Why You Should Regularly Clean Your Phone’s USB-C Port (and How to Do It)

A smartphone's USB-C port and a charging cable.
Alexander_Evgenyevich/Shutterstock.com

When’s the last time you cleaned your phone’s USB-C port? These ports are constantly exposed to dust, lint, and dirt that can permanently damage your phone or reduce charging performance. Here’s why you need to regularly clean your phone’s USB-C port, plus some steps to get the job done.

Your Phone Wants to Destroy Itself

Charging ports are incredibly vulnerable to dust, dirt, and grime. Small debris can prevent charging cables from making full contact with ports, and in some cases, tiny particles can even scratch or bend the electronics that facilitate charging.

Unfortunately, phones are constantly exposed to small particles. Even if you keep your phone away from the beach, it still encounters things like lint, sand, dirt, and other gunk when it’s in your pocket or bag.

These small particles need to be cleared from your phone’s port often; otherwise, it may break or stop charging normally. You may also feel a crunching sensation when sticking a cable in your phone, which is a sure sign that something’s getting scratched or bent.

Even if you don’t see a cartoonish lump of lint sticking out of your phone’s USB-C port, it’s time to clean the dang thing. So, without further ado, let’s get to it!

Alright, Let’s Get to Cleaning!

A hand holding can of air duster.
arnet117/Shutterstock.com

Cleaning your phone’s USB-C port is easier than you might expect. That said, we’re not going to use the patented isopropyl alcohol and toothbrush combination for this job. That kind of heavy-duty work isn’t necessary here, and alcohol could hurt your phone if its port is already damaged. As for the toothbrush, it might leave plastic bristles in your phone.

And for the love of all that is holy, don’t stick bobby pins or other pieces of metal in any of your phone’s holes. You’ll just scratch up the connectors.

Here are four easy steps to safely clean your phone’s USB-C port:

  1. Assess the Mess: Before you start anything, get a bright flashlight to look in your phone’s USB-C port. After all, it’s hard to clean what you can’t see!
  2. Start with Compressed Air: Canned air or a canless air duster can get most of the lint and debris out of your phone’s USB-C port. Just remember to spray in short bursts and hold the can upright to avoid getting a bunch of cold liquid all over your phone. (Also, don’t blow in your phone with your mouth. You’ll fill it with moisture.)
  3. Use a Plastic Toothpick for Stubborn Debris: Don’t even try to stick cotton swabs or metal objects in your phone’s USB-C port. Instead, use the “toothpick” end of a plastic flosser to dig any stubborn debris out of your phone. Please be gentle doing this—don’t bend the connector inside your port!
  4. Finish with Compressed Air: If you dislodge any large debris from your USB-C port with a plastic flosser, be sure to finish the job with compressed air. There may be some lint or dust you missed.

Your phone’s USB-C port should be clean now. If the port still feels crunchy when you plug in a cable, you may want to repeat the cleaning process or check that your charging cable isn’t dirty.

Did your phone have trouble charging before you cleaned it? If it’s still having trouble, I suggest visiting a repair professional. The port’s connector may be tarnished or bent and in need of repair or replacement.

Falcon Dust, Off Compressed Gas (152a) Disposable Cleaning Duster, 1, Count, 3.5 oz Can (DPSJB),Black

Everyone should own a can of compressed air. You can use it to clean your phone, your laptop, your keyboard, and any number of electronics in your home.

Canless Air - The O2 Hurricane 220+ MPH Compressed Air Special Edition - Electronics Cleaner 2020 Version- The Original Cordless Duster and ONLY ONE Made in The USA

On the other hand, canned air isn't great for the environment. It can also get costly if you're constantly cleaning electronics. My suggestion? Buy a canless air compressor.

DenTek Triple Clean Advanced Clean Floss Picks, No Break & No Shred Floss, 150 Count

These soft plastic flossers are perfect for fishing clumps of nastiness out of your phone. Oh, you can also use them to clean your teeth! Neato!

How to Keep Your Port Clean In the Future

A photo of a phone's USB-C port and a charging cable
Only_NewPhoto/Shutterstock.com

You should regularly clean your phone’s USB-C port to prevent dust, lint, and other debris from piling up. But let’s be honest, you don’t really want to clean a charging port every few weeks. That’s why you should build some simple habits to keep the crap out of your phone’s port—I swear it’s easy!

Here are some easy things you can do to keep your phone USB-C port clean:

  • Wash Your Clothes: The insides of your pockets shouldn’t be full of lint, dirt, sand, or small pieces of disintegrated trash. Empty out those pockets and turn your pants inside-out when you wash them. Also, make sure to clean the lint trap every time you use a clothes dryer—otherwise, it won’t trap lint! (Lint buildup also makes dryers less efficient and can start fires.)
  • Clean Your Purse or Bag: Are you carrying lint, sand, tissue fragments, or eyeliner pencil dust in your bag? Give it a good cleaning, or at the very least, empty its contents and give it a shake-down outside. You can also use a lint roller or folded piece of tape to extract stubborn debris.
  • Use a Charging Port Dust Cover: I suggest buying some charging port dust covers for your phone. You can use these covers every day, but for what it’s worth, I only use them when I go to the beach.
  • Try a Magnetic Phone Charger: Magnetic charging cables are pretty neat. Basically, you leave a magnet in your phone’s USB-C port, and when it’s time to charge, you just connect the magnet to a cable. Because your USB-C port is covered by the magnet, it won’t fill with dirt or lint.

Your phone should find itself around a lot less dirt and lint once you learn some of these habits. Of course, you’ll still need to clean your phone’s charging port every once in a while.

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is a writer for Review Geek and its sister site, How-To Geek. Like a jack-of-all-trades, he handles the writing and image editing for a mess of tech news articles, daily deals, product reviews, and complicated explainers. Read Full Bio »

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