My question pertains to cleaning a MicroUSB port on a dumb cell phone. I know this question has been answered here, but I have a question that is not discussed in that previous answer.

My MIL died a while back. Going through her stuff I found a dumb cell phone (slide out keyboard type). I'd like to donate it to a women's shelter. However, I can't get the charging cord in it. I used a toothpick to get out as much as I could, but there's still stuff in there.

Here's the thing: My MIL used to use a ton of hair spray and baby powder, and it would get all over. That's what I think got into the MicroUSB port and why I think it is so hard to clean out. I was thinking about maybe putting some rubbing alcohol or vinegar in a little spray bottle and spraying it in there to soften up what I think might be hardened in there.

Would this ruin the phone or the MicroUSB port? Do you think it would soften up what's in there to make it easier to clean out? If that is a bad idea, are there any other ideas about how to soften up the material accumulated in there?

Like I said, I have read the previous post about sharpened toothpicks and plastic from strawberry containers, etc. Like I said, this is not pocket lint and such. I think it's a combination of baby powder and hair spray that has hardened. I hate to throw out what is probably a perfectly usable phone that could be used to save a woman's life.

Suggestions are most welcome.

1 Answer 1


Don't ever use vinegar on electronics.

The 'right' stuff here is contact cleaner - but lets be honest here, not everyone who isn't an electronics enthusiast would have them lying around. Rubbing alcohol is fine in small quantities - and has the same ingredient as isopropyl alcohol (which is also used for cleaning electronics), but with more water.If its all gunked up a drop or two might work better than a spray.

You also want to use the plastic toothpicks

enter image description here

I used it on a USB port but they are thinner and the brushy end works well to scrape out dirt while the pointy end digs it out.

  • Contact cleaner isn't always the best solution – it can damage the plastic. I used it on my car's window switches, but within about a week, the plastic had weakened and broke from my finger pressure: new switch assembly needed. Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 18:17
  • There are less destructive contact cleaners these days. I once killed a Tom Scholz Rockman casing with the stuff [Servisol, if i remember rightly]. I now use WD-40 [contact cleaner not the lubricant] & have had no issues.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 17:50

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