If your iPhone gets wet, don’t worry. It’s possible to fix a wet iPhone, but time is of the essence. This article also applies to a wet iPad, iPod touch, or virtually any other mobile device.
Don’t Turn On Your iPhone
If your iPhone is exposed to water, do not turn it on. Don’t try to turn it off, as you must wake the device to do so. Just leave it as is, in sleep mode, until you can decide what to do with it. Resist the urge to power it on to check if it still works. Doing so could damage the logic board, leaving your device permanently ruined.
The Next Course of Action
Your next steps depend on a how your iPhone was subjected to moisture. How much liquid was your iPhone exposed to? What kind of liquid was it exposed to? Is this a new iPhone or an older device that might be suitable for replacement?
If you splashed a little water on your iPhone, you can probably fix it yourself. If your iPhone was submerged, it is salvageable, but it’s unlikely it will ever be the same. This level of exposure to liquid will damage the buttons, speakers, and battery.
The kind of liquid your iPhone was exposed to is an important consideration. If you left your iPhone in your pocket and accidentally put it in the washing machine, repairing the device is unlikely. If your dog “lifted his leg” on the device, you might want to replace it, even if it can be fixed. Exposure to a flammable liquid, such as high-proof alcohol or gasoline could be dangerous. If this happens, it may be a good idea to isolate the device in a fire-proof container. Take it to a professional repair technician and let them know what happened.
Your course of action also depends on what kind of device you have. If you dropped your iPhone 3GS in the pool, it’s probably time to get a new device anyway. Don’t invest the time, expense and effort in fixing such an antiquated device. If money is an issue, you can get a free iPhone from most major carriers.
Let’s take a look at different ways one can fix a wet iPhone. Some of these are cost-effective, do-it-yourself methods. Users with newer devices may want to invest in a professional service. There are some great repair services that specialize in fixing wet iPhones.
Do it Yourself
If your iPhone was exposed to a modest amount of moisture, it may be possible to fix it yourself. I recommend the DIY method only if your device was exposed to a minimal amount of liquid and it’s not under warranty. In other words, if you have nothing to lose, try it. If you have a relatively new iPhone, take it to a professional.
Keep in mind, Apple’s warranty does not cover accidents, such as exposure to moisture. The iPhone has a component which detects moisture, so they will know what happened.
The DIY method involves using some form of desiccant to draw moisture out of the device. Rice is the cheapest and most available desiccant. You probably have some at home.
First, get an air-tight container, such as a plastic bag or Tupperware container. Next, wrap your iPhone in a cotton cloth or handkerchief. This will protect the device from the rice as well as help to wick out moisture. Put the wrapped iPhone in the container and fill it with rice, then seal the container. Wait at least 48 hours before taking the device out of the container. Remove the handkerchief and power it on. If all goes well, you will have a working iPhone.
There are other desiccants you can use, which are more effective than rice. The problem with rice is that it has absorbed moisture while sitting on your shelf, even if it is in a bag or container. Cooking rice with water forces moisture into the rice, which may be why some think it is a great desiccant. Rice will work, but not as well as other desiccants. Rice is great because it is readily available and time is of the essence. You can start with rice and use a better desiccant later.
If you live in a humid environment, you can remove moisture from rice by putting it in a 125° (Fahrenheit) oven for about an hour. Next, take the rice out of the oven, wait for it to cool, and immediately use it as a desiccant.
Silica gel is extremely effective. It can be purchased as individual packets, loose beads, and is also found in certain types of kitty litter. There are also “all in one” solutions for salvaging wet electronics, such as Thirsty Bag. This product is a desiccant and container, all in one. You will get better results using more effective drying agents. Since time is of the essence, I would suggest using silica packets or a product such as Thirsty Bag, if it is readily available. If you have to order it online and wait, it’s best to use rice, at least until you can get a better desiccant. Accident-prone people may want to have a Thirsty Bag or silica products on hand, just in case.
Keep in mind, some drying agents are inappropriate for salvaging electronics. Products that use calcium chloride, such as Damp Rid, are not appropriate for drying out electronics. Calcium chloride is corrosive and will damage metal. Damp Rid is a great product for keeping a bathroom or basement dry, but it’s not intended to be used with electronics.
Never use heat to dry out your device. Heat will damage the device, especially the battery. Lithium ion batteries are very sensitive to heat.
Leave it to the Professionals
If your brand new iPhone just got soaked, it’s best to get this dealt with professionally. Apple’s warranty does not cover accidents. It will only cover manufacturing defects. As mentioned, iPhones feature a component that detects moisture damage.
One of the best services I know of is iCracked. Since time is of the essence, they will come to you and pick up your device. Their skilled team of technicians will perform a methodical restoration process on your iPhone.
Technicians first extract the logic board and use an ultrasonic cleaning device to restore it. They then put this component in a desiccant to dry it out. Next, they test the different components to make sure they work. Finally, they replace the battery and dock connector, as they are most affected by moisture.
Keep in mind, they can only fix about 70% of moisture-exposed devices. Their service is not cheap. It costs $80 – $120 to service the device, depending on the model. There’s no guarantee your device will work and it will never really be the same. iCracked does as much as possible to restore a wet iPhone. Given the more expensive alternative of buying a new device, it’s probably worth it.
An Ounce of Prevention
You can prevent your iPhone or other device from being exposed to liquids. There are a variety of liquid-proof cases on the market — OtterBox being one of the most popular. OtterBox offers cases that protect against drops, shocks, dust, crushing force, and scratches. At around $50, it’s a good investment for a new iPhone. For a less expensive solution, putting your iPhone in a plastic bag may prevent some water damage. It probably won’t help if your device is submerged, but it will protect against spills and rainfall.
If you don’t want the bulk or hassle of using a case, extended warranties may be a better option. They’re actually quite affordable and cover everything. If you damage your device, these services will replace it quickly. For example, SquareTrade will reimburse device replacement from the Apple Store, as well as provide overnight shipping for a replacement device. If you damage your iPhone, you’ll get a new one the next day. These plans aren’t very expensive. They cost about twice as much as a case and offer up to 4 incidents per year. Keep in mind, you have to pay about $50 per incident. It ends up being at least three times more expensive than buying a case. Read “AppleCare+ vs. SquareTrade” for more information on the leading protection plans.
Buying a new device from Apple or your carrier is another alternative. It’s expensive, but you don’t have to pay the $800 or so that a brand-new, unlocked iPhone costs. For example, it costs $229 to buy a replacement iPhone 5. This isn’t the best option, but if your device is completely ruined by water, it’s the only choice. Buying a replacement device isn’t that much more expensive than an extended warranty, however, if you repeatedly damage your device, an extended warranty will pay off.
Overall, buying a quality case is probably the best option. It will protect your device from every peril, except theft or loss. Extended warranty plans such as SquareTrade and AppleCare don’t cover theft or loss either. Since the iPhone is so small, a well-designed case won’t add too much bulk to your device. Just about everyone will drop their iPhone at some point. Make sure that the case is water proof, in addition to offering protection from drops, shocks, and scratches. If you take preventative measures, you’ll never have to worry about a wet iPhone.