What do I do for iPhone water damage? What do I do for saltwater cellphone damage?

UPDATE 3.15.2013: Be sure and read the comments, there is a ton of good information from other people who have gone through getting their iPhones wet. Thanks to all!

“Help! My iPhone got wet! WHAT DO I DO??”

No worries. If your iPhone got drenched, here’s what to do.

The first thing to realize is that the instructions below apply to pretty much all electronics: iPhones, Blackberrys, Syncs, LGs, iPads, laptops, netbooks, the works. “What do I do if I got my stuff wet?” “What do I do about salt water?” These are great questions and the key here—particularly with salt water damage—is to respond quickly.

Salt water in particular is a threat. But first things first, what if you just get it “wet”.

If your phone gets “dampened” with water, dry it off. If you believe the water got inside, you may want to do more. (Particularly if it is an iPhone 4 due to their relative sensitivity to moisture. The other iPhones seem a little more water tolerant.) Here’s what to do.

The very first thing to do: POWER DOWN. If possible, take you battery out. (It takes a special TS1 “pentalobe” screwdriver, not commonly available but you may be in luck if you live in a big city or if you have friends who are fully-geeked.) If the device has shut itself down, don’t worry. But make sure it is off. And again if possible remove the battery.

Next, shake the water out. Vigorously, for several minutes. The more water that is released this way, the less that is still inside sitting around. Now, BE CAREFUL to NOT LET GO while doing the shaking. Too many times, people release their device while shaking out the water and do worse damage than water damage. Just hold on tight. (What I do is grab a hold of the device with real thought and intent LIKE I AM REALLY DOING SOMETHING (like smacking a rug with a stick) and then swing my arm down in that same way: consciously and with intent. Do this for several minutes. Switch the device around in your grip so the water has different ways to get out. Try it with the main port facing the ground. Then the side. Then the main port again…

After all the water is out that can be “squeezed” out, the next step requires white rice and a container which is preferably sealable. Like tupperware or glassware. Ziplocs do work but they are less than airtight. (Freezer bags are better.) Even a plastic grocery sack or couple of newspaper bags will work in a pinch but the more airtight you can make it the better, and plastic bags tend to “breathe”.

Why white rice? It’s more absorbent. Uncle Ben’s/instant rice is not the best, though. That’s kind of fake rice and it doesn’t absorb as well because it gets soggy quick. But again, in a pinch even this will do.

What to do is place the device in the container or bag and pour the rice over it until it’s covered. Keep this in mind if this is a laptop, it’s going to take a lot of rice. Otherwise, just make sure your device is surrounded with rice. If the battery is removable, make sure the battery is OUT. Don’t skimp on the rice, rice is cheap.

Now comes the hardest part: Put the container or bag away for 24-hours. At least.

I prefer to wait a full 48-hours because my electronics are worth it. Especially data devices such as smart phones. I roll the rice a few of times each day—every four or five hours or so—just to move drier rice around the device.

After this work, open up the container or bag, install the battery, and power up. Chances are it is really going to work. Which is really a great feeling. I mean REALLY great…

…however, if the phone is still not working believe it or not there is still hope. The key is is to plug in your device and charge it for an hour or so. It may come right on BUT EVEN IF IT DOES…WAIT! Let the device sit and “juice up” for a while (an hour or longer). For some reason, this seems to make a big difference in the long-run. In any case, the electricity makes the device happy.

SALT WATER

Salt water is a different ball game. Salt water is like acid to electronics. VERY BAD. Here’s what you have to do, and fast.

That’s right, fast. The key to success with treating electronic’s exposure to salt water is reaction time. And that reaction is to rinse the device in FRESH WATER.

“What??” you ask. That’s right, rinse in fresh water. Even a diet soda is better than salt water. (Sometimes the closest thing to fresh water is Sprite Zero. Sugar sodas on the other hand would be a no-go.) Salt water eats electronics like wet eats tissue paper.

If you get your device dampened by salt water, a quick swish of fresh water and some wiping and shaking may do the trick.

If the device is doused in salt water, however, the only treatment is a fast complete rinse down with fresh water.

(If you only have a limited amount of fresh water: First remove battery (if possible) and rinse off salt from device with fresh water. Than swish device in cup of fresh water. Than shake water out as much as possible. Than wrap in towels. Put in plastic bag until full rinse and rice treatment can begin.)

To start with, remove battery (if possible—as I said above, it takes a special TS1 “pentalobe” screwdriver) and rinse device under fresh water. When I say rinse, I mean drench. Just put under a faucet and then shake out water, then do it again. And again. Get that salt out. Better yet, put in a bowl or bucket of fresh water, turn upside down to let air out from bottom, and shake.

Next, proceed as you would after exposure to fresh water as described above. Since the phone has been completely immersed in fresh water, let it stay in the rice for the full 48-hours. Move the rice around several times to bring the drier rice closer to the device so that it may better draw the moisture away. You can even switch out the rice with fresh dry rice after the first 24-hrs. Be patient.

A word of caution: Some people have used isopropyl alcohol instead after exposure to water. My own experience is that this causes other problems (such as permanent discoloring or fogging of screen; melting of some plastics and rubber; etc.). If isopropyl alcohol is used, your results may vary. My experience is that clean water dries easy.

And that’s it. If you follow the above, chances are you will have a properly working device which continues to serve you well.

Mike Mongo
Computers Are My Life
Key West

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About Mike Mongo

"My name is Mike Mongo and I am an astronaut teacher. Though I travel very much, I live on the island of Key West. My primary occupation is working with students and encouraging students to pursue careers in space and astronautics. Much of my time is spent writing, teaching and learning about space and space travel. Of all the things I love doing being an astronaut teacher is my favorite!"
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168 Responses to What do I do for iPhone water damage? What do I do for saltwater cellphone damage?

  1. Margot says:

    I have no idea if this will work for me, but you are awesome!!!! Thanks! the woman in Hawaii whose Lifeproof case FAILED!!! :D

    • Gianna says:

      my lifeproof case failed too! i was snorkeling down at la jolla cove and water seeped into the case ( i made sure that everything was sealed and tight and snapped) and now im stuck with a phone that has crystalized salt on the charging port. it wont turn on. you think i can still wash it with fresh water? or has the damage been done?

      • Mike Mongo says:

        How long ago did this happen? The most important thing is to get the salt out because salt is corrosive: It will not “stop”. Salt and water together on electronics acts as an acid.

        First thing is rinse in fresh water. Since your phone is not working, you have nothing to lose in this regard.

        Follow the instructions TO THE LETTER that I gave above. Most important after flushing the salt is 1) drying in plenty of rice for the full 48-hours, and 2) do not plug in any power until after the 48-hours in rice. When you do plug it in after the rice, it may take an hour or longer to get a charge. Even if it comes back on, you may have to change the battery. (Which is no big deal, plenty of videos online about doing that.

      • Gianna says:

        it happened yesterday. not much water got inside though, and i cleaned out the charging port, apparently it was dust and not salt crystals. im not sure how to “rinse” it with fresh water, like do it swish it in water or do i submerge it? i just put it in a sealed bag with rice in the hopes of reducing moisture inside the device

      • Mike Mongo says:

        If salt is inside, you must get a little fresh water in that port and shake it around. DO NOT POWER UP. Then follow rest of instructions above. Good luck! Sorry about your phone getting wet but now is the time to be brave and get that salt out before it does real damage. Let me know how it goes.

      • Gianna says:

        im shaking fresh water off as we speak. problem is, i plugged it in after it got wet ( thinking that the water didnt get in bec. it was just bet. the phone and the lifeproof case) because my battery was dead ( it was at 7% when i went snorkeling with it)… but anyway, yeah so i washed it with fresh water now since ive nothing to lose. and now i put it in a tupperware with white rice. ill let you know how it goes. worse comes to worst, im taking it to an apple store. thanks!

  2. Aj0007 says:

    Hi guys I bought my iPhone 3weeks go and i accidentley swim with it in the sea for about 3-5 minuets then I come out and shake it and dry it with towel and sun but nothing happens so now one week later after the accident so what’s the best option to do to I get my phone back

  3. Geno says:

    Oh no! I am in the same boat. I was snorkeling last week (6 days ago) with my iphone 4s in LifeProof and it failed me! After 20 minutes in sea water, I came out, and the apple logo was flickering. I tried turning off but it didn’t and it stayed hot for about 2 hours. Finally the battery went dead. I believe the water leaked through the plug in port (not very good). Do I have any recourse against LifeProof? Is my iphone DOA? Should I soak in fresh water or is it too late?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Sorry for the delay. If it has stopped working, your ONLY recourse is to soak good in fresh water, shake water out thoroughly (VERY thoroughly), then put in rice for solid 48 hours. See directions above.

      • Geno says:

        Thanks. So I don’t need to take it apart, I can just soak the whole phone intact like it is?

      • Mike Mongo says:

        Taking it apart is best to remove the battery. However, that’s usually a step up on the skill set. Most people just don’t have the tools or the nerve. (Particularly if it is a 4 or 4s.) Rinse in water. DO NOT POWER. Shake shake shake. Shake some more. Put in plenty of dry rice. DO NOT POWER. Wait 48 hours. DO NOT POWER instead plug in. Let set for at least an hour. NOW power. Good luck!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I went on a cruise to the bahamas, and my waterproof case failed in saltwater as well! Unfortunately, as I was on a cruise ship, I was not provided with any rice (it was against ship policy) so I just let it air dry for the remainder of the cruise. When I got home, I put it directly in white rice and today marks 4 consecutive days of it being in rice, yet it still wont turn on. Should I try plugging it in and see if the battery starts up, or would you still recommend rinsing it in water first and then doing the rice treatment again?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Read the instructions posted. You ARE going to have to COMPLETELY soak it in fresh water and shake VIGOROUSLY several times. You have got to shake the salt loose. Then completely COVERED in rice in a water-tight container for 48 hours. (Shake the container several times over the course of the 48 hours.)

      But READ AND FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ABOVE!!! or else this will not work. Ok?

      There is a good likelihood your phone is dead. But this is your best opportunity and it may work. You may very well be surprised. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

  5. Geno says:

    Mike – unfortunately it did not work for me. I guess time and the salt were too much to overcome for my poor device. RIP…

    But I have another question. My kid has an iphone 4 that has a cracked LCD screen. And I want to repair it. My salt-damaged device was an iphone 4s. Do you think I can replace the iphone 4 LCD screen using the one from the 4s? Or do you think I should just get a new LCD screen? Would the Thanks.

  6. Geno says:

    Oops, I did not finish my thought. Would the salt water have damaged the LCD touch screen circuitry as well, or maybe that is fine?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Hmm. How did it not work? It was less than 24 hours between when I wrote the above and you responded?

      As for the second phone, you will have to get a news screen. Two different screens. It will cost $100 or so to replace.

  7. enricomck says:

    hi to all firsly sorry my english and thank you for all make this page to help others. now i have the same problem iphone 4 my waterproof case failed in saltwater, i have manega to take all parts out and cleane the logikboard wit %99 IPA but i only sprey it on then brush it (i did not soak in %99 IPA) after its dry i power up with new battery and working difrent iphone 4 housing , my problem is now battery charging shows %100 then few hours swich its self of needs charging again, i left on charge 12 hour then went to see was on red battery charging sing but i did not take out charg why its going dead battery ??? what should i do ?? any help?
    should i take logikboard out soak in %99 IPA but please anyone can advice me how long i should kep in %99 IPA ??? thanks

    • Mike Mongo says:

      From iFixit:
      Step 11 — Cleaning the logic board
      • Submerge the logic board in isopropyl alcohol and allow it to soak long enough to loosen hardened residue and to displace any remaining water or other liquid. Use a soft brush to remove visible corrosion and residue.
      • Residue from motherboard left in isopropyl alcohol container.
      • Clean all flex ends, battery contacts, connectors, chips and fuses on motherboard with a soft brush.
      • Repeat cleaning if necessary or if traces of residue are still visible.
      • Allow the logic board or other parts to dry completely before reassembly.

      • enricomck says:

        to be honest my iphone 4 inside water sensors are still white but i haave take the metal shild off and spread with %99 IPA brust it all ,,, please can you give me some time how long sould i soak 10 min 20min ?? thank you

      • Mike Mongo says:

        10 minutes should do it. Then scrub off with soft brush. Read what I posted above.

  8. enricomck says:

    thank you so much i will let you know outcames thanks again man

  9. Debbie says:

    My daughter’s iPhone 4 fell into the ocean under our boat at the dock on Sunday. We finally managed to get a diver to go down and retrieve it today (3 days later). My husband rinsed it in fresh water. Should it be opened in order to rinse again and left open while in the rice? Thanks!

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Yes. It needs to be rinsed totally and then dried completely before powering on.

      • Debbie says:

        Thanks for replying, Mike. Unfortunately, we were not able to get the phone open but it was rinsed as best we could. It’s been sitting in an airtight container covered in rice for two full days now. Do you think that’s enough time to give it a try or should I change the rice and let it sit longer? Also, my husband suggested damp rid… what are your thoughts? Thanks again!

      • Mike Mongo says:

        Iphone’s don’t open. You just SOAK them thoroughly because salt is the enemy more so than water. Rice is the way to go. You can shake it up to stir up the rice moving moisture away from the phone. Two full days is plenty. Then plug it in and let it set on charger for full hour before attempting to turn on. Good luck!

  10. Debbie says:

    Hi Mike,
    I need to ask for your help one more time. I took the phone out of the rice last night and plugged it in. The apple came up and right after it the password screen. I put in the password and my home screen came up. The phone went off quickly so I left it alone. It cycled between the apple, password screen and off for about two hours then stayed dark and I left it plugged in through the night. In the morning, I tried to turn it on but all I got was the dead battery picture. I took the phone to Apple and they opened it and said it was extremely corroded on the inside and that several of the pins were missing from the battery and that is why it was not charging. I managed to get the phone on for a few minutes and my photos were still there. But, the phone does not stay on long enough for me to copy anything to my computer. Do you have any suggestions? Obviously, any advice you give me would be extremely appreciated and helpful. Thank you again!

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Take out the bad battery. That will only cause more problems. And then order another one. (There’s a difference between iPhone 4 and 4s batteries, be aware.)

      You can buy them on eBay for about $10. You will need a custom screwdriver. (On eBay, search for iphone screwdriver. It’s like a little star.)

      The key is to stop corrosion. The bad battery is only going to get worse. FYI.

  11. michael ramsey says:

    I approve of this article. I got my iphone damaged with salt water and it works fine now (less than a day later). I submerged it in water for a bit, shook out the water, and then dried it in a ziploc bag with rice for about 12 hrs. Thank you for your help!

  12. Debbie says:

    Mike, Apple said putting in a new battery could shock the phone and cause me to lose all my data. Are they pulling my leg? Should I just go ahead and have them put in the new battery today? I feel that every day that passes is costing me valuable time. I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars (or more) going to a data recovery service if I don’t have to. Please advise, thanks!

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Untrue. Strange and untrue. It’s a simple operation. What hundreds of dollars? If you must just send it here, I’ll change battery and back-up data for $100 roundtrip. Simple, seriously. You can do it! Buy battery on eBay. Buy tool on eBay. Back slides right off. If you have any doubts watch the video I linked to. You can do it!

      • Debbie says:

        Hi again,
        It’s been a few days now and the phone still sits. My daughter (it’s her phone) is absolutely petrified to put a new battery into the phone. Apple told her it would shock the phone and erase all her data. She stopped by a “data recovery” place on Monday and they told her the same thing as Apple. Then she called our “computer” guy who told her they were all correct. Apparently, she’s bringing him the phone on Saturday so he can try to retrieve the data without turning on the phone. Truthfully, you seem extremely confident that you can get the data (photos, notes, etc) off the phone yet these people are making her so paranoid that I think we’re losing valuable time. My choice would be to send you the phone but I’m sure she’s going to let our computer guy take a shot at it first. If he fails, would you still be willing to give it a shot? I wish there were words you could offer my daughter that would make her feel confident she wouldn’t lose those photos… thanks, Mike!

  13. Sierra says:

    My iphone 4S was completey saturated in salt water a few days ago! Stupid me! I took it to a guy and he said he dried it and removed the battery, but I’m on holiday in Thailand so I can’t be sure what he did exactly. Do I submerge the phone and the battery as well, since he took the battery out? Or just do the salt water recovery steps with my phone? Should I also rinse off the battery? Then after 48 hours put the battery back in and see if it works, and if not, get a new battery? I haven’ttouched the phone for 3 days so is that still salvageable?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      If you are unable to attend to the phone, you must get that salt off/out of it. Salt and the materials of components within an iPhone are reactive: they sponsor one another to “combust” (so to speak). Even if you cannot salvage the iphone, you can save the data, and I am guessing you have vacation photos. The best bet is if you can get the back off again, rinse, let phone alone on countertop for 5-10 minutes and then give a good rinsing again. Not brushing with anything but a good bath under the faucet or whisking in clean water of a bucket. Then WHILE HOLDING TIGHTLY (!!!) shake vigorously. DO NOT LET GO OF YOUR PHONE. I swing my arm down as if I am hammering something, this forces excess water to leave the phone. Towel off with lint-free towel or good paper towels, and then place in big bag or jar or sealed container of dry white rice. (I have even used plastic wrap and just loosely wrapped the package up—about the size of large grapefruit. Personally, I like to be able to shake the container a bit so to move the rice around inside and shift rice around inside, moving rice which has absorbed some away from phone and “new” rice near phone—but that’s really just overkill. Important, though, do NOT open container for 24-48 hrs after sealing. I almost ALWAYS wait 48 hours. If you MUST you can pull it out in 24. You’re call.

      As for battery just rinse off. The little metal connection will probably corrode. Replacement batteries are about $10 US on eBay. Easy to replace yourself. Good luck in Thailand! Have fun in any case!

  14. phil marrone says:

    mike
    my i phone got wet with salt water this past sunday. I put the phone in rice but didnt know about the fresh water option. It is now Wednesday i went to the apple Store on Monday and the guy opened it and said it at corrioson on the inside. i have it in rice know with the back cover off.
    do you think it is too late to clean with fresh water and should i put the back cover on before i do this. when this did happen on sunday i saw no actual water on the phone and it was wrapped in a towel when we got hit by the way. but to date i have no power whatsoever. Should i go buy a new battery? Please advise on what to do. I am sorry for any redundancy.

  15. Fred says:

    Mike, last week im on vacation in Bali and my iPhone 5 inside my bag..i accidentally dropped my bag in salt water and manage to shake my phone after that..and 1 days later i bought white rice and put my iphone..till now my iphone wont turn up..any idea? sorry for my english

    • Mike Mongo says:

      The most important thing: You MUST get salt out of phone. The ONLY way is to rinse. Sweet (fresh) water works best. This can be tap or bottled. Salt acts as a corrosive. It has to be cleared from phone. It may be too late. So the best thing to do is open phone and remove back using special 5-point pentalobe screwdriver (repair shop or ebay). Since that may not be so easy, and if the phone is dead anyway, the best bet is to make sure phone is off (hold power & home button down together for 10-seconds) then soak under fresh water. I mean soak. Drench. Swish around, shake it up so water moves around inside.

      Next, shake out water. I hold it so water can come out bottom and swing my arm downwards for a couple of minutes. NOTE: BE SURE AND HOLD PHONE TIGHTLY. I have seen phones broken during this process by people letting go of phone. When doing this be careful to not let go of phone.

      After all the excess fresh water is shook out, now follow instructions above with rice. Let set in sealed container with rice for 48-hours. Do not bother other. Just walk away and let it be. 48-hours later, remove from dry rice and plug in. It will take an hour or so but generally the phone will come back on at this point. Good luck!

  16. Elliot says:

    I’d been traveling around Spain taking pictures with an iPhone 4 when I accidentally exposed it to the Mediterranean, which is a bit salty. When i realized what i did, I immediately dried the phone and wrapped it in a towel for a couple of hours until I was able to get rice. It has been in the rice for 3 days now, so what should I do to save the phone and/or the pictures? Also, what are the chances that the phone will work or that the pictures will be saved? Finally, is it possible to go to an apple store and see if they can transfer the memory from this phone onto a new phone? Thanks for your help

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Did you rinse the salt out? Does it turn on now?

      First power it it up for an hour. If it comes back on, find a friendly computer and IMMEDIATELY back up your photos etc. (You can even “save” an iphone backup and carry with you (on a thumb drive, for instance) to extract information later but that’s another process. Google where is my iphone backup stored.)

      If it doesn’t power up after an hour I’d unplug, rinse thoroughly with fresh water (see my original post–rinse, swish, shake with firm grip) then dry off and put back in rice for two days. If you have to put in big freezer bag if rice and carry with you, that’s ok too. Two days later, charge again for an hour or two, then try to power up. It will probably work. If not at least it’s dry and corrosive salt is gone.

      At home you can have photos info saved by sending away. (eBay: iphone photo recovery, logic board repair, etc.)

      Good luck. And have a great trip. Don’t let this spoil your fun. Photos and data are important but life and living is even better. I’d rather have a vacation in the Mediterranean without a camera then no vacation but with a camera anyday!

  17. Magnus says:

    Please help me. My iPhone 4 got dropped in salt water yesterday. it does not turn on, and does not respond if i try to recharge it. Is my phone completely broken or is it still hope? if i cant do something, can atleast turn it in for repear? or is it not fixable? please respond :) great article

    • Mike Mongo says:

      There’s hope. Follow the directions above. Essentially, soak, rinse, hold tight/shake out, dry off, put in sealed container of dry rice (about quart of rice), seal, let set for 24 AT LEAST without powering on or messing with. THEN: remove from rice, DO NOT POWER ON, connect to power source, let charge for an hour. NOW try powering on. And (usually) voila! Good luck!

  18. Jaden says:

    Hey Mike, i was wading through the Caribbean sea for about 40 minutes until i realized my phone was in my pocket. i put it in white rice immediately for about 4 days before i realized i needed to rinse it out. after the 4 days i tried powering it again but nothing happened. how long should i rinse the phone in fresh water for? do you think theres still hope? i am currently following your instructions word for word.

  19. Aish. says:

    Hi Mike! So I got my iphone 5 drenched in sea water and it wouldn’t turn on. I put it in rice, tried plugging it in to charge after a day, didn’t work. Then I put it back in rice for 3 days, plugged it in, still nothing. I just read this rinsing in fresh water thing, which I JUST did. Literally gave my iphone a shower with tap water, shook it like nobody’s business and now put it back in container with rice. While I was doing that – THE CAMERA LIGHT STARTED FLASHING – so I pressed the home button and the top button for 10 secs, it stopped flashing and I put it back in the rice. Does this mean there is still hope?? Or is it telling me I ruined everything inside?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Yes of course there is still hope but whatever you do DO NOT PLUG IT IN. Right now shake out even more water and then put in rice for 24-hours. It matters. It works. You are one the right path. The rice will absorb the moisture. Then, after 24-hours, plug it back in and it charge for AT LEAST an hour. THEN try and power up. (It may do so by itself.) Even if that does not work, try plugging it into computer and see if iTunes recognizes the phone, maybe to retrieve some data. Remove from computer and put back on regular AC charger. You can let set for another 24 hours on charger. It may come up during this time. If not still, then deep rinse under fresh water again and 24hrs in (new) rice again. Good luck, I think you are getting there!

  20. hi there i need help :(( last december 8 i ruined my phone it got soaked in salwater for i think 3 minutes i panicked my aunt told me to bury it in the sand but i didnt remove the casing first i know from a fact i tried turning it on :( when i got home i drenched it in rice but its still dead is their any chance that it can be repaired? or i really need to let go and get a new one? :(((

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Wow, yes, it’s probaby ruined. (Sand? Really? With case still on? Wow!) Here’s your last chance. All you can do is drench under tap water or hose. Shake water out. Then soak in bowl or bucket of water. Shake water out again. Then drench it again and shake water out again. 3 times, even 4. Then shake water out good (but hold onto phone—careful not to let go and throw it). Now shake out even MORE water, until no water comes out. NOW put in rice in airtight container. Fill ziploc freezer bag or tupperware bowl, cover COMPLETELY with dry rice and seal. Leave completely alone for 48 hours, NOT 24 but 48 hours. After 48 hours, take out phone and plug into regular AC charger. Let set for two hours. It may (may) come on by itself but leave it alone and let it charge for two solid hours. If it doesn’t automatically come on after two hours then go ahead and push power button. If it didn’t come on, chances are it is not going to. But you never know until you try.

      Next time, google first, bury your iPhone is sand later.

  21. Michael says:

    Hi i accidentally drowned my iphone due to the fact that my indepth case failed. it drowned in saltwater. as soon as i got home i flushed it with freshwater. i am getting a little red light in the speaker at the top of the iphone 4 it has been in the rice for less than 30 minutes. is this a good or bad thing

    • Mike Mongo says:

      It depends. Did you flush it well with fresh water? If so, good, it is probably just a connection being made internally. The rice will absorb the moisture IF left untended for at least 24-48 hours, IF in a sealed-tight container with plenty of dry rice (I use about 4 cups). Just let it be. Forget about it, and let it sit unmolested and unbothered for AT LEAST the full 24-hours. Walk away and let the rice do its work.

  22. angelwing12 says:

    My ipod got soaked in milk 5 days ago and died. Then, I dried it off and put it in a bag of rice for 4 days and tried plugging it into the computer and it turned on. But then when I came back later, the ipod was off again and I can’t get it to turn back on. What should I do? Would rinsing it in fresh water be helpful at this point, since I didn’t do that before?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      You are in a very tricky situation. Milk (and sugary drinks) leave coatings of residue that hardens. Worse, it rots. Mold can form, particularly with milk-based liquids. If it was mine, I’d put it in bowl of water and let sit for a couple hours. Then I’d rinse it and shake water out over and over and over Like 10 times. Immediately after that I’d put proceed as if it had just dropped it in fresh water: shake out water and place phone in airtight sealed container of 2-4 cups of dry rice for 48-hours. Then I’d plug in and let charge for at least an hour. It will probably come on then and even work well but the battery will more than likely have to be replaced.

  23. BeachBum says:

    Mike I was swimming in the Caribbean Sea when my Griffin “Waterproof” Survivor case failed around 9am on Sunday March 9th. A small amount of salt water entered the case. The phone turned off on it’s own. The LCI liquid contact indicator sticker inside the SIM compartment on my iPhone 5S is still white. The sticker never turned red. Is it still white because only fresh water turns it red or because it didn’t get wet enough?

    My iPhone 5S won’t turn back on or connect to iTunes but gets hot while charging. How do I now if it has a short circuit or if it needs a new battery? If the liquid contact indication sticker is still white will Apple repair it under warranty or will the technician know the phone was damaged by liquid?

    My 4S was stolen so I just purchased this 5S from the U.S. Apple store. I’ve only had it for 4 weeks. It’s factory unlocked so I paid $700US and an additional $500US for shipping and customs import fees to the Caribbean. After spending a total of $1,200US for my iPhone 5S I’m hoping the white LCI sticker will keep my warranty valid. What’s your advice or opinion Mike?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      TOUGH CALL except for one thing. It’s not working. I believe more than a small amount got in, or that it was enough to get into phone and short circuit it. In your case I’d get it open ASAP and give it a “rinse” with “electronic contact cleaner” (comes in spray can—google it—I use CRC-brand) and I’d do it ASAP. The trick is locating the tool. Is there a reputable iphone repair shop where you are?

      • BeachBum says:

        You were right it about the short circuit Mike… Mailing my 5S back to the States for Apple’s $269 out of warranty replacement (or no charge if they can’t find a red LCI sticker inside) They’ll give me a new or refurbished iPhone… Griffin is also mailing me a new Waterproof Survivor Case for free and Jamaica Customs promised to refund the customs duty fees I paid to import the phone the first time and apply the fee to this shipment since it’s being exported and imported again for warranty replacement

      • Mike Mongo says:

        BB, thanks for the informative update. That’s the best part of this post: It’s all the additional information made available by all of us who go through getting our iPhone wet!

  24. BeachBum says:

    Thanks Mike… I’m on my way to the repair shop now… I’ll let you know what happens…

  25. Chris says:

    Hey mike, just came home and found you on google. My 5s got soaked in the Caribbean Sea while snorkeling today. I only turned it off a few hrs later. Then I rinsed it and placed it in a container of rice per your instructions. Will report back in 48 hrs or so to let you know if it works :) cheers

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Thanks, Chris. Good luck!

      • Chris says:

        So it’s Monday, my 5s was stuck in the rice for approx 36 hrs. I plugged it on and nothing happened, so I dumped it in rice again. Keeping my fingers crossed. :(

      • Chris says:

        Oh and for you guys and gals who place your trust in life proof, don’t!!!!!! I barely spent 5 mins in the water when I felt my 5s start to vibrate like crazy. When I took it out of my pocket the entire case was full with water. Yes my charging port and headphone jack were both properly secured because I double checked them before entering e water. And yes I did the water test before installing it in my 5s. I really hope this rice business works because I can’t she’ll out that kind of money anytime soon to purchase a new phone. Life proof totally sucks big time :(

  26. Todd says:

    Hi Mike! In short:
    sealed case failed during a capsizing in salt water,
    massive rinsing and shaking session.
    48 hr. rice process
    plugged in iphone, left it charging, and got the blinking apple logo and then it went dead
    back in the rice for nearly another 24 hrs
    blinking logo is back again but the phone has not gone dead.
    computer will not recognize the phone.

    does the apple blinking indicate anything? what should happen next?

  27. Todd says:

    thanks Mike! its an iphone 5. tried that trick and the symbol came up! that’s new. nothing else happened. believe it or not I never use iTunes. I never use my phone for music at all save for playing off of youtube. anyway that symbol came on and the computer indicated by sound that a device had been connected followed by the sound of a device being disconnected. I found this link while digging around but have to get the phone to stay connected to the computer first. I wonder if I shouldn’t rice pack it again for a while. any thoughts?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      More time in rice may in fact help. I am constantly amazed by the iPhone’s propensity for self healing over time. Also, I would like to encourage you (and all others) to use iTunes—if only to create ready back-ups “just in case”. Those just-in-case moments happen, and IMO it is surprising how much information can be restored from a back-up that cannot be re-downloaded from the cloud/iCloud.

  28. Todd says:

    Blessings upon you for ministering to the desperate tech world.

  29. Sam says:

    Hey mike,
    A couple hours ago I dropped my phone into a urinal that was filled with urine. I picked the phone out right away and quickly rinsed it. I then placed it into rice about 30 min after it has been soaked. My question is should I take it out and rinse it thoroughly or should I just leave it in the rice. It’s been in rice for 3 hours now. I also just rinsed the phone for about 5 seconds. So what should I do?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Urine is sterile. It can have salt content but generally nowhere near salt water. Don’t rinse it, RICE IT. Meaning, don’t rinse it but leave it COVERED in rice for FULL 24-hrs! (You sound like a person who can’t put their phone down for too long—but in this case your phone’s health and well-being depend on your being able to let it have this “downtime”.) Let the phone be in the rice, walk away, use a computer, get back to it tomorrow.

      If I have guessed correctly, you this is going to be challenge for you. However, think if you didn’t have that phone at all. Unless it’s time for an upgrade, let the rice suck away all that moisture from your iPhone.

  30. Chris says:

    Hi Mike, really nice of you to help out so many people. I like many above me took my iphone5 swimming into the ocean. I quickly rushed it to a sink shook and submerged it for a few minutes then put it in a sick and spun it around helicopter style. Unfortunately I hit a chair in the process and the phone back seemed to have disconnected from the front. It did snap back together and I put it in a ziplock bag of rice. 5 days later I plugged it in and the apple logo and unlock screen came on. I swipped to unlock and the screen flickered and died but the phone is still recognized by iTunes. I can hear Siri and screen shot sounds but the screen seems toasted. Do you think it would be the salt causing a short or could the screen connector have been made loose from the phone hitting the chair during the drying process. I know it will need a new battery as it won’t hold a charge long but I’m wondering if the screen issue is gonna cost hundreds of dollars. Thanks for your time if you get to responding to this. You live you learn.

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Chris, thsnk for the kind words. I am traveling in Caribbean so internet is spotty. My feeling is its a battery issue. Believe it or not I’d do rice again as moisture in microcitcuitry can affect at even tiny levels. THEN swap battery. Good luck, and thsnk for posting!

  31. Dale says:

    Hi I went snorkeling with my iphone 5 3 days ago, I placed it in a plastic case (looked like a ziplock bag) it was fine for the whole day. The following day it suddenly heated up and it wouldn’t turn on. As soon as I got to the hotel I charged it… and since it wasn’t turning in i gave up. Today I charged it then I saw the apple logo but it kept turning off and on, then after awhile a white screen came on. I just recenty placed it on a bag of rice…. What should I do? Should I still do the submersion in the fresh water?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Dale, in your case do NOT rinse in freshwater. First, restore your iPhone from backup. If that does not work or is not possible, replace battery. The heat is coming from a battery-related issue. Also, you did not mention if you felt the phone got wet, or if it was fresh or salt water. Lastly, are you certain you dried it in rice correctly?

      • Dale says:

        The phone didn’t get wet, but when it turned on I saw some water marks inside the screen.

  32. Bbear says:

    hi mike, on the 25th of April my phone became submerges in salt water for about 10 minutes due to a friend not taking it out of her pocket before going to swim with dolphins! I did not have access to internet to look up what to do so i just put it into a bag of rice. I left it for about 36 hours until I returned home to a place with power and internet, When I plugged it in for the first time it turned on and seemed fine bar some water damage in the screen much to my excitement, so Ii put it back in rice to try get rid of the last of the water. However when I then went on to your website and read about the rinsing with water I lost hope once again, it has now been 4 days and my phone now goes into the recovery mode thing of wanting to be plugged into iTunes, should i rinse it with fresh water now? as it happened the day before i went on holiday i backed my phone up onto itunes and i dont want to lose this as i can restore it onto a new iphone if I can get one… What should I do? Thanks

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Bbear, yours is one of those case where I would DEFINITELY rinse with fresh water with this added note: remove the back, remove the battery, THEN rinse. Then wait 5 minutes and rinse thoroughly again. (This will let dried salt re-moisten and rinse away.)
      Taking the back off requires special screwdriver. A shop may do it for free or $10.
      After rinses, carefully but vigorously shake out water. Shake out as much as you can but keep a grip on iphone! Don’t let it loose from your grip but shake shake shake!
      With back and battery still off, place in sealed container with 4-cups of dry uncooked white rice. Seal. Leave for 24-hours. Do not shake.
      After 24-hrs, remove phone from rice, shake then blow out loose rice particles. Tap on counter surface gently to make sure all rice and particles are expelled.Replace battery and back.
      Plug in iPhone to charger. Let charge for one hour then press power button. Note: iPhone may immediately power on once plugged into ac adapter. If not, after one hour try power button. Chances are it works now. If not, back in rice WITH battery for another 24-hours. Back on charger for one hour. Again, try power button.
      If this does not work, you may need another battery. (Chances are you do.)
      That’s it. Good luck!

  33. kar-kar says:

    Hi Mike, i got in the ocean with my iPhone5 in my pocket for about 5 minutes and then dried it and tried powering on a day later (did not have an access to the internet to google it earlier :((( ), apple logo came on and noise was coming from it, so i unplugged it. Then i let it sit for a day and plugged it in,- nothing happened this time. It was almost a week now… do you think there is still hope that it will revive?! Should i submerge it in fresh water for 10 minutes before placing it in rice or does it have to get opened?!

    • Mike Mongo says:

      kar-kar, that noise you hear may be water that is still in the phone. Since the phone is functionally dead, you may as well rinse it and follow drying procedures. If afterwards that does not work, change battery.

  34. chelsealyn says:

    Hi Mike ,
    Quite a few of my and my partner’s electronics bit the dust when our waterproof bag failed to be waterproof while snorkeling in Thailand. They (2 nexus 7 tablets, 2 iPhones, 1 set of Bose headphones and a digital camera) were submerged for at least 30 minutes to an hour. We put them in bags of rice within a few hours but had to take them out while traveling back home. When I got home (2 days later) I rinsed my tablet and iPhone in fresh water, stuck in rice for 48 hours and patiently waited. Tonight i’ve plugged in the tablet and after at least 4 hours, still no life. I’ve been told not to plug anything in directly to the wall and to only use the USB power through the computer (less chance of frying) – should I rinse & repeat or accept my loss? I haven’t tried the iPhone as I don’t have a USB charger at home and will need to borrow from a friend. Do you think it’s OK to use the wall charger or stick to the USB?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Chelsealyn, wow that is quite a blow. Okay from the start: if they got soaked, headphones and camera are probably shot; tablets and iPhones may have hope. First of all, you should realize that items that have charged batteries without being properly rinsed are in the most harm’s way. Live batteries and water create electrical shorts (which often cannot be avoided). I prefer to get the batteries out. In the case of the Nexus 7’s, that’s a trick. The iPhones are more practical/easier. However, when it comes to dead electronics, the methods which have been described here work for both devices.

  35. Denise says:

    Hi Mike,
    I read your article after dropping my iPhone5 into saltwater last week (tuesday). I dropped my phone into a canal while on vacation in the Florida Keys. My husband was able to jump in and get it out fairly quickly, it was still playing music when he brought it up. I immediately powered it off and we went to the store and bought a bag of rice. There it sat until we returned home on Saturday. While reading your article I realized that I had to get the salt off the phone, so I followed your instructions. I actually submerged the phone in clean water, let all the air bubbles come out, then took it outside to shake it. My husband then took our air compressor and blew it off too. Back into the rice, in a sealed bag, where it sat in my car from Saturday until today (Wednesday) one week and a day after dropping it in the water. I plugged it into the computer, let it sit for over two hours and then turned it on. I can’t believe it, but it’s working! There is some discoloration on the inside of my screen, it looks like salt stains, but the phone is functioning just fine. I am totally amazed that it works, this is actually the 2nd time this phone has been dropped into water, (the first time was into the washing machine). I’m not sure how long it will work or what quirks it may have but I was able to get my vacation pictures and do a backup on my home computer. Thank you for all the great information and very detailed instructions.

  36. titaniumflavour says:

    Hi Mike,
    I was in taking video to instagram 2 days ago at 2:15 pm at the seashore. I didnt know the waves came and i fell with my phone in my hand because my foot stuck in the sand. after that I quickly stand up and looked to my phone “are you sure want to discard this video” i knew that still awake. i quickly clean up phone with tissues but it was off already. and TOO BAD i powering on! i didnt knew that is stupid i swear. it was reflex. the apple logo appear with unclear background. i shake the phone many times before i save it in my bag. when i was got home at 11:00 pm i JUST knew about this topic and how to save iphone from saltwater. I quickly took fresh water then soak my phone and shake it many times. after that i shake my phone vigorously until saltwater came with my best. I did that for 1 hour. because i didnt have rice at that time, i put my phone close to the fan until next morning. next morning i bought rice and put it under the phone in lock and lock. In my case what should i do? i think i was wrong from the beginning and i couldnt make it just like the other cases.

    • titaniumflavour says:

      and thank you so much for all the information!

    • Mike Mongo says:

      It works like this: Rinse well in fresh water, shake excess water out vigorously but do not drop phone. Place in sealed container of 4 cups or so of dry rice. Leave for 24 hours. After full 24 hours, plug into AC charger (preferably not on computer but on standard iPhone AC “cube”—if possible), leave for hour. After one hour, attempt to power. If no power, replace in sealed container of fresh rice. Wait 24 hours. After full 24 hours, plug into charger again for one hour. Try to power up. Be sure and hold power button down as long as it takes. Voila! iPhone generally returns.

  37. Lisa says:

    Hi Mike,

    first off: thanks a lot for your incredibly positive post (helpfulness aside)! When I looked for rescue remedies, many pages would not only state that 1. one is a moron for having such a problem 2. this was it and no chance it will ever work again etc. So, thanks!!

    Didn’t snorkel with it but dropped a 4S into the ocean when sitting on a dock – heard the “plop”, rescued it from 5 or 6 feet within 10 seconds or so, turned it off, dried it, then searched for advice online and found this post, rinsed it, dried it – every time I shook it vigorously as per instruction, it would switch back on, strong survival sense this one.. but the round button on the front didn’t work anymore so I gave it some rest and put it into rice for 24 hours. Charged it, all good from it seems.

    The phone was in a slip on rubber case which has protected it in the past from drops onto tiled floors; it was not entirely wet when I got it out but neither the headset plugin nor the charger plugin part is covered.

    From your experience, do you reckon that was it or might there be some salt that will continue to corrode the phone’s insides?

    Cheers,

    Lisa

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Your story is all too common I’m afraid, Lisa: Waterproof case with open charger and headphone plug-in. If your phone is working, I would let it be. UNLESS: If you have a reputable iPhone repair shop where you live, take it to them and ask them to open the phone to look inside. If they see salt, they can use electronics cleaner to do a light “rinse”. Other than that, if the phone is working I bet you will be fine for some time to come.

  38. rachel says:

    Hi mike! I’ve went to the beach today and I was thinking of taking some pictures in the sea, thinking back this might sound stupid but I kept it in a ziplock bag and went into the sea. It was fine at first but suddenly water went in the bag and I didn’t realised until about less then 5min under water and it was alr dead but my battery was about 10%, so I thought it was probably the dead battery as well. I quickly dried it using tissues and immediately used the toilet’s hand dryer to dry my phone and I plugged it in to my portable charger but it did not reboot, so I left it to dry. Its was probably around 3/4pm when it happen. I’ve reached home around 9 and saw your post to rinse it and shake vigorously, so I did that and left my phone it a container of rice. Do you think there will still be hope for her?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      As long as you followed the directions closely (ESPECIALLY the letting it dry in rice for 24-hours after its good rinse in fresh water), I have good news: Yes, there is hope. Good luck!

      • rachel says:

        Alright! Thank you so much! Will update further (:

      • rachel says:

        Hi mike! I’ve left my phone in the rice for around 25 hours. I’ve plugged it in for about an hour too but it doesn’t seem to reboot!! Please help me! I Have left the phone in the container of rice again.

  39. rachel says:

    Hey mike! Sorry to keep bothering you but this is the2nd 24hrs my phone has been kept in the rice and I plugged it in for more than an hour and there’s still no respond. What am I suppose to do now? I have hold on the lock button for about 15sec as well and no respond…

  40. Pete says:

    Hey Mike,
    iphone 5 fell into a bucket of salt water while fishing (stupidly put phone into shirt pocket because shorts were getting wet, then lent over bucket to get bait…. plop!) Had the phone back out of the water within 2 seconds, powered off immediately. Put phone into rice when I got home within an hour, wiped off salt water but didn’t bother to rinse with fresh water… 36hours later, I powered it back on no problems!

    However just today, the charger connection seemed to be a little intermittent (phone started to charge, then stopped, then started etc) Anyway it is now charging, I have upgraded my icloud to enough storage and will do a backup on itunes.

    Should I wait and see if it gets worse? or should I just power off and rinse with water once I can get the battery out? Will also try a few different cables to make sure.

    Thanks in advance!

  41. nishantmani says:

    Mike, thanks for your great post! Earlier today, I took a nice 10 minute swim in the ocean, with my iPhone 5 in my pocket. I realized it only when I got out. Not having read your post yet, the only thing I did first was dry it as much as I could and let it sit in a tiny pot of rice while at the beach. Came back to hotel room, plugged it in for a couple of minutes and nothing happened (meanwhile I found your post online, and immediately unplugged).

    I then rinsed it pretty well under tap water two times, and it is now sitting under rice in a bowl, where it will be for the next 36 hours before I catch my flight at least. I don’t have the screw driver to be able to open the back, but do at home. Would you suggest that I conduct some battery surgery when I get back, rice it again for a while and only then plug it in? Any thoughts appreciated. Thanks a lot!

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Good work! Now, get it in as much dry rice as possible AND put that in an airtight ziploc bag: Rice in a bowl is pulling moisture from the air. Since you have the appropriate screwdriver, sure, go ahead and have a peek inside. You may have to swap the battery, you may not. IN THE MEANTIME, after the phone has sat airtight in the rice for 36 hours, charge it for at least an hour or two and see if it kicks back on. IT PROBABLY WILL. (Yay!) Let us know how it goes. Glad the directions were here for you when you needed them.

  42. nishantmani says:

    Oh and I shook it dry pretty well after the rinsing too…

  43. Chelsea says:

    Hi Mike, I wanna ask if my iPhone 5S fell into the water at the shore for 8-10 seconds and I picked it up immediately to dry it. Thereafter, about 8hrs later I bought rice to cover it. What should I do now? It’s only about a day in the rice but I believe the water at the shore contains a certain amount of salinity. Should I go ahead and change the rice for another day before trying out the method of charge power and on it?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Power it up. Give it a shot. See of it works. If it really only got a “splash” you may be lucky. If not, go back and follow the regular routine. I hope luck is with you, Chelsea!

  44. Amy says:

    Hi Mike,
    I’ve done about the same thing as the others above have done–I dropped my iphone in the Pacific but it was only submerged for 3 seconds before I grabbed it. I’ve followed your instructions for salt water submersion, but I was wondering if you could tell me if you know if my particular phone will respond differently–it’s an iphone 5c. Just curious if it isn’t sealed as well as the others, or has other inferior issues so I don’t get my hopes up to much. Thanks so much.

  45. Amy says:

    Hi Mike, thanks so much for the great information on salt water submersion. I’m happy to report that after 48 hours, my phone is on, and pretty functional. The screen color isn’t quite right, but I’m continuing to leave it in the rice and I’m hoping that it will dry out a bit more and the color will be restored. The home button is not functioning, but I went on the Apple website and they have that neat little built in ‘Assistive Touch’ feature, so the non-functioning home button is a non-issue. The only thing that seems to not be working is the speakers. I can call people, and they can hear me, but I can’t hear them. Any idea if this will be rectified with more drying time? Thanks again for everything. This whole thing happened in Hawaii and I’ll have to send you some chocolate covered macadamian nuts as a thank you!

  46. Mike Mongo says:

    Amy,
    You will want to backup and then do a complete restore. This often helps from ease out little things. I have a little secret applicable in your case which I don’t care to overly publicize. Email me at mike at computersaremylife dot com.
    Mike

  47. Taylor says:

    hey mike
    I went swimming with my iPhone 4 in my salt water pool and I did realize some water on the inside of my case(only on my front screen) and I though it wouldn’t hurt since I did it like 3-4 other times. my phone was working just fine till that night I went to go get on it and it wouldn’t turn on.my brother told me to hold down the home and power button the turn it on then the apple screen came on and I went to plug it up(it had these weird grey screens on it) I went to bed and the next morning(yesterday) I took it off the charger and did nothing with it all day just let it sit on my dresser. then today I have been reading and I’m scared to use fresh water cause I finally got it turn on after plugging it back up. but when I plugged it up it the screen came on, but the only thing was that it was flickering and would turn off and on. so now I took it off the charger and put it in a bag of rice about 30 minutes ago and I’m going to let it sit for 48 hours and then charge it.
    Do you think it still has hope?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Yes it still has hope. However, I would not be surprised if your 4 is now suffering from a faulty display—these are notoriously prone to moisture damage. Give the rice treatment (for 24 hours, shaking it up a couple of times along the way) and see what happens.

  48. Taylor says:

    oh and this all started 2 days ago!

  49. Taylor says:

    would the “faulty display” go away? my phone wont have any sever reaction or permanent affects would it?

  50. Raylene says:

    Hi, my iphone fell into sea water for about 10 minutes before i found it. i dried it but could not put it rice for another hour. Then, i saw your instructions on how to deal wit phones dropped in salt water and rinsed my phone under fresh water twice and put it in a sealed bag for 48 hours. When I took it out and tried to turn it on the apple came up for a few seconds then the screen turned black, however it looked like water was still in the screen. This happened about three times before the screen just stayed black. I plugged it in to my charger for about 45 min but nothing happened. After that i just put it back in rice. Should I leave it in rice for longer? Or is there no hope for the phone?
    Thank you!

    • Raylene says:

      The phone was and iphone 5S.

    • Mike Mongo says:

      If there is water in the phone ABSOLUTELY put back in rice. Do NOT plug wet phone into charger. If you have rinsed properly and removed salt water (which it sounds as if you did) then your priority must be to dry the phone. Rice should be plentiful/not stingy and in sealed container. 4 cups should do it. Shake back a couple times during “drying” time to move rice which has absorbed water away from iPhone. Whew! Remember, go slow, get there fast.

  51. Michael says:

    Hello. So I got in and out of the Hot Tub a couple of times with my 4s in my pocket. When I pulled it out it was still on and screen was working. I did nothing that was recommended above. I plugged it in and tried to turn it on. Then put it in rice. Anyway, the screen doesn’t work but I was able to back up the phone on my comp and I can still talk to Siri and make calls.
    Do you think I could just replace the digital display or do you think the problem might go deeper than that?
    Thanks

  52. Linda J says:

    Thanks so much, Mike, for the super detailed info on how to salvage an iPhone from a swim in salt water. My son, who has Down Syndrome, had his iPhone 5c in his pocket when he went for a swim in the ocean while we were in Hawaii. We didn’t discover the phone was in his pocket until later that evening. We removed the purchased “shell” case and dried the phone itself, which appeared to be only minimally wet on the outside, but since all openings were exposed I was sure it was drenched. It remained untouched for the remainder of our trip (2 days). When we got home from our vacation, I found your website and, after reading every comment, followed your instructions implicitly for bathing and shaking the salt water out. I left the phone to dry in an airtight container of rice for 72 hours before attempting to charge it. I have not tried to locate someone with the “star” screwdriver to open the phone, because it seems like they might be more interested in getting us to buy a new phone than in trying to salvage this one. We live in the Phoenix area so there are plenty of places to get technical assistance with the phone, but I really wanted to try your suggestions first!
    1) The first attempt to charge revealed the apple icon after plugging in but nothing else after 8 hours. I did notice something which I hadn’t seen in ANY of the previous comments/replies here. The apple icon (when the screen was tilted) revealed a mottled effect of “confetti-looking” drops and a slash across the apple. Again this was only revealed if you tilted the screen, not looking at the apple straight on. I understood it to mean “this apple will not work due to water damage.” I returned the phone to rice for another 48 hours. I checked the user manual thoroughly and Apple.com/support for any mention of this icon “message” but found nil! Obviously, do-it-yourself troubleshooting is NOT encouraged by the manufacturer.
    2) Next attempt to charge: apple icon came on immediately, again with the same mottled appearance upon tilting the screen but there were fewer “confetti-looking” drops this time. Slash across apple still present. No change after a 12 hour charge. Return to rice for another 48-hr. drying.
    3) Third attempt at charging went the same way except there were very few of the “confetti-looking” drops on the apple icon this time, but the slash remained. After remaining on the charger for a few hours, I tried to power up…Nothing. However, I tried a “reset” (home + power buttons) and got the “plug into iTunes graphic.” Does this mean I need to do a complete restore? Do you think I should replace the battery? I’m encouraged by the small, but significant changes over time!! While I await your response, I’ve returned the phone to rice to dry another 48 hrs. as it seems this is having a positive effect. I have great faith in this process and can’t thank you enough for all the help!

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Linda,
      Thank you for your detailed reply. (And for the follow-up email to mike-at-computersaremylife.com.) In your case, I would pursue in the following manner:

      1. Buy a replacement iPhone 5s battery on eBay.

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/OEM-1560mAh-Li-ion-Internal-Battery-Replacement-w-Flex-Cable-for-iPhone-5S-5C-/141236787005?pt=US_Cell_Phone_PDA_Batteries

      2. Buy iPhone 5s pentalobe screwdriver kit on eBay.

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/Repair-Opening-Tool-Screwdrivers-Set-Kit-For-iPhone-5-5S-4S-4-Tools-8-in-1-Kit-/271554270329

      Open iPhone. Replace battery.
      Total investment: $14.

      It is almost certain this is your problem and a new battery will make the difference.* Order the parts today and you should be holding a working iPhone this weekend.

      * If replacing battery does not work, then the next step is more intense and requires dipping phone (without new battery) into in a mix of denatured 75% alcohol and 25% water, then letting phone sit in cool place for a few hours. The denatured alcohol may mottle the screen but if there is water remaining in tiny crevices it will evaporate it.
      Mike

      • Linda J says:

        Hi Mike,

        So happy to say that the phone came back, finally! Almost a month after the ocean swim, and many hours spent in the rice (every time I tried something else which didn’t work, phone went back in rice for another 48 hrs), the phone is again in service. Dipping the phone in alcohol and gently brushing all contact points seemed to be the turning point.
        For the longest time it didn’t appear that the new battery was charging, remaining at 9%after 48 hrs. I finally tried a reset, then it showed 100%! This continues to be an issue with the battery, needing frequent resets after charging before a true indicator of charge will appear. But it hasn’t affected usage of the phone between charges.
        Suprisingly, I did not have to restore from backup on iTunes, everything was still there and working! The only remaining issues are:
        –no external sound from speakers, so no ring tone or recording capability (vibrate works fine in lieu of ringing.) Headphones work great for music, ringtones, etc.
        –slight mottling on screen but only noticeable at angle, not when looking at screen directly, so it is really a non-issue.
        –battery doesn’t seem to charge on anything other than OEM charger.
        If anyone knows of a solution for the speaker problem, I’d love to hear it, but the phone is only 7 months old so will remain in use, as is, for as long as possible!
        In our case, we were able to be patient in trying to get the phone back to operating status and I am so happy to have found this blog, Mike. My tech savvy confidence has been greatly elevated due to your help. An added bonus: the link you gave me for getting a new battery on ebay also included a tool kit! So the cost was only $12.47 for battery + 5 tools; I’m a proud owner of the pentalobe screwdriver! Thank you so very much!
        Linda from Arizona

      • Mike Mongo says:

        Thank you for reporting back—YOU DID AWESOME! That is the sort of thing that inspires others not to give up. Great work, Linda. Keep up the good work!

  53. Randy Washington says:

    Hi. I walked in a pool with my iphone 5s in my pocket and it took me about a minute or so to realize it so i quickly got my towel wiped it off and put it in a Tupperware container with rice completely surrounding it. It had an otterbox case on it but it did not completely cover the phone i waited 3 days and just took it back out about 2 hours ago but it did not turn on. Someone told me to plug it in to a computer to charge so it is currently plugged in to my computer. Is there anything I can do to still save it or should i try to bring it to the Apple Genius Bar. Please help me and give me advice on what to do.
    Thank you so much!!!

  54. Randy Washington says:

    please help

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Randy,
      I’m unclear. The phone got wet in fresh water? Did it stop working immediately? Was it working when you put it in the rice?
      Mike

      • Randy Washington says:

        It got wet in a pool and i turned it on after i took it out and it would not turn on so i put it in rice for 3 days and still would not turn on

  55. Mike Mongo says:

    Randy, in your case my next step would be to replace the battery.

    Only if that does not work then go to the Genius Bar. Let us know what happens after that. Mike

  56. Soren says:

    Hi Mike,

    I went swimming today with my IPhone 4S (doh!!). I am convinced that it was only under water for about 2-3 minutes, however, it seems it was plenty because it was completely turned off when I pulled it from my pocket. I didn’t try to turn it on or anything so my hope is that it didn’t short on anything important ;-)

    Anyway, we were at the beach and had a birthday party going on so I bet a couple of hours went by before I got to rinsing it in fresh water. Only rinsed once (although thoroughly) shook it a couple of minutes and now it sits in a sealed container with rice. I removed the SIM, but I dont have a screwdriver so I cannot open and remove the battery. So a few questions:

    – How critical is it to remove the battery?
    – Will rinsing once do the trick? Meaning should I remove it from the container to rinse/repeat again (and again) or should I leave it now and see what happens in 36 ish hours (It has been in rice overnight already)?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Soren, aside from rinsing the salt water, removing the water from within the phone is the most important thing. Do not heat phone. Also, no for now I would not rinse again. While you are waiting I would purchase an iphone pentalobe screwdriver and a replacement battery from ebay. (Look for someone close to you with quick, free shipping.) You may not need them but they are cheap and worth having around. YES leave iPhone in rice for 36 hours. DO NOT attempt to power up or plug in before then. Also, shake rice around in container once or twice to move drier rice closer to phone. Good luck, you did good. Mike

      • Soren says:

        Thanks for your quick reply Mike!

        As for the battery, should I try to charge > power up the phone with the “old” battery first, or should I wait and only use a replacement battery?

      • Mike Mongo says:

        No harm after ricing for allotted tim with charging for an hour then attempting powering on.

  57. Kanishka says:

    Hi Mike,

    yesterday(29th July) we went on a trip and my iphone 5s was in my pocket. and i walked into the sea.( i totally forgot that my phone is in my pocket) it did not get wet totally but the half of the the phone including turn on/off button area. then i felt it is vibrating and pulled out the phone from the pocket and shake till water go out.

    i did not wash it with fresh water but kept in a rice bag since yesterday(29th) night.
    after getting wet it did not went off. but the lights were blinking(very low light) then it started getting heat. then i tried a long press on turn off button and it worked.

    what should i do?

    thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge among us.

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Kanishka, your case is classic. I have no doubt you will need to change battery. But more than that, you have an iPhone that has its sensitive electronics now coated with dry salt. It is in there just eating it away. Until you get rid of that, your phone is unfortunately compromised. In fact, it may be too late. I would STOP CHARGING. Dip bottom of phone into clean fresh water, swish around. Shake out. Repeat three times in an hour. Then what I would do is lower that same half of phone into half glass of seltzer water for about 15 minutes. Shake that out. Rinse/dip with clean fresh water a couple more times, vigorously shaking from phone each time. Hold on to phone! Do NOT drop when shaking! Very important!

      Now, after all that, put into sealed container of plenty of rice for 48 hours, shaking rice from phone about twice a day to move drier rice closer to phone. Use about 2-4 cups of rice.

      After that, you can try charging for an hour THEN try powering up. I do not expect it work then but it might. You will likely have to replace battery.
      Mike

      • Kanishka says:

        Hello Mike,

        Thanks a lot for the advice. I will follow your instructions.

        thank you so much again.

  58. Trent s. says:

    I went kayaking in saltwater and brought my iPhone 5s with me. I have a water proof case but it failed to do its job correctly and water got in the case, thus getting my phone soaked in saltwater. It wasn’t in the water for over 10 minutes (which is a long time ) that I’m thinking. I put my iphone in rice right when i got home for about 12 hours . I tried to power up and got nothing, and also plugged it in just to see if it vibrated like it normally does. After the 12 hours i took it out and did your soaking in fresh water advice. I put it in the fresh water and shook the snot out of it , I did this about 2-3 times. I shook out the water by putting it in a sock and flinging it around. It now has been in the rice for about 9 hours. What should i do know? We are going on vacation in 3 days and i was hoping i could take my phone. Please help!!!!

    • Mike Mongo says:

      The sock thing is a bad idea. It doesn’t actually work well and it’s a good way to smash an iPhone by accident. Instead, ake the phone out and shake ALL the water out of the bottom lightning port and speaker openings by gripping it tightly and swinging it downward like a hammer, so the water is forced out the iPhone’s opening. Wipe with dry paper towel. Do it again. Do this several times until all the water comes out and there is no more sign of any moisture. Replace in dry rice, around four cups in a SEALED container.

      And stop trying to power it up. You didn’t say you did but I get the feeling you are unable to resist. ;) Finally, LEAVE IT ALONE in rice UNTOUCHED for two days. Totally leave it alone. You are pushing the process. Relax.

      • Trent s. says:

        Thanks for replying, i also shook some water out by swinging it around. It has been in rice for a day and a half and i am getting very nervous if it will survive. When iPhones are dropped in water do they normally not turn on or connect to itunes? I cant back it up because our computer is crashed right now , and that seemed to happen perfect timing with the dropping phone in the water part. I’m a teenager so its hard for us to live without are phones.. 😂

      • Mike Mongo says:

        Trent, being a teenager is difficult enough without stressing yourself out over something which you have no control. Accidents happen. However this goes, you will survive. Next, DO NOT PLUG THE PHONE IN. I cannot stress this enough. Water + electricity = fried phone. DO NOT POWER IT ON.

        Trent, You cannot back it up while it is drying. Being a teenager means you need to find a spot of patience within yourself, grab it, hang out with it, and let your phone have its moment (48 hours) drying in rice. The other option is go ahead and destroy it and stop worrying about your phone. What is important to you right now is far less important to you in the future. So this is like a test which you can pass but you have to locate that inner-you from the future who is looking back at this water-dunking moment, thinking, “Wow that was so small a thing/dumb, I can’t believe I got stressed about it at all.” The reason you in the future is saying this is because this is nothing compared to the challenges you will be facing in life shortly. In fact, doing this correctly and correctly doing what it takes to get your phone back is like giving yourself a gift in the future. Really. Do it right and your future-self will look back at this moment, and think, “Wow I rocked.” So give yourself that opportunity. And relax. You are about to go on vacation. If you want to occupy your time, spend some time locating a friend who has an iPhone 4s stuck in drawer unused that you can borrow/have, and go put a SIM card in that so you have a phone to use. That way you will keep busy while you give your iPhone time to dry. So relax, get to work, have fun, it’s all about perspective, you’re awesome. Let us know how it turns out. Mike

      • Trent s. says:

        Also how do you know if you just need a new battery? I would rather get that than a whole new phone… Lol

      • Mike Mongo says:

        Maybe. And don’t put lol at the end of sentences unless it’s actually funny. It just sounds awkward.

  59. Trent s. says:

    I tried the phone and the flash came on, so i unplugged it and put it back in rice. About 3 hours later i tried and the flash didn’t come on but the hole left of the front speaker and front camera had a red light in it. I’m not sure what that light was since it was the firs time i had seen it

  60. ben amado says:

    I dropped my iphone 4s in salt water and it was a few hrs till I could put it in rice then i saw this took it out rinsed it in fresh water then put it back in is it too late now?

  61. ben amado says:

    ok, but i also had it plugged into a charger and it got really hot so i unplugged it does that mean my phone’s done

  62. Nik P says:

    Mike, great site with very useful and informative information.

    On holiday, I too managed to go for a swim in the sea with my iPhone 5 still in my pocket. By the time I realised it was there it’d probably been around 5 minutes. Being at the beach at the time I just placed it on a towel and continued with my day.

    Since I was away from home I didn’t have any tools (or rice) to crack open the phone and unfortunately it stayed in that state for a good week and a half. Since getting home I’ve submerged it in fresh-water, cracked the screen off and removed the battery. Wow, salt gets everywhere doesn’t it! I’ve rinsed as much of the salt off as I can see and left to dry in an airtight container full of rice, turning a few times a day, for 48 hours.

    I bought a new battery and have just rebuilt the device back up – plugged it into the wall, and it doesn’t seem to be doing much – no lights or sign of life. Are my worse fears coming to fruition? Any suggestions?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      I’m sorry yes it appears your worst fears have come true. Ten days of salt in an iPhone is a ten-day-long acid bath rinse. The electronic materials of an iphone are reactive to salt. Their is electric currents, metals, exotic materials, water, and salt. It’s a bad scene. A very short time can be endured. A week and a half and it is highly unlikely any part is unharmed. I’m sorry.

      • Nik P says:

        No problem Mike, thanks for getting back to me anyway – there wasn’t much hope left in the pot. Keep up the ace work.

    • Linda J says:

      How long did you leave your phone charging? It took mine over 48 hrs charging the new battery before I saw any signs of life! Then it came back, so don’t give up hope just yet! Patience is the key! Read my entire entry (July 19, 2014) plus Mike’s responses and you’ll see that the process truly does work!

  63. Patrick D says:

    Hello Mike, Thank you for all of your work on this to help people. My question is slightly (but not really) different… I walked *toward* the ocean with my iPhone 5s in my pocket… I ALMOST got in, but realized it was in my pocket and backpedaled, but not before I was splashed … My bathing suit wasn’t even soaked, nor was my wallet, in my pocket with the iPhone, but salt water definitely got onto the iPhone. I know all about the importance of not powering it up when wet, but it was already on, and when I pulled it from my pocket parts of the front were wet but it definitely wasn’t ever submerged or even close to underwater. I felt like I avoided catastrophe and after drying it carefully, I did just push the home button to make sure it worked — and it did.

    No problems. I did find, a little later, a few drops of water behind the plastic “back” of my case (I use a bumper that includes a back) but even there the entire back wasn’t wet, just a couple of spots…)

    But because the water got in there, i became concerned that maybe more water splashed onto me than I had thought. And last night, the touch screen MOSTLY worked, but occasionally didn’t. It does seem to be working fine today, but I also noticed that the accelerometer does not seem to to be working and is not locked…

    SO…

    1. Do you recommend my turning it off and rinsing it — even though it seems to be working fine other than what I’ve mentioned?

    2. Does that seem drastic for an otherwise fine phone?

    3. What percentage of the time would you estimate a rinse (on an otherwise working phone) will NOT harm it.

    I guess, bottom line, I do not want to risk making it worse with the rinse/dry cycle.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Ok, good questions. Now I have some. Did you remove the iPhone from the case and dry it immediately. (Please say yes.) Where do you think water may have entered the iPhone? If the home button, take some isopropyl alcohol from your bathroom, dip a qtip in it, and rub around the home button. Then move the home button around in a circle with your thumb so the alcohol gets in there. Really grind it in there. It is okay to get this “wet” with alchohol from the qtip; it will dry immediately, just blow on it.

      I would NOT rinse the phone. Just keep an eye on it. It may need a restore so I would back it up using iTunes on a PC or Mac.

      • Patrick D says:

        A follow up to this exchange… my iPhone seems to be working fine — APART from the accelerometer … It won’t rotate, and none of the games/apps that rely on the accelerometer work properly. When I go to “calibrate” the accelerometer, the red ball doesn’t move at all. Any chance the salt water could have somehow splashed (or somehow dampened) and then left salt JUST on the accelerometer? Any chance this could be a software problem? Again, I really do not think much (if any) water got INTO the iPhone, but I suppose it is possible. Thanks, again, for your time in helping people with this stuff… I appreciate the time you put into this a ton.

  64. Patrick D says:

    Yes — absolutely dried it immediately. And then left it out of the case for a couple of hours. I would not have thought much (any?) water actually entered the iPhone but rather was just “on” it —- but the fact that the accelerometer suddenly isn’t working (and I know it was two days ago). I will do what you suggest about the buttons.

  65. Roni says:

    Hi Mike! I went for a swim yesterday morning, of course forgetting my iphone 5 in my pocket. When I got out and went to have a quick shower take salt off my skin I realized it. When I put it out, it was off already so I thought it was some kind of safe mode. Fortunately my wife had internet in her iphone so i followed your instructions, except for the opening of the case and the removing of the battery (I’m in the south of Albania, only small villages and seaside, 5 hours drive from Tirana). After 12 hours put it out, tried to switch it on, unsuccessfully, and put it back with the rice again. Tomorrow will be 48 hours in total. Do you think I still got a chance?

    • Mike Mongo says:

      Yes it most certainly does. The biggest problem now is moisture. It can go deep. If you were swimming with the phone the salt water may have drenched through. However, if you rinsed it well and quickly as you suggest, then the major challenge is it is soaked through and through. You can leave it in rice for ANOTHER 48 hours and be okay. The water is that “deep” into the phone. Make sure the rice is sealed. Good luck!

      • Roni says:

        Thanks! It has been two days without my iphone and i feel like i’m handicapped or something. I’ll let you know if it works.

      • Roni says:

        Well Mike, after 48 hours, I plugged it in and no signs of life, nothing. Do you think I can continue for another 48 hours, or my iPhone is just dead?

      • Mike Mongo says:

        Yes. Next step is replace battery, Roni.

      • Roni says:

        After another 48 hours of rice-therapy, I plugged in my iPhone 5 and nothing happened. It has been 20 minutes till now. I’ll leave it plugged in, just in case. Anyway I’m writing this just for the record. Next step is battery changing (as Mike said). :(

      • Mike Mongo says:

        Roni, the follow-up is appreciated. Since you are waiting, put it back in fresh rice. THERE IS NO REASON NOT TO. Next, is it difficult to get the battery and screwdriver where you are?

      • Roni says:

        It’s very difficult! I’m in the villages of the south, we don’t have an apple store in Albania, the only three are authorized resellers and they are all located in Tirana (5-6 hours drive). I’m going back on Sunday, so I’ll put it again in rice, as you say.

  66. Layla abir says:

    Hi mike, yesterday I accidentally left my 5s on top my towel and while I was swimming a wave came up shore and lightly hit it, it was still turned on but had pink white lines so I turned it off , opened it and there barely any water just couple drops non of the white stickers were red and I put it back together and now it won’t turn on at all, I left in rice last night but still nothing this morning. Please help, how can I get my 10000 pics back please help

  67. Layla says:

    Hi mike I have called and left a voicemail, I haven’t turned on the phone it still in rice, any suggestion what I should do. Thank you

    Layla

  68. Arush says:

    Hi Mike,
    I have iphone 5s and I was crossing a fresh water stream and iit got wet totally, like the water was coming out from every opening. I didnt reopen it and kept it few hours in the sun and then in a sandwich bag with rice for a week. After a week I opened my phone and it started working again.
    This all happened 2 months back. But now I have some issues in the battery, it gets discharged very quickly so I went to the apple care and they told me that its water damaged because all the three litmus paper are red and they can’t help it. I was wondering if I use iso propyl alcohol aand turn the colour back to its natural colour, will the apple get to know that it is water damaged.? The apple guys haven’t registered my issue in the database. So I just want to know that is there any other way to check for liquid damage that apple guys do other than the litmus test.?
    Thanks.

  69. Stefani says:

    Hello,
    I just had one question in regards with the iphone 4 after water damage (in my case,Saltwater for 3 seconds)
    My lED light on my camera was on for the first few hours before turning off and when I tried plugging in my phone after 12+ hrs in rice, the screen wouldn’t turn on but there was a red light dimming weakly above the ear speaker when plugged in. Does that mean there may still be life in the phone? I read it’s another indicator of water damage, but it turns on when I attempted to charge it.
    I followed the procedures you have provided, including the flushing out the ocean water with fresh water, shaking it out, and I even vacuumed some of the open ports of the phone for a few seconds/minutes. I have changed the rice & even added silica packets a couple of times. This happened a little more than 24 hrs ago and I am still gonna leave it in the rice for the next day or two.

    What do you think my chances are? sorry if my problem is a bit repetitive; I read through almost all of these comment threads but nobody here mentioned the lights of the phone. Just wanted some of your input. Thanks for your help!

  70. Belinda says:

    Hello, so my toddler went to use the toilet and dropped my iphone 4s. He quickly retrieved it. I shaked and dried as best as I could, placed it in rice. Now 4 days later I turned it on and screen has horizontal black and white lines. Torch light, camera and itube works once I can locate them. Siri responds that there’s a problem so she can’t help me, try back lata. I can hear the sound of emails coming through but it doesn’t ring when I try calling it. Thank you so much I await your response.

  71. Dawn says:

    Hi, Mike.

    Like many people, my teenaged daughter’s iPhone 5s took a tumble into a toilet at a restaurant. She brought it back to the table, where we shook and dried it off immediately. The waitstaff was kind enough to bring us a ziploc bag full of uncooked white rice. So, in less than five minutes, the phone was dried and plunged into rice. Strangely, though, when I asked if she’d shut it down, she said she couldn’t, that it was frozen.

    After 48 hours, we tried charging. Nothing. We took out the sim card and saw the area still looked gray/white, as did the small hole for the headphone. What we do see is in the tiny hole on the top of the phone on the left, a red light.

    It has now been four days. I have had the phone plugged in for 45 minutes and still, nothing. It seemed we did all the right things. The phone was in the water for a split second, was dried and put into a deep rice bed. In contrast, her best friend’s iPhone 4s was unknowingly submerged in a water puddle in her bookbag for half the day because her water bottle came uncapped. It was hours before she got home and put it into rice, but within 36 hours that phone was fine.

    Help! What went wrong?

  72. Dawn says:

    Well, its been two more days, and still nothing.

    Should I hold out hope, now that its been a week, or declare this phone dead?

    What makes some phones die, even after being in water for just a split second, and after you dry it and get it in rice within moments, and hearing that some phones got drenched for minutes in salt water and didn’t get dried and put in rice in a timely way, if at all, and people reporting the phones powered back up in 24-48 hours?

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