How to Clean Your iPhone's Charging Port

Phone not charging? It might need a good scrub

If your iPhone won't charge or only charges when it's plugged into a specific charging cable, car charger, or external charging brick, you may be able to resolve the problem by cleaning the charging/lightning port. Use canned air, a mini vac, a Post-It Note, a toothpick, or some combination of these common tools to effect a do-it-yourself repair.

Take Your Phone to a Professional

The safest way to clean an iPhone charging port is to take it to a professional. They have the tools and know-how to clean the port without harming it. They'll likely use a small amount of canned air, a tiny vacuum, or another professional cleaning tool to remove the debris gently.

Here are a few places to try. In some cases, these merchants perform the task for free:

  • Apple Store
  • Watch repair shop
  • Jeweler
  • Battery store
  • iPhone screen repair shop

Use Compressed Air and a Mini Vac

If you don't have access to a professional, you might be able to do the job yourself using canned or compressed air. Apple says not to use compressed air, so you have to make a judgment call here. Some people say compressed air works just fine. If you choose to use compressed air, spray a little at a time, be patient, and don't empty the entire can of air into the port. Too much air can damage the phone.

Technician using compressed air to clean a mobile device.
ronstik / Getty Images

You can also use a hand-held vacuum like a mini vac or a dust buster. It might be possible to draw the lint out by positioning the vacuum next to the charging port if the debris is already loose.

If some of the debris is loose, but you can't get it out with a vacuum, use a Post-it Note. Cut the note into strips, making each strip narrower than the port. Use the sticky side to reach in, connect with the loose debris, and remove it.

Use a Toothpick

Using a toothpick is a popular method to clean an iPhone charging port, but you should only use a toothpick as a last resort. That's because the charging port contains sets of pins, and those pins are fragile. If you stick a toothpick (or paper clip or thumbtack) into this port, you could damage those pins. Once the pins are damaged, the only option is to replace the port.

Toothpicks on a dark background
Klaus-Dieter Thill / Getty Images

To clean the port with a toothpick:

  1. Hold the phone with one hand and the toothpick in another.

  2. Gently insert the toothpick into the port.

  3. Move the toothpick around while imagining a line of debris sitting on top of a set of very delicate pins.

  4. Gently blow into the port to scatter the debris.

  5. Repeat as needed, and test the port between tries.

What Clogs a Charging Port?

Because the charging port is located at the bottom of the iPhone and is open to the elements, it can collect lint, dirt, and other debris from anywhere, including a backpack or shirt pocket. It can get dirty from sitting on a picnic table in the park on a windy day; it can get clogged with dust from your home. There are a thousand things that could gunk it up. If you could look inside a clogged port, you'd see a wall of debris.

This debris, no matter what it is, collects on the pins inside the iPhone port. It's those pins that make the connection to the charging cable. If there's not a good connection, the phone won't charge. Cleaning this port releases that debris so that you can charge the phone.

Was this page helpful?