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How to safely clean your iPhone's charging port
Charing ports on any smartphone are a magnet for debris, whether it’s lint, dust, crumbs, or something else. To keep an iPhone charging optimally, you need to keep its port clean and clear. Here’s a quick and easy guide to cleaning your iPhone charging port without damaging anything.
To clean an iPhone's charging port:
- Blow air into the port to clear out loose debris. You'll probably want to use quick bursts from a can of compressed air.
- If you still suspect there's debris, find a toothpick or similar object small enough to get into the port that isn't metal, sharp, or fuzzy.
- Insert the cleaning tool from step 2, gently working around the sides.
- Use another blast of air to force out loosened debris.
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Things you should avoid when cleaning your iPhone’s charging port
At least some of these points will seem like common sense, but they’re still worth bearing in mind.
- Avoid jamming anything straight back into the port. That’s where the connector is located, and doing so could scratch power/data contacts.
- Don’t use a cotton swab/Q-Tip. It’s probably too big for a Lightning or USB port anyway, but the bigger threat is that you’ll leave cotton behind, swapping one kind of debris for another.
- Don’t use metal objects. These are more likely to damage electronics, and in a worst-case scenario, could actually cause a short and wreck the entire device.
- Likewise, avoid sharp objects.
- Avoid getting liquids into the port, whether from a compressed air can or something else. If this does happen, make sure the device is powered down and allowed to dry. You can use cool air to speed things up, but not a hot-air dryer.
How to safely clean your iPhone’s charging port
Before you get started, check your charging cable. If you discover it was your cable causing problems, or that it might clog up the port again, you’ll save yourself some trouble. Here’s a quick checklist on that front:
- Are there any splits in the cable? Using a split cable is dangerous.
- Has the cable gone brown (indicating overheating damage)?
- Is anything dirty or scratched?
- Are both ends of the cable functioning, not just the one that plugs into your phone?
- Could your power source (adapter/wall socket or computer) be at fault? To test that last point, you’ll need to swap cables and/or sources.
If the cable is to blame for power issues, there’s not much you can do except buy a new cable. We’d recommend buying from reputable third-party brands like Anker or Amazon, since Apple charges too much for official accessories.
Cleaning the charging port
If your cable is solid, follow these steps to clean out the port.
- First, blow air into the port to clear out loose debris. If you’re lucky this may be the only step involved, but you’ll probably want a can of compressed air. Aim the included nozzle straw directly into the port and use 1-second bursts. Be sure to hold the can itself perfectly vertical, however, since angling it can potentially spray liquids.
- If you still suspect there’s debris in the port, find a toothpick, a disposable dental pick, or a similar object small enough to get into the port that isn’t metal, sharp, or fuzzy. In the case of a wooden toothpick, you may need to file it down for size reasons.
- Insert the cleaning tool from step 2, gently working around the sides to scrape out material. Try to avoid hitting the back of the port, since you could damage connectors.
- Use another blast of air to force out any newly-loosened debris. If there’s still material in the port, repeat steps 2 through 4.
It’s probably unnecessary, but you can use a very small amount of rubbing alcohol on the end of a microfiber cloth. Don’t pour any liquid directly onto the phone, and use as little as possible.
Yes, a toothpick is generally safe for cleaning an iPhone charging port, provided you’re careful. It’s better to start with compressed air.
Apple Stores and third-party repair shops can clean your port for you, and might even do it for free, but that’s not guaranteed. It’s usually simpler and cheaper to do things at home.
Yes. If you’re technically skilled you can even do it yourself, but for the average person, it’s safer to book an appointment at an Apple Store or authorized repair shop. A serious mistake could leave your iPhone unable to charge.
As long as your iPhone supports wireless charging (i.e. you have an iPhone 8 or later), that’s an alternative. But you won’t be able to sync files with a computer unless that’s already set up wirelessly too.