How to clean your iPhone charging port

iPhone 14's charging port
(Image credit: Future)

Your iPhone's charging port is an absolute hive of scum and villainy, collecting all the very worst bits and bobs found in your pockets, rucksack, handbag, bed, and everything in between. Not only is an iPhone charger full of pocket fluff and dead skin kind of gross, but it can also impact your device's functionality, notably causing problems with charging and data transfer. 

If you're having problems charging your iPhone or connecting it to a Mac or PC, looking inside that charging port is a great place to start. If you do find a build-up of fluff, dirt, or anything else, here are some steps you can follow to carefully remove any dust, lint, and other unmentionables from the bottom of your iPhone, whether you're rocking an iPhone 7 or a brand-spanking new iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro

Just remember, poking around in your iPhone comes with peril, and if you happen to break or damage anything or make the problem worse, don't expect much sympathy from the Apple Genius Bar. Here's a quick rundown of how to clean your iPhone's charging port and some tools you can use.

How to clean your iPhone charging port

Firstly, here are some things not to do as per Apple's guidelines on cleaning your iPhone. 

Don't:

  • Use any moisture to clean your iPhone - getting water into the openings on your iPhone, even Apple's best iPhones which are waterproof, is never advisable. Deliberately putting water in its charging ports to clean it out will mean water is likely to mix with whatever dirt and grime is in your port to form some sort of primordial soup that is much harder to remove 
  • Submerge your iPhone in any cleaning agents - for the same reasons as above, submerging your iPhone in cleaning agents is a bad idea, and some such as those containing bleach or hydrogen peroxide can damage your iPhone
  • Clean your iPhone while it's on - while a mishap here is unlikely, Apple recommends unplugging all cables and switching off your iPhone before doing any cleaning

On to the how-to and some do's. You'll probably want to take a look inside your charging port with a flashlight or torch to see if you can spot what's going on inside. This may be enough to reveal any offending debris that needs to be tackled. 

Next, you need a fine but fairly blunt instrument to get in and try and agitate the debris, probably nothing metal or sharp, so a toothpick or paperclip might be ideal. While Apple does warn against using compressed air to clean an iPhone, this shouldn't cause any problems if used sparingly and can be a handy tool to complement your blunt-ish instrument. Otherwise, all you need is patience. 

  1. Check your iPhone's charging port using a flashlight - see if you can spot any specific pockets of dirt or debris you need to tackle.
  2. Start with your toothpick or paperclip - if your charging port has been clogged up for some time you will probably need to loosen things up to begin with.
  3. Side-to-side, not front-to-back - try and start at the edge of your charging port and work horizontally from left to right, if you just stick your toothpick in you might end up pushing dirt and debris deeper into the charging port, which you don't want to do.
  4. Don't put any pressure on the edges as you could risk damaging the contacts for the Lightning connector inside the port.
  5. Try to get your toothpick all the way in before moving left and right in a sort of "flicking" motion that will draw dirt out.
  6. This may be enough to clear whatever is blocking your charging port, but if not, a quick blast of compressed air may do the trick. But again aim for the edges rather than the center of the port. 
  7. If there's particularly stubborn dirt, it might be worth alternating between these until you see results. 

Cleaning the charging port

Cleaning the charging port (Image credit: iMore)

If for whatever reason you still can't dislodge the dirt and debris, or you've cleared out the port and are still having problems with your charging and data, then I'm afraid it's time to head on down to your local Apple store or authorized repair center, where more specialized tools can be found. 

In most cases though, the general build up of dust, fabric debris and general pocket gunk can be the root of what's clogging up a faulty charging port. A little patience and some simple, gentle poking should be enough to do the trick and get your iPhone back to full health.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9