How to Fix a Water Damaged Cell Phone

Last summer I was hanging out with the kids in the yard. My 9 year old son was playing with my cell phone, while my 2 year old daughter was playing with her water table. At one point my son approached my daughter to take some pictures with the cell phone. When I looked over again, my son had submerged my cell phone in the water. He said he wanted to take underwater pictures. I wasn’t impressed. I was left with a one month old wet cell phone that didn’t work. A cell phone, I might add, that didn’t have a cell phone insurance. I needed to fix it, and fast.

Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to fix a water damaged cell phone. These steps don’t always work, but before shelling out money for a new phone, this process is worth a try.

cellphone in water

Step 1: Remove the Battery, SIM Card, and Accessories

As soon as you get the phone out of the water, remove the battery, so you don’t short out your phone. Also remove your SIM card, to avoid damage that might result in losing your contacts, and remove any accessories, such as earbuds or a case.

Step 2: Dry with a Soft Cloth

Once your battery, SIM card, and peripherals are removed, dry your phone with a soft cloth. Get as much water off the phone as possible.

Step 3: Place Phone in a Bag of Rice

Once your phone is relatively dry, bury your phone in a Ziploc bag full of rice. The rice will absorb any extra moisture that is left in the phone. Leave your phone in the rice bag for at least 24 hours. Move your phone around in the bag of rice every once in a while, so excess water can drain out at different angles.

Step 4: Test Your Phone

After your phone has dried out in the rice for at least 24 hours, insert the battery and see if it works. Hopefully it will. Mine did.

Step 5: Use Last Resort Options

If your phone still doesn’t work, there are a couple of last resort options. First, you can take apart your phone and dry any components that are still wet. Just make sure you know how to put your phone back together.

Another option is to submerge your phone in rubbing alcohol (make sure the battery is out and the battery cover is off) for 5 minutes or so. The theory is that the alcohol will displace the water and dry the phone out. Remove the phone from the alcohol and let the alcohol evaporate for a couple of hours. Put the battery back in and hopefully your phone will work.

When my phone was submerged, the rice method worked for me. It’s a year later, and my phone is still going strong. You’d never know my son took underwater pictures with it.

The next time your phone is damaged by water, try to fix it. You have nothing to lose, and fixing the phone is a lot less expensive than buying a new one!

Have you ever damaged your cell phone with water? Did you fix it? What worked?

Photo by brokinhrt2.


By , on Jul 18, 2012
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Ughh.. I can’t imagine having to worry about whether my phone would work or not. The bag of rice is a great idea. I will keep that in mind in case the worst happens.

  2. Lynnae McCoy:

    Yep, rice is versatile….and cheap!

  3. I knew rice would absorb water, I just never thought of putting a cell phone in a bag of rice to do it. A bag of rice is also good to use as a heating bag.

  4. My cell phone fell out of my pocket into the tub of water while I was getting a pedicure! I need to add that I had just traded in my phone for a new one a week before. I placed it in a bowl of rice in a cupboard for almost 2 weeks (used an old phone in the meantime) and it worked well enough. My speakers didn’t work for awhile, but a couple months later they started working all on their own. I kept that phone for another 8 months before upgrading to a new phone. I still have that phone as a “backup” in case anything ever happens to my new phone.

  5. KDB:

    The rice bag usually works (I have 2 kids with phones so we’ve learned the hard way!). Not always, depending on how bad the water damage. The rubbing alcohol sounds intriguing, but scary. But if the rice doesn’t work, what do you have to lose?

  6. Yes, we’ve had a phone get dumped in water a few years ago. At the time we dried it out the best we could, with towels, etc. (I don’t remember if we took the battery out or not, but that is a good idea. (I’m sure we didn’t take the SIM card out, didn’t even think about that, but that’s another good idea.))

    Since I have an air compressor with an air nozzle, I blew it out as much as possible. Then we put it in a food dryer set at 100-135 degrees for some hours, possibly overnight.

    Afterwards the phone worked fine for a few months to a year, until we switched to another cell phone service.

  7. I didn’t even know that rice absorbs moisture. Thanks for the great read!

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