Smart Phone Dropped In Water

Q: What can be done if I dropped my smart phone in water? – Craig

A: The first thing to do is turn it off and take out the battery (iPhone users don’t have the battery removal option, so turning it off is critical). The biggest mistake that’s made in these panic situations is repeatedly trying to get the device to power up hoping that everything will be okay; each attempt could be your last!

Your best chances of recovery will be to not turn it back on until you are absolutely certain that all of the moisture has been removed or has evaporated.

Liquid is a fantastic conductor of electrical energy and can easily cause an electronic short, which causes electricity to flow across circuitry in improper channels (thus the term ‘short circuit’).

If your smart phone has a memory or SIM card, be sure to remove it as well as the data stored on it could also be at risk.

Depending upon the amount of time that it was left on while wet, you may be able to simply get the device cleared of the water and have it work perfectly.

Once the battery has been removed, open or remove any other panels or slots then wipe down all the surfaces with an absorbent paper or cloth towel. Rotate it various directions to see if you can coax any large collections of water out of the unit.

The next step is to either let the device sit in a warm and dry environment (like on top of a stereo receiver or cable converter box, but away from the open vents) so the liquid can evaporate; usually within 12 to 24 hours.

If you want to accelerate the evaporation, a long standing trick in electronic circles is to put the device in a sealed container filled with uncooked rice then place it in a warm environment like in your car in summer months or in the aforementioned locations.

For those that have the misfortune of dropping a device into a liquid other than water, the task will be more involved, especially if the liquid has a sticky residue like soda or coffee.

In those cases, the electronic surfaces that have come in contact with the sticky liquid will have to be cleaned with either isopropyl rubbing alcohol or a plastic safe electronic spray cleaner.

In order to do this, it will typically require that you take the device apart to reach the surfaces that need to be cleaned.

As with the water, if you don’t clean off the sticky residue even after it’s had enough time to evaporate, you risk the chances of the residue shorting out the circuitry as well.

If you don’t know how to take apart your device, you can use one the more useful technical resources that will show you via video: YouTube!

If you search YouTube.com for your specific device with the term ‘take apart’ in front of it, you will likely find dozens of videos that show the step-by-step process for taking the unit apart so you can completely clean the electronics of the sticky residue.

Ken Colburn
Data Doctors Computer Services
Data Doctors Data Recovery Labs
Data Doctors Franchise Systems, Inc.
Weekly video tech contributor to CNN.com
Host of the award-winning “Computer Corner” radio show

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  • Jeff Schwarz

    Another way, that I have used successfully several times is to remove any removeavle parts from the phone and dry the parts with paper towels. Under no circumstances, used canned air to try and dry the phone. This will tend to force water into areas previously dry. Set your toaster oven to 175 deg, and bake the unit for 8 to 12 ours. Reassemble and charge. Turn on.

    I’ve used this method on several different pieces of electronic gear that have managed to end up in the bilge of my boat, such as, GPS’s, radios and the odd cell phones that have dropped out of my shirt pocket as I was too lazy to remove them prior to leaning ofer the engine hatch.

  • duh

    Put phone in a bag of rice and tie it. leave it there for atleast two days if you want it to work perfectly. it works even on touch phones. the phone would work perfectly trust me its happened to me :/ and my phone works like new!

    but remember to take out battery and sim card and do not put cover back on leave it open so it can absorb the water from inside the device