Your guide to cleaning the charging ports on your iPhone and Android devices.

If you’ve owned a smartphone long enough one thing will inevitably happen: your phone’s ports will begin to get clogged with lint and dirt and god knows what. Most of the time this will go unnoticed until it begins to cause significant problems.

This, of course, isn’t a problem limited to iPhones. It happens on Android phones with their USB-C ports all the time too. Dust and lint just love to collect deep in our smartphones’ ports. Thankfully, there are some easy at-home solutions you can use to clean your smartphone’s ports. Here’s how to do it.

A Word Of WARNING – Proceed At Your Own Risk

How To Clean Your Smartphone’s Lightning & USB-C PortsPin

A quick word of warning first: if you clean your ports too aggressively you can damage the port itself, which could result in a non-functioning phone. The advice outlined in this article is for your informational purposes only and you accept all risk in following these instructions.

If you’re too aggressive in your cleaning you can damage the delicate connections inside the Lightning and USB-C ports – so proceed cautiously and at your own risk. If you have any doubts, it’s best to take your phone to a professional to have its port cleaned.

And one more rule: ALWAYS turn your phone off before you attempt to clean its ports.

Accept all that? Good.

Here are the ways to clean your various ports…

How To Clean The Lightning Port On iPhone & iPad

This first bit of advice actually came from an Apple Genius that once showed me what was really wrong with my Lightning port – it was clogged with lint.

The first step is to inspect the port with a flashlight. If you look closely you’ll be able to see if there’s any buildup of lint or debris in the port. If you can see debris the next step you want to take is to find a thin poker you can stick in the port to scoop it out.

How To Clean Your Smartphone’s Lightning & USB-C PortsPin

Plenty of places recommend using a toothpick. It’s thin and not too strong, so unlikely to cause damage (just be careful it doesn’t break off inside your port!).

The Apple Genius said to work the toothpick into the Lightning port at an angle and gently scrape the lint out. You’ll see it fall out in clumps–and be aware that there will probably be more packed inside than you expect.

After you are done, plug in your Lightning cable. You should immediately notice that there is now a much firmer connection between cable and port than there’s been in a long time.

How To Clean The USB-C Port On Your Android

You can follow the toothpick method for Lightning ports above to clean your Android’s USB-C port as well, but many people don’t recommend that as your first option.

Why? Because the internals of a USB-C port have more delicate connectors that can easily bend or snap off under too much pressure. So it’s best to try the most non-invasive approach first.

How To Clean Your Smartphone’s Lightning & USB-C PortsPin

Many people’s favorite non-invasive approach is the trusty can of compressed air. You can pick up a can of compressed air at any hardware store. But before you go all gung-ho and shoot 40 PSI’s of pressure into your USB-C port, make sure you give the can of compressed air a quick release, in other words: blow some of the compressed air out into the space around you.

This will knock off any condensation that has built up in the nozzle. Condensation, of course, is water–and you don’t want that anywhere near your USB-C port.

Next, start with short bursts of compressed air into the port. Make sure the nozzle isn’t too close to the port – give it some distance. The bursts should be 1-2 second bursts. Do them at an angle so the lint has room to move around and fall out. After 2-3 bursts, all the lint should be free.

Shine a flashlight in to make sure and plug in your USB-C cable to test to see if you’ve got a firm connection again.

If the compressed air doesn’t get all the lint out, then it might be worth trying the toothpick trick above. Just remember: be very very gentle poking around a USB-C port so you don’t damage the fragile connectors inside.

Also, be sure to try this if your iPhone microphone is not working.

Also, check out Does The Apple Watch Have USB-C? And Do Apple iPads Have USB-C?