How to rescue a wet mobile phone

Taken a call while washing up and dropped your phone in the sink? Checking your emails in the bath and watched your smartphone torpedo into the water? Not all may be lost. There are some things you can do to bring your trusty mobile back from the brink.

Unfortunately, success isn’t guaranteed because there are a lot of electronics in our smartphones but, hopefully, your phone will come back to life after following these steps.

Go fish!

First things first, fish your phone out of the water as soon as possible. The longer it’s submerged, the higher the chance of damage.

Let’s talk power

You’ll want to avoid the electrical circuits inside the phone from activating because this could cause the phone to short circuit, causing long term damage. Chances are your phone wasn’t off when you dropped it, worse luck, but if it was, leave it off. Do not be tempted to turn it on to see if it’s working – this could spell the end for your phone.

If your phone was on when you dropped it, Macworld suggests that the best option is to turn it off, unless your phone was in flight mode and you’re sure that your phone won’t wake up in the next 48 hours. Although there’s a chance that activating the phone to turn it off could cause damage, it’s likely to be better than risking leaving it on and your phone receiving calls and other notifications.

Dry it off

Once your phone’s switched off you’ll want to dry it off as best as possible. If you keep your phone inside a case, take it out. Dry off the outside of your phone with an absorbent cloth, such as a tea towel.

You might think about using a hairdryer to dry off your phone or leaving it in the sun to dry out but please steer your mind away. The heat can be damaging, so you’ll possibly do your phone more harm than good.

Give your phone a gentle shake to dislodge any liquid that may be in the ports and sockets, such as where you plug in the charger.

Take out the SIM card and battery (if possible)

Removing the SIM card helps to prevent damage to it so you don’t lose all your phone numbers. Who remembers those anymore? We’d be lost without the numbers saved in our phones!

Many modern mobile phones don’t allow you to remove the battery, but if the phone is designed to allow you to remove the back and battery, do so. Trying to prise your phone open and remove the battery when your phone isn’t designed for this could damage it further and void any warranty you may have.

If you can get the back off your phone to remove the battery, dry the inside of your phone too using an absorbent cloth or paper towel.

Leave the phone to dry in rice for at least 48 hours

It may sound odd but leaving your phone to dry in rice can help draw out the moisture inside. To prevent grains of rice getting stuck in your headphone socket, etc. wrap it loosely in a paper towel before placing the phone in a lidded tub with uncooked rice. The rice needs to cover the phone completely and you’ll need to seal the tub to prevent the rice soaking up moisture from the air outside rather than the phone.

Leave your phone in the rice for at least 48 hours, do not attempt to turn your phone on within this time because it might not be dry yet and it could short circuit.

An alternative to rice is silica gel sachets, those little bags you find inside shoe boxes and handbags. You’ll need to cover your phone, so you’ll need to buy some sachets in bulk from somewhere like a craft shop. When you’ve dropped your smartphone in water, getting it dry as soon as possible is your priority so you probably won’t have time to go and buy some silica gel sachets, but it’s possibly something to stockpile at home just in case it happens again!

The moment of truth

After 48 hours you can try switching on your phone to see if it’s working. Fingers crossed, it turns on. Phew! Make sure to go in and back up your photos, files, contacts and so on, as although your phone’s working now, there’s no guarantee that it’s fixed permanently. Sometimes the damage takes a while to rear its ugly head.

Unfortunately, there’s a chance your phone won’t turn on. In this case, you might be able to take it to a repair shop, or to an Apple store if you have an iPhone. They may be able to do something to help. Otherwise, it’s sadly time to buy a new phone or to make a claim on your insurance. Don’t have mobile phone insurance? Don’t worry, your phone may well be covered under accidental damage cover on your home contents insurance.

Prevention is better than cure

If your phone has already had an unexpected bath, these next tips might not be very helpful but they will prevent you from having to go through all this again.

  • Buy a waterproof case – if you regularly use your phone while in the bath or by the pool or beach on holiday, a waterproof case is worth every penny. They aren’t actually expensive and can save a lot of hassle should you drop your phone into the bath.
  • Choose a waterproof mobile phone – more and more smartphones are now waterproof. If you’re accident prone, it may be worth investing in a new phone that can withstand a few knocks and the odd dunk.

Disclaimer – This article does not constitute advice. If you follow any of the tips within the article, you do so at your own risk. Saga Group Plc does not take any responsibility for any damage caused.

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