How to fix a wet phone – DO NOT PUT IT IN RICE

So you’ve dropped your phone in the toilet, or the bath, the sink, or the pool – perhaps an idiot mate dunked it in your beer.  The most common “solution” you’ll hear is to put it into rice, we’re here to tell you that’s a complete and utter waste of time, in fact it’s probably going to do more damage than good.

LISTEN: Trevor Long chats with Ben Nash from on Talking Technology (Weeknights 8pm on Talking Lifestyle)

Ben Nash knows his stuff, he’s fixing electronics day in and day out and has seen more water damaged devices than you could imagine.  Turns out there’s no benefit at all in putting your phone in rice, but he does have advice for you.

Why not rice?

You might have a friend who did the “rice treatment” and their phone is still working.  Odds are that water didn’t actually get in the phone – they are actually very well sealed already you should know. So for those cases, while you can never prove it – leaving them sitting on the bench would have done the exact same job.

Water doesn’t damage your phone, the combination of electricity and water does the damage.  The current from an active phone mixed with water will very quickly cause corrosion – Ben told me he’s seen this happen in as little as 25 minutes.

Where corrosion is happening it’s important to understand that as far as Ben is concerned “That device is never going to be reliable again – ever”.

The key thing you should be considering at this point is how to recover the data from your phone if you haven’t been doing regular cloud backups.  You’re going to need someone like Ben for that.

What do I do if I’ve dropped my phone in water?

  1. Do not turn it on.
  2. Do not charge the device.
  3. Turn it off if it appears to still be working
  4. Do not charge the device.
  5. Do not attempt to force the drying of the phone (with a hair dryer etc)
  6. Do not charge the device
  7. Take it to a repair store ASAP.
  8. If you can’t get there within an hour our next tip will blow your mind.

Need to protect your data?

For some people the phone is replaceable, but the data stored on it is not.  While your telco and Apple might tell you there’s nothing that can be done, Ben Nash tells us it is possible to work with the data on a phone – if that is, it hasn’t been corroded beyond repair.

Leaving the phone in rice for a long period, and repeat attempts at trying to charge it and turn it on, will only accelerate the corrosion process and by the time you realise that it doesn’t work, the corrosion may render the phone unrepairable. Even if the phone does happen to turn on, don’t be of the belief that it’s fixed. Turn it off and leave it off, and take it to a repair shop to be cleaned properly to remove that corrosion.

As completely and utterly ridiculous as this sounds, Ben tells us that to give the circuitry on the phone the best hope, you should buy some Isopropyl alcohol – and dunk the phone in it.  Yep, submerge your phone in Isopropyl alcohol.

The reason is that Isopropyl alcohol is not electrically conductive, it will dissipate the water and essentially lift it off the circuit board.  This is your best hope if you can’t get to a repairer within an hour or so.

Doing this will likely damage the screen, however its all about the data now!

The bottom line.

Don’t use rice, it’s a complete and utter waste of time.

Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.

He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.

Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.

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  1. ben nash

    January 1, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    Great article Trevor, was a pleasure to be on the show. However i will add further to this

    Another reason behind the phone needing to be off – is that live copper actually corrodes extremely faster then copper that’s not. Listeners can feel free to google electrolysis if your interested. But there’s certain power rails on your board inside the device that are live even if the phone is off, as the battery is still plugged in. But you can minimise the amount of rails that are live by keeping the phone off. iPhone batteries have a reset-able fuse which (sometimes, if your lucky) trips during water damage and prevents further damage.

    If you like, I offer a mail in service for data recovery –

  2. Frankster

    January 2, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    My sister’s iPhone 5S went the same way – she dropped it and in the loo of all places! I just left it sitting on my bookshelf for a couple of months, until I got curious and decided to switch it on. Nothing to lose at this point I thought, as I’d given her my spare 6S Plus to use. The fact it turned on again with STILL 45% battery left in it astounded the hell out of me, and it works and charges like it always did.

  3. Leanne

    January 2, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    What about those silica packs. To remove moisture

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