What to Do If You Drop Your Phone in Water

Shut the phone off right away, and don’t turn it on until it’s dry

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If you’ve dropped your phone in water, it’s important to immediately prevent additional damage before you attempt any fixes. Remove the phone from the water, shut it off, quickly dry it as best you can with a soft cloth, and then proceed from there.

What Happens If You Drop Your Phone in Water?

When you drop your phone in the water, a number of things can happen. If the phone has a high ingress protection (IP) rating against water, then it will probably be fine. You can remove it from the water, dry it off, and may be able to continue using it immediately. If it doesn’t have a high IP rating or no rating at all, then dropping a phone in water can cause catastrophic damage that may not be repairable.

If a phone doesn’t have a high IP rating, water can enter the phone and come into contact with internal electronic components. Since water is conductive, components can short out. That can cause a temporary shutdown, but it might also result in permanent damage.

How to Fix a Phone That Fell in Water

If your phone fell into water, you need to do two things. The first, and most important, is to shut the phone off before any additional damage occurs. You then need to do everything you can do to dry the phone off. Never leave a phone on, or turn it back on, if there are still any traces of water inside it.

Never use a hair dryer, microwave, oven, or other heat sources to dry a phone after dropping it in the water.

Here’s how to fix a phone that fell in water:

  1. Turn the phone off. Before you do anything else, shut the phone off. As long as the phone remains on, there’s a constantly increasing chance that it will be permanently damaged.

    You can turn off an iPhone by holding the side button and volume down or holding the sleep/wake button, and turn off most Androids by holding the power button.

  2. Remove the case. If your phone has a case, remove it first. The case may trap water against the body of the phone, where it can seep inside the device.

  3. Remove the SIM card. If your phone has a SIM card, use a paperclip or SIM tray removal tool to pop out the tray and remove the card. Pat the SIM card dry, and set it aside.

  4. Remove the battery. If your phone has a removable battery, remove it. This will also effectively turn the phone off if you weren’t able to do so through other means.

    If you are able to remove it, pat the battery dry and set it aside. Leave the battery cover off as well, as that will make it easier for the phone to dry out.

    Most phones have batteries that aren't easily accessible. If your battery isn't removable, skip this step.

  5. Remove anything else you can. If your phone has an internal stylus or any other compartments or covers, remove them. You want to open up the phone as much as possible to let it dry.

  6. Wipe the phone dry. Remove any remaining water from the outside of the phone. Water penetrating the interior of the phone is the real danger, so you don’t want to leave any water on the phone that could get inside.

    If possible, clean your phone with a soft microfiber cloth to avoid scratching the screen.

  7. Gently shake the phone. Hold the phone securely, and shake it gently to get water out of the charging port, speakers, physical buttons, headphone jack, SIM card slot, and any other openings.

    If any water comes out, wipe it away with your microfiber cloth.

  8. Place the phone in a drying agent. If you have access to silica gel, which comes in little packets with many new electronics, use that. If you don’t, you can find desiccants like DampRid at most grocery stores.

    As a last resort, you can use couscous, oats, or any other absorbent substance, but see below as this isn't at all ideal.

    Submerge the phone in the absorbent substance, but don’t place it in a sealed container. It’s important that the water in the phone is able to evaporate. The dust from some substances like cat litter and oats can cause additional problems, so try to use silica gel if possible.

  9. Leave your phone alone for 24 to 48 hours. Resist the urge to turn your phone on right away, and leave it in the absorbent substance for at least one full day. If you notice that the absorbent substance that you’re using has taken on a lot of water, replace it with fresh material if possible.

    Avoid leaving your phone in a humid area. If the air is humid, the water in the phone won’t be able to evaporate.

  10. Check to see if the phone works. After 24 to 48 hours have passed, you can put the battery back in and check to see if the phone works.

    If the phone does work, you should consider backing up your photos and other data immediately, just in case the phone suffered lasting damage.

  11. If the phone doesn’t work after you’ve allowed it to fully dry, it may be a lost cause. A professional may be able to retrieve data from the phone though, so your photos and videos may not be lost. Apple also accepts water-damaged phones as trade-ins at a reduced value, so that may be an option to help you get a new phone without paying full price.

  • How do I get water out of my phone's charging port?

    If your phone didn't get completely doused, but you've gotten water in a specific spot like a charging port, you should first remove the case and gently shake it to get some of the moisture out. Use a microfiber cloth to absorb as much as you can; you can also use a cotton swab to get into the port more easily. Leave the phone unplugged until you're sure it's dry.

  • How do I fix a cracked screen on my phone?

    You'll likely want to take it to a repair shop, but in the meantime consider putting clear packing tape over the cracked section(s) so you don't get any glass on your fingers or in your pockets. We got into a little more detail in our How to Fix a Cracked Phone Screen article.

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