Did you just drop your iPhone into a hot bowl of fail? Is your Galaxy swirling in the bottom of a toilet? Follow these instructions right now to give your phone its best chance of surviving immersion and avoiding water damage.
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1. Remove it. The longer your phone stays underwater, the more likely it is to suffer a catastrophic failure. Get it out of there! NOTE: If your phone is someplace dangerous (like a clogged toilet), take your time and find a safe (and sanitary) way to retrieve it. You’ll still have a shot at saving it.
2. Power Down. Shutting the phone off protects it from short circuiting.
- iPhone: Hold the Lock button and the Home button simultaneously for 5 seconds for a hard shutdown.
- Android: Remove the battery to shut down instantly.
3. Make Way. Water can quickly fill an entire phone. Make a path for it to get out by opening or removing all obstructions.
- Remove the battery (if possible)
- Remove any headphones
- Remove the SIM card
- Remove the memory card
3.1 [OPTIONAL] Wash it out. If your phone fell into salt water, dirty water, or something other than water, run it under clean tap water to flush out any residual salt, minerals and contaminants. Don’t worry, your phone was already full of water, so you’re not making it wetter – just cleaner.
4. Drain it. Force out as much water as possible. Tilt it, shake it, blow air through it, or use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to suck out the liquid.
5. Open it up. The best way to save your phone is to open the case so air can get in and water can get out. You can visit iFixit.com to find instructions for opening your phone. NOTE: You don’t have to worry about breaking your warranty, because that was null and void as soon as water hit the damage indicator.
6. Dry it. Your phone is still wet inside, and you’ll want to speed up the drying process to help reduce the damage to your phone. Here are three options to try:
- Air it out: In dry climates, good air circulation may be all you need. In our tests, open-air drying worked best. A fan may improve airflow through the phone’s ports.
- Warm it up: If you can reliably warm it to 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit (but no more!) you will dramatically speed evaporation. Apple lists the maximum tolerable temperature as 113 degrees Fahrenheit, so be careful!
- Absorb it: If you are someplace that’s too humid for open-air drying, you may want to use a drying agent to soak up the moisture. Don’t bother with the “rice trick.” We tested it, and uncooked white rice is the least effective for absorbing liquids. Instead, try the following:
- Silica Gel. The best common drying agent is silica gel, which can be found in the pet aisle of your grocery store as “crystal” style cat litter.
- Couscous. Instant couscous or instant rice are acceptable substitutes for silica. In our tests, these absorbed water much faster than conventional rice. Instant oatmeal works too, but makes a mess of your phone.
- Open Air. We compared the water absorption of eight different materials (including silica gel and rice.) None of these materials was as effective as leaving the device in an open space (such as a counter top) with good air circulation.
7. Resist the urge to turn it on. Give your phone a few days to dry. Water may be trapped in tight spots or absorbed into your phone’s circuit boards.
8. Test it out. Once your phone is dry and reassembled, it may turn right on. If not, there are a few things you can try:
- Charge it: A few hours of charging may get it going.
- Sync it: One of our test-iPhones appeared dead but could still sync, allowing us to recover data.
- Swap the battery: Two of our drowned iPhones came back to life with a battery swap.
- Keep your cards: Your SIM and SD cards contain your contact lists and some of your data.
If your phone truly takes the deep dive, check out Gazelle Certified pre-owned for a replacement, a low-cost solution for smartphones and tablets. Your drowned phone may also be worth extra cash through trade in.
Let us know in the comments whether this helped you avoid water damage.