We have yet to see James Bond sporting an underwater cell phone, and until his gizmo geeks come up with something, we recommend only dry usage of your most important communications tool. However, water happens, and sometimes it happens to cell phones. Maybe you accidentally took your Android water-skiing with you on (and in) Lake Tahoe, or perhaps you forgot to remove the ol’ iPhone from the hip-waders before you and the boys went noodling for catfish down in Monroe, Louisiana. Or maybe you just brought it in the bathroom while you took a shower. (Steam is water, and it is quite capable of disabling a cell phone.)However it happened, wet is wet, and if you don’t get rid of the moisture your device is history. The good news in the situation is that there is still a chance to resuscitate the poor phone. We have a basic 10-step program to help you in your efforts.
- Keep Calm and Carry On – This 1939 WWII British morale booster slogan should serve you well in your time of need. Don’t panic. Remove your phone from the wet environment as soon as possible, and prepare to operate. Do not turn on the phone; this could cause it to short-circuit.
- Coin Flip – Opinion is divided as to whether battery removal is called for. Naysayers say to dry it intact, so as to avoid a short-circuit, while the opposition says to remove the battery, and for the very same reason. I’ll go with taking the battery out, especially if the phone is already turned off.
- Attachments – Remove everything from the phone that is detachable, including SIM cards, clips and covers.
- No Charmin – You need absorbent material, but avoid tissues or towels that break down when they get wet. Soft towels, paper or fabric, will work the best. Gently dry what you can reach. Hint: rolling pieces of paper toweling into pointed cylinders can help access and “wick-out” some of those hard-to-reach places.
- Don’t Push – A vacuum works better than a blow-dryer for the next step in the drying process. Even the lowest setting on the dryer may be too hot, and there is a tendency for the blower to push moisture further into the device without completely evaporating it.
- Rice – Rice, as well as some other grain products, will provide a drying environment , since they can absorb a lot of moisture. People in humid climates often add grains of rice to salt-shakers to keep the salt from clumping. Place a bed of uncooked rice in a plastic container that is big enough to hold your phone. Place your phone on the bed of rice and then add more rice, until the phone is completely covered. Place the lid on the container, and let the rice do its work.
- Silica – You can take all the little desiccant packets out of your medicine bottles, and use them in the same fashion as the rice. Silica and silica gels are highly absorbent, and relatively dust-free.
- Pause for the Cause – Rice and/or silica will need time to do the job. Wait at least 12 hours (preferably longer) before removing the device.
- Reassemble – Carefully re-connect everything that was taken off the phone.
- Cross Fingers – Try the darn thing. If it works, great. If it doesn’t work, try drying it out for another day, and give it a second shot, double-checking to make sure you put things back in correctly.
It doesn’t always work, even when you repeat the process, but the success rate warrants the effort, and then you won’t have to tell anybody that you dropped your phone in the toilet.