Your iPhone is probably one of the dirtiest things you own. Most smartphones harbor more bacteria than found on the average toilet seat, in fact — so when possible, make sure you wash your hands after texting and before you eat. While you can’t see the millions of microorganisms likely swarming about on your phone, you probably will be able to see the detritus clogging up your iPhone speaker and reducing the quality of audio the phone produces.
Your Mom Called and Said Clean Those iPhone Speakers
With this in mind, should iPhone speakers be cleaned?
Periodically cleaning iPhone speakers is a good idea even if you aren’t experiencing reduced sound quality, as any bits of dust, food, skin cells, or other whatnot that find their way into the small speaker holes at the bottom of the phone or the grill atop its front can get jammed deeply into the speaker and become even harder to remove.
Just remember that if you’re experiencing audio issues with an iPhone, the problem is more than likely the software, not the hardware — turn it off and on again and you’ll usually be all set.
And note that you should never use liquids (or compressed air) when cleaning any part of an iPhone, especially models older than the 7, which are not water-resistant and have a 3.5 mm headphone jack that practically begs for water to get in there and ruin the phone.
But not to worry, in this guide, we are going to explore all the different ways in which you can effectively clean your iPhone speakers.
How To Clean Your iPhone Speakers
Before you even start to think about what equipment you might need or reach for anything that could damage your expensive smartphone, here are the things you absolutely should not do.
Don’t use any sharp objects to try to gouge out any gunk. I have frequently seen advice suggesting that you should use the sharp end of toothpicks, tweezers, and even paperclips to scrape your speaker grilles. Don’t.
Don’t use rubbing alcohol or any kind of liquid. While rubbing alcohol does evaporate more quickly than water, any kind of liquid and the innards of iPhones are not a good mix.
Don’t use canned, compressed air. While these products are useful for cleaning robust electronics, such as laptop keyboards, the force produced is too strong to be used on more delicate electronics. You could end up forcing the dirt further into the device.
The best way to remove bits of dirt and dust from the speaker on the front of the iPhone is to use a brush with soft bristles, ideally a small paintbrush. Consider trimming the bristles down to a half-inch length to give yourself better control.
Gently brush across the speaker from bottom to top, moving across the length of the long, thin speaker several times. Don’t drag the brush along the axis of the speaker. You can also work soft bristles into the speaker holes at the bottom of the phone.
If bits of detritus are lodged in the speaker holes at the bottom of your iPhone, you can use the sharp point of a wooden or plastic toothpick to pop them out. Insert the tip with minimal pressure, then slowly tilt the toothpick until it pops out.
All force should be directed sideways and then up, not down toward the phone. Decent painter’s tape will leave no residue on your phone. Use small bits of it, sticky side down, to lift dirt off the speaker on the front of the phone. Rolled to form a point, you can use painter’s tape (a.k.a. masking tape) to lift dust and dirt from the speaker holes on the bottom, too.
How To Clean iPhone Speaker Holes
For speaker holes, Ideally, you should try Apple’s official suggestion first. Any soft-bristled brush should do the trick as long as the bristles fit easily into the speaker holes.
When using this method, you should brush across the speaker grills, ensuring that the bristles are making contact with the dirty areas, and continue the process for as long as necessary. If you’re using a soft brush as Apple suggests, you can generally clean quite thoroughly without doing any damage.
With a little effort and a lot of patience, you should be able to remove a lot of grit and grime using the suggested method. If, however, your iPhone speakers are overflowing with serious filth, you may need to try a different technique.
Some sites recommend using compressed air to clean iPhone speakers, but this can easily cause damage. A far safer method is to use an air blower, such as the Soft Tip Silicone Super Air Blower. This can be used to blow out any excess dust once you’ve used one of the above methods.
To use this method, do the following:
- Hold your air blower a short distance from the speakers and use a few short bursts to remove dust and debris. It won’t be as strong as compressed air, but that’s a good thing.
- If necessary, bring your air blower closer for more effect.
- Use your flashlight to check on the progress and repeat if necessary.
If your iPhone’s sound quality still seems distorted, you may have an issue with the software rather than blocked speakers. You can try turning it off and on again to rectify this. If the problem still persists, unfortunately you may have to take it in for repairs.