How to Clean a Memory Card

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A card reader connects a memory card to a computer.

A memory card is a small electronic device that uses flash memory to store information. The card has several metal contacts on the end so it can interface with a computer, cell phone or other electronic device. Cleaning a memory card can mean one of two things. If the outside of the card got wet, dirty or damaged, you can clean off the contacts area to see if the card still works. Alternatively, if the card is filled with useless information, cleaning it can also mean deleting everything on the card.


Cleaning the Memory

Step 1

Place the memory card inside of your card reader. Some smaller memory cards, like microSD cards, may need an adapter to fit into the memory card reader. Just slide the card, contacts side first, into the adapter and then slide the adapter into the reader.

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Step 2

Insert the memory card reader into a USB port on your computer.

Step 3

Click the circular "Windows" button at the bottom-left corner of your desktop. Select "Computer" from the pop-up menu.


Step 4

Locate the memory card drive, which will be listed on the screen under Devices with Removable Storage. Right-click the drive and choose "Format" from the drop-down menu.

Step 5

Click "Start" to begin the formatting process. Click "OK" to confirm that you will erase everything on the card. The length of time the format will take depends on the size of your memory card.

Cleaning the Card

Step 1

Place the memory card on a table in front of you with the metal contacts facing up.


Step 2

Apply the isopropyl alcohol to your stiff brush.

Step 3

Scrub the contact area with your brush, wiping away any corrosion, dirt or grime on the contacts. Use the flathead screwdriver to scrap off any debris that is not coming off with the brush. Once all the debris is gone, scrub the area again with the alcohol-soaked brush.

Things You'll Need

  • USB card reader

  • Computer

  • Card adapter

  • Stiff, dense brush

  • Isopropyl alcohol

  • Small flathead screwdriver