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8 Simple Tricks That Can Save a Wet Cell Phone

Accidents happen. Here's how to keep a moment of klutziness from destroying your phone.

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Splash! Now what?

If you’ve ever dropped your iPhone in the pool, run it through the washing machine, or had 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, not to mention your entire list of contacts. Plus you’ll be out the price of the phone (insurance doesn’t cover water damage). The key is to act fast. Here are the most popular methods for saving your phone once it’s taken a dip. Plus, learn the signs you might be a little too attached to your mobile device.

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Remove the battery

Do it. 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 PopularMechanics.com. And if it still is on, turn it off. Take out the SIM card, too, which may retain data like contacts even if the phone itself is fried. The only case where this rule doesn’t apply is…

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A shocking situation

If your phone came into contact with the water while plugged in, ignore all of the other steps. Unplugging the phone could be dangerous and could cause an electrical shock. The best thing to do in this case is to call a professional to turn off the main power switch, so that it is safe to touch the phone again. Trying to get your phone back immediately is not worth being electrocuted. Learn about the cell phone that doesn’t need to be plugged in to recharge.

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Try to dry

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 hair dryer, as it will just send the moisture deeper into the phone. Plus, even a hair dryer’s cooler settings will likely be too hot for the tech. Instead, try a can of compressed air, an air compressor set to a low psi, or a wet/dry Shop-Vac. Using a small vacuum can be very effective in coaxing out moisture. However, if you do go with this method, be careful not to hold it too close to the phone. Vacuums can cause static electricity, which can be just as bad for your phone as water.

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ricePfeiffer/Shutterstock

Check your cupboards

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 (and the battery, separately) in a bowl or bag of uncooked white rice. Silicants also get the job done, if you have them handy. (That’s the granular stuff that comes in those tiny “do not eat” packets at the bottom of aspirin bottles, beef jerky, the pockets of new clothing—instead of throwing those away, keep them handy in case of a phone emergency.) PopularMechanics.com recommends keeping it there overnight, to allow the rice or silicants as much time as possible to work their magic. Besides, you really shouldn’t be using your smartphone in bed anyway.

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sunARIMAGD/Shutterstock

Soak up the sun

If your phone wasn’t in the water for very long, the sun might just be the only cure it needs. If it’s a hot day, try putting the phone—still with the battery removed, of course—on a dry towel outside in the sun. However, don’t leave it in the sun for longer than 20 minutes, as it could overheat.

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Freeze!

OK, you’ve ransacked the house for rice and a can of compressed air to no avail. Don’t despair. If the phone wasn’t in the water for long, you may be able freeze the phone to fix it. Again, make sure the phone is off and 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 again, wait 5 or 10 minutes, and then stick it back in the freezer for another 20. Chances are you’ll have a working phone after a couple of tries. Here are some more clever ways to use your freezer that don’t involve food.

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cellphonewk1003mike/Shutterstock

Don’t get salty

It might sound crazy, but if your phone took a swim in salt water, you should probably submerge it again in fresh water to save it. Salt water can leave damaging salt crystals in the workings of your phone, and a dunk in fresh water will help get them out. Make sure to take the battery out before wetting the phone. Then go ahead and use one of the other methods for drying the phone.

Plus, did you know your phone can help you avoid a sunburn at the beach?

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phonestoreAdam Gregor/Shutterstock

Leave it to the pros

If you’ve tried everything and your phone is still unresponsive, it can’t hurt to bring it to a Verizon or Apple store and see if the tech experts are able to fix it. Make sure they know that it suffered water damage, and about how long it was in the water. Also let them know what you’ve already done to try to fix it.

 

Sources: PopularMechanics.com, eHow.com, Instructables.com, WikiHow.com

Originally Published in Reader's Digest