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What to do if your phone gets water damaged

It’s happened to the best of us.

Last updated: 17 November 2020

What to do if your phone gets water damaged
It’s happened to the best of us. Your phone slips out your pocket into the loo. You go swimming and forget it’s in your shorts. One too many drinks get spilt on it. When that happens, we feel our hearts stop and have just the one burning question: is it water damaged?

Whichever way your phone decided to get wet (we’re not judging), there’s an essential procedure to follow to stand the best chance of zero permanent damage. We take a look at what to do – and what not to do! – when your phone meets water.

Steps to take if your phone gets water damaged

Follow these steps to prevent permanent damage:

Step 1: it goes without saying, but remove your phone from the water at once. Don’t wait for it to reach the bottom of the pool before diving in to fetch it!

Step 2: if your phone has a removable battery, pull it out straight away. You want to switch your device off as quickly as possible, so removing the battery is the fastest way to do that.

Step 3: if you don’t have a removable battery, then switch your phone off immediately. This stops any circuit connections from frying.

Step 4: remove any other parts that you can, even if it’s just the SIM card, to avoid damaging them.

Step 5: dry off as much water as possible, gently dabbing your phone with a paper towel or cloth.

Step 6: now it’s time to leave your phone to dry in a sealed bag with an absorbent 24-48 hours. Let’s take a look at your options below.

What can I use to dry my phone?

Even if you’ve dried off all the visible water, there will be water inside the phone itself which, you know, ought not to be there! So how do you get to it?

You need something that’ll draw out and absorb all the water that’s gone inside your device. So, place your phone in a sealed bag with:

  • Uncooked rice. Confused? Well, rice absorbs moisture fantastically. It’s cheap as chips and we’ve probably all got a bag at home, so this can be one of the most accessible ways to save your phone.
  • Silica gel packets - you know the ones you get with everything from new electronic devices to Parma ham? If you happen to have a handful of these then perfect: they’re specifically designed to absorb excess moisture.
  • Or, buy a desiccant bag. It could be a worthwhile investment to purchase a desiccant bag before any damage has happened to be ready. These come pre-made and are prepped to save your phone from water damage.

Whichever option you choose, it’s important you remember that the bag must be sealed. If it isn’t, the rice or desiccant products will draw moisture from the air outside rather than focusing solely on what’s trapped inside your phone.

Finally, we’d like to stress again that must leave your phone to dry out for 24-48 hours (the longer the better) in order to give enough time for the water to be absorbed – don’t be tempted to test it too soon! You may want to place your sealed bag in a warm, dry place like an airing cupboard, too.

Fixing a water-damaged iPhone

Fixing a water-damaged iPhone essentially follows the same process that we outlined above. The only difference is that, unfortunately, iPhone batteries are built in and so can’t be removed.

Therefore, if your iPhone goes swimming, simply turn it off straight away and follow the rest of our guidance. If your phone was already off at the time it got wet, leave it that way.

Water damage don’ts!

While you’re acutely following all our guidance on what to do, we thought we’d reiterate a few things you must not do if you want to save your phone from a sorry fate.

  • Don’t press any keys unless it’s to switch your phone off.
  • Don’t take your phone apart unless it’s to remove the battery and SIM. Getting involved with screws and the like could invalidate your warranty.
  • Don’t be tempted to let it dry out in an oven or in the sun.
  • Don’t blow into or shake it, as this could simply move the water further into the phone’s hardware and cause more damage. That includes using a hairdryer!
  • Don’t remove it from the sealed bag too early.

    What else can I try?

    Once your phone has dried, test it. If it works then congratulations! If it doesn’t, then unfortunately the damage may be too severe. You could try taking it to a technician to see if they can offer their expertise, but there are no guarantees that they can fix it.

    If you have insurance or a warranty, claim on it! That’s why you’ve got it. Call up your provider and heed their advice; they may be able to repair or replace your phone. If you don’t have insurance, and you’re no stranger to your phone getting water damage, then it’s possibly worth taking out a mobile phone insurance policy in advance of any future accidents. Some mobile phone deals offer insurance as part of a benefits package, or you could claim on house insurance if the accident happened at home.

    Lastly, if your phone can’t be saved it may be time to get a new one. Many models these days are either water-resistant or fully waterproof, so run a mobile comparison to see what tariffs are available on these handsets. Read out guide on cheap phone deals .

    If you want to be super safe, consider buying a fully waterproof case. Not only will your phone be protected, you can take some pretty cool snaps when you go swimming! If you get a new phone, you can recycle your old phone, even if its water damaged.

    Fergus Cole

    Author: Fergus Cole

    Fergus is a journalist specialising in the personal finance, energy and broadband sectors. He also has a passion for travel and adventure so tries to make the most of this in any spare time he gets.