Over the past ten years or so, cell phones have become very popular communication devices because of their convenience and portability. However, along with this surge in popularity there have been many incidents of people accidentally dropping their cell phones into various bodies of water or other liquids. If this happens to you and your cell phone gets wet, you may think at first that it is damaged beyond repair and dread the cost and hassle of replacing it. But with some resourceful thinking, in many cases it is possible to save a wet cell phone if you take action quickly enough.
Once a cell phone gets wet, several methods are available for attempting to dry it out and revive it, but there a few things that you should always do first regardless of which method you choose. The most important of these is to immediately get the phone out of the water and remove the battery. This will disconnect the electrical power source, thus preventing any further possibility of short circuit damage and increasing your chances of a successful cell phone resurrection. If you have a SIM card, this should be removed also - you may be able to save your data.
The next step is to get as much water as you can out of the phone and dry off all visible liquid with a cloth or paper towel. If your cell phone has any other easily removable parts besides the sim card, these can be dried separately. Then your main task is to make sure that the internal parts of your phone are completely dry so that you do not cause a short circuit when you reconnect the phone’s power supply. This is the part that will require the most patience and thinking, as there are several methods that people have used to successfully dry out their cell phones. Here are a few that I have come across in my research:
1. Wait it out. Yes, it’s boring and will take a while, but this is probably the safest method overall. Just let the phone sit out in a dry place for at least three days while the water evaporates. A variation on this that might speed up the drying process slightly is to leave the phone on top of a low heat source such as a television or cable box.
2. Put the phone in a bowl of dry rice. Many people have had success with this one, and it makes sense because uncooked rice can absorb a lot of water. For most cell phone models, you won’t have to worry about the rice grains getting inside of the phone. The following video provides a demonstration of how this is done and is also an experiment where three different phones are tested. As you can see, it’s not a completely surefire method of recovery, but it still sometimes works.
3. Instead of the rice, you can use other desiccating materials such as silica sand or even cat litter. Although these things can dry quickly, they may contain granules that are small enough to get inside of the phone. In this case, you can use a covering such as a sock or pantyhose to prevent this.
4. Compressed air cans such as the kind that are useful for dusting off keyboards and other computer peripherals can be used for faster drying. Just make sure that you hold the can straight and not too close to the phone because these pressurized cans can release a very cold liquid that could potentially cause freezing damage.
5. Many people like to use a hair dryer, but it is important to use a low heat setting if possible. If the air is too hot, it could overheat some of the phone’s parts and wind up doing more harm than good.
6. Instead of heating it up, some people like to cool down their cell phones by putting them in the refrigerator. Although this seems counterintuitive, most refrigerators have a dehumidifying effect that will draw moisture out of the phone and speed up the drying process. However, it should not be placed in a freezer because this can damage the liquid crystal display.
7. If your cell phone gets wet while you are far from home but still have a vehicle nearby, you can place the phone on the dashboard and let the sun dry it out. By keeping the vehicle’s doors closed, the greenhouse effect can work in your favor. You might even think that global warming isn’t such a bad thing after all.
8. If your phone was dropped in something other than plain water, such as salt water or another liquid that contains mineral deposits, this can complicate matters because the residue left behind after drying will remain inside the phone and could cause problems later. In these cases, you can use a rinsing solution of distilled water or methyl alcohol to remove the contaminants first before completely drying.
All of these methods will require some patience, but after you’re sure that the phone is completely dry, you can try to activate it with a charger and see if it works. In many cases, you may find that the original battery will not work anymore, but the cost of replacing the battery should be much lower than replacing the whole phone.
If you still cannot fix your wet cell phone after drying it out for a week or more, chances are that it was submerged for too long and sustained too much damage. In these cases, it is possible to still salvage some money out of the deal by trading in your cell phone for recycling. Meanwhile, you can try to find a cell phone plan where you can get a new phone for free or for a relatively low cost and perhaps find a better rate on the basic service.
Helpful Resource: How To Recover a Wet Cell Phone