Fixing a wet cell phone

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I can’t say it’s ever happened to me (yet). But for thousands of people each year, it’s a sinking feeling. You’re in the bathroom, taking care of business, and suddenly *ker-plunk* your cell phone takes a swim. You look into the bowl and your worst fear is confirmed – there’s your phone looking up at you, as if to say, “Please…get me out of here…”

Is there any hope? Can your phone be saved? In many cases, yes – depending on how you handle the situation.

(Preface: if this happens to you at the State Fair while you’re using one of those Porta-Potties, ignore the rest of this article. You gotta buy another phone.)

Here’s what you do:

First, get the phone out of the water as quickly as possible. Yes, it will be disgusting. But you do want it to work again, right? So quickly do the Plunge and Grab Maneuver, and get that thing out of its watery grave.

Next, take the battery out and quickly towel-dry as much of the water away as you can (from the battery and the phone).

Third, lay the phone – open, with battery still removed – on a bath towel and blow dry with a hair dryer for several minutes. We want to get as much of the water out of it as we can before step 4.

Finally, fill up a bowl with dry white rice and submerge your phone in it for a few days. Yes, it means you will be without your phone for a while. You can handle it. The rice has the effect of drawing moisture out of the phone and into the rice, so hopefully at the end of the three days you can put the battery back in and watch it power up just like it used to.

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July 30th, 2008

I bet ya don’t wanna eat the rice after that, huh?

July 30th, 2008

As someone whose wife has “washed” her phone 3 times I can tell you that, to the phone at least, the soapy water in the washer is a more hostile environment than the toilet. There are some companies that specialize in returning dead wet phones to life and this did work in the first of our swimming adventures. However, when the same phone was washed a second time it was unrecoverable. After almost a year the new phone went on the Maytag tour after which we just bought a refurbished model. If you hope to convince your carrier that “it just mysteriously stopped working” in hopes of getting a new phone, forget it. This problem is so common that your phone has a little blue dot inside that will change color when exposed to moisture thus revealing your lie.

Mark and Sara
July 31st, 2008

I ran mine through a glass of iced tea once, and it never recovered. I used much of the information here, though I had no idea if it would work or not.
The snow bank treatment for my wife’s phone never had a chance though. Do you have a way of recovering a phone run over multiple times by a snow plow?????