The Miracle of WD-40

WD-40An apparently common problem that many iPhone users encounter is that, after many months of use, the home button — the sole physical button on the device’s face — starts to lose its responsiveness, sometimes precipitously. When this happens, it may take several presses, or a prolonged press, to get the button to produce any results. And sometimes where one press of the button is intended, the device registers two. Very annoying.

I was surprised to discover from a friend that Apple technicians diagnosed this problem on her phone as software related, which struck me as counter-inuitive, as it seemed to me to be very much a hardware problem. There has also been talk of the button needing software recalibration. I don’t know if that approach works or not, but I’ll tell you what worked for me: the miracle “water-displacing spray” WD-40.


Spray and Play

In my experience, on not just my own iPhone 4 but also on my girlfriend’s, WD-40 restores the responsiveness of the iPhone’s home button to basically like-new condition. I just sprayed a little bit of WD-40 directly on the button, then pressed the button rapidly a few dozen times, tested its responsiveness afterwards, then repeated the process two or three times until it began to improve. Then I used the phone for a day or two to see how well the button did in actual use; I found that after a few days the problem ebbed back slightly, at which point I applied more WD-40. After the second or third application, the responsiveness remained indefinitely.

Caveat lector: I make no guarantees, and have no idea if this does any long-term harm to the device. I’m nearly certain someone will insist that it does, so anyone reading this and thinking about using WD-40 themselves should assume that this is a potentially risky fix, and I can accept no responsibilities for any damage done to your device. But for my part, I’ve had no problems with it, and it’s been six months or so since I tried this.

(Update: A friend suggests that this will void your warranty. I have no further knowledge on that issue, so, again, use your own judgment.)

In fact, I’ve found WD-40 to be a reliable and enjoyably analog fix to digital hardware for years. I first discovered this many, many years ago, when I asked an electronics repair technician if it was worth trying to fix an unresponsive button on a portable stereo that I then owned. He said don’t bother; just try a bit of WD-40. Since then I’ve used it on buttons on all sorts of hardware, always with success. The best part, of course, is that a can of WD-40 costs about as much as a sandwich and has a thousand uses.

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13 Comments

  1. nice tip, I had not thought of WD-40 before. Hopefully others who have used this successfully (or unsuccessfully) will chime in.

  2. I’ve heard WD-40 can gum up or get sticky over time, but the benefits of a good contact cleaner are huge. I personally use DeOxit D5 It’s a bit more expensive, but I use it to clean headphone jacks, knobs (“pots”), switches. But in a pinch, WD-40 can do alot.

  3. I’ve had a laggy home button on my iPhone 4 for some time now. Will give WD a shot. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Thank you so much, it worked. First tried applying WD with curios but then sprayed tiny amounts directly on. Just have to deal with getting it off the phone now, but hey, that’s a small price to pay for a working home button.

    I got the same thing when I went into the Apple store, they at first thought it was a software problem (just bs the were told to say apparently) and then wanted $150 for an out-of-warranty replacment. This is really ridiculous, my 1st gen iPod touch still has a perfectly working home button and that’s like 5 years old! My iPhone 4 is barely a year old and is totally screwd.

    Apple- WE. NEED. A. RECALL.

  5. I’m going to have to try this. Can’t say I’m surprised that WD-40 comes to the rescue again.

    My iPhone 4 home button was almost dead until I tried the seemingly useless advice at this link

    Strangely (and I don’t know why) it did work, but performance could be better so I’ll have to try this approach.

  6. Mike heard right. WD-40 is one of the worst lubricants ever. It forms a varnish-like film that ruins stuff eventually. For electronics, I’d use silicone dielectric grease or lithum grease if I could get it applied, or silicone spray lube for this sort of application.

    If you think lubricating the device voids the warranty: don’t tell anyone. Aside from the button being open to the elements (so who knows what got in there by accident) the factory does use greases (as above) to assemble the items and keep hinges (when applicable) working. Finding tiny bits of oil or grease in a phone means nothing to service techs.

  7. I too have been plagued by this problem. I’ve brought my phone in to Apple multiple times and their only solution was to restore the software. Gah!

    I’ll have to give this a try..

  8. OMG! WD40 saved my iPhone home button!
    I was hesitant initially, but as i looked through the list of official WD40 uses. I saw a line that says protects TV circuit boards from oxidizing before installing. Heck! that works for me. Seconds later after my first generous drops of WD40 on the iPhone button and kept pressing it repeatedly for 20 seconds; and wiping the excess WD40 off. Works like new now!

  9. Had the same exact problem and was told to hard restart or restore the phone. I did both to no avail. Then one employee took me to the side, took my phone out of its case, then held it a few inches above the wooden display table, and then dropped it so the bottom (that is where the connector is) hit the table. And it worked! He said if its not software, it’s dust. I’m an outdoor guy and this has happened a few times, and that trick works all the time.

  10. Tried the dropping trick and it worked!! It makes perfect sense and also explains why the WD40 or similar spray works too. I reckon dust is the problem. You just need to shift the dust. Bang it or spray something that will collect the dust. Genius!!