How to clean your iPhone’s charging port

The charging port on the iPhone tends to be very dependable, even when other things go wrong. But over time, the charging port can get clogged, blocked, or otherwise compromised. To keep it working as it should — or to get it working again — you may need to clean out the port. We’ll go over the three best methods and what you need to know about using them.

Note: These methods obviously work for other mobile Apple products like iPads, although you may want to consider skipping down to option 3 for these larger devices.

Option 1: Use compressed air

iphone x lightning port
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

If possible, you should try cleaning your charging port without touching it or sticking anything inside. The port includes delicate contact points – tiny strips of metal – that the charging cable must dock into. If the contact points are damaged, then the charger won’t work at all, no matter how much you try to clean it. If the anchors on either side get damaged, they won’t be able to lock in your cable, which is another serious problem. The only solution after damage is to have the charging port replaced by a professional, which has costs in both time and money. So the first rule is to be extremely careful.

This also means that one of the best options for unclogging the iPhone port is to use a can of compressed air. Hold it fairly close to the port, but not too close and certainly don’t try to stick the nozzle inside (remember all those delicate parts). Spray the air in very short, light bursts. Resist the urge to blow into the port yourself: Wet, hot air from the human mouth won’t do the port and its contact points any favors. After you’ve blown a careful blast of air at the port, wait a few seconds, then try attaching your charging cable again and see if it is detected. If the air has dislodged dust or debris stuck in the port, then it should be working just fine again.

Option 2: Take your chances with a toothpick

Lightning Port

Sometimes, a can of air isn’t going to cut it. There may be grime built up in the port that air can’t take care of, or a particle lodged too firmly inside to be easily removed. In these cases, you can try digging around a little inside the charging port yourself. Again, all the dangers we just discussed still apply, so it’s important to be as careful as possible. A toothpick is actually a suitable tool to use for this, since the wood is softer and more flexible than plastic or wire.

With a toothpick in hand and your iPhone turned off, find a spot with great lighting, such as under a desk lamp. Lightly insert the tip of the toothpick into the charging port, and gently waggle it around. Avoid putting any pressure on the toothpick at first; if no particles or grime are coming free, you can exert the lightest of pressures for a soft scrape. Any more than that, and you risk damaging the port permanently.

Try to stay away from the sides of the port as you work to avoid damaging the anchors. If you notice that your toothpick is picking up some grime or knocking out debris, stop and switch to canned air if possible. Test your charging cable again to make sure it is working and that nothing is amiss.

Option 3: Just take it into a professional

apple store opens in kyoto japan trevor mogg dt 11
Trevor Mogg / DT

If you’re willing to make a trip and have a nearby Apple Store you can visit, this is the best option. An experienced employee will know how to clean out the charging port safely, and will have professional tools that are best able to do the job (like cute tiny vacuum cleaners). Best of all, an Apple Store should clean your port and get your iPhone working again for free, so there’s no worrying about expenses.

If you don’t have a nearby Apple Store, you can take your phone into any similar type of repair shop or business that specializes in mobile devices or equipment, and they will be able to help you out. Of course, there’s no guarantee someone else will do it for free, but when dealing with delicate components, your iPhone is typically better off in the hands of a professional even if you have to pay a fee for it.

Feeling annoyed at all these charger port issues? You could always switch to wireless charging, although a cable connection is usually necessary for any big data transfers.

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