you use a cleaning agent, put a very small amount onto a cloth and use the cloth to apply it to the phone.
  • Do not blow into the charging port. You may think that will dislodge any dust particles and other crap, but you could merely end up spitting into the charging port.
  • Do not use harsh chemicals or cleaning supplies on the charging port. The strength of these chemicals will end up corroding and potentially destroying the inside of the port.

How to safely clean your iPhone’s charging port

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Lightning Cable clean charger
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The first thing you need to check is the charging cable. If you go to all the effort of cleaning the charging port and then discover that it was the lightning cable’s fault all along, you’re going to be pretty ticked off.

  • Are there any splits in the cable? Using a split cable is dangerous, to say the least.
  • Has the cable gone brown (indicating overheating)? Again, not good.
  • Is the charging socket dirty or scratched?
  • Is the plug adaptor attached to the cable’s other end functioning?

First, remove the plug and connect the iPhone to a computer to see if it starts charging without the plug. If so, you need a new plug. Otherwise, clean the charging socket carefully with an anti-static cloth and then try it.

iphone lightning charging cable apple store

If the cable still doesn’t work, then get a new Lightning cable and see if that solves the problem. Apple will be only too pleased to relieve you of your money for a new cable. Be wary about buying any third-party alternatives, as quality will greatly vary. Considering the official cable will only set you back $19, it isn’t really worth cheaping out here and going for something that could make your phone short-circuit.

Moving onto the iPhone charging port

iPhone 11 Pro Max Headphone Port Charging Port clean

If you’ve ruled out the charging cable, then it’s time to examine the charging port. For this, you’ll need the following:

  • A toothpick. Alternatively, you can use Q tips or cotton balls. Do not use anything metallic or sharp. A metallic object will electrocute you, and a sharp object will damage the sensitive components inside the port.
  • Compressed air. Apple actually recommends against using compressed air, but there’s nothing to stop you from using it if you want to. In fact, many people prefer using compressed air. However, you may wish to lightly tap (emphasis on ‘lightly’) the phone on the table to dislodge anything stuffed up there before you get the compressed air out.
  • A strong light. Get a desk lamp or a flashlight. You need to be able to look inside the charging port and see what’s there and where it is.

Cleaning the iPhone’s charging port with compressed air

compressed air
Mark O'Neill / Android Authority
  • First, switch off your iPhone. No, not sleep mode — completely switch it off. Don’t worry, you won’t miss anything urgent on your Instagram feed for a few minutes.
  • Once the phone is off, start by lightly tapping (and I really mean lightly) your phone on the table and see if anything immediately falls out of the charging port. It’s likely that some of the stuff clogging up the port is not actually stuck up there and just needs a slight nudge to come out.
  • Hold the compressed air canister at a short distance from the charging port and give it a few quick blasts of air. Tap your phone on the table again to allow anything to fall out. Now reattach your charging cable, turn your phone back on, and see if it starts charging.
  • This could be all that’s needed, but if not, you can try another round of compressed air.

Cleaning the iPhone charging port with a toothpick, Q tip, cotton ball, or paper towel

If the compressed air method didn’t work, then you need to proceed to use the toothpick. Alternatively, you can use Q tips, cotton balls, or paper towels. Basically, anything that is soft and non-abrasive because, at this point, your priority should be protecting the delicate inner workings of the charging port. If you damage those, it doesn’t matter how clean it is afterward. The charging port will be kaput, and you’ll need to pay to get it replaced.

  • Once again, turn off your phone completely. OK, finish your text message first.
  • Very slowly, start to clean the charging port. Use your cleaning implement to delicately clean the insides. Once inside, jiggle the toothpick (or whatever you’re using) to dislodge anything blocking the port. Every so often, lightly tap the phone on the work surface to get anything loose out.
  • Use your compressed air to give the charging post another blast or two.
  • Restart your phone, attach your charging cable, and see if the phone now starts charging.

If the iPhone is still not charging at this point, you should take it to an Apple Store to get it looked at. A larger problem could be at play here, which requires expert attention.


You can use a very small amount of rubbing alcohol on the end of a cloth. Do not pour it directly onto the phone, and do not use an excessive amount.

Yes, a toothpick is generally safe to clean an iPhone charging port, provided you’re careful (a toothpick does have a sharp end after all.) A better option, however, would be compressed air.

Yes, Apple Stores can clean your iPhone charging port for you, as well as third-party licensed Apple repair shops.

Yes. If you have the technical know-how, you could theoretically do it yourself. However, it is recommended that an Apple Store or third-party licensed Apple repair shop does it for you.

You can certainly try. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t work.