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Rescue a wet cell phone

Have you ever dropped your phone into the sink or even into the bathroom? Have you ever forgotten it in your pocket and washed it? This usually means replacing your mobile phone – with luck, and if you respond quickly, you may still be able to save it!


1. Get the phone out of the water as fast as possible. Even though the plastic shells of cell phones are rather dense, the water will eventually penetrate the cell phone. And it’s done in a very short time – 10-20 seconds or less. That’s why you should save your phone quickly!

2. Do not panic, if you quickly take the phone out of the water, it is very likely that you can save it. If you stay in the water for a longer period of time, for example during a wash cycle, it is less likely to be useful, but the following steps should still be taken to save it.
Attention: If your phone is connected to a charger while it is in the water, do not remove it from the water. Ask a specialist how to do this (maybe you need to unscrew a backup). Water and electricity are not compatible and can cause an electric shock. If your phone was not connected to a charger, you should get it out of the water as fast as possible and follow the next steps.
A quick reaction can save your phone, but do not panic. It is important to keep a cool head so as not to go wrong.

3. After taking the phone out of the water, put it on some paper towels or soft rags. Then remove the battery compartment cover and the battery. This is one of the most important steps. Electricity and water should never be combined here. Disconnecting the power source from the phone is a crucial first step to saving it. Many electronic components in the phone can survive immersion in water, provided they are not connected to a source of energy that could cause a short circuit.
To find out if the phone really has any water damage, check the corner next to the battery – there you should find a white rectangle or a circle with or without red lines. If the area is red or pink, your phone will have water damage.
If you are not sure how to remove the battery, read the instructions for your cell phone quickly.

4. Remove your SIM card. Some or all of your valuable contact information (as well as other information) may have been stored on your SIM card. Mostly their salvation is more valuable than the mobile phone itself.
SIM cards survive the water damage mostly unscathed. But it’s still a good idea to get it out of the phone as early as possible. Just dry them by lightly tapping them and put them aside until you want to reconnect your phone to the mobile network.

5. Remove all covers and external connections to expose as many slots, openings, and slots as possible in the mobile phone.

6. Dry your phone off. To prevent the moisture from entering your phone, you need to remove it as much as possible.
Wipe as much water as possible without dropping your phone. Do not shake or move the phone unnecessarily to prevent the water from spreading further inside.
Dry it with a paper towel or a towel. Make sure that no residue from the paper towels gets stuck in the slots. Soak up as much water as possible.
If you have removed the battery quickly, you can wipe the battery compartment with alcohol, which could save the phone.

7. Use a vacuum cleaner. If you want to try to absorb moisture, you can use a vacuum cleaner. Hold it for up to 20 minutes over each affected and reachable spot.
This is the fastest way to dry your phone completely and get it up and running again in 30 minutes. However, it is only recommended to restart the phone after such a short time if it was not exposed to much water.
Be careful not to hold the vacuum cleaner too close to the phone as a vacuum cleaner can generate static electricity that is even more fatal to your phone than water.

8. Do not use a hair dryer. Contrary to popular belief that a hair dryer could help with this problem, you should not use it. Due to the air flow, the water could be blown further inside the cell phone. And if the hair dryer is set too hot, it could lead to the following:
If the moisture is driven further inside, it could cause corrosion and oxidation, damaging the phone even more.
While you should avoid blowing air into the phone, using a fan or heater to let air flow over the outside of the phone could help with drying. The Bernoulli principle states that the resulting negative pressure conveys the moisture out of the mobile phone due to the fast, warm air flow on the surface. You can just put your phone in front of a warm air source and you do not have to worry about it.

9. Use a substance that absorbs water to drain the phone from moisture. Leave the cellphone overnight in a bowl or bag of uncooked rice or wrapped in paper towels. The rice pulls out the moisture.
If possible, you should use desiccants that attract moisture even more effectively than rice. You can also put the phone in a vacuum bag or an airtight plastic container and add a dehumidifying bag (which is often found on new shoes, equipment or leather goods). However, these dehumidifying bags are often already soaked and can no longer absorb moisture. Leave it as long as possible (overnight).
Turn the phone around regularly, so that the water can escape from all openings.

10. Leave the phone. Put it on a towel, a paper tissue, cotton pad or similar material. Remember that the goal is to remove moisture and not trap it.
Check the absorbent material every 4 to 6 hours. If there is still moisture, repeat the steps with the vacuum cleaner and desiccant.

11. Test your mobile. If you’ve been waiting for about a day, make sure everything looks clean and dry, then re-insert the battery into the phone. Check if it works.

12. Plug it into the charger. If the phone has dried and is not working, try without connecting the battery to the charger. If the phone should work now, you need a new battery.

13. Take your phone to a dealer. Sometimes you can be helped there. You should not try to cover up that it was in the water. Moisture is clearly detectable inside the phone and the specialists can help you if you tell them the truth.

14. You should never disassemble your phone if you have no idea. Leave that to the experts. By the installed chemicals and parts you could put yourself in danger.
If your phone does not work properly after drying but does not work properly, there is still some water in it or it has started to rust. Take the outer parts apart again and clean it with a clean toothbrush. Instructions can be found on YouTube.

15. Buy a protective cover. So you can protect your phone from falling. For smartphones, screensavers should definitely be installed.

  • In most cases, if the battery has been removed in time, cleaning the internal components with rubbing alcohol (alcohol will displace the water) or “contact spray” will solve your problem. If a drop of water remains in the phone, it can ruin your phone by causing corrosion and creating false contacts. If the phone behaves strangely after cleaning, you have either missed some fluid or the corrosion has already occurred.
  • The use of a toothbrush and the appropriate solvent helps to prevent corrosion. For the cautious, a trained technician or engineer can solve such a problem quickly and easily.
  • Extreme heat can damage your phone even more! Most manufacturers warn against leaving it in a car and exposing it to heat. The main thing is that the phone is completely dry before you connect it to an energy source. Have patience! Use the lowest heating level! – or better, no heat at all and instead a vacuum cleaner to quickly remove the residual moisture. This usually takes about 20 minutes of patience and care. The phone should be turned every few minutes, so that all holes and outputs are reached.
  • If your phone has fallen into the sea or other salt water, remove the battery and rinse it with potable water before any crystals can form. If salt crystals have formed in your phone, use a plastic object to carefully hit the motherboard and chips (for example, with the handle of a small screwdriver). The vibration of the blows will release some foreign matter that will fall out. Be careful and do not damage the keyboard and the “chips”. Too strong a blow can break the electronic components. Beat very carefully several times and in several places, especially around chips – this is the preferred method. Then clean any remaining oxidized parts with an appropriate solvent.
  • Try to open your phone as far as you can. You may need a TORX screwdriver for it (for example, in sizes # 4, # 5, and # 6), but it’s worth the effort. This can void the warranty, but this has already happened by the water damage anyway. Take a spray can with “contact spray” (cleaning agent for electrical contacts) and spray in plenty. It dries quickly. Scrub any remaining deposits with a soft toothbrush. Blow with compressed air and / or vacuum for several minutes to remove any moisture. Build the phone carefully afterwards. Do not leave your phone wet for a long time. Dry it as fast as possible.
  • If you know someone from the physics department of a high school, college, university, or industrial company, try drying your wet cell phone in a vacuum chamber for half an hour to one hour. Water can boil in vacuum already at room temperature and thus escape the cell phone. This will dry the parts that are not accessible to you and has an effect similar to the previous tip.
  • Try to keep a compressed air can straight (upside down, sideways or tilted it will spray an ice cold liquid) and spray into openings, microphone, speaker and keyboard. Any excess water should leak out. If the can gets cold but you are not done, leave it untouched for a while before continuing, so that no cold air escapes and no moisture condenses in internal parts. Following this procedure, you should use a vacuum chamber or a vacuum cleaner to remove the remaining internal moisture – the phone must be completely dry inside to prevent later failures. The contents of many compressed air cans can be poisonous. Follow all recommendations on the label.


  • Do not turn on the phone. This is important because otherwise a current flows in the phone, which can lead to a short circuit.
  • Never heat the battery. If you do, it could explode or leak. Lithium-ion batteries are sensitive. If you use an oven or a hair dryer, make sure you have removed the battery first.
  • If you use alcohol, make sure to do this outdoors and not add heat in any form. Only re-install the battery when the smell of alcohol has disappeared.
  • Use – as mentioned above – not too much heat for the phone. After all, you do not want to melt it or burn it.
  • Even if you have followed all these steps, minerals dissolved in water can deposit on solder and contact points of components and cause corrosion and short circuits. These solder joints are so tightly processed in modern cell phones that even low corrosion can cause a short circuit. * Be warned that manufacturers will affix stickers on their cell phones that display “invalid” / void and some by a color change (usually to blue) or red) indicate that moisture has entered the phone. This helps the technicians detect if the phone has fallen into the water, as most cell phone insurance or warranties do not cover water damage. Also note that these stickers are known to change color even in extremely humid environments.
  • Never put your phone (or any electronic or metal object) in a microwave. You will destroy the electronic components and in all likelihood the microwave.
  • For the technically inclined: Remove the screws and open the shell at least a bit, so that the moisture can escape. Mobile phones are usually waterproof to some extent, so they can be used in light rain and humid environments. Once moisture has penetrated the device, it hardly dries out. If you pull the phone out of the water and remove the battery IMMEDIATELY, you have the greatest chance of success.
What you need

  • vacuum cleaner
  • Rice or desiccant (eg calcium chloride granules, contained in most room dehumidifiers)
  • possibly special tool (eg Torx screwdriver) 

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