Cleaning a SIM card is among the first suggestions given when someone experiences problems with their phone, even though a dirty SIM card isn’t a very common cause. It’s more likely that the smartphone software or the network antenna is acting up, or that the carrier disabled the SIM card. Still, it is a set of actions that won’t take long and isn’t challenging when done for the first time. Also, by taking initiative, you definitely eliminate the grime as the culprit, helping the carrier or the repair shop, thus reducing your downtime. With that said, here’s how to clean a SIM card.
1. Turn your phone off
Before you begin, shut your phone down. This is done by holding the power button for about 10 seconds and selecting a Power-down option on-screen. This should go without saying, but unplug the charging cable from the port and the charger from the power too.
2. Find the SIM card slot on the side of the smartphone
The SIM card slot is most likely located on the left side of the phone, directly across the volume buttons. In some cases, it’s below the volume and power buttons. You’ll recognize it as a thin elliptical or rectangular shape with a dot hole below or above it.
I can’t find my SIM card slot anywhere
At this point, embedded SIM-only smartphones aren’t mainstream. So, we’re sure you’re using an older Android or iOS smartphone. In that case, you’ll need to pop the back cover off using your fingers or a thin piece of plastic such as a credit card. Never use metal because you can short circuit something or perforate the battery and cause a fire or an explosion. If you still don’t see the SIM card slot, you’ll have to remove the battery to access it.
3. Pull the SIM card tray out and take a SIM card out
We wrote two separate articles explaining the entire process. This guide to removing SIM card is dedicated to both older and newer Android smartphones. If you’re an Apple user, follow this iPhone SIM card removal guide.
4. Choose a method to clean a SIM card
Now that you took the SIM card out, it’s time to get to work. We can’t say one method is better than the other. It depends on how much effort you want to put instead of just buying a SIM card. Also, whether you have some of the tools at home already. If you have an older Android or iOS smartphone, it’s a good idea to clean the golden prongs on the smartphone too. Here are some of the popular methods for cleaning a SIM card:
1. Rubbing alcohol or 90-99% Alcohol
You should have rubbing alcohol among your first aid supplies. So, all you need to do is get a piece of lint-free paper, cloth, cotton swab, or Q-tip. Any of those should be damp with alcohol, but not soaking wet. If you have yet to get it, we recommend the second type for cleaning electronics. Due to high alcohol content, it evaporates faster.
2. Gold Guard pen
This is a specialized pen designed to clean a wide variety of electronics, especially golden contacts such as the SIM card chip.
3. Electronics Cleaning Spray
Sprays that are non-conductive such as WD40 can be bought at any convenience or car parts store. Make sure to give them enough time to evaporate after applying.
4. Rubber eraser
Many people swear by the pencil eraser method. Rub the contact a few times until oil and debris are removed. Remove tiny remains of the rubber after you’re done.
People on the Internet report scrubbing their SIM card contact using a little bit of toothpaste on a Q-tip works. We’d only try this if you have no access to any of the tools above and can combine it with method 6.
6. Lint-free tissue or cloth
If you have none of the tools above, dry cloth for eyeglasses or microfiber cloth should do the job. Even if you only have a tissue or toilet paper, don’t use any cleaning supplies with it.
What you shouldn’t use to clean a SIM card
Never use SIM card cleaning methods that involve:
- Any form of acid.
- Anything too sharp or rough.
- Anything that leaves a residue.
6. Insert the SIM card again
We wrote a comprehensive guide on how to insert a SIM card. It’s more important than ever to hold the SIM card by the sides. If you touch the golden contact, the dirt and oil from your fingers can ruin all the cleaning work you’ve done.
7. Turn the phone on
Now’s the time to hold the Power button again and power the smartphone on. Did you get rid of the problem(s)? Congratulations! If they persist, here are a few ways to fix the “No SIM card inserted“ error. Still no luck? At least you know what isn’t the problem when requesting help from your carrier or a smartphone repair shop.