dropped phone in water

The world suddenly freezes when you see your phone falling straight into water, you scream in terror, “I dropped my phone in water!” Whether it’s a pool or a toilet, you just know nothing good will come out of the next few seconds. After all, that’s a high tech device that’s likely worth multiple hundred dollars, and chances are very high that it will be deemed unusable. That is, unless you have one of those awesome waterproof smartphones, like the LG G6 or Samsung Galaxy S8.

It’s true that more and more handset makers have moved towards waterproof designs in the last year or two, and this trend seems to have no slow down in sight. Still, not all of us have the luxury of a waterproof phone and that means we need to resort to other methods. The best method for preventing water damage is to take precautions beforehand, using something like the CaliCase waterproof pouch for situations where you know you might be making contact with water.

What if it’s already too late, and you phone took an unexpected dive into the water? Let’s start by telling you that saving a water-damaged phone is pretty much a coin flip. Nothing can guarantee the device will actually be rescued. And if the gadget has already been harmed, there are high chances that damage is permanent. Regardless, often times the stars align and you end up saving that precious technology that holds all your important data and connects you to the world.

With the help of the following tips, we aim to increase the probability of your phone making it through such disaster. So let’s dig in.

Dropped your phone in water? Take it out and make sure it’s off!

I know it’s hard to react quickly when such a devastating event takes place, but you must snap out of it! The longer your device stays underwater, the lower its chances of survival are. You must dig in there and take that phone out of the water right away. Yes… even if it’s in the toilet!

phone-toilet Shutterstock

Once the phone is out of the water, make sure it’s off and stays that way. Even if it seems fine… it is important to shut it off just in case. If the phone is still on, just shut it down or take the battery out if you can. Then put it in a safe place, preferably on a flat surface over some paper towels.

The good news is that even non-waterproof phones these days are generally at least a little more resistant to water than phones from years past, and so there are a few things you can do — as well as shouldn’t do — if you want to make it through without too much damage.

What not to do after dropping your phone in water

The following actions can mean the difference between a totaled phone or a survival story. You better be careful what you do. Before we jump into finding a solution, let’s try to prevent major failures you could cause.

  • Do not turn on the phone, as we already mentioned. Electrical components don’t play well with water when operating.
  • Don’t plug it in either! For the same reason.
  • Don’t press any keys. This can push water further into the phone. It’s best to try to mess with the phone as little as possible.
  • Don’t shake or blow into the device. This could also push water into deeper areas of the phone. Especially try to avoid blow driers – not only because of the blowing part, but also because of the following point.
  • Do not apply any heat to the phone. Remember excessive heat can also damage the phone. You don’t want to add more damage!
  • Don’t move the phone around too much. Same deal; you don’t want the water moving around inside the phone.

Disassemble the water damaged phone

Don’t mistake this step with “take the whole darn phone apart”! What I mean is that you should remove everything that is user-removable. If you back cover is removable, take it off. Similarly, try to remove the battery (if you can), SIM card and SD card. Lay it all out in the paper towel.

Now, if you are an experienced tech specialist of sorts and know the ins and outs of a phone, and don’t mind risking voiding your warranty, you can go ahead and take the whole phone apart too. It might help with drying up every single piece faster. Just be careful, if you don’t know what you’re doing this could cause more harm than good.

Oppo Find 7 Battery -1190592

Try to dry the exterior with a paper towel

We first have to try to get rid of all the excess water found in the exterior of your phone. Use the paper towel to dry out every component. Just make sure you don’t mess with the phone too much. Gently dry everything out without moving things around too much.

You could try a vacuum cleaner

Of course, there are areas the paper towel can’t access. And while we told you not to blow anything into the phone, we didn’t tell you not to suction the water out. In fact, a vacuum cleaner can suck off bits of water from the phone without too much risk. Just make sure the suctioning doesn’t make the phone move around excessively. Oh, and try not to use one as big as the one in the picture!

vacuum Shutterstock 

Time to dry it out

The hardest part is coming, because it involves leaving the phone untouched for an extended period of time. This means you can’t use your smartphone! If you have another phone you can borrow, just make sure the SIM card is completely dried out and stick it into the working handset. Otherwise, just resort to smoke signals, public phones and all that archaic stuff.

So how do you dry your phone out? You could just leave the phone on top of the counter or inside a drawer, but some people like giving it a little help. The idea is to put it in an environment that will ease its drying process. A very common practice is to put the phone in a Ziploc bag full of rice and let it rest there for about 2-3 days.

rice Shutterstock

But why rice? Mostly because it is something readily available at most homes. The idea is that rice is very good at absorbing humidity in the air, making the phone’s environment drier and hence helping dry out the device. But there are alternatives that could be better.

Among better options are silica gel packs, which are those little packets you often find in shoes or electronics boxes (and you can’t eat). It’s not like all of us have these laying around, though, but if you think ahead of time you, could get good deals on Amazon.

silica-gel Shutterstock

And while we are on the whole thinking ahead topic – you could also buy a water rescue kit. I happen to like Kensington’s EVAP bundle, which includes a special bag and silica gel packs. Kensington states this is 700% more effective at drying moisture than rice is, though it’s hard to say how true their claim is. Still, it might be worth the investment.

The moment of truth

So you did everything you could and a few days have passed by. It’s time to see if all your efforts paid off. Take the phone out of wherever you left it and put it all together. Then plug the phone in and try to turn it on. If it works, you have succeeded! Stay on the lookout for any odd behavior, though. At least for a few days, as something may still happen. Also, test all the components. Make a call to see if the microphone and earphone work, test the speaker, etc.

Now, if the phone doesn’t work, it’s time to accept defeat and take it to a professional and see if it can be salvaged. You can also claim insurance if you have it. Not to sound like a doctor, but after this point we have really done everything we could. Sometimes you just have to let the phone go. Hopefully most of you get it back up and working, though!

Hit the comments and tell us your experiences! Have any of you tried these methods? What other tips do you have someone who dropped a phone in water? Hit the comments and share your 2 cents!

Edgar Cervantes
Edgar Cervantes has over 5 years of experience in tech journalism. Exploring the latest gadgets and constantly studying the industry are part of is daily drive. Regardless of what he is working on, you can be sure he is always trying his best to bring you the best content. He will be dead honest and will bend to nothing.
  • Will

    Sorry if it falls into a toilet, I no longer want to ever put the phone near my face again. Phone in the toilet=time for a new phone.

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    • DO-NOT-MESS_with_USa

      I bet after do’n #2 and wipe’n yourazz you wash your hands for minimum 1/2 hour.
      Will dude, that toilet water is near clean enough to drink.

  • Rekcus

    I water damaged my LG G3 a while ago. Didn’t follow these steps, maybe it would have worked better… Now the phone only boots to secure mode and I can’t get out of it because the volume down key doesn’t work. Have tried to change the panel with the buttons and electronics, but it didn’t work. I guess the damage is on the main chip. Any suggestions?

    • Kalavere

      Bin it.

  • Giorgos Michael

    I once dropped my phone in a pool and didn’t survive but my next phone fell in the toilet and I got it out immediately took the battery and cards out and dried the pieces and put them in rice for a day! It works perfectly although for a few days I had a problem with my speakers

  • Will

    Actually I used to work for a company that did data recovery on laptop drives. We would use alcohol (iso/rubbing 99%) instead of letting it dry. Water can contain contaminants that will corrode circuits. So if the phone is still wet, try putting it into a bath of alcohol before drying it out. That will prevent damage to the internal circuits. Either way, if the LDI (liquid damage indicator—the thing that turns from white to pink on the phone) has changed to pink, your warranty is now void. So try the alcohol bath to at least save it. But keep in mind that it has now lost all value if the LDI is pink.

    • JJameson

      Submersion is a bad idea. Use a scrub brush, denatured alcohol, and a Datavac to speed up the drying of the alcohol. Frankly, if it was a spill, take it somewhere to have them open it up and dry the liquid. If it was submersion, buy a new phone or get the phone replaced. It’s only a matter of time before the phone dies completely, especially if it was on when it was first put into contact with liquid. All of these less invasive or drastic options listed in the article just aren’t going to be particularly effective long term.

      • Me

        scrub brush? that is stupid.

        • JJameson

          okay

          • Me

            mek is in denatured alcohol. it eats plastic. you are better off soaking it in 99.9% alcohol. and the brush can damage the cable connections

          • JJameson

            It’s a solvent, totally different concept than “eats” plastic. It won’t affect the PCB particularly negatively if used. Although, yes, isopropyl alcohol is definitely a safer option. Either way the issue is submersion. It’s simply not ideal if you can’t thoroughly dry it without excessive heat. For a smaller board like those found in phones, it’s a better idea to target individual areas if you don’t have professional equipment that was built to remove corrosion available.

  • edgeofreality02

    This is not good advice. Turn power off to your device and take it to a repair shop. This video is much better at explaining how to repair liquid damage. Video contains some NSFW language. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPeITOz2_YM

    • Michael

      They are describing the DIY option, while you are looking at it from a professional standpoint. Of course the best idea is to take it to a shop, and of course rice won’t fix corrosion. The rice is for the fucking water, and a lot of the time, it doesn’t corrode that badly. This is a rare occasion shown in the video. Rice was never meant to help fix corrosion, and they never said it was. Don’t say that they are not giving good advice if you have different advice for different situations. Their advice was well researched, and excellent for someone with minuscule water damage, like who the article is actually fucking targeted to.

  • Hans Holm

    Mine floated in the ocean. I stuck it in a bath of 99% alcohol and dried it out. I was a little scared about the alcohol fire connection but all went well and it’s still ticking months later. I do however realize that Nexus 6 does possess some waterproofing out of the box.

  • Thank you for these phone saving methods

  • Nidou Xperia™

    Buy an Xperia with a waterproof feature and get away from all that pain in the butt.

    • Me

      water resistant. it is not waterproof.

      • Пешо Пешев

        Not even resistant- already third Z3 dies after texting in rain…

        • Martin Šárek

          That’s funny, my G3 doesn’t even have any IP certification and i use it normally in rain.

        • Nidou Xperia™

          my z3 used it underwater in the sea, and many times i take with me to the shower, washed it many times, and still intact ;)

          • Me

            go look what what the IP rating is and then see what the rating stands for. IT IS NOT WATERPROOF.

      • Nidou Xperia™

        it’s waterproof not water resistant.. you wrong!
        go look it up in everywhere

  • Christoph Brinkmann

    Or just don’t ever walk into the bathroom with your phone. Or, if you have to, keep it in your pocket. Your text or game of Angry Birds can wait for the 5 minutes it takes to do your business.

    #Ounceofprevention

  • Water damage comes in unsuspecting forms as well, doesn’t need to be a spill or submersion. I lost an old Windows phone back in the day just sitting in my pocket. It was a super hot day, it stayed in my pocket for several hours with no breathing room, it wasn’t until after I pushed the power button (which did nothing) that I noticed the moisture on the inside of the display. Too late, sweat (gross!) killed my phone.

    On the bright side, I stopped in and purchased my first Android phone on my way home that day, so it wasn’t all bad.

  • GasPoweredCat

    theres a better way to get silica gel than packets, crystal cat litter is pure silica gel crystals its only about 3 quid or so a pack. also after stripping and drying its a good idea to clean the board over with isopropyl alcohol

  • Xander van Zyl

    My note 3 actually fell into an ice bucket while i was working at a portable bar (those little trailer bars) so needless to say i didnt have any rice or anything with me to put it in. But i just disassembled the phone (every part that could come off or out at that stage) and left it in my car for the duration of my shift. After the shift i had to make a call for a mate to pick me up and all the other staff already left so i reassembled everything and it worked again perfectly.

  • Phani Kumar

    my phone made a solid dive into 6 feet swimming pool and then i was stupid enough to switch phone immediately haha but it didnt i shacked it a lot then after a day i took it to repair shop got repaired for 300 rs he said u shoudnt have switched it on the circuits have burned i replaced with new one now its okay.(lg l90 dual)

  • Anthony

    Rice does nothing. You need to stop the salts in the water from corroding your mainboard. Open it and desolder the shields. Put into an alcohol bath or board cleaning agent bath and carefully scrub away corrosion with a toothbrush. Allow to dry. Replace any other damaged components if necessary, such as the screen. If the cost of new components is more than the phone is worth, buy a new phone.

  • Tech Lover

    Well I also got my phone wet and by that I mean alot of water was already in it soo I took a box, filled it with rice and whatever i could take out i took it out and put it in the rice and after 3-4 days i checked it and it just worked fine…

  • oyunbozan

    or just buy a sony

    • LiterofCola

      Exactly. Just get a Sony. Took my Z3 into the ocean to take pictures, works perfectly.

  • Out2late

    I follow all the “what not to do” except I apply heat… I use the oven. Set it at the lowest temp with the oven door just slightly open. Convection works best because of the air moving around inside. After about 30 minutes its done. I’ve never lost a phone to water damage before.

    • Andree Lopez

      I’m freaking glad you did not burnt your display LOL, go to youtube and see some examples

  • Dusan

    The world freezes because I’m slowly falling asleep while holding my tablet in the bathtub. It falls in the water, I quickly jump and take it out of the water, wipe it the best I can then continue using it. Why? Because Sony.

  • what about the phones with non removable battery .. that is a done deal for those !

  • glasgowgriffin

    A little known hack to reset your phone battery after its met a watery end and will not turn on, is go through the steps above to dry the phone. I use cat litter as it’s the same as the silica packs and much more effective than rice. Now, after a few days resting on the catlitter plug your phone into the charger it came with. Do not use a generic charger as wattages can vary. Hold your power and volume button for 5 minutes. After about 3 your phone will begin the start sequence but persist for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes release the two buttons and restart your phone in the usual way. You will be amazed. X

  • Chris Verhulst

    My Sony Xperia L could not swim, and is dead now. I was forgotten to remove the SIM and the SD card. He stayd 3 days in rise , but it ditn help my phone.

  • Bob

    Don’t put it in a bag of any sort, no matter what you fill it with. It will dry out in the sun or over a heater vent (or any other warm place) much more quickly. You could wash with distilled water if you want to wash out the contaminants, depending on what it was dropped into (like the toilet that’s been used). Distilled water isn’t perfect, but its better to wash out anything that might dry on the innards. Dropped in clean water, just let it dry.

  • User

    Mine is to late it thinks ear buds are always plugged in

  • Abi Farnworth

    I dropped my Nokia 5230 into the bath years ago and took the battery, memory card and sim card out and put them into some rice and left it a few days in the cupboard. I was getting ready to buy a new phone but when I tried it a few days later it worked! My last two phones have been ‘water resistant’ so I haven’t had to worry about it as much.