Late last week I pulled a dummy move and washed my phone with a load of laundry. I got it out when the cycle was done (so about 50 minutes later) and gave it my best shot, but the gadget’s definitely got some battle scars and now it’s just a step above a throw away phone with a messed-up monitor to boot.
It was an interesting undertaking to go without a phone for a number of days during the revival process — because while I absolutely hate the thing, I do use it a fair amount. But I think it helped that I’m not as much of a phone talker, so although I’m into texting in a big way, by cobbling together Facebook and Gmail communiqués along with a friend’s phone I borrowed when calling was essential, I felt sort of liberated by the experience as opposed to isolated. However, because of this little foray into the Land of Limited Electronics, I decided to do some digging to find out if my phone-saving game plan had any obvious flaws, or if different strategies could have brought about better results.
Turns out it probably was just because of rotten luck — or the extreme amount of exposure to swishy sudsy water — that the outcome was less than ideal. Because I did pretty much have the fundamentals down. So first things first: get that battery out ASAP. What you’re trying to avoid is the water acting as a conductor and overloading all those sensitive circuits. It is absolutely imperative that the phone be powered off and the battery be removed pronto. Then go ahead and grab the SIM card while you’re at it, and set that aside for safekeeping as well.
Now you need to dry the phone thoroughly yet gently, inside and out. Then you want to go grab a vacuum cleaner, and while holding it several inches from the phone, train it on each area of the cell for several minutes. This helps suck out the air, as opposed to a hair dryer that would drive it down deeper — and heat up the phone in the process.
For the next step, there are a couple of ways you can do it, but the cheapest — and likely the most convenient — method is to toss some rice in a bowl (preferably a Tupperware or some other airtight container) and plunk the phone into that. Those little silica gel packets that come in things like an electronics package or a shoebox — you know, the ones that admonish you with a “Do Not Eat!” warning — can work as well, and various products for this specific purpose have also started hitting the market. But unless this is a reoccurring issue with you and you have a specific product already on hand, then probably your best bet is to just go the rice route.
Now some Web sites recommend a quick soak in rubbing alcohol, but others say that’s not a wise idea. Joel Johnson over at Popular Mechanics, for example, says that because rubbing alcohol is a solvent, it can mess up some of the adhesives that hold everything in place inside your phone, which basically negates the flipside benefits of helping replace the water.
Then it’s time to wait. Give it at least overnight (although personally, I left mine in for about three days) and place the phone and its ricey environs somewhere cool and dry. You can turn the phone around in the rice occasionally, if you want, to help any remaining moisture drip out. With any luck, in a day or two you’ll be holding your breath, crossing your fingers, and watching as your phone comes back to life.