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How to save a wet cell phone or electronic gadget

Filed Under: electronics


Your PDA's swaddled in suede, your cell's clad in couture and your laptop's loving its sleek new custom case. Meanwhile, those are mere decorations and only protect you from scratches -- how do you protect your gadgets from water?

Ever dropped your gadget in a puddle, had your toddler pour coffee on your laptop (ah, the perils of a working parent), or worse ... you leaned over to flush the toilet only to have your cell phone slide out of your pocket and right into the bowl? Usually it means that you have to replace your gadget ... but sometimes if you act fast, you can save yourself from another expensive purchase.

Follow these steps to avoid a trip to the gadget graveyard.

Step 1:
Turn off your gadget and immediately remove the battery -- no matter what you do -- DO NOT TURN IT BACK ON. If you dropped your phone and it has a SIM card, remove that too. Some or all of your valuable contacts (along with other data) could be stored on it. To some people this could be more important than the phone itself.

Step 2:
Dry it off as much as you possibly can. Even take a Q-tip and get into the cracks and crevices. You can never be too thorough.

Step 3:
Put the gadget and battery in a dry, warm spot and wait. Don't try putting the battery back in to see if it works as this would risk damaging the phone with a short circuit. Remember: Water and electricity don't mix ... don't let your short patience get the best of you. You will have to wait this one out and your best bet is to let it dry for two to three days and not a minute less!

Step 4:
Put your batteries back in and cross your fingers. With a little luck, your gadget will be back in working order. Note: This can work for your kids' electronic toys too.

Tip: If something other than water (like coffee or soda) was the culprit, you may need to add another step ... after drying you will want to take your Q-tip and clean the gadget with alcohol (use sparingly) and then dry again. Unfortunately, liquids other than water will corrode the inside parts and the longer it dries without being cleaned out, the more concentrated the substance will become.


Source

  • Lani

    I learned recently that after you take your phone apart to place it in a bowl of dry uncooked rice to soak up the liquid. Have you heard this also? I've never tried it, but I've heard it draws out the liquid.

    Reply
  • cDizzle

    I recently dropped my BlackBerry into a pan of latex house paint. It fell flat on the keyboard side, so I figured it was lost. I grabbed it out and quickly removed the battery and SIM, and then ran the phone under cold water and did my best to clean it off. After, I wrapped a towel around the phone and tried to shake all the remaining water out. I got a container that just fit the blackberry and filled up the rest of it with dry rice (Uncle Ben's 1 Minute Rice. I packed it full and put a lid on it and prayed. The next day, I opened the container, put the battery and SIM back in and crossed my fingers. BOOYAH!, the phone works! The rice tip is great and works well, the only thing that works better are the silica packets that come with new shoes and electronics, but who keeps them around?

    Reply
  • rufitela

    My wife and i fell into a waterfall while trying to take a picture of ourself sitting on a horizontal bamboo stalk (dumb for us, since we were taking the picture ourselves the scenery wouldn't have come out anyway). We came out soaking wet with cellphones, camera and wallet all dripping. Luckily we were only minutes away from the resort we were staying at. We ask one of the garden kids to lend us his industrial leaf blower and blasted the electrinics away with it. Water was rushing away from every crevice in the camera and cell phones, but they all worked within an hour. Guess you can't always take a leaf blower to the jungle, but you can always leave your cell phone and camera away from waterfalls...

    Reply
  • nyc4db

    ive used a hairdryer with sucess to force dry a momentarily submerged cell phone.

    Reply
  • mighitmouse

    I jumped into the pool after working in the sun and 40 minutes later realized my pink Razr cell was in my shorts pocket. I dried it off and took it apart...I did try to cut it on and when that didn't work, I started looking on ebay for an unlocked replacement. Meanwhile, each day I left it outside to continue drying and on the fourth night it came back on. The only troubles I'm having are 1) getting the charger to fit into the slot at just the right angle for connection, 2) a one time crazy acting sim card replacement - I just took it apart and put it back together, and 3) having a washed out look to the screen. I'll replace the phone at the end of my service plan contract.

    Reply
  • Joy

    I just washed my son's cell phone in the washing machine! I wish I would have had this information two days ago! I took the battery out and tried to dry it off as much as I could. The phone turns on, but says service is required. Do you think there is any hope?

    Reply
  • FRANK

    DON'T CARRY STUFF AROUND IN YOUR (SHIRT) POCKETS.. I CRACKED AND BROKE SO MANY THINGS DOING THAT. MANY GLASSES I BROKE OR LOST. SO MANY OR BROKE THEM THAT I FINALLY BOUGHT ONE OF THOSE HOKEY CHORDS. AND GUESS WHAT I STILL HAVE THE SAME GLASSES YEARS LATER. AND I DON'T HAVE TO LOOK FOR THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE ALLWAYS AROUND MY NECK. THE CLASSES WERE $200 AND THE CHORD WAS 50 CENTS!

    Reply
  • J1ann

    One time my cell phone wen through a complete cycle of was and we used a hairdryer-it still worked!

    Reply
  • Rex Darling

    I found that taking the battery out and sim card, I used a Hair Dryer to dry it out. I also did this yesrs ago, when rain got into my color T.V.. I unplugged it, took the back cover off and dry it with a hair dryer. It work good for a lot of years after that.

    Reply
  • SHARON

    I HAVE TRIED ALCOHOL ON MINOR SPILLS AND IT WORKED WELL. I HAVE NOT TRIED IT ON A REALLY BAD ONE.

    Reply
  • Clay

    I jumped in the pool one time forgetting my cell was in my pocket. I put it in a plastic baggie with some of those silica gel packets while I was away at camp for a week and when I came back it was working GREAT!

    Reply
  • Mike

    I have many times dropped cell phones and VHF radios into salt water which, unless acted upon quickly, is a death sentence for the device. After retrieving, it is imperative that you quickly remove the battery and sim card from the unit, immediately flush with fresh water to remove all traces of salt and then let completely dry before reinstalling battery and sim card. So far the score is ocean 3, Mike 12.

    Reply
  • marla

    My son has been working in for a corn production plant this summer and the corn is very wet in the mornings. He was wet and the phone was wet in his pants pocket and not working properly. After a week of drying out it now works fine.

    Reply
  • Maria

    I spilled Diet Coke all over my laptop one day. I let it dry for the better part of a day. Then my roommate and I took it apart and cleaned the components with Q-tips and rubbing alcohol. Worked great after that!

    Reply
  • dennis

    If your phone is submreged more than a second, it's toast. The phone companies have small red gel windows on the phone and the battery. These are designed to disolve at the slightest amout of moisture and tell them that moisture has gotten into the phone. There is a reason for this. They could build a moisture proof phone, but won't because it's too profitable to make you pay $200. to replace it. Buy insurance for the first couple of years, then drop it. After a certain point, you're paying to replace the phone anyway. We know they'll never make a waterproof phone

    Reply
  • Andy

    If you know someone in the auto repair field, they usually have a vacuum pump. I made a vacuum chamber from an old coffee jar. It's the perfect size for most small electronics. Water can't remain liquid in a vacuum, so after half an hour or so, no matter how soaked it got, the water is gone. Whatever it was dropped in, rinse with clean water all you want then into the vacuum chamber. FIRST, ALWAYS REMOVE THE BATTERY! THE VACUUM COULD BURST IT! I have saved many devices this way.

    Reply
  • Devilz Advocate

    My son threw my brand new Palm Treo 680 in the toilet. I nearly cried. But someone suggested that I let it out dry out and it might work again. So I took out the battery and the sim card, and laid my phone upside down by a window, and after a week, it finally powered back on as if nothing had happened.

    Reply
  • Raynman

    We had a hanging plant above our kitchen TV. When my parents were on vacation (this was 30 years ago), I dutifully watered the plant. You know what happened. The screen went blank, heard a little pop. Without first reading a blog (heh), I turned the TV power switch off and unplugged it. I placed a large floor fan on a chair directly behind the TV so the air could blow in through the vents on the back of the set. I waited a day or so with the fan continuously on, and then turned it on, and the TV worked fine.
    This has worked for TV remotes and pocket radios that got wet, too. Just lean them right up against the fan grate. Those batteries I replaced if the battery compartment got wet and the batteries looked funny.

    Reply
  • Jan

    RICE!!! After removing battery and taking apart, put phone in a bag of rice to absorb the excess moisture. Think of rice in your salt shaker... Believe me, it works!

    Reply
  • Trish

    I dropped cell phone in the tub once, pulled it out, took it apart, and used a blow dryer on it.....good as new....FYI

    Reply
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