How to Dry Out a Cell Phone

Michael Kwan
Cell phone trouble

If your cell phone gets wet, there are a few options that may make it possible for you to rescue the invaluable device from irreversible damage. The first step isn't to take your phone to the store or to call the manufacturer. The warranty typically will not cover water damage, and the company will know that the phone has gotten wet because of a sticker inside the phone that changes color when it gets wet.

Disassemble and Dry

If your phone gets wet, you should immediately take it apart so that it can dry.

  1. Make sure your phone is off. If it's already off, do not turn it on. Note that turning the phone on can short out the circuits.
  2. Take your phone apart: remove the back, take out the battery, and take out the SIM card.
  3. If there are other covers that you can take off, remove them as well, so that you can get the water out of as many gaps and crevices as possible.
  4. Be sure to put the SIM card in safe place. If you don't have an old phone that you can use in the interim, be sure that you don't lose the SIM card in the one to three days it will take for your phone to dry. Even if your phone will no longer work after your attempt to save it from water damage, being able to insert the old SIM card into a new phone will make your life much, much easier.
  5. From here, you can try to shake out as much of the water as possible
  6. Place your phone on a towel or some other absorbent surface and allow to sit until it is dry.

Additional Measures

Sometimes, simply allowing a disassembled phone to dry on its own isn't enough - or you may want to speed up the drying process. There are a few additional measures you can take before giving up on the device.

Rice Technique

While it may sound strange, rice can be a very absorbent material that will not result in additional damage your cell phone.

  1. Fill a bowl or a bag with uncooked rice.
  2. Put your phone and battery into the rice and make sure they are completely covered. The rice will help draw the water out of the pieces more quickly than air drying would.
  3. When the phone is done drying (give it as much time as you can), wipe it out with a soft cloth, put it back together, and try the power button.
  4. While some people have reported success after just one night, if you suspect that there may still be moisture inside your phone, let the phone dry for up to three days before putting it back together and attempting to turn it on.
  5. To check for residual moisture, lay the cell phone on its side on a paper towel for about an hour, then turn it over to the other side and wait another hour. If the paper towel is dry each time, it is most likely safe to try turning the phone on.

Gentle Heat

If you don't have some extra rice in your house or you'd like to try another method, some gentle heat can also help dissipate moisture inside the phone.

  1. Find a device in your home that gets somewhat warm from use, like a television or the dashboard of your car (as long as it is not too hot). Make sure that the temperature is not high enough to melt plastic.
  2. Set your phone on top of that and let the low heat dry it. (Note: do not place the battery on a warm device.)

Cautions:

  • Avoid high or direct heat, such as that from a hair dryer, can do more harm than good to the phone.
  • While some people have had luck by putting their phone into the oven on very low heat, this is not recommended. That is because the oven could easily get too hot and melt adhesives or warp other parts of the phone.

Your Best Chance of Saving the Device

Hopefully, these techniques will work and you won't have to purchase a new phone. However, there is always a chance that the damage to the phone is just too severe to save it. If you do drop your phone into water, remember to retrieve it and take the battery out immediately. Use a drying method that is faster than air drying (that may lead to corrosion or other damage to the phone), but not as intense as direct, high heat from a hair dryer. The goal is to speed up the dry time without damaging the interior of the phone.

How to Dry Out a Cell Phone