First of all, don’t panic. If you act with speed (not haste) and follow the right steps, your phone is 100% recoverable. But there are several actions that you must avoid at all costs, if you are to avoid turning your treasured phone into a useless brick:
Don’t leave your phone in the water for a split second longer than you have to. Fast retrieval can make all the difference between a sigh of a relief and a hefty price tag for a new phone.
Don’t turn your phone on. Water and electricity don’t mix. Turning your phone back on, when its innards are coated with water, is asking for a short circuit. And that is a real shortcut from a smart- to a dumb-phone.
Don’t put your phone in the oven. Yes, that may seem obvious, but you’ll be amazed at how your mind turns to crazy solutions when all your personal data is at risk. However tempting it is to fast forward the drying process, heat can be just as damaging as water. And steam even more so.
Don’t use a hair dryer. This may seem sensible, especially if used on the ‘cool’ mode, but don’t be tempted. Just remember that hair dryer’s blow. All that air being forced into your phone is simply going to push water deeper in, making the recovery process a lot harder.
Enough of the don’ts. What you do need to do is to run nimbly through the following steps:
Break the circuit: as we’ve already noted, one of the most likely causes of damage from your phone taking a bath is a short circuit. So flip the back off of your phone, and take out the battery straight way. It’s possible a soaking will have killed the battery, but at least your battery is replaceable. The data on your phone (phone numbers, texts, photos, videos and music) almost certainly isn’t.
Drop it back in the water: No seriously, you may need to do this – but only if your phone has ended up in anything other than pure water. Beer, soft drinks, sea-water and (dare we say it) unflushed toilet bowl-water; these are likely to leave sticky deposits behind as the water dries. So if your phone has managed to find itself into any of these sorts of liquids, it’ll need another dunk. But this time hold it firmly in some clean tap water – and shake it under that water for precisely 5 seconds. Enough time for the sticky or salty water to be flushed out, without causing further damage. But hopefully not long enough to cause more potential damage.
Some people recommend using pure cleaning alcohol for cleansing your phone of more noxious substances. Which is fine, if you have this to hand, or can get hold of some within in a fraction of an hour. But leaving your phone uncleaned for too long could allow the dreaded mineralization to proceed apace. And avoid rubbing alcohol – go for the 95% plus cleaning alcohols.
Tool up with tissue: You’ll need something to dry off those water-logged phone components fast, which means grabbing whatever is to hand. Towels will work OK for an initial dry-out, but super-absorbency works best. So grabbing handfuls of tissue, napkins, toilet paper or whatever else is close to hand, is essential. As you take your phone apart, you’ll be placing all those bits and pieces onto those tissues, getting the water off in short shrift. You’ll also need something to soak up water from the cracks and crevices of your phone – cotton swabs are excellent, but tissue can work well here too.
Take the phone apart: The key here is to carefully strip your phone down into all of its component parts, without leaving it so thoroughly broken down that you can’t rebuild it. That includes removing the back cover, the battery, the SIM card, as well as the front cover. Touch and smart phones will have sealed screens, so should be OK, but keypad phones will have membranes that you should remove and dry separately. Place all components onto some tissue to remove excess water, and then dry thoroughly with more tissue. Finally leave them on some toweling in a warm drive place. Covering all the components with dried rice can do a great job of drawing hidden moisture out.
Suck it dry: There will still be a big part of your phone that you can’t take apart. With luck, the water won’t have gotten too far into all that complex electronics. But one way to get water out of there a little quicker is to turn the vacuum on. Gently running your vacuum nozzle all over the main innards of your phone should make sure the worst of any water is removed before it can become a ‘permanent feature’ of your phone’s system.
Remove accessories: many phones have little slots for attaching all kinds of paraphernalia. However cute they may be, they need to go. Those slots can be useful outlets for moisture when trying to dry your phone out.
Check the water-checker: Once you’ve gotten your phone in ‘disaster recovery mode’, it’s worth checking to see whether the warranty has been invalidated. Phone companies don’t pay out for water damaged phones, so they have their own water-check tabs in the phone. These are normally located in a corner close to the battery, as white squares or circles. If they have turned pink or red, it’s a dead give-away that your phone has had a watery mishap – see this and its definitely a ‘no claim’. But if not, there’s a chance that you can claim under the warranty, if it turns out your phone is damaged.
Wait: It’s best to leave your phone’s components to dry for at least 24 hours. Three days is best, if you can survive without it for that long. Once your patience gives, reassemble the components carefully, but without the battery – and then plug your phone into the charger. If it comes on, you know the phone itself is good to go. Now try again with the battery slotted in, phone unplugged. If you now have problems, then at least you know it’s the battery which is at fault (which can be replaced).
Relax. And remember that water shouldn’t strike twice – because (naturally) you’re going to be a lot more careful around water from now on, aren’t you?