When you drop your iPhone in the bathroom sink, or when it falls out of your back pocket into the toilet bowl, or even when it tumbles out of the two-person rowboat you’ve rented for the weekend and flies magically through the air into a standing pool of water on the opposite bank – there’s one thing you have to do in that moment, as fast you can: TURN YOUR PHONE OFF. Before you even start to panic, turn your phone off. If you do that, your phone has a chance (a chance!) at survival. Once you’ve turned it off, you can follow the rest of this handy dandy guide.
You might be tempted to think it’s all over. But all hope isn’t necessarily lost. You can still save your iPhone, possibly, as long as you move fast and take immediate action.
Follow the steps below next time your iPhone is water damaged, and do them as quickly as you can. Timing is the difference between life and death.
1) TURN YOUR PHONE OFF IMMEDIATELY. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. This step is absolutely crucial. To turn off your iphone: press and hold the power button, then swipe the slider at the bottom of the screen to power off when prompted. The reason you need to turn your phone off, before you do anything else, is that if any water crosses a live electrical circuit in your phone, your phone will short-circuit and become garbage immediately. You must cut the power to your phone to avoid short-circuiting.
If at first your phone won’t power off, try, try again. Sometimes it takes several tries, depending on how quickly you plucked your phone out of the toilet bowl.
2) Go to the nearest hardware store and buy yourself some DampRid. DampRid is a heavy duty, high-capacity moisture absorber, about a million times more effective than rice. If you already have some on hand from the last time you dropped your phone in the lake, even better. Just get your hands on some DampRid as fast as you can.
3) While you’re in the hardware store buying DampRid, wrap your phone in a towel and leave it on the hot dashboard of your car. Or throw it in a ziploc bag full of rice as a temporary stopgap. (The rice trick also works nicely if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, with no access to a hardware store.)
4) Buy some Ziplock bags – the thicker, the better.
5) Buy the DampRid. It typically comes in buckets or packets. Packets are preferable, if the store has them. If not, just get the bucket. There’s no time to waste here, people.
6) Put your iPhone in between two packets of DampRid, like a sandwich. I like to then wrap the whole bundle in a hair tie or headband to keep it tied securely together. With the porous sides of the DampRid packets facing each other, make sure your iPhone is all snuggly and safe, nestled between the two packets.
7) Put the whole bundle – packets, iPhone and all – into a thick Ziplock bag, seal it up, and stash it away in a warm, dry place.
8) Wait 24 hours. Use this 24-hour period away from your wounded iPhone to consider your own foolishness and vanity. Let’s face it: nobody needed that bathroom selfie. Nobody.
9) After 24 hours have elapsed, get on your knees, pray to God that it works, and then try powering your phone back on. If it doesn’t power back up immediately, don’t panic – it might take a couple of tries. You can always let it rest longer if you think it needs it. But the chances are pretty good that your phone will power right back up, so long as you got it out of the water as fast as humanly possible, turned it off immediately, and got it into some rice or DampRid within a few minutes of the accident.
10) REJOICE! If your phone powers back on, you’ve just saved yourself $700.
If it powers back on only partially or if you notice some residual water damage, don’t freak out. It will clear up over the next few days, typically. I once dropped my iPhone in the toilet bowl – yes, it fell out of my back pocket – and I kept it in a bowl of rice for 36 hours. When I turned the phone back on, it worked but there was a massive water stain and visible water damage all over the screen.
Luckily, the water stain and damages were only visible for a few days, as most of the moisture dried up naturally. (The excess moisture was heated up or cooked out of the phone over the course of normal operating activities – a nice little built-in perk of electronics.)
So next time you drop your phone in Michael Phelps’s olympic training pool – don’t despair! Stay calm, turn your phone off, and follow the steps above as quickly and steadily as you can.
If you move fast and think quickly, your phone has a decent shot at survival.