How to Clean Cigarette Lighter in Car? – 4 Simple Ways

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how to clean cigarette lighter in car

A car’s 12V power socket/lighter is a very useful feature, but if neglected, it can malfunction. For instance, if tobacco dust accumulates in this component, you’ll need to replace it a lot sooner.

Here, you can find out how to clean cigarette lighter in car, whether by using baking soda and vinegar or Q-tip and rubbing alcohol.

Ways to Clean Cigarette Lighter in Car

#1: Preparatory Steps


Use your hand to remove any object stuck inside the lighter outlet, and get a toothpick or maybe some tweezers to access hard-to-reach areas.

It’s also best to power off the car and unplug any devices connected to the lighter to clean power outlet in car.

#2: Baking Soda and Vinegar Method


What Can I Use?

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • 2 Cloths

Step 1: Apply Baking Soda and White Vinegar

Baking soda is readily available in many homes. It is also effective at cleaning without being too abrasive or harsh. So, sprinkle some of this powder into the cigarette outlet in car.

Afterward, dip a clean cloth into some white vinegar and use it to wipe the lighter socket. The vinegar should boost the efficacy of the baking soda to remove all dirt and grime.

Step 2: Wipe the Socket With a Damp Cloth

Once the powder and vinegar have done their job, make sure you clean out the socket with a soft cloth. Make sure you check all nooks and crannies so that no particles are left.

#3: Q-Tip and Rubbing Alcohol Method

What Can I Use?

  • Q-Tip
  • Rubbing alcohol

This method is similar to the previous one, but instead of baking soda and vinegar, we’ll use rubbing alcohol. Just pour a few drops of this substance onto a Q-tip and use it to brush your lighter socket.

#4 Finishing Steps

What Can I Use?

  • Vacuum cleaner (Optional)
  • Any device supported by the socket (e.g. phone charger, Bluetooth speaker, FM transmitter, etc.)

Step 1: Vacuum Clean Around the Socket

Though the previous steps should work in removing dirt, there may be some contaminants you did not see or missed. You can vacuum them out.

Step 2: Check if the Socket Is Still Properly Functioning by Plugging in a Device


Find any device supported by the socket, plug it in, and see if the socket provides power. You can also use a multimeter for this step, but the former method is easier.


What Would Cause a Cigarette Lighter Not to Work?

A couple of circumstances can lead to a cigarette lighter in car not working. If you’re lucky, yours might only require a quick and easy fix, such as removing dirt and debris, cleaning a rusty car cigarette lighter, etc.

Otherwise, you might have to pay for repair or replacement.

  • Accumulation of dirt, debris, and corrosion – These can obstruct the socket and make it defective. Dirt and debris can be cleaned off with canned air or a vacuum cleaner, while a wire brush can be used to clean corroded car charging port/cigarette lighter.
  • Loose Metal Prongs– See if the metal prongs hold the plugged-in devices well. If not, take a plastic tool, like a plastic fork or anything similar, and use it to push the prongs into the center of the contact plate to make them tighter.

Don’t use metal and sharp objects to adjust them. And don’t push too much, or you will bend them.

  • Damaged cigarette lighter coil – A damaged coil wouldn’t heat up to light a cigarette, so the lighter would have to be replaced.
  • Damaged wire – A damaged wire wouldn’t let current go through the cigarette lighter. If you have a damaged wire, you’d have to replace
  • Dirty, corroded, and/or faulty fuse – The fuse may be a problem if it’s dirty, corroded, and/or faulty. Locate the fuse, inspect it, and resolve the issue accordingly.

If you notice that the fuse contacts are dirty and corroded, clean them with sandpaper. Or you can test for adequate current in the fuse with a test light or multimeter; if there isn’t, then the fuse would need to be replaced.

Can You Replace a Cigarette Lighter in a Car?

Yes, if your car’s cigarette lighter is not functioning properly, you can replace it with a new one, following these steps:

  • First, make sure your car is not running.
  • Refer to the car manual to find the fuse box and cigarette lighter fuse, and take out the fuse using the removal tool You can use needle nose pliers or tweezers if the car comes without tool.
  • Depending on how your socket is affixed, you could remove cigarette lighter socket from car with either a socket removal tool, hook, or screwdriver.
  • Once you’ve got this component out, all that’s left to do is detaching the wire connector and installing the new cigarette lighter.

How Do You Check a Cigarette Lighter in a Car?

There are two things you can do to check the cigarette lighter:

  • Check for Any Obstruction

Use a flashlight to see if there’s anything obstructive inside car cigarette lighter, such as dirt, debris, lint, or a coin. Then, follow the steps above to remove the contaminants.

  • Check for Current

Set your multimeter to DC voltage, making sure you got the red and black leads plugged into the right sockets (V for the former and COM for the latter).

Then, turn the multimeter on and set its dial to the continuity mode; usually, its symbol will be a triangle with a line.

Put the red lead probe on the ring inside the socket and the black lead probe on the outer rim.

If the reading is under 12V, your lighter socket needs replacing.

How Do You Fix a Car Charger Port/Cigarette Lighter in Car?

Earlier, problems with a cigarette lighter were discussed in this article. So there are different ways to repair a car cigarette lighter socket depending on what caused it. Just do the necessary inspections and resolve the problem accordingly.

As for the USB port, tighten it with a needle. If it still doesn’t work afterward, you should ask a car mechanic for advice. It’s also possible that your USB port is designed to transfer data only, so the lack of charging is not indicative of failure.

Is Replacing Cigarette Lighter in Car With USB Practical?


Non-smokers might want to replace the cigarette lighter in their car with a USB port. The lighter can provide great convenience in your car, as it can supply currents of up to 12-14 volts, making it capable of providing:

  • Low amperage for charging phones and tablets.
  • High amperage for powering devices such as a power inverter, air purifier, air ionizer, tire pump, etc.

A USB port, on the other hand, can only provide 5V. An advisable and easy way to have a USB port in your car while still taking advantage of the cigarette lighter is by using a USB adapter in the cigarette lighter.

But if you’d rather remove the cigarette lighter, you’ll also have to remove its electrical system. The USB port would come with its own internal circuitry that must be installed.

How to Clean Charger Port in Car?

Similar to the cigarette lighter socket, you can clean the charger port with a vacuum. Cloths and brushes will work as well.


One of the causes of a malfunctioning 12V socket is dirtiness inside it. Knowing how to clean cigarette lighter in car will help keep it running smoothly with no problems.

Hopefully, this article helped you do just that. If you have any questions on this topic, we’ll be happy to answer them.

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