Few experiences match the heart-stopping panic that comes with seeing your beloved phone take an unexpected plunge into water (apart from, say, discovering your phone has a virus). Whether it’s a poolside mishap, a bathroom fiasco or an unfortunate encounter with nature’s elements, water damage is a dreaded yet common ordeal.

The good news? All is not lost. With timely action and the right approach, there’s a chance to breathe life back into your waterlogged device. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to fix a water-damaged phone in seven easy steps, along with how to recognize signs of water damage.

Step 1: Rescue Your Phone From the Water

Maybe it’s obvious, but the first thing you need to do is rescue it! Every second you wait to get your phone out of the water, there’s a higher chance of your device filling up with water, lowering its chance for recovery.

Step 2: Power Off Your Phone

As soon as you’ve rescued your phone from the danger zone, check whether it’s still powered on; if it is, immediately power it off

By immediately turning off your phone after it gets wet, you cut off the power source and stop the flow of electricity through the device. This reduces the chances of short circuits, prevents further damage from occurring and gives you a better chance of recovering your phone.

Step 3: Disassemble Any Detachable Parts

After powering down your phone, disassemble any detachable components, such as the phone case, SIM card and battery, to evaluate the extent of damage and prepare them for separate drying.

For iPhone users, it’s important to note that removing the battery requires a complete disassembly, which should only be undertaken by professionals. Avoid attempting this unless you have the necessary expertise.

Step 4: Blot Off Excess Water

Once your phone has been taken apart, use a dry cloth or paper towel to blot excess water from your phone pieces. Make sure you do this gently, dabbing rather than rubbing, to avoid any further damage to your phone. 

Step 5: Soak Up the Moisture

Now that you’ve dried off the surface of your phone, you need to soak up the rest of the water that may have gotten into the internal parts of your phone. While many people place their phone in a bag of uncooked rice, it’s actually not the best method to get water out of your phone.

Instead, consider placing your phone components in a sealed container with silica gel packets — the small packets often found inside new shoe boxes or pill bottles. These are better alternatives to rice since they are specifically designed to absorb moisture.

If you’ve thrown away these packets (as many people do), you can easily buy them online or from a supply shop for a cheap price. In the meantime, you can resort to the rice method or place your phone parts next to a fan or air conditioning vent.

Step 6: Wait It Out

Leave your phone components in your chosen drying method for a minimum of 24-48 hours. This time frame ensures most moisture evaporates, reducing the risk of short circuits and damage. The exact drying time for your phone depends on variables like your chosen drying technique and the extent of water exposure.

For silica gel, the typical drying time is 24 hours. If you’re using rice or a fan for drying, extending the duration to 48 hours is recommended.

If your phone had only brief exposure to water, it might dry faster. However, in cases where the phone was fully submerged or significantly exposed to water, extended drying times may be necessary. 

It’s important to exercise patience during this period to avoid powering on the phone prematurely, which could lead to further damage.

Step 7: Power On and Test

After the initial drying period, you can test your phone to see if it’s functional. If your phone has a normal boot-up, functional touch screen and clear audio, you may be in the clear!

If you encounter any issues, such as a distorted screen, unusual noises or failure to turn on, it’s wise to seek professional help to avoid exacerbating the damage.

How Can You Tell If Your Phone Has Water Damage?

Many phones have built-in liquid damage indicators (LDIs) near the battery, inside the charging port or near the SIM card slot. These small stickers or dots change color when exposed to moisture. If your LDI has turned pink or red, it’s a sign of water exposure.

 

Graphic explaining how to check the liquid damage indicator on a cell phone.

You can also spot potential water damage by keeping an eye out for any signs that imply your phone’s internal workings have been harmed. Here’s how you can tell if your phone has water damage:

  • Foggy display: Condensation under the screen or within the camera lens can indicate water has entered the device.
  • Erratic behavior: If your phone is behaving unpredictably, like apps opening and closing on their own, it might be a result of water affecting the internal circuits.
  • Slow performance: Water damage can cause the phone’s processor to function poorly, leading to slow performance.
  • Touchscreen problems: Unresponsive touch or erratic touchscreen behavior can be linked to water exposure.
  • Muffled sound: If you notice decreased audio quality or muffled sound, it could indicate water damage affecting the speaker or microphone.
  • Charging problems: Water damage can interfere with the charging port, causing issues with charging or connecting to a computer.
  • Battery draining quickly: Water damage might lead to increased power consumption and a faster-draining battery.
  • Inconsistent power: If the phone powers on and off on its own or struggles to stay powered on, water damage could be a contributing factor.
  • Discoloration: If the internal components have been affected by water, you might notice areas of discoloration on the motherboard or other internal parts.
  • Corrosion: Green or white spots on the internal components can indicate the presence of corrosion due to water exposure.

If you suspect your phone has water damage, it’s best to power it off immediately and avoid turning it on until it’s thoroughly inspected and dried. If the signs of water damage are severe or the phone isn’t functioning properly after drying, seek professional repair assistance to prevent further damage.

FAQ

If you’re in the process of discovering how to remedy a water-damaged phone, you might find yourself with numerous other questions. Here are some other frequently asked questions often raised about addressing water damage on phones.

How Long Can a Phone Last in Water?

In most cases, if a phone is submerged for even a few seconds, you should treat it as potentially damaged and take appropriate steps to assess and address any water exposure. 

Some modern smartphones are designed to be water-resistant or waterproof to a certain degree. This means they can withstand brief submersion or splashes, but even these phones have limits to their water resistance. 

For example, Apple claims its most recent iPhone models have a rating of IP68, which essentially means they can stand a maximum depth of 6 meters for up to 30 minutes in water.

The longer the phone remains in water, the higher the likelihood of irreversible damage. It’s important to act quickly to mitigate potential harm and improve the chances of successful recovery.

Does Rice Fix Water Damage?

Rice is a popular DIY method for drying out a water-damaged device, and it can help, but it’s not the most effective solution and doesn’t guarantee success. 

While rice can absorb some moisture from the surrounding environment, it’s not particularly efficient at drawing moisture out of the intricate components of a smartphone. Modern devices have tightly sealed compartments where moisture can become trapped, and rice might not be able to reach those areas effectively.

Rice is also very starchy, which can leave behind dust and residue that could potentially cause further issues or make it harder to clean later on. You also risk grains of rice getting stuck into your device’s ports and connections, which can be quite challenging to remove as the rice swells when exposed to water.

Can You Blow-Dry Water Out of Your Phone?

If possible, avoid using a blow-dryer to remove water from a water-damaged phone. While it might seem like a logical approach, there are significant risks associated with this method.

Instead of evaporating the moisture, a blow-dryer might push the water deeper into the phone’s crevices, potentially causing it to spread to areas that were previously dry.

Additionally, blow-dryers emit heat that can potentially cause further damage to the delicate components inside your phone. High temperatures in your phone can lead to melted plastic, warped components or even circuitry damage. 

Take Protective Measures to Safeguard Your Phone

A water-damaged phone may seem dire, but with this guide on how to get water out of your phone, you can rescue your device. But remember: Phone protection goes beyond physical accidents. 

Just as you need to keep your device’s hardware out of harm’s way, you also need to protect the personal data it contains. Panda Security provides tools to fend off digital risks, offering comprehensive solutions like securing personal data and shielding online transactions.