The 5 do’s and don’ts when your phone gets wet

Smart phones have ceased to be trivial communication devices. We uses them to manage our relationships and run our businesses. We document important events with them and reveal our secretes to them. These devices are now extremely important.

They are also extremely expensive. Think about it. These devices that you can put in your shirt pocket can cost three or four hundred dollars. Most of us “finance” them by signing up with a carrier for 2 years, and at rates that are higher than those that own thier phones outright. We are invested heavily in these little bobbles of cool. This is a testament to the utility of mobile devices, why we pay such a dear price if they were not useful, and in some cases necessary.

So, when we do  something stupid, like … jump into a pool while forgetting you put the phone in your pocket, it is not a trivial thing. I did such a stupid thing, just this passed week while on vacation. I was fortunate. I brought my laptop, and the hotel had wifi. So after Googling around I found stories of others doing similar things to mine: dropping them in water, running them though the washing machine. In most of the cases the phone came out fine, if they did the following 5 things:

  1. Don’t panic
    Like I said before smart phones are not trivial things; therefore replacing one is not a trivial matter. The ranges of emotions are probably similar to the 5 stages of grief, but you CAN come back from this. It is NOT hopeless. All is not lost. There is still a chance your phone can be saved. If it where not so, why would I be writing this?
  2. Don’t turn it on
    You may be tempted to turn on your phone to see if it still works. I’ll answer that question for you. I doesn’t. It’s wet. Your phone was not meant to work while wet. If your phone was on, when you did your dumb thing, that got it wet, I’ll wager dollars to donuts, that it isn’t now and it should stay that way for the time being. Turning it on now can cause irreparable damage. If it wasn’t done by the initial event
  3. Do remove everything from your phone
    Take the back off and remove the battery, sim card, memory card, and ANYTHING that might be attached that is suppose to come off. (I don’t know what else there could be though)
  4. Do remove liquid with a hair dryer, or a vacuum
    In my research I found a differing opinions about whether one should use a hair dryer or a vacuum. In my situation I used a hair dryer, but thinking about it the vacuum makes more sense. The dryer could push water into areas of your phone that had dryed out or where never exposed to water. The vacuum removes it completely. The results of my own thought experiment are as follows:

    • A vacuum is better than dryer
    • A dryer is better than nothing

    If I’m off base with this one please let me know in the comments.

  5. Do bury you phone in uncooked rice
    Take all the components of your phone and bury them in a sealed container of uncooked rice. Let it set for 48 hours. That means don’t touch it, don’t check it, don’t even think about it for 48 hours. It is important that the phone stay sealed for the entire 48 hours. You don’t won’t outside moisture interrupting the process that is saving your phone also you don’t want try turning on your phone unless you are reasonably sure that it is completely dried out.
    Why the rice? None of my research explained why, but it seems to me that rice draws out and absorbs the moisture from the phone, and components. You can see this when you cook rice who it expands to several time it volume. I assume something similar is happen for your phone.

Once the 48 hours has passed, fish out the components of your phone and put the, together, cross your fingers, and power up your device. I am happy to say in my case I got full functionality back. It is as good as new. I hope the same for you.