Pull Your iPhone From Your Pocket - Now It Won’t Charge - Here’s Why

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With luck, you can avoid this!

Have you ever plugged your iPhone into the charger and found, to your dismay, no reassuring "doink" and lighting bolt indicator in the top right menu bar? A trip to the Apple store may not be necessary if a rather amusing thing has happened. I might have a quick fix.


Here at The Mac Observer we have had several encounters with the mysterious "It won't charge!" effect. It even happened to an office worker I was talking to a few weeks ago.

Here's what can happen.

If you are in the habit of placing your iPhone in a pants or shirt pocket repeatedly and that pocket has accumulated pocket lint, that lint can be pressed into the rather small Lighting connector socket on the iPhone. That creates an insulator that prevents good electrical contact with the charger cable when inserted.


1. Good. Try some canned air and see if you can blow the lint out. This may or may not work because that opening is so small.

2. Best. There are special tweezers, (US$5) that just happen to fit into that port. Check with a flashlight first, then use these tweezers to pull out the lint you see.

iFixit Tweezers

If that doesn't work, you may have some really hard to remove debris in there.  (Or the connector may have failed. Also, check to make sure your charger works with another device.) If so, then it's off to your local Apple retail store or Apple authorized repair center.


To make sure that this lint effect doesn't happen in the future, insert your iPhone head first into your pocket. That has the added advantage of revealing the 3.5 mm headphone jack. (And you thought it was a crazy move by Apple to move the 3.5 mm jack from the bottom to the top of modern iPhones.)

With these tools and techniques, your iPhone will always be ready to nourish itself. Doink!

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Laurie Fleming

Something similar happened to me. I was digging in the garden and my phone dropped out of my pocket into the soil. I shook all the soil out of the connector slot. Later on I plugged the phone in to charge, and in the morning it was flat.

On investigation, there was a very thin layer of fine dust in the slot, which was acting as a similar insulator.

Not having tweezers or compressed air, I used my lungs and blew it out, and everything was fine again.

Lesson learnt: don’t do the gardening.


Nice catch. I’d have never of thought of it. One thing I’d like to make clear. The tweezers you showed are ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) Safe. That means they are insulated so they won’t jump a spark into the Lightning connector and from there into the delicate internals of your phone. Do Not use regular cosmetic or first aid uninsulated stainless steel tweezers.

Blowing will work, but I’ve also seen more than a few people inadvertently replace the dust in a connector or socket with a gob of spit, with nasty results when the system was powered up. (Myself included.)

I do however like your lesson about gardening.

John Martellaro

geoduck: Great point about the insulated tweezer tips. You can see that in the photo I included.


Interestingly, I had to make a trip to the Genius Desk two weeks ago for this problem. The Genius said it happens a lot. He used an otoscope to look into the port and used a toothpick to pry out the lint.
Also, I have ALWAYS put my iPhone into my pocket head first. The otoscope is on my Christmas list.


Laurie! Nice to (virtually) see you again!


Putting it in head first doesn’t work.  I’m always in that habit (but not for that reason), and it still happens.  Probably not as safe, but I use a wooden toothpick in a pinch.

Lee Dronick

I had this happen back in the iPod days.

Hmmm, could Apple use a charger connection similar to the  Watch?

Jak Keyser

Another advantage of putting your phone in your pocket headfirst is that your keys won’t accidentally trigger Siri by pressing against the home button. Just remember to pull the phone out by a corner and not by the middle where once again you could press the home button and get Siri.

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