For those instances of “dropped phone in water,” you need to know what to do and act quickly. Water seeping into all those tiny crevices inside your phone will cause permanent damage. For some, such as the iPhone, water damage voids your warranty. The tiny components inside the case of your phone, such as your SIM and SD cards, can also be damaged. Water can damage the battery. If your phone has a touchscreen, this can be harmed as well. If you’re fixing a phone dropped in water, learn about some of the acceptable repair methods as well as those to avoid.
Effects of Water on Your Cell Phone or Smartphone
While water is good for humans and animals, our cell phones would disagree, if they could. Take a look at the effects water can have on cell phones (both smart and “dumb:”)
- Destroys phone’s circuitry.
- Damages phone touchscreen.
- Destroys or damages SIM and SD cards.
- Water-dunking voids phone’s warranty, according to End Info.
Beginning with the phone’s circuitry, water damage will keep the circuits from connecting successfully, rendering your phone useless – if you have an iPhone of any generation past the 3G, this is especially true.
The touchscreen of a smartphone will become useless once it has been immersed in water. Because the touchscreen is so important to so many functions on your phone, it can be made completely useless. For a dropped phone in water, you need to know that smartphones are especially vulnerable to damage.
The SD and SIM cards hold all the data you input and upload to your phone. Have your favorite music on it? Gone. Photos? Kaput! Videos? Vanished. Contacts? Prepare to put them in one at a time, if you’re able to resurrect your phone.
I Dropped My Phone in Water – Reduce the Risk of Damage to Your Phone
Once your phone takes a splash into the sink, a bowl of water or even the toilet, act FAST. Speedy actions are key to potentially saving your phone and avoiding an insurance claim to replace a phone that has been permanently damaged. A cell phone company representative has to indicate “dropped phone in water” for any replacement claims, meaning you’ll likely pay full value for a new phone.
Don’t shake your phone hard. Instead, give it a few gentle shakes to force water out of openings in your phone. If you can’t remove the back of the phone, don’t try. You’ll void any warranties on the phone. Once an iPhone has been dunked, its warranty is void, period. Apple detects water damage via water sensors inside the phone, according to Gigaom.
Avoid the impulse to press buttons on the phone. You’ll enable water to seep in beyond the openings around the buttons, leading to more damage, according to Gazelle.
Grab several paper towels or absorbent towels and dry the outside of the phone off completely. Keep water from seeping into any openings that lead to the interior of your phone, such as the charging port or the earphone plug.
Remove Internal Components
Remove the back of your phone, if it has one. Remove the battery and your SD or SIM card. Dry them as completely as you can. In some phones, these are located just under the battery. You may be able to save the data on the card if you act quickly enough to dry it. Layer a few paper towels together and set the card and battery on top of them. Set them aside in a safe location – away from curious children and pets – so the remainder of the water can seep out. You’ll leave them on the paper towel for 24 to 48 hours, if not longer.
Soak up Water in the Phone
Using a soft, absorbent cloth, gently press it to as much of the interior of the phone as you can reach, soaking up as much water as you can. Don’t move the towel around because you’ll spread water and force more of it into the openings of your phone, according to Androidpit. If someone tries to put the components back into your drying phone, remind them that you “dropped my phone in water, and I’m trying to fix it.”
Immerse Phone in Dry Materials
You may have heard of the “stick your phone in dry rice” trick. This may work – rice is a dry, absorbent material that can soak up moisture you can’t get to. A few other household materials may work effectively:
- Cat litter (clean).
- Silica gel (think of crystal cat litter).
- Couscous pearls.
- Instant rice.
- Rolled oats.
- Instant oatmeal.
For a cell phone dropped in water, Gazelle points out that these materials may work more effectively than rice.
Another product may be even more effective at removing the remaining moisture – the Bheestie Bag. This product is full of white and blue balls that work to absorb more moisture than silica would be able to do. Whichever product you choose, stash your phone in, immersing it completely. Every few hours, reposition the phone, allowing gravity to force any water remaining in your phone to move toward even the tiniest openings.
While your phone is lying in rice or cat litter, visit an electronics supply store and buy a phone drying pouch. These have small bags of a drying agent inserted. Stick your phone in, seal the top and leave the phone alone for 24 to 48 hours, suggests Androidpit. Once you have allowed the phone to dry for a day or two, remove it, put the battery back in and turn it on. If the phone turns on, check every function to make sure they work correctly. Don’t forget to check your phone’s speakers as well as the touchscreen.
Dry With Alcohol
Pour 95 percent ethyl alcohol or *denatured alcohol into a deep bowl and stick your phone in, submerging it completely, recommends Techpp. If this sounds like an odd tip, your eyes probably popped out of your head. Relax and leave your phone in the alcohol. This will force any remaining droplets of water to leave your phone. Leave the phone in the alcohol for several hours then remove it. Because it’s alcohol, it will evaporate quickly in the open air. Ensure that the phone is completely dry before putting your battery and SIM card back in.
*Try to opt for denatured alcohol because its only ingredient is methanol. Other ingredients found in other types of alcohol can damage the components of your phone. It’s best to use this method if your phone fell in salt water or coffee.
Stay Away from the Blow Dryer
If you are tempted to blow hot air on the inside of your phone to get it working more quickly, you’ll cook it instead. Rather than a hair dryer, use a can of compressed air or even a wet/dry shop vac to remove as much water from your phone as possible, suggests Reader’s Digest. Compressed air is a good choice, because the air you push out of the can won’t hit the phone at high velocity. This means you won’t damage any of the more delicate components of your phone.
What NOT to Do to Fix Your Water-Soaked Phone
Let’s discuss what you should not do to repair your phone if it has suffered water damage:
- Placing your phone in the freezer. While any water remaining in your phone will freeze, when you take the phone out of the freezer, that water will thaw and your phone will short-circuit again, according to CNET.com.
- Hairdryer. Again, you’ll cook your phone’s components.
- Sticking paper towel into tiny openings with a toothpick. Highly risky! First, you may damage some of the components close to the openings. Second, if you are successful in wicking moisture from the openings, the paper towel may become wet enough that bits of it pull away from the piece you’re holding, getting stuck to the ports.
- Overcharging your phone. This will not work, even though it seems like allowing the phone to heat up slowly would cause excess moisture to evaporate from the phone.
Testing Your Phone
If you are able to remove the battery to your phone, try inserting a different battery, especially if your phone doesn’t restart when you use the battery it had inside when it got wet. If the phone starts up, keep the substitute battery in your phone. As soon as you can, buy a new battery for your phone.
Once you have a working phone again, you need to adjust your thinking and practices around your phone. If you place it next to the sink or toilet, place it on another surface if you must have it close by. If you have a shelf in the bathroom, place your phone here while you’re in the bathroom. Better yet, allow calls to go to voice mail – if the call is that important, callers will leave a message.