How to Clean Your iPhone’s Charging Port

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If your iPhone won't charge with a Lightning cable plugged in, a dirty charging port might be to blame. This is how to clean it, according to experts.

These days, charging your iPhone probably feels as automatic as breathing. But if your phone is not charging when plugged in, there could be a likely culprit: The dirty charging (also called Lightning) port. Sound like your issue? It’s time you learned how to clean your iPhone’s charging port.

“It is quite common for the iPhone port to become dirty over time,” says Will Manuel, CEO of Core Media Concepts. Dust, dirt, and lint can accumulate in the small cracks of your iPhone’s charging port and block the electrical signal. “Periodic cleaning will do a world of help to decrease the likelihood of buildup.” And that will help you avoid instances when your iPhone stops charging, he says.

Before you run out to the nearest Apple store, experts recommend the following simple tricks to clean your iPhone and get it back to charging again. Once you know how to clean your iPhone’s charging port, give your other tech gifts some elbow grease by learning how to clean your cell phone and AirPods properly and the best phone sanitizers to use on your phone.

What you can use

Manuel recommends using paper or cotton products, such as paper towels, Q-tips, or cotton balls, to remove dirt and debris from your iPhone’s charging port. These items are “gentle, nonabrasive, and most importantly, dry,” so they won’t damage the iPhone’s internal components, he says. Spraying the charging port with a can of compressed air—you know, the stuff you use to clean your computer—is another expert-approved trick to get it clean.

What you should not use

While blowing sharply into the charging port may be your first instinct, it might do more harm than good. Wet, hot air from your mouth isn’t safe for the port and its points of contact.

Beware of putting chemicals, cleaning supplies, or sharp objects like pins or metal rods into your iPhone’s charging port too. Doing so could damage the internal machinery, made up of tiny metal lines, experts say. If the contact points are damaged, the charger won’t work regardless of how much you clean it.

How to clean your iPhone charging port

iphone near can of compressed airMae Lander/rd.com

Try compressed air

Using compressed air is your best bet to clean an iPhone charging port, so experts recommend trying this method first.

  1. Turn off your iPhone by going to Settings > General > Shut Down.
  2. Hold the can of compressed air upright and point it at the port, being careful not to stick the nozzle in the port or hold it too close to the port itself.
  3. Press down on the nozzle and spray the air in brief, light bursts.
  4. Wait a few seconds after the last burst, then reinsert the Lightning connector into the port.
  5. Turn your phone back on to see if it will charge.

iphone next to q-tip cotton swab with one end of the swab rolled to create a pointMae Lander/rd.com

Try cotton or paper

If your iPhone still won’t charge, you can try using a toothpick, cotton, or paper product to gently dig the dirt out. This method is simple, but it’s slightly riskier because you can potentially scrape and damage the sensitive touch points inside the port, according to Stewart McGrenary, managing director of iPad-Recycle. “Don’t be too aggressive,” he says. “Try and find places where the dirt has possibly built up and remove it, even if you knock any dirt loose and then shake your phone afterward.”

  1. Turn off your iPhone by going to Settings > General > Shut Down.
  2. Grab a small toothpick, or roll a paper or cotton product into a small tip.
  3. Carefully insert the tip into the port and jiggle it to loosen dirt or debris.
  4. Give the port another burst of compressed air to help remove anything you’ve loosened.
  5. Reinsert the Lightning connector into the port and turn the phone back on.

These two options will likely help clean your port and get you back to charging again. If your iPhone still doesn’t charge, consider making an appointment with Apple’s Genius Bar to get professional help.

How to get water out of your charging port

First off: How do you know if there’s water in your charging port? Your phone will tell you. When you plug in your iPhone to charge, an alert might pop up saying there is liquid detected in the Lightning port or cable. Charging will stop completely until the Lightning port and cable are dry.

To remove liquid from your charging port, Apple recommends unplugging all cables and accessories and tapping your iPhone gently against your hand with the Lightning connector facing down.

How to dry out your charging port

Leave your iPhone in a clean, dry area that allows airflow. It might take up to 24 hours for your iPhone to fully dry, according to Apple. Do not dry your iPhone using an external heat source, compressed air, or bag of rice, which could cause permanent damage to the phone. These tricks could save your wet iPhone too.

How to keep it clean

Now that you know how to clean an iPhone charging port, it’s time for upkeep. Periodically cleaning it with the methods above can prevent a buildup of dirt and dust. You can’t protect the port from daily wear and tear, but cleaning it regularly will help you avoid that dreaded “iPhone not charging” error, Manuel says.

Sources:

Brooke Nelson
Brooke is a tech and consumer products writer covering the latest in digital trends, product reviews, security and privacy, and other news and features for RD.com.