How To Save a Wet Cell Phone.jpg

The folks over at Geek Squad produced this helpful infographic describing a rescue method that might help save your phone if you accidentally dunk it in water.

Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


  • yamaha_yzf600

    I was using my Palm as my GPS navigation device while on a trip to Italy several years ago. I had it in my shirt pocket and bent over to inspect something at the beach. Plunk into the Mediterranean sea it went. I figured I was screwed since it wasn’t just any old water, but sea water.

    After an emergency trip to the drug store for alcohol and to Auchans (Italy’s version of wal-mart) for a screwdriver kit, all was good. Had to clean a little bit of white looking substance (salt I assume) from some contacts. My Palm eventually gave up the ghost 6 months later.

  • volkemon

    With fresh water disasters, I have had GREAT luck with rice. 2 cellphones in pools, and one laptop that a friends child dumped water on the keyboard.

    I left the phones alone for 3-4 days, and the laptop for about 3 weeks, testing each week. Both worked after, and I still use the laptop occationally. So far so good!

  • ppphhhh

    Great tips, BUT:

    – Step 1, I’d suggest skipping the graceful shutdown and just take the battery out ASAP.

    Stupid me, I ruined an expensive camera because I powered-on to make sure it was okay. It was but not when I tried to power-on again. The repair shop said it would have not been ruined had it not been powered-on (and thus shorting out the electronics).

    – Step 6, Drying time – I don’t think overnight is long enough to ensure complete dryness. I’d dry for a week or more to be absolutely certain.

  • Alan

    These are great tips. For saltwater-immersed electronics, try alternate washes with fresh water, then isopropanol, followed by a few days drying on rice. If that doesn’t do the job, the old sailor’s trick is to take the circuit boards out and submerge them in boiling water for a couple of minutes. That can dissolve salt you couldn’t get to with the other methods. It’s a last resort, but I’ve heard reliable reports of folks reviving their GPSs and radios while far from land this way.

    The comment about yanking the battery is also spot-on. Get the power completely off as quickly as possible.

  • beeseearr

    Not all beef jerky packets are desiccant packs, and may just be oxygen eaters. Also check in shoes, purses, other leather goods or imported goods for silica.

  • Matt S

    One problem with the jerky part. First of all, one little packet if silica gel probably isn’t enough, I’d go with rice myself (actually I save silica gel and have a nice little baggie of it now).

    Second problem is that jerky often does NOT have silica gel, it has an oxygen remover instead. Of the three packets of jerky I’ve eaten in the last couple months, all three have had oxygen remover instead of silica gel. Silica gel can dry out the jerky, which you don’t want. Removing oxygen is more useful. The packets look roughly the same, but when you read the packet, it is labeled differently. It also looks much different when you cut it open.

    • Sean Michael Ragan

      Thanks!

      One could also try that Damp-Rid stuff they sell at hardware stores for drying out closets before you paint. I think it’s mostly anhydrous calcium chloride, which is a fantastic desiccant.

  • jeff-o

    I usually receive at least one packet of silica gel whenever I order something from Digikey or Mouser. I keep a small bin of them now.

  • Jason!

    It’s an indicator of my age that I read this as “save a wet-cell phone” rather than “save a wet cell-phone”.

  • Anonymous

    Nice approach to save a mobile from water.Easy step by step procedures and easy to understand as well.Very good presentation.Its very useful for all mobile users.

  • jasman

    the chinese people didnt fix my phone when i put it in uncooked rice

  • http://www.teleanalysis.com/category/infrastructure/wireless wireless infrastructure news

    I have also faced the same problem once and after doing such tricks i have saved my phone and now i am using it since long 3 years. I have a Karbonn k331 set which was dropped in a fish curry bowl but quickly i take it and detached the battery and dried it in the sun for 4 to 5 hours but not using it for long 3 days and after 3 days i just switch on the phone and it is quite ok.. Thank god for saving me a lot of money for buying a phone. By the way thanks a lot for such useful tips to save a phone while wet.

  • choch

    Been there, done that, bought the new phone, twice. Once with rice – no salvation – once with powerful desiccant – seemed to work but phone failed bit by bit over next two months. Spend the money and get a waterproof case like the expensive otter-box or buy a water resistant phone like the S5 or Sony.