Complexity and cost often go hand-in-hand. As our cell phones give rise to smartphones, the cost begins to skyrocket and mobile phones become an investment — one most of us can’t afford to replace for and unsubsidized price if something goes wrong. So what do you if you drop your precious phone in the can, attempt to teach it surf lessons at the beach, or wash it with your favorite pair of jeans? It may be a longshot, but there are a couple ways to breathe life back into that wet, seemingly-dead cell phone of yours before it’s too late.
STEP 1: Promptly remove the phone from the liquid. The quicker you snag it, the less damage it is likely to obtain. It seems like a simple step, but there are certain cases when you won’t be too keen on rescuing it. Just remember that you can always wash your hands, but your phone is a different story. We want to emphasize the “promptly.”
STEP 2: Turn the phone off. Cut all power from the phone to avoid short circuiting. The device may not power off immediately, but give it a few tries. Water and electricity don’t mix, but many cell phone components will survive if they are detached from the power source when they get wet.
STEP 3: Remove the battery. Take out the battery if it is easily accessible. You can typically slide or take off the back panel of older cell phones to access the battery compartment. Smartphones like the iPhone are a bit trickier, so make sure the phone is off at the very least if you can’t remove the battery. It’s best to familiarize yourself with how to remove your cell phone’s battery beforehand so you can remove it quickly in a fix.
STEP 4: Remove the SIM card. Take out the SIM card and pad it dry if your phone has one. Valuable contacts and other data you may store on your card can survive even if your phone does not. Cut your losses and move on.
STEP 5: Remove other components if possible. Take the time to strip and disassemble your cell phone as much as possible to expose greater surface area for drying. You can typically remove most plastic shells using an eyeglass screwdriver or wedging something flat at the base of the casing.
STEP 6: Remove all moisture. Start out by shaking your phone gently to remove any excess surface moisture. Next take a towel and soak up as much moisture as you can, especially in the crevasses of the phone. Avoid using a hairdryer — the excessive heat can further damage your phone.
Then cover and seal all the cell phone components in a bag of uncooked rice or silica packets. The rice and silica will work to absorb the moisture and aid the evaporation process. If you’re paranoid, you may even want to give the Bheestie Bag or Dry-All’s Wet Cellular Phone Emergency Kit a whirl. Although the moisture impermeable bags will each run you $20, they can last up to a year and are certainly cheaper than buying an entirely new cell phone. Their moisture absorbent beads work in the same way as rice or silica, but the beads are more efficient at retaining water molecules.
STEP 7: Be patient. Make sure to let the phone remain sealed for 24 to 72 hours before you proceed, regardless of whichever drying method you choose. You want to give the phone ample time to properly dry before you attempt to use it again.
STEP 8: Test the phone. It’s time to see if all your hard work and waiting has paid off. Remove the cell phone pieces from the bag, reassemble the device and hit the power button. Hopefully your phone will be back in business. If not, you may want to look into purchasing a waterproof case next time around.