What to Do if You Drop Your Android in Water

How bad is it if your smartphone gets wet?

Smartphones soaks in water Credit: Yagi Studio
Yagi Studio/Getty Images

What happens if you get your Android phone wet? Do you panic? Do you throw it in a jar of rice? Do you throw it away? It turns out all of those answers are wrong. 

Chances are good if you just splashed a few drops of water on your screen, nothing bad will happen. So let's just talk about what happens if you really goof. What if you drop your phone in the toilet or end up caught in a rain storm with your purse soaking wet.

What if you wash it in the laundry? What then? 

Well, there's a small chance you won't need to do anything if your phone is water resistant enough to avoid damage. For everyone else, here are a few things to try:

Turn Off Your Phone

Don't just turn off the screen. Power the smartphone down completely. Unplug it if it's on the charger (and do not plug it back in.) Hold down the power button until it is off, and if possible, open the case and remove the battery. Do this immediately. 

Generally, phones don't die just because of water. They die because the water causes a short in the wiring. In order for that to happen, you need to have power. If you can power down the phone and dry it out within 48 hours of water exposure, chances are good that your phone will live to see another day. 

Remove The Case

If you have a case on your phone, remove it at this time. You want to have as much of your phone exposed to air as possible.

 

Try A Specialized Cleaning Service

You could try a service like TekDry at this point if they are available near you. Larger metropolitan areas will often have multiple, similar services. 

Remove The Battery

The worst-case scenario is if you have an Android phone that isn't designed for easy battery replacements and is glitching out when you try to power it down.

I had that happen once and opened the case with specialized tools in order to remove the battery. If you don't happen to have a set of phone repair tools, the best option would be to lay the phone flat and hope the battery drains before anything shorts. 

Wash Your Phone?

If you dropped it in the ocean, wash it. Salt water will corrode the interior. Same if you dropped it in soup or other materials with particles. Or a dirty toilet bowl. Yes, wash it off in a stream of clean water.  Do not, however, dunk it in a bowl or sink of water. 

Avoid Jostling, Tilting, or Shaking Your Phone

If there's water inside your phone, you don't want to make it worse by letting it run in new places. 

Do Not Use Rice

Yes, I know the first thing everyone tells you to do is to stuff your phone in a jar of rice. However, stuffing your phone in a jar of rice is more likely to accidentally stuff rice grains into your phone than it is to aid the phone's drying process. Rice is not a drying agent. Do not use rice. Other things not to use include a hair dryer, oven, or microwave. You don't want to heat up your already imperiled phone.  

Instead, use actual drying agents, such as Damp Rid (available in grocery stores) or packaged silica gel (the "do not eat" packets you find in vitamin bottles).

 

Gently pat your phone down with a towel, and then place it on some paper towels. Place the phone somewhere where it won't' be disturbed. If possible, place the phone and paper towels in a container with Damp Rid or silica gel packets. (Not loose powder - you don't want particles on your phone)

You probably still have time to run to the grocery store to buy some if you don't have any on hand. 

Wait. 

Give your phone at least 48 hours to dry. Longer if you can. You may want to balance your phone upright and tilt it, so the USB port aims down after about 24 hours to make sure any remaining moisture drains downward and out of your phone.

Avoid jostling or shaking. 

If you are an adventurous warranty-voider and have the correct tools, you could also try disassembling the phone as much as possible before drying it out. Here's the kit I recommend if you're into disassembling your devices. They've also got some great instructions on how to repair and reassemble your devices. 

Look For Water Sensors

How do repair or phone companies know you got your phone wet? Your phone has water sensors in it that can detect if there has ever been "water ingress." The sensors in most phones actually just look like tiny pieces of paper or stickers. They are white when dry, and they turn bright red - permanently - when they get wet. So if you take your phone case off, and you see bright red paper dots on the interior of your phone, that's probably a tripped water sensor. 

Waterproof Coating

This may come too late for you if you've already dunked your phone, but companies like Liquipel can coat phones that would normally not be water resistant. You send them your phone, they coat it and return it to you. 

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