How to Save a Wet Cell Phone

How to Save a Wet Cell Phone© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

If you’ve ever dropped your iPhone in the pool, run it through the washing machine, or have it slip out of your hands and into the toilet, you know the meaning of the word “panic.” Screw things up and you may lose those photos of your newborn you forgot to download and your entire list of contacts. Plus you’re out the price of the phone (insurance doesn’t cover water damage).  The key is to act fast. Here are the most popular methods of saving your cell once it’s hit the drink.

1. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that your first step should be to remove the battery. Immediately. “I know it’s tempting, but resist the urge to power up your phone to see if it works–just turning it on can short out the circuits,” writes Joel Johnson of Take out the SIM card, too, which may retain data like contacts even if the phone itself is fried.

2. Your goal is then to try to speed up the drying process without damaging the phone further—if the phone stays wet for too long it will start to corrode. Skip the hairdryer, as it’s too hot for this purpose. A better choice is a can of compressed air, an air compressor set to a low psi or a wet/dry Shop Vac.

3. The next step—or the first, if you don’t have a compressed air source—is to wick any remaining moisture by submerging the phone in a bowl or bag of uncooked white rice and/or silicants if you have them handy. (That’s granular stuff that comes in those tiny packets at the bottom of aspirin bottles, beef jerky, the pockets of new clothing—raid your home to find as much as you can). Here are the details on how to do it according to

4. OK, you’ve ransacked the house for rice and a can of compressed air to no avail. Don’t despair. You may be able freeze the phone to fix it, as you’ll discover at Again, make sure the battery is removed before placing the phone on two to three layers of paper towel (to prevent frost damage). Then put it in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes. Replace the battery and power up to see if the phone works. If not, remove the battery, stick it back in the freezer for another 5 to 10 minutes and check again. Chances are you’ll have a working phone after a couple of tries.

5. Finally, there are bags known as Bheesties ™ that are specifically designed to dry out wet cell phones and other small personal electronics devices, available at for $20 each plus shipping and handling. The problem is that time is of the essence, so if you have an expensive phone and know you’re a butterfingers, order one ahead of time and have on hand in case of emergency.


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