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Most iPhones are now water and dust-resistant, but there’s one area that’s still susceptible to the elements: the charging port. Cleaning out your Lightning port can prevent or solve problems with charging, so it’s a good idea to check and clean it now and then.

Why You Should Do This

Even if you keep your iPhone in a case, the Lightning port is probably exposed much of the time. Keeping your phone in a pocket or bag will expose the port to lint and other debris. Plugging in your device to charge pushes anything in the port deeper, so it won’t necessarily fall out on its own.

iPhone XS Gold in a girl's jean pocket
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Over time, repeating this process can cause a lot of unwanted stuff to build up in your charging port. As the contacts used to charge your iPhone are covered, you might find that your device has problems charging. You might need to wiggle the cable to get things working, or it may stop charging altogether.

If you take your iPhone to an Apple store and complain that it’s not charging properly, one of the first things the technicians will try is cleaning out your charging port. You should save yourself the bother and periodically clean out the port ahead of time before problems occur.

How to Clean Your iPhone’s Charging Port

We’ve seen Apple’s technicians go to town on a Lightning port first-hand, but you should be careful since there’s a risk you could damage the contacts. Causing damage may result in an iPhone that won’t charge properly again, and a repair could be expensive.

It’s best to avoid metal objects that could cause damage in favor of a wooden toothpick. The key here is to not use too much pressure that you risk breaking the toothpick, which could potentially cause it to become stuck. You want to avoid bending the contacts, ideally avoiding them altogether.

Grab a light source and peer into the port before you start to get an idea of how dirty it is. Take your wooden toothpick and insert it, then run it along the walls of the port. Avoid touching the anchors on the side that keep your cable in place. Remove the toothpick and take off anything that comes out, then repeat. Keep going until the port looks clean and nothing else is coming out.

Cleaning an iPhone's Lightning port with a toothpick
Tim Brookes / How-To Geek

Apple doesn’t recommend using compressed (canned) air to clean the iPhone. You should also avoid using a cotton swab or anything that may introduce more lint or fiber into the port. Save your cotton swabs for dipping into isopropyl alcohol when you want to fully disinfect the exterior of your iPhone.

iPhone Still Not Charging?

Test your iPhone by plugging in a Lightning cable. If your iPhone still isn’t charging properly, consider replacing the Lightning cable or power adapter. Test the cable and power adapter with a different device to ensure that they aren’t to blame.

If you’re still having trouble, it’s probably time to book your iPhone in for a repair. If your device is still under warranty or covered by AppleCare+ (which you can check in your iPhone’s settings), make an appointment with Apple to have the device serviced.

If your device is out of warranty you may still want to stick with Apple for peace of mind, but be aware that you have other options when it comes to repairing your iPhone including third parties who will offer a cheaper service. Most repair shops (including Apple) will give you an accurate quote so you can decide whether or not it’s worth repairing your device or buying a new iPhone.

The Best Lightning Cables of 2022

Best Lightning Cable Overall
Anker New Nylon USB-C to Lightning Charging Cable
Best Budget Lightning Cable
Amazon Basics Nylon USB-A to Lightning Cable
Best Long Lightning Cable
Native Union Belt Cable XL USB-C to Lightning Cable
Best Short Lightning Cable
Anker Powerline II USB-C to Lightning Cable
Best USB-A to Lightning Cable
Anker Powerline+ II Lightning Cable
Best HDMI to Lightning Cable
Apple Lightning to Digital AV Adapter
Best AUX to Lightning Cable
KINPS Aux to Lightning Cable
Best 3-in-1 Cable
Spigen DuraSync 3 in 1 Universal Charger Cable
Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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