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I’ve got bad news for you: dropping your phone or tablet in water (whether a bath, sink, toilet, or pool) will leave it irreparably damaged. No more apps, games, Facebook, phone calls or browsing. All gone.
But it’s not all bad news.
If you leave the phone or tablet switched on, you’ll have problems. Switching it off right away might just save your device. In fact, there are several steps you can take to get water out of your tablet or phone and save it from destruction.
Help! My Tablet Got Wet and Won’t Turn On!
It is important to act fast when your phone or tablet gets wet. Water and electricity simply don’t get along; a wet device could short out and even give you an electric shock. Water can cause damage to the screen and seep into bezels, slots, under the screen and into the battery cavity.
Basically, letting your phone or tablet get wet is a bad idea, and requires you to act as quickly as possible.
In short, stop trying to turn it on. You need to let the phone dry out if you ever want to see it working again.
Dropped Your Phone or Tablet in Water? Turn It Off!
If your phone has been exposed to enough water to make you concerned, the first thing you should do is turn it off! Meanwhile, if you’re using a phone with a removable battery, open the compartment and take the battery out.
Whatever you do, don’t waste time checking if the wet phone or tablet still works or not. Doing so will only make things worse!
You might be out and about when the phone gets wet, or you might be at home or in the office. Either way, you will need to find a flat, dry surface that you can use for the following steps. Fast action is recommended—failure to quickly complete the following steps will result in a permanently damaged phone or tablet!
Immediately Dry Whatever You Can
Fortunately, phones and tablets don’t come apart too easily. If they did, they’d probably fragment each time they were dropped!
However along with the battery, two other items can be removed:
- The SIM card: retrieve this, dry it with paper towel, and keep it somewhere safe.
- Removable micro SD card: remove and dry the card. Note that not all devices will have a removable SD card.
The reason for this is simple—water gets everywhere! By removing these two cards, you can dry the slots with some tissue paper to soak residual water.
Drying the Phone or Tablet
Don’t stop with the SIM and SD card slots. Any water you can find on your switched-off device should be blotted up as quickly as possible.
Ensure all water droplets around the edge of the display are soaked up. Also check around any screw holes and bezels—in fact, everywhere on the exterior of your phone or tablet.
Without taking the device apart this is as dry as you will be able to physically get it. Opening the phone or tablet is dangerous, incidentally. You’ll only end up persuading moisture to come into contact with mainboard and other components.
So, how do you dry the insides of a phone or tablet that got wet?
4 Ways to Get Water Out of a Phone or Tablet
Inside a smartphone or tablet computer you will find processors, circuit boards, button rockets—all places where water can find a home and cause damage. With your waterlogged device quickly switched off and the SIM and micro SD card removed, however, you are in a strong position to recover the device.
You just need to dry the bare circuit board, wires and processors inside.
1. Boiler/Airing Cupboard
A heat-based solution, this will take a few hours to dry your phone—probably about a full day. Switch on your boiler before using this solution, however.
2. A Bowl of Rice
While you might have to head to the local convenience store, a bowl of dry, uncooked rice is perhaps the most successful solution to any water damage to your phone or tablet.
You’ll need to pack it into a container big enough to hold your hardware and a good layer of rice—about 1 inch on all sides—but the foodstuff will soak up almost all the moisture overnight, leaving you with a fully working device.
3. Lots of Silica Gel
Do you collect those packets of silica that ship with most electronic goods? Pack your phone or tablet into a box with plenty of silica gel sachets to cover the device on all sides and leave it overnight, and hope that your hoarding wasn’t in vain.
4. Pure Alcohol
One last suggestion that has been proven to work is the use of pure alcohol. If the damage caused to your device by water is the result of basic physics, then the submerging of the switched-off device into rubbing alcohol is a result of basic chemistry. The alcohol displaces the water, then you remove the device from the liquid the alcohol will evaporate. This is an extreme solution, but useful if the other fixes don’t work.
Find a Water Damaged Tablet Repair Service
If none of the above works, or you can’t find any rice or even a warm place, consider a repair. While expensive (and potentially a waste of time), some phone shops will deal with water damage.
Own an iPad or iPhone? If you have Apple Care+, this should cover you for two accidental damage incidents, which includes water, so it’s probably worth paying for Apple Care. For non-Apple devices, you need to check if the insurance you took with your phone or tablet covers the damage.
Don’t Drop Your Phone or Tablet in Water!
These fixes are for extreme scenarios only. Do not let your phone or tablet get wet! A few splashes of rain is okay; anything more could be catastrophic.
These potential fixes are precisely that: “potential” fixes, as opposed to “actual” fixes. They have been shown to work, but none is guaranteed. As such, consider these safer practices:
- Don’t use your phone or tablet over a toilet, sink, or bath.
- Don’t leave your device in the bathroom (steam from a hot shower can condense and cause water damage).
- Treat your hardware with respect, regardless of how much it cost you. A replacement will be costly and time consuming to acquire.
- Buy a waterproof phone. Several models are available that can withstand brief plunges in water, including the most recent iPhone and Samsung Galaxy models.
Choose the best option: keep your phone or tablet safely away from exposure to water. If you cannot, water damage is a strong argument in favor of taking out smartphone insurance.