New Charge Port? Try Cleaning it Instead

qhphones iPhone Questions 2 Comments

More than half of the phones that come in for a charge port replacement need only a cleaning. You can do it yourself in just a few minutes!

Short Version: Pocket lint and debris can accumulate in your lightning port and headphone jack. TURN OFF YOUR PHONE. Using a toothpick, gently clean the inside of the jacks; you’d be amazed at how much lint gets in there. You can also use a cotton swab, but definitely don’t use metal for cleaning. While the ports are not as delicate as they might seem, too much pressure could cause damage. A small flashlight and magnifying glass will help out a lot.

Using a little Isopropyl Alcohol (91%) with the toothpick or swab can add a finishing touch to the process. Be sure to let any moisture evaporate!

Long version, slightly edited: (Original article here)

iPhone Not Charging! Lightning Port Problems! Five minute Fix

By Elizabeth Jones

Is your iPhone not charging? When I recently discovered that happening with my beloved iPhone, it wasn’t a challenge; it was a crisis!  And it needed immediate attention.  I mean NOW.

If you are anything like me, you use your iDevice all the time. My iPhone (and often my iPad) pretty much goes wherever I am, traveling around in purses, pockets, various bags and jackets, and of course in my hands.  It gets quite a workout!

But all that travel comes at a price.  And our iDevices, like many things, fall apart and start showing signs of wear and tear.  One of the most frequent issues we hear about at Apple ToolBox are problems with iDevices, and most particularly, iPhones not charging via the lightning port.

Lightning Port

The Story

If you are one of the unlucky iFolks who experience problems charging your iPhone, iPad, or other iDevice using your lightning cable, you are not alone.  In fact, I recently experienced this issue myself after a long weekend trip to Vegas with my girlfriends, my iPhone, and a lot of all nighters.

Let’s just say what happens in Vegas better darn stay in Vegas.  My iPhone certainly had its share of fun, being passed around from person to person and pocket to pocket for selfies and other snapshots that I just might NOT want to remember.  Anyway, after getting home, I immediately plugged in my iPhone for its recharge while I took a long nap for my recharge.  Upon waking up, I quickly discovered that my iPhone would not wake up because it wasn’t charged at all even after 5+ hours plugged into the wall.  What the heck?

Well, it turns out that all those late night activities led to a very dirty lightning port on my iPhone.  So when I plugged the charger into the iPhone, contact was just not happening between the cable and the lighting port. And when there’s no contact, there’s no charging.

The Symptoms of iPhone Not Charging

For me, my iPhone simply wouldn’t charge at all.  But other readers report that their iPhones or iDevices connect intermittently–sometimes charge, sometimes don’t charge, and occasionally even show it’s charging when it’s not really charging at all.  iFolks who have this issue frequently get the authentic cable message appearing on their iDevices when plugging in.

Still others face progressively worse problems when plugging into the lightning port for charging.  At first, they might have success by wiggling the cable inside the port.  Others find that placing the iDevice and the cable at certain angles gets them a connection.  In short, iFolks use a variety of creative messing around maneuvers that help but usually are very temporary, oftentimes working only one time. Any way you slice it, it’s maddening and frustrating when your iPhone or iDevice won’t charge!

The Solution(s) for iPhone Not Charging

So if like me, your iPhone is not taking a charge there are a few things to do before you chuck the thing out the window (or worse, pay for a visit or replacement part with Apple Support.)  For most of us, charging problems result from a blockage in the lighting port.  Like the now defunct headphone jack, the lightning port tends to collect lint, dust, and other debris from your pocket, handbag, or wherever you store it.

And it’s usually not very obvious.  The lightning port is pretty darn small and with the naked eye doesn’t look like much more than a dark hole.  So things often block our port without us even realizing it, until the inevitable arrives and our iDevices won’t charge.

Another common reason is the slight corrosion that occurs on the contacts from everyday exposure to moisture (it’s in the air– so not much you can do about that.)  All air contains moisture– some climates more and some climates less, commonly referred to as humidity or water vapor.  Anyway, over time this moisture leads to a thin layer of corrosion on metal surfaces, including the contacts of our iDevice’s lightning port.

The good news is that the lighting port is pretty easy to clean.  Just make sure you proceed carefully and use the right tools and techniques.

Proceed With Caution

Before you evoke your inner Mr. Clean, perform a quick checklist on the condition of your charger.  Make sure your lightning cable isn’t frayed, kinked, or even chewed through.  If it is, replace with a new cable and see if this solves your charging problems.

And if available, try a different charging cable.  For best results, make sure that your lightning cables are Apple certified. These certified cables work best with your Apple products.

If you are charging via your computer, try charging [instead] with the charger plugged into the wall and see if your iPhone or other iDevices charges up. Sometimes the USB ports on our computers lack the power to fully charge our iDevices.

Finally, try another charger and see if the problem is your charger unit.  If you don’t have an additional charger, ask a family member, friend, neighbor, or even visit an apple store or reseller.

Cleaning Your Lighting Port

First, the obvious but must-be-said statement: turn off your iPhone before you start any of the cleaning steps below!  And be mindful that when you plug the male connecter into the lightning port, lint or dust may get compacted at the back. So even though you might not see anything inside the lightning port, the chances are that there’s dirt and lint caked and compacted in the back.

For Suspected Corrosion

  • Unplug then re-plug lightning cable repeatedly (at least 7-8 times)
    • polishes the corrosion off
  • Use an electrical contact cleaner
    • Removes oil, dirt, and corrosion
    • Spray onto a Q-Tip and then insert Q-Tip gently into lightning port or clean the cable plug first and then insert the cleaned plug into the socket and move it around to clean your iDevice’s port
      • Do NOT spray [contact cleaner] directly into lightning port
        • Pressure from electronic contact cleaners may cause damage to nearby parts (such as mics)
    • Clean all contacts, on cable and on iDevice
    • Allow [a few minutes] before using (at least 30 seconds)

For Dust, Dirt, and Debris

  1. Scrape the inside of the port with a plastic or wooden toothpick, an unused nylon bristled makeup brush, or something similar
    1. Removes most of your fat clumps of lint, debris, and dust
    2. If possible, shave a wooden toothpick down slightly with a sharp knife so that it’s very thin
  2. Check deep inside the port with a flashlight and magnifying glass if available
    1. Look for any dirt caked in the corners and in the bottom
      1.  If corners or bottom are still dirty, use a paperclip or other strong probe (like dental flossers or interdental brushes) and carefully scrape the dirt to dislodge and remove it
  3. Spray your lightning port with some canned compressed air
  4. Use a Q-Tip dipped in rubbing alcohol and insert it into the port
    1.  Gently clean inside the port
  5. Place some surgical gauze or a piece of a screen cleaning wipe over the port and pushed it in using the lightning cable head
    1. The gauze or wipe traps the dirt and grime clogging the port’s insides

Remember always to allow a minute or two for the port to dry, when using canned air or rubbing alcohol. These are designed to evaporate quickly, but best practice is to wait just a bit before returning to use.

After cleaning is complete, power on your iDevice, plug in your lightning cable and see if your device starts to charge.

For more cleaning tips, check out our article on fixing iPhones stuck in headphones mode.

Still Not Charging?

When your iPhone continues not to charge, verify that both the cable and charger work with another iDevice. If they do, perform a hard reset by holding down the home button or volume down button and pressing the power button letting go when the apple logo appears. In situations where your iPhone still won’t charge, clean again and perform another hard reset.

At times when you are still stuck with your iPhone not charging, check if you are currently enrolled in AppleCare and if so, contact Apple for support.  If not covered under AppleCare, consider a DYI repair and replacing the lightning connector yourself.

 Wrapping It Up

Discovering that our iDevices aren’t their usual selves is very frustrating.  Our iPhones are so much a part of us, they go where we go and help make our lives easier, richer, and hopefully better. Plugging in and charging up is second nature.  We don’t even think about, except when we have to think about it i.e. when the darn thing isn’t working.

If you find that your iPhone or another iDevice just isn’t charging up or is showing a lot of intermittent charging behavior, the tips above hopefully got you and your iPhone or iDevice back on track.  Moving forward, try and give your iPhone a good clean now and then. So when you swipe clean all those fingerprints, pick up your cleaning tool of choice and give your lightning port a quick maintenance dusting. Think of it as preventative care.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure– or in the case of our iDevices many British Pound Sterling £ (or Egyptian, Lebanese, or your country of choice Pounds) of Apple Care.

Luckily, in most cases, the solution is to clean the connections on both the iPhone port and the charging cable. It’s that simple!

Comments 2

  1. This blog very helpful. SO please keep posting on Social media also. This will help us to learn about new trends and technologies in Social media platforms.

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