Cell Phone + Dishwater = Bad

It’s happened to the best of us. I’ve heard stories of cell phones in back-pockets getting dumped in public toilets (ewwwww) or of people accidentally knocking purses into fountains or the ever amusing “throw your friend in the swimming pool at a party and discover you’ve ruined his smartphone” story.

Everyone knows that cell phones and water just don’t mix that well.

I had yet to discover this personally… until Saturday evening. My inlaws were in town and had made a quick run to the hardware store with Spaceship Husband to purchase… something. Plywood I think (we were hurricane-prepping the house). Anyway, I opted to stay home and get some work done, folding some laundry off the line and doing dishes and stuff. While I was doing dishes, I decided to move my phone so it wouldn’t get wet.

Oh Murphy’s Law, I should know by now not to tempt it.

Long story short, I dropped the phone in a sink of soapy dishwater. It went burbleburbleburble for about 5-10 seconds while I fished around trying to find it.

I voided the warranty on both the phone and the battery (my little red “you were an idiot and put your phone in water” stickers are both very very red). Thanks to some people on twitter and some quick Google-Fu, I learned the process by which you attempt to salvage a wet cell phone:

(Note: If your phone was submerged in salt water, you should rinse it completely in fresh water before doing any of the following – water is bad, but dried salt will corrode the inside of your phone. VERY bad news.)

  1. Immediately remove the battery cover, battery, and SIM card (if you have one)
  2. Set the phone on some absorbent material (paper towel, regular towel) and try to get as much water out of it as possible – the best way to do this is either with a can of compressed air or a vacuum cleaner. I think a vacuum cleaner is the better option, because it’ll suck the water OUT, instead of blowing the water through the phone.  Just make sure you put a washcloth on the end of your vacuum hose so you don’t short out the vacuum. You should NOT use a hairdryer or set the phone in the sun – melting little inside parts of your cell phone will also make it not work.
  3. Get a container large enough to hold your phone and all of it’s accessories and fill it with rice. Silica gel packs would be better, but I don’t have a whole drawer of those around, and speed is of the essence here.
  4. Submerge the cell phone and battery in the rice.
  5. Every 8-12 hours, change the position of the phone, so that water will run out of it (if there’s any left).
  6. Leave the phone in the rice for at least 48 hours.

At that point, the phone will be pretty well dried out. Shake all the rice out of it (I had a few pieces get into the back cover of my LG Vu but they were easy enough to dislodge), put the SIM card and battery back in, and see if it’ll start. If it does, give someone a quick call to make sure the mic and speaker parts are still functional as well.

If it /won’t/ – give it a few extra days. I was lucky, and after 48 hours in a plastic container full of brown rice, my phone started up with no problems.

Ideally though, just keep your cell phone out of the dishwater.

3 thoughts on “Cell Phone + Dishwater = Bad

  1. Other good places to keep your phone out of: the pockets of laundry that’s about to go into the washer and dryer.

    Not that I’d know anything about that.

    *cough*

  2. Excellent post from a consumers point of view. I do tech support for Blackberrys for a Canadian Cell provider and have had to give this information to too many people. I like to point about moving the phone to make sure the water hasn’t settled in one spot and will dry out. I will add that to the information I give customers.

  3. I’m glad the phone turned out okay! And as a bonus, because you used brown rice, it’s now a heart-healthy part of a balanced dinner too.

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