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How to Clean an iPhone Charging Port

a person holding a phone and putting charger in the port

Your iPhone is plugged into a power source, but it’s not charging or only charging intermittently. You’ve tried different outlets and chargers, but still nothing. You’ve tried different outlets and chargers, but still nothing. If that’s happened to you, the fix might be as simple as cleaning the iPhone charging port. This issue can happen with the older lightning cables as well as USB-C cables, which is what newer Apple iPhones like the iPhone 15 use. 

The best solution, hands down, is to take your cell phone to your local wireless carrier and let them know what’s going on. Professional help is the safest way to fix your phone’s charging port without risking accidentally doing more damage. In most cases, local phone retailers have the tools to fix your cell phone's charging port safely and for free. But if you don’t have a wireless store near you, it might be tempting to look into ways to fix your charging port at home by yourself.

While there are some DIY solutions to clean your iPhone charging port without taking it to a retailer – and we’ll go through them here – we want to stress that you need to be very gentle if you’re going to clean it yourself. The last thing you want to do is break or damage your iPhone.

What if cleaning it doesn’t work, and you still can’t get your phone to charge? Check out our, "Why Is My Phone Not Charging?" article for other common charging causes. Still no juice? It may be time for a new phone. Our free, unbiased Phone Deal Finder below can help you find the best phone deals on new iPhones.

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Before we get to that point, here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning your iPhone charging port. 

How to Clean iPhone Charging Port With a Toothpick

Toothpicks are easy to find and provide a good tool to clean out your iPhone charging port. Many people successfully use this method with a light touch to clean out their ports. To do this, you’ll need a toothpick and a flashlight or bright lighting.

A reminder before you go any further: be very gentle in this process. The last thing you want to do is break the toothpick off inside and damage the phone.

Here are the steps to clean your iPhone charging port with a toothpick:

  1. Press the power button until your phone is turned off. 
  2. Position yourself under a bright light or use a flashlight to give you a full view of the port. See if there’s anything visible blocking the port.
  3. Take your toothpick and very gently move it from side to side inside the charging port, then in a circular motion, to dislodge any debris. Check the port again under your light and repeat the process.
  4. Turn your phone back on and see if it charges correctly.

A note of warning: if you don’t have any toothpicks to hand, you might be tempted to use a safety pin or an earring back to accomplish the same thing. However, you should avoid doing this at all costs. Never use anything metallic to clean your charging port. You can damage the delicate pins inside the charging port – and that will be much more expensive to fix than simply removing debris. 

However, there are some alternatives to cleaning your charging port even without toothpicks. Let’s get into them.

How to Clean iPhone Charging Port Without Toothpick

What if you don’t have a toothpick? Some people online report that using compressed air offers a good alternative to a toothpick; many people say it’s the best way to remove common types of debris like sand, lint, and dirt from iPhone charging ports. 

We should note that Apple warns people not to use compressed air as it can push debris further in. If you’re nervous about damaging the cell phone, remember your best bet is to visit your local retailer.

You can also use a soft, new toothbrush as an alternative to a toothpick or compressed air. Use a similar method with a toothpick – brushing lightly up and down and then in a circular motion over the port.

You can also find iPhone port cleaning kits for sale online. However, it’s notable that the Apple store does not sell or recommend these kits, so read reviews and follow the directions to avoid damaging your phone.

What to Avoid When Cleaning Your iPhone Charging Port

A quick search will bring up many articles and recommendations from different sources online. But be very careful where you get advice on cleaning your iPhone port. Remember, if you break your cell phone trying to clean it, you’ll have to pay for expensive repairs, or even need to purchase a new one.

We’ve seen people recommend all sorts of methods that can actually be dangerous to your phone. Some directions don’t make it clear how delicate the device is, causing people to be too harsh with their attempts to clean it.

Here are some of the top things to avoid:

  • Rushing or using too much force: You don’t want to apply too much pressure or accidentally dislodge or damage something.
  • Using any metal tool: As we mentioned, avoid metal objects like safety pins, paper clips, even small tools made to repair glasses. Because of the size, these seem like good alternatives, but metal can damage your device.
  • Q-tips or wrapping cotton around your toothpick: We’ve seen this recommendation a ton, but the cotton swab can snag inside the device, causing more damage and clogging up your port.
  • Rubbing alcohol: Alcohol wipes, cleaning agents, or household items should not be used on your phone port. Even on water-resistant phones, any type of moisture should be avoided, according to Apple support as well as the latest advice from device manufacturers like Samsung.

We know we’re really driving the point home here, but while a dysfunctional charging port is an annoying issue to deal with, it’s much better than the alternative of accidentally doing more damage to your cell phone while trying to clean it. If you bring a cell phone with obvious damage to the charging port into a manufacturer, it's  easy for them to say it's your fault, not theirs, if your phone doesn't charge. In this case, the issue won't likely be covered by a warranty or insurance.

How Did Your iPhone Charging Port Get So Dirty?

We use our phones daily – scrolling on them, putting them in pockets and bags, and laying them down on counters, desks, and tables everywhere we go.

Even if you clean your screen regularly, you probably aren’t cleaning the charging port. Dirt, grime, lint, and oil from your fingers can build up in the port and cause charging issues.

Once debris gets into your charger port, it can block the charging cable from connecting to fully charge your battery. This can cause a few issues with charging. Your device might take much longer to reach a full battery, or you might find that it only charges if the connector is at a certain angle. Maybe you have to readjust it several times to get it to start taking a charge. In the worst-case scenario, it won’t charge at all.

Do I Need to Clean My iPhone Charging Port?

You may never have had an issue with your charger. Is there really a reason to clean your port if there’s no issue?

The short answer is – no. It’s a risky process if you’re doing it at home, and if your phone seems to be charging appropriately, it’s better to avoid putting things inside your charging port. But, to avoid a charging issue, it’s a good idea to check your port visually every once in a while to see if there’s debris building up. Make a habit of looking at it closely under a flashlight or bright light when you clean the screen.

You do not need to actively clean it if you do not notice a charging issue or visually see debris.

The Bottom Line

A charging issue is not necessarily the death knell of your beloved iPhone. Using these tips or bringing it to your local retailer for a good cleaning can help you fix the charging issue and extend the life of your phone.

In some cases, a charging issue indicates that it’s time to replace your iPhone.

If it’s time for you to upgrade or replace your current cell phone, our free and unbiased Phone Deal Finder can help you find and compare the best iPhones deals you qualify for at your current carrier and other top wireless providers in no time.

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