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 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.
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