It happens all too often — a slick, slippery smartphone falls out of your pocket into a toilet, pool, or sink full of water. Before you panic, there is hope! If your phone has fallen victim to water damage, these steps will show you how to get water out of your phone and (hopefully) save it.
Step 1: Check your phone model
If you have a newer iPhone or a higher-end Android phone, it may be water resistant (check out this article to find out which phones this includes). In that case, you’re probably fine — just wipe the phone down and let it dry before trying to use or charge it.
Step 2: Turn it off
If your phone isn’t water resistant, start by turning it off. Once you’ve done that, dry it with a towel and take out the SIM card (if you have one). Next, leave the device alone for at least an hour, preferably overnight or longer if it was in water for an extended period of time. Once its completely dry, turn it back on and see if it’s working.
Step 3: Dry in silica (not rice)
If the phone still won’t turn on or is behaving strangely, the next thing to try is a drying agent. You may have heard you should put your phone in rice, but this is not recommended and can actually damage your phone if the bits of rice get into the phone’s ports.
According to gazelle.com’s White Paper on Water Damage and Prevention Recovery, the best drying agent is silica gel. Pop your phone into a Ziploc bag with as many of these little packets as you can get your hands on, and leave it for up to 72 hours. The silica packets draw moisture out the same way as rice, but have been shown to be more effective while not exposing the phone to further damage.
Tip: Start collecting silica packets now — they often come with electronics — to have on hand for when you might need them.
Step 4: Take it to a repair shop or the manufacturer
If the above steps don’t work, professional help is your only hope. Cell phone pros have tools that are more effective than your basic kitchen supplies, and they may be able to recover at least some of your data, even if the phone is destroyed.
If your phone has been destroyed, some manufacturers, including Apple, will accept water-damaged phones as trade-ins for a new device. Going forward, you might want to consider investing in a waterproof case or opting for one of Apple’s or Samsung’s water-resistant phones for added peace of mind.