Phone Dropped in Water

So you are at a party/concert/friend’s house/your kitchen/the bathroom and you let the phone slip.  Not a problem.  No worries.  That is until you realize you dropped your phone in a cup of water.  Panic sets in.  The thought of paying for a new phone hits you like a brick.  It’s true, your phone may be destroyed, but if you want to hold onto that last glimmer of hope here are the steps to try to save your water damaged phone.

  1. Take out the Battery – Don’t turn your phone off and don’t wait another second.  Take off the back case and remove the battery from your phone.  If you leave it in or try to turn it back on or off it may cause your phone to short circuit.
  2. Remove the SD Card, SIM Card, Headphones, and Other Accessories - Remove all the accessories from your phone that you possibly can.
  3. Lightly Dry Off Your Water Damaged Phone and Accessories – Use a completely dry cloth to lightly dab the wet phone and all the components you took out.  Do not wipe.  This will just cause the water to spread around.  Also, don’t use a hair dryer to dry the phone.  This may damage the internal components.
  4. Put Your Water Damaged Cell Phone in Rice for Three Days – I know it sounds crazy, but the rice will absorb the liquid from the phone and will also dry it more quickly.  Just make sure to use dry rice and feel free to put it in to a Ziploc bag or container.  If you don’t want to use rice then leave your cell and all the parts sitting out to dry for at least three days.
  5. Test Your Cell Phone – Once you’ve waited three days for your phone to dry put it back together and try to turn it on.  If it doesn’t work then try replacing the battery.  If that doesn’t work you may be out of luck and will have to buy a new one.  I hope this isn’t the case.  If it is take it to the store and see if there is anything else you can do.

Lastly, if you are someone who tends to lose your cell phone, drop your cell phone in liquid, or tends to throw it bitterly every time you are at a bar, then consider getting cell phone insurance.  It costs monthly, but will allow you to replace your phone for free when things go south.

I hope this guide helps you save at least one cell phone.  If so, tell us in the comments.  If you have other tips on how to fix water damaged phones let us know.

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Jonathan Goldford
Jonathan Goldford is Wired Impact’s resident programmer and usability chap. He spends most of his time hunkered down with code working to make websites load faster and work more simply.

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75 Responses to “What Should I Do If I Dropped My Phone in Water?”

  1. jason
    1

    from the guy who owns a verizon store… take it from me… take the insurance!!!!!!

    Reply
  2. Natalie
    3

    This is great advice! I wish I had read it before I dropped my phone in a cup of Dr. Pepper. Now I know what to do if I ever drop it again….

    Reply
  3. kelly
    7

    are my contacts going to be on my SD card after i dropped my phone in water?

    thankss(:

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      8

      It depends what kind of phone you have, if you’ve saved your contacts to your SD card and how badly your SD card is damaged. If you dropped your phone in water I would take the SD card out and let it dry separately. Once it’s dry you could back it up on your computer. I would also take it to your cell provider once it’s dry to see if they can back it up for you.

  4. Jonathan Goldford
    10

    That’s a good question. I really don’t know what, but I’m sure there are other options. I probably wouldn’t recommend salt, because that is likely to get stuck in the small gaps of your phone. If you’re going to substitute I would recommend something larger that absorbs water.

    Reply
  5. mandy
    11

    I was wondering if it is permanently damaged, if I could get another one for free?

    Reply
    • David Hartstein
      12

      Replacement policies vary widely. I’d suggest contacting the folks you bought it from and asking them. Unfortunately water damage is not generally covered but it’s definitely worth asking.

  6. Belinda
    13

    To replace my phone would be 200-250.00. Insurance is 5.00 a month plus 100.00 (deductible) for a new phone. Why would I pay for this insurance?

    Reply
  7. Jonathan Goldford
    14

    Hi Belinda,

    It doesn’t seem like you should pay for it. Newer smartphones can be around $500 or $600 to replace, so insurance can make a lot of sense. If the price of a new phone would be only $200 or $250, then maybe the little amount you’d save in the slight chance you’d damage your phone isn’t worth the cost of insurance.

    Reply
  8. Daniel
    15

    I did this the other day. I already ordered a new phone. I wasn’t concerned about the idea of doing that so much as being able to retrieve my “contact” information. This is a lesson learned to manually save this information! Its old fashioned but write down your contacts in an address book or save it to an account somewhere online that you know will always be accessible.

    Reply
  9. Kelly
    16

    Isn’t it true that phone insurance policies don’t cover water damage?

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      17

      Hi Kelly,

      It probably depends on the carrier and on the particular insurance plan. I know there are some that do cover it and some that don’t. Your best bet would be to ask before you purchase any insurance.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Jonathan

  10. Catie
    18

    What if I dried it off …turned it off and then took the battery out…is there still hope?

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      19

      There is definitely still hope. Follow the instructions in the article and hopefully after three days your phone will turn on with no problems. Just remember that patience is the key. Make sure you wait the full three days before turning the phone back on. Good luck.

  11. Thom
    20

    After dropping my phone in a lazy river, I took the battery out, dried it and then put the battery back in after about 5-10 minutes. I knew about the rice but didn’t have any, so I was told to blow dry it a bit (I know) and then I put a bit of baby powder on it and put it in spaghetti. lol after about 24 hours I powered the phone on and it vibrated continuously, I then took the battery back out, and finally did get to put it in rice after a few hours…. What are my chances of having a working phone?

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      21

      It’s really hard to know. I would wait a day or two then try to turn it on. If it doesn’t work you’ll have to take it into one of your provider’s retail stores and hope they can help you get it working. Good luck.

  12. ahsley
    22

    if i dropped my phone in water and it still turns on but dont work properly what else could i do?

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      23

      The best thing you can do is take the phone into the store where you purchased it or one of your cell phone carrier’s stores. Also, I would recommend leaving it off and following all the steps in the article first. Just because it turns on doesn’t mean there isn’t water damage somewhere else. Good luck.

  13. Sara
    24

    Man Im freaking out. I dropped my Phone in the toilet…. and it turns on but im not sure if it will work right. I have it in a bag of rice right now…. But im like havin a heart attack

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      25

      I’m sorry to hear you dropped it in a toilet. It sounds like you’re taking the best course of action though. Be patient and good luck. I hope it works out for you.

  14. Sara
    26

    Thanks. Im really hoping its going to work. Because my phone is like my life. And this guy I like was going to call me tonight… But My phone isnt on. Ugh

    Reply
  15. Sara
    27

    Ok guys…. Some advce to add to this….. (BTW My phone is working again)
    To get your phone to work again before 24 hours…..
    Get your phone out of water asap. Dont waste a second. Then quickly dry it off. Remove the battery and sim card. Put your phone and the battery/sim card. In a bag of rice. Leave it in for about…… 15 hours…. Take the phone out and use a hair dryer set on the coolest setting. Dry it for about 6 minutes. Then let it sit a little longer. Your phone should be working again after that.

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      28

      Thanks for the input Sara. I’m glad to hear your phone is working again. I would reiterate that we don’t recommend using a hair dryer, only because it can damage the internal components of the phone.

  16. Sara
    29

    Oh I have heard that it can. But if u use the coolest setting and the power on low. It is fine

    Reply
  17. Laura
    30

    Thank you Jonathan, this website has been very re-assuring. Here’s what happened to my phone.
    I dropped my phone in water and rescued it within a second, turning off the power. I realize now turning it off is more risky than removing the battery, but my phone is in a protective case that may have kept most of the water out, but blocked access to the battery (it is VERY hard to open).
    After the phone was off and the case pried apart I dried off what I could with a clean towel, and then preceded to completely dissasmble it. I kept the phone, battery, and SD card in a bowl of brown rice, and the circuitry board wrapped in a paper towel. After letting it dry for 26 hours I re-assembled the phone, and success! It works like new.
    However, my concern is how much I should trust this. I understand how some phones work for a few days after any kind of damage, and then simply die off or malfunction. Have you had this experience before?

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      31

      Hi Laura, your concern is definitely a valid one and unfortunately, a risk you’ll most likely have to take. The only thing you can do to reduce the risk is to let your phone dry for longer before turning it on, but it’s hard to know when enough is enough. I guess my best advice would be to keep a close watch on your phone and if you notice it acting strangely, disassemble and let it dry for a few more days.

      The other thing you could do is buy phone insurance, just in case the phone dies in the next week or two. Before purchasing though, make sure the insurer covers you under this situation.

      I hope that’s helpful. Good luck.

    • Lauura
      32

      Hello Jonathan-

      I’d just like to update you and everyone else here with my phone’s condition, and thankfully I have had no trouble so far :) I also realized that the water damage indicators inside my phone have not changed color, suggesting that the water that got into my phone is was not too harmful. Thanks again for your advice!

  18. Brittany
    33

    I dropped my phone in the toilet, and it was only there for a second i got it out took out the battery and dried it for about an hour but I turned it on and it worked but my friends said it could fry my sim card so when I finally got home I put it in rice.Do you think it will still work?

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      34

      Hi Brittany,

      It’s hard to know if your phone is permanently damaged from the water. I would follow the steps in the article and leave it in rice for at least a couple of days before trying to turn it on again.

      Good luck.

  19. georgie
    35

    i left my phone on the window sill to get service and it rang and fell in the sink full of water it was in there for a good ten minutes before i was able to retrieve it i dryied it off and put it in rice and its still drying out if it doesnt work will my insurance cover it ??

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      36

      Hi Georgie,

      If you have phone insurance it probably will cover the water damage, but it all depends on your plan and your insurance provider. It’s best to reach out to them and ask about your coverage. Good luck.

      Jonathan

  20. Joanne
    37

    First, I’m an idiot, and second, I’d never owned or even used a cell ph till about 2 years ago, when I was already in my 50s–so it didn’t occur to me for several HOURS even to look online for help, or to keep the thing disassembled! I fished it out of the toilet right away, but it took me forever to get the BACK off (as I said, I’m old, I’m an idiot–I had to search for the owner’s manual to figure out what I was doing wrong). Then I dried it off but NOT thoroughly (it didn’t occur to me, for example, that the charger port, whose little hinged lid had fallen off a while back, probably let a ton of water INSIDE it) or for any length of time before reinserting the battery and trying to turn it on, then doing the same routine 2X more! Then, continuing to be an idiot, I left it reassembled and went off to cry for a few HOURS before going online and finding this site. There was no rice in the house, of course, but eventually I found a neighbor who had just enough to cover the phone and the battery (not the back, though). I don’t know what a SIM card is, so maybe mine doesn’t have one? But I forgot about the memory card, and I don’t dare remove it from the rice now in order to remove it–or SHOULD I?? Pls advise! Also, I don’t care about buying a new phone but I DO care about both the contacts, many of which I don’t have written down anywhere (I don’t even remember everyone who was on it), and some text & voice messages I’ve been holding on to… (a) out of sentiment, from when my brother died last year, and (b) in case I need them as evidence in a lawsuit against an insurance company. So my questions are: (1) Should I fish it out of the rice to remove the memory card? (2) If the phone is indeed dead, is there ANY way for a technician to access my contacts and the saved messages? For ex., years ago I had a secondhand iMac die on me, but the guy at the Apple store was able to access all the documents and other personal contents of my hard drive and put them on a couple of discs. Thank you in advance, I’m just devastated.

    Reply
  21. Joanne
    38

    P.S. I forgot to say that my contacts and texts AREN’T backed up on the memory card, only some pics that I already uploaded into my laptop–but should I remove the phone from the rice and remove the card ANYWAY to help the phone’s innards dry more thoroughly? Thanks

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      39

      Hi Joanne,

      I’m sorry about your phone. Before taking the phone apart any further, I would recommend taking the pieces into the manufacturer’s store (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.) to have them take a look and if possible, recover the contacts you need. They’ll be able to tell you how possible it is to recover the information you want.

      Good luck. I hope it works out for you.

      Jonathan

  22. Joanne
    40

    Thanks, Jonathan, for replying so quickly, and sorry for my verbosity last p.m.! But you mean I should take it to a Verizon store AFTER it’s been in the rice for 72 hrs, yes?
    (It’s only been 1 day.) And btw, it’s so nice of you to still be answering q.’s about this after almost 2 years! Joanne

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      41

      I would take the phone to the Verizon store as soon as possible to see what they recommend. You could even take it in a ziplock bag with rice in it if you wanted. Good luck. I hope it all works out.

      Jonathan

  23. Michael
    42

    I tried using rice but there were still little bits of water sitting on the screen — resorted to ordering a ‘rescuetec’ pack which managed to get rid of it.

    Reply
  24. jared
    44

    i dropped my phone in the hottub i took out the battery and everything and have it in rice but is it gonna work? im like having a panic attack

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      45

      It’s hard to know at this point Jared. The best thing you can do is be patient before trying to turn it back on. If you turn it on while water is still in it you are far more likely to have a phone that won’t work.

      Good luck.

  25. Amy
    48

    i took my batery out and left my phone in the sun then in the aring cupboard… will that do? Also my screen is rather cracked and i think water got in it that way… will it be okay? it is a huaweii ascend g300

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      49

      Hi Amy,

      I’m sorry about your phone. It’s hard to know whether that will work because every phone is different. If you follow the instructions in the article hopefully you’ll be able to save it. Good luck.

  26. Tejas Shetty
    50

    Oh S***!! I think my phone had an short circuit as after it fell in the water i tried to turn it on instead of removing the water… Any Ideas to recover my phone???
    Mine is Samsung GT-C3312 (Samsung Champ Deluxe)

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      51

      Sorry to hear you dropped your phone in water Tejas. The best bet is to follow the directions in the article, even if you’ve already turned your phone on after it fell in water. If following the article doesn’t work, I’d recommend taking the phone in to your cell phone company’s store to see what they can do. Good luck.

  27. chris
    52

    i dropped a samsung galaxy note 2 in a pool…i retrieved it right away. ive taken everythi8ng off if it and its in rice now. any luck with these working again?

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      53

      It’s hard to know Chris. Every phone and situation are different. Follow the steps in the article and hopefully you’ll have a working phone again shortly. Good luck.

  28. chris
    54

    now i am really stressed and i know we have insurance through verizon but i don’t know about water damange that the tricky part.

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      55

      It’s absolutely worth looking into it. In the past insurance has covered water damage, but I know plans can vary so I’d hate to get your hopes up. Good luck.

  29. Hanna
    56

    Hi,
    I know that this article is old, but I’m panicking a little. Last night I dropped my phone in the toilet, having too much stuff in my hands after I got out of the shower. Of course lol. I dried it all out with a towel and left it for a few minutes. But then I started using it and was even texting on it, until it just shut off and I couldn’t turn it back on.
    That’s when I thought to put it in rice. My mom told me this morning that I wasn’t supposed to use it so soon after..whoops. It’s just a slide out keyboard, Samsung Evergreen. Do you think it might still work?

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      57

      Hi Hanna,

      It’s hard to know whether it will work. Every phone is different and it all depends on where the water is able to get inside the phone. Your best bet is to follow the instructions in the article and be patient. If you have phone insurance hopefully that should cover water damage as well. Good luck!

      Jonathan

  30. Matt
    58

    I just dropped my phone in the toilet. Took out the battery, Sd card and Sim card and dried off right away. I noticed a white box with red x’s in the bottom right corner where the battery was. Does this mean the phone has water damage and destoyed? I plan on putting in rice as soon as possible or is it a waste of time?

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      59

      Hi Matt,

      Sorry to hear about your phone. Every phone is different, but the red x probably signals to the company that created the phone that water damage has occurred. Usually, warranties don’t cover water damage, so it allows them to protect against someone claiming that their phone all of a sudden stopped working for no reason.

      I think putting it in rice makes a lot of sense. While your phone may not make it, it’s absolutely worth trying considering the cost of replacing most cell phones.

      Good luck.

      Jonathan

  31. tammy
    60

    my phone is a samsung galaxy dyou and i have waited hours and dried and turned on my phone nothing happened. I dropped my phone down the loo but didn’t shut down but when i did it started flashing and then turned of and now it is not working and i do not want to service it

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      61

      Sorry you dropped your phone in water. Your best bet is to follow the steps in the article. It’s not fun to wait three days for it to dry, but it’s usually worth it. If it’s still not working after that you’ll probably have to take it in for service.

      Good luck.

  32. Jake
    62

    Hey jonathon. I dropped my phone in the sink full of water. I pulled it out, dabbed it dry with paper towels but i looked up what to do on it and i noticed it was acting weird. Its in a bag of rice now. Is it bad that i used it after it being i water?

    Reply
    • David Hartstein
      63

      Hey Jake. Sorry to hear about your issue with your phone. If it’s still acting weird days later, you’ll probably want to take it in to get checked out. A service professional should be able to determine if turning it on caused any issues.

      Good luck!

    • Jake
      64

      After i put it in rice for a day if was a acting weird the next day and doing all sorts of things, but now it seems to be working just fine. Thanks for the help!

  33. Meghan
    65

    Here’s my situation..

    I was in the shower, and did not know that my niece was in the bathroom while I was in the shower. I left my phone on sink (because that’s what I normally do to listen to music while I shower), I had got out and saw her there. She was playing in the sink and splashing water all over. I grabbed my phone, and saw that I was kind of drenched in water. It was still working. I dried it off and thought everything was cool. Well, I have a passcode on my phone and I tried typing in my passcode and the 123 on the phone wouldn’t work. It was like the middle part of my screen to my phone was the only part damaged. So I tried turning it off and on again, it turned back on but the touch screen still wouldn’t work. So, I took it all apart and put it in a bag of rice and like an idiot, I thought it would be dried out and I put it all back together again and it wouldn’t turn on. So I plugged it in and a green light came on like it does when it’s charging but after like 5 minutes, it usually turned on. I didn’t. So I put it back in the bag of rice and it’s been in there for 2 days straight.

    Is there any input you could say? I know you don’t know that if it will work or not. But, by trying to turn it back on again and plugging it in, did I fry my phone?

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      66

      Hi Meghan,

      Sorry about the water, but I think you’re doing all the right things. The best approach now is to be patient and let it dry out. If it still doesn’t turn on you should take it in to your carrier and see if there is anything they can do.

      Good luck.

  34. Primo
    67

    hi, today i put my phone on my bag, when i rode a motorcycle, half way through, its raining, i didnt have a lot of time to put my phone in a safer location of my bag. and when i arrived home, i instantly took of my battery, sim card, and also sd card. My question is, can i actually just wait it to dry naturally without using rice? thanks again

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      68

      Hi Primo, you don’t necessarily have to use rice, but it will likely speed along the process of drying, and potentially save electronic components from being damaged. If possible, I would recommend it.

      Good luck.

  35. Asma
    69

    Hi, few hours ago my phone fell in a puddle and i took it out ASAP and took my battery and sim and memo card out. I also dried it with tissue paper and when I got home I took out the components connects and dried it up. I cannot see my screen but I am seeing cracked like lines on my screen internally. My phone is switched off at the minute and I am wondering whether my phone will work or not, also I can receive texts and calls, just cannot see it on my screen can only hear it. Any advise I could possibly get from you please?

    Reply
    • Jonathan Goldford
      70

      I’m sorry to hear about the water Asma. Like the article says, I’d encourage you to leave your phone off for three days to allow it to dry. At that point you can test out the screen and hopefully everything will be working. If not, I’d recommend taking it to one of your carrier’s stores and having them give it a look. Good luck!

  36. Susan
    71

    Like others I dropped my phone down the toilet for seconds. I dried it with tissue then tried to switch it off/on several times but screen was blank. Left it in rice overnight and reassembled next morning (I hadn’t read this site at that time) but no joy, so sat it on a warm radiator for 10 minutes, then tried to charge it. After a while phone vibrated for a good 15 minutes, but still doesn’t work. Having read the advice I’ve now put it back in rice but I don’t hold out much hope. I’m not very knowledgable on technology but am A bit concerned I may have exposed myself to harmful ‘rays’ by handling itwhile I was vibrating.

    Reply
  37. Susan
    72

    Sorry I didn’t word my comment properly I mean’t while it (THE PHONE) was vibrating.

    Reply

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