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How to clean an iPhone’s charging port without breaking it

iPhone charging port
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

It’s your worst nightmare when you’ve only got 5% battery life, so you plug in your iPhone charger and — nothing. That moment of panic has hit most of us at least once and always leads to the rapid fire of worst case scenario questions: what if this is it? Do I need to download anything before it dies? Do I need a new phone? Before you take action, it might just be that your charging port needs to be cleaned. This is a delicate process, but it can easily be done at home. We'll walk you through how to clean your iPhone's charging port.  

Why is my iPhone's charging port dirty? 

You might question how so much gunk has actually built up in your charging port in the first place. It’s not surprising really when you consider that most of us carry our phones around in our pockets and bags.  

What you will need

Flashlight

Toothpicks  

Compressed air (optional) 

Here, there’s all sorts of lint and debris that can get caught up in the recesses. Every time you plug in your charger, this dust also gets pushed further into the port and so it will inevitably build up.  

How to clean your iPhone's charging port

 

1. First things first, switch off your iPhone if you haven’t already done so. 

2. Next, grab a flashlight and have a look at what you’re dealing with. It’s a good idea to do this after each step as well so you can see your progress. 

3. Apple doesn’t recommend using compressed air to clean iPhones. However this is a well-known, successful method, so we’ve given directions for those who choose to use it. Using a can of compressed air, such as Falcon Dust, hold it upright and give the port a few short blasts to clear away any immediate dust. Try plugging in your iPhone afterwards to see if this has fixed the problem. If not, move onto the next step.

4. You can try to dislodge any visible debris using a toothpick, but you must do so very carefully as the charging point is easily susceptible to damage. Some sites recommend wrapping a toothpick in cotton, but this can potentially add to the debris in the port, so we suggest sticking to the toothpick. 

Very gently, insert the toothpick loosely and move it from side to side to see if it picks up any immediate debris. Don’t put pressure on it at this point. If you notice debris on the toothpick, wipe it off with a dry cloth or use a fresh toothpick to continue. Continue to try plugging in the phone between movements to see if you’ve fixed the problem. 

Toothpick in iPhone charging port

(Image credit: Future)

5. If there’s still no response, gently scrape the toothpick against the port’s walls, again regularly checking the toothpick for gunk. It is essential that you only exert a very light pressure on the port as it’s so easily damaged. Stay away from the sides of the port as well, as the anchors are particularly sensitive.

6. If you’ve opted to use compressed air, you can also give the port a couple of blasts between toothpick insertions. You shouldn’t insert anything other than a toothpick as metal tools will cause damage and result in the whole port needing replacing — not ideal.

7. You can continue this cycle of cleaning until the iPhone responds. If there’s no luck, you will need to take it to an Apple service center. 

Katie Mortram

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed kitchen appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be stand mixers as she loves to bake in her spare time.