How to Clean SIM Card
How-Tos & Tutorials

Quick Steps to Clean Your SIM Card


Me and my wife have the same smartphones bought only a few days apart. We are both customers of the same network and have used the physical SIM for years. Over the years, our phones have changed, but not the SIM cards.

However, when it comes to network coverage or signal strength, my wife’s mobile shows full signals/bars while mine displays slightly weaker signal strength, i.e., two or three signals. Moreover, her mobile always shows 4G connectivity, while I mostly see Edge – even when outside.

For quick help, I started searching the web and discovered that wiping SIM cards will do the job. During my research, I also found that when a SIM card is dirty, the phone may not read it correctly. You can clean your phone SIM card with an eraser, a microfiber cloth, a cotton swab, or rubbing alcohol. There’s no need to take it to a store or a professional.

How to Know When the SIM Card is Dirty or Damaged?

Before going into details like how to clean a SIM card and the benefits of cleaning a SIM card, let me tell you what happens when your SIM is dirty or damaged.

You See ‘No SIM Installed’, ‘Insert SIM’, or ‘No Service’ on the Screen

When your SIM is dirty or damaged, your mobile cannot read it. Hence you’ll see any of the above-mentioned error messages. An easy way to know whether the issue is with the SIM card and not with the phone is to replace the existing SIM with another one. If the other SIM works all right, it’s time to clean your SIM or replace in case it is damaged.

Low Sound or Bad Quality During Calls

A dirty SIM card can affect the sound quality during the calls. Be it incoming or outgoing calls, you’ll experience distortions, low sound or bad-quality calls. You don’t want this, do you? So, think of ejecting the SIM from the phone and cleaning it by following the methods explained in the last section.

Delayed Texting or Calling.

If you experience a continuous delayed response during texting or calling, i.e., they take longer than normal to go through, we suspect there’s a problem with your phone. Clean your phone SIM card, and the problem will be rectified.

Missing Contacts.

Many people still have the habit of saving the contacts on their SIM cards. So, when the SIM isn’t working correctly, the phone may not read it; hence, some or all the contacts may not be accessible. It indicates an issue with the SIM and may require a thorough cleaning.

Calls Getting Dropped

If your calls are getting dropped or disconnected frequently, it’s a clear giveaway that there’s something wrong with the SIM. Simply saying, it is signaling that you clean the SIM card with a soft cloth or a cotton swab.

Slow Internet or Lags

A dirty SIM with residue of dirt or anything else accumulated on the metal chip may result in slow internet speeds. Or your phone may not even get the fastest connectivity if your area has 4G, it may show 3G or even Edge.

Also Read: Roam and Connect: The Perfect SIM Card for Motorhome Wi-Fi

Alert: Don’t Clean Unless You’re Having Any Trouble

Cleaning a SIM card is not a common practice and is generally not recommended. SIM cards are small, delicate electronic components that should be handled with care. Irrespective of the SIM size like Standard, Micro, or Nano, they should be cleaned gently and with utmost care.

When You Shouldn’t Clean SIM Card

Here are some reasons why cleaning a SIM card isn’t advisable unless there’s a problem.

Risk of damage: Using improper tools and not using a gentle technique may damage it.

Unnecessary task: As SIM cards are used inside the phone, they are shielded from dirt, debris & moisture. Unnecessary cleaning may contaminate it with foreign particles and moisture.

Sensitive electronic components: SIM is a small, delicate component. So, cleaning it how we clean other electrical devices may disturb its functionality.

Minimal dust accumulation: As we don’t remove and insert SIM cards frequently, the chances of dirt & debris accumulating are much lower.

Benefits of Cleaning SIM Card

Let’s now go through some of the benefits of cleaning SIM cards.

If you’re facing any problems mentioned above, like calls getting disconnected or some contacts missing, it’s time to clean your SIM card. Here are some benefits of it.

Your Screen will Show No SIM Installed’, ‘Insert SIM’, or ‘No Service’ Messages.

If the SIM’s metal chip seems to have accumulated dirt between the patterns or become oxidized after years of use, cleaning will help improve the contact between the card and the device’s SIM reader.

Lowered Chances of Poor Connectivity

If you’re facing poor connectivity or weak signals, the mobile cannot read the SIM. Clean it thoroughly but gently. It will help with issues like poor connectivity and reading errors. Moreover, you’ll also get back all your contacts, which will be displayed as normal if they are missing.

Better Internet Speeds

If you’re facing problems with slow internet speeds or experience lagging, we recommend you clean it. Not only will you establish a better connection with the mobile network, but your internet speeds will also be boosted because of better reception. For instance, based on the area, your device will start showing the fastest connectivity in your area, i.e., 4G or 5G.


Cleaning a SIM card could be considered a troubleshooting step if you’re experiencing issues with your mobile device. It’s a simple action that you can attempt before considering more drastic measures like getting a new SIM card.

Experience Seamless Communication

If your calls were getting dropped or disconnected, leaving your conversations in half, cleaning your SIM card for any dirt and debris will ensure that it doesn’t happen again. You’ll experience seamless communication in case the problem is with the SIM card and there’s strong network coverage in your area.

Say Goodbye to Delayed Texting or Calling

Another benefit of wiping your SIM card is that you’ll never complain about delayed texting or calling again – in case it isn’t a network issue. Clean it softly, and your calls and texts will get through much faster with better sound quality.

Precautionary Measures

Cleaning a SIM card slot and SIM is only recommended if you can do it with extreme caution. If you aren’t careful in your approach, you can damage the SIM card, which will incur costs to get a new one. It may also result in contacts getting wiped permanently or malfunctioning the phone’s ability to read the SIM card.

Moreover, if you’re using an unadvised way of removing dirt & debris or using an unclean cloth or cleaner, you may damage it by introducing contaminants that can affect its working. If you decide to clean the SIM card, here are some preventive measures.

Go through these precautionary measures before going ahead.

Switch Off the Phone

New smartphones don’t require you to turn them off before ejecting the SIM tray. However, an old phone cannot be cleaned from the inside, i.e., SIM card slot, without turning it off. Also, some experts advise switching off even the new ones to safeguard yourself from the electric current running through the card.

Handle with Care

You may or may not know that SIM cards consist of a delicate metal chip powered electronically. So, while cleaning, hold it from the edges and make sure not to rub excessively on the metal area.

Select the Right Tools

Never use pointy or abrasive tools that can leave scratches or damage the metal surface. You can use a lint-free or micro-fiber cloth, a cotton swab, or a soft eraser.

No Bending

During the cleaning process, ensure you don’t bend or scrub the card excessively. It can damage the SIM, resulting in loss of contacts, and you may have to go for a replacement, which will take time and money.

Choose a Clean Place

Never start the cleaning process in a dirty place. Choose a clean area so you don’t end up exposing the SIM to dirt, debris, metallic powder, or contaminants.

Clean in a Single Direction

While cleaning a SIM card slot of old phones, clean the metal contracts gently in one direction. Don’t rub back and forth. It’s risky as it may result in scratches and terminal damage. Cleaning the SIM tray in new phones is relatively easy. You can even use a brush for it.

Be Careful when Inserting the SIM

Once you’re done with wiping the SIM card for dirt, debris, and oxidation, carefully inspect the SIM for any scratches. Also, when inserting it back into the device, ensure it is placed correctly in the SIM slot or SIM tray. Don’t force it, as it can lead to damage.

Check the Working

After you’ve inserted it back, switch on the device and see whether everything is fine, like network connectivity, signal strength, and displaying contacts. Your calls should connect, texts should go through, and the signal coverage must also be strong. If everything is fine, you are done with cleaning the SIM.

Method to Clean SIM card

This is the business end of the blog – how to clean SIM cards?

Turn Off the Device and Locate the SIM Card/Tray

Experts suggest never taking out the SIM when the phone is powered on. Not exercising caution may be hazardous when dealing with internal electronic parts. After turning it off, locate the SIM location, as different models will have the SIM on different sides or places.

For instance, old phones have the SIM on the backside of the battery, while the latest smartphones have the SIM tray on the right side. You may have to remove the back and battery for old phones, as SIMs are located under the battery. Some phones come with trays on the left and even on the upper side of the screen.

Pull Out the SIM or SIM Tray

Pulling out the SIM or SIM tray from any phone isn’t complicated. Most people do it easily. It can be done manually with no tools required or by just using a special pin pushed inside the smartphone to pull out the tray containing the SIM.

If you’re ejecting the SIM for the first time, be careful not to scratch, bend or damage it. Do it gently. If you’re finding it hard, Google it take help from the user manual and you’ll see how to open and pull out the SIM.

Wiping SIM Card

Pick an eraser from your child’s bag, and that’s all you require. Rub it gently on the metal chip and the surface where the SIM card touches (for older phones). Clean in a single direction with light strokes until it is clean.

Apart from the eraser, you can use a cotton swab to clean the phone SIM card. However, practice is the same as using an eraser – do it gently. It is also advisable to clean the SIM with a gold guard pen as it is considered safe to clean electronics and electrical equipment.

Use a Dry, Lint-Free Cloth

If you have nothing and want to clean a SIM card slot and SIM, use a lint-free cloth easily found at home or a micro-fiber fabric. However, make sure not to use any cleaning agents on the cloth or on the surface of the SIM.

If you are skeptical of which cloth to use, pick the fabric made for eyeglasses and wipe clean the surface of the SIM for any dirt and debris.

Rub Alcohol

Pick a cotton swab, dampen its end with rubbing alcohol, and rub it on the gold contacts of the SIM card and terminal (old phone). Continue rubbing the swab gently until all debris and oxidation are wiped. The alcohol should not get inside the phone. So, the cotton swab must be damp and not soaked with alcohol.

Your SIM Should Be Good To Go

Using the ways mentioned above to gently clean your SIM card will ensure that the SIM card isn’t damaged. Once you’re done with the cleaning, ensure it isn’t damaged in any way. Insert it back and start using your phone.

Hopefully, any issue with communication or missing contacts will be resolved. If not, please get in touch with your network service provider for assistance. Or you may switch to an eSIM which comes with many benefits and getting dirty is not a chance.

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