How to Fix/Repair iPhone With Water Damage


iphone3A certain person I know recently washed her iPhone in the washer machine.  I love this person, but I will preserve her dignity and not mention her name.  That said, despite how smokin’ hot she is, she does occasionally do things that reflect a slip in judgment.  Of course, washing the iPhone was a mistake, and she realized it when it dropped to the floor moving items from the washer to the dryer.

I was travelling at the time I heard about the ‘tragedy’, so when she called from the home phone to explain what happened, I was worried if she already did the big “No! No!” – attempting to turn the phone on to see if it was working.  It was no surprise that she did, so I asked her not to do that anymore.  I recommended to her to store the iPhone in a bowl of rice until I returned to Phoenix to see it for myself.

When I finally got my hands on the phone (one day after the ‘incident’), I took the sim card.  I got a blow dryer out and kept hot air on the phone while I gently shook it.  About 5-10 minutes later, a few drops of water started seeping from the speakers on the lower part of the iPhone.  I did the drying process for about 30 minutes, then put the iPhone into a zip-lock bag of rice.  I left it in there overnight.  The next day, I repeated the drying process again and about 10 more drops of water came out.  This amazed me because now it was 2 days after the ‘incident’.  After about 30 minutes, I put the iPhone in a fresh zip-locked bag of rice and left it in there for 12 hours.

By the time I pulled the iPhone out again, the drying process yielded no drops of water.  I put the sim card back into the phone and plugged it into the wall charger.  Keep in mind I have yet to press any buttons since the owner first tried to turn it on when it fell out of the washer machine.  To my delight, the faint glow of the charge screen appeared.  I left it charged in for several hours.  Finally, I turned the phone on.

The phone was barely functional.  The screen was extraordinarily dim.  After continued use over a day, the phone began to switch back and forth between a dim screen to a bright screen.  All the apps are working, and the phone worked as well.  Although an odd “smudgy” haze appears over 25% of the screen, the iPhone has come back to life.  It is my first recorded miracle 🙂

Steps I recommend if you have water damage to your iPhone:

  • Upon discovering your iPhone has water damage, DO NOT TURN IT ON.
  • Remove the sim card and its little plastic holder (at top of iPhone) and keep in a safe, dry place.
  • Immediately dry the iPhone of all external water with a dry cloth.
  • Get a blow dryer and keep a steady low heat on the iPhone while gently shaking the iPhone to and fro.  Keep an eye out for any drops of water that seep out – possibly at the bottom of the iPhone near the speakers.  Do this process for at least 20-30 minutes.  This step is known as the DRYING PROCESS.
  • When finished, exercise self-control and put the iPhone that you believe to be completely dry from the previous step in a zip-lock bag of dry rice.  Leave in the bag for at least 12 hours.  This step is known as RICE STORAGE.
  • Every 12 hours do the DRYING PROCESS.  If *ANY* water seeps from the iPhone during this process, continue to RICE STORAGE when finished drying.
  • If during the DRYING PROCESS no water comes out (after 20 minutes or so), you can put the sim card back into the iPhone and plug the phone into a charger.  DO NOT PRESS THE POWER BUTTON to turn it on, just plug it in.
  • After a few hours of plugging in the iPhone, disconnect and attempt to use the phone.  If the screen is so dim you can barely see it, at least take a moment to congratulate yourself that there is a dim screen at all.  You have accomplished a mini-miracle.
  • Over time, your phone may behave oddly.  You just resurrected it, so cut it some slack.  As in the case of the beautiful woman in the story above, the bright screen may return and flicker out from time to time. 

I hope this post helps someone out there.  As for the cute little lady I helped in this post, she at least has her phone until she gets out of contract – a new Windows Phone 7 in her future perhaps?  After all, she is married to a Microsoft Developer Evangelist.  But I dare not reveal who she is.

Anyway, if this post was helpful, please post your story!

Comments (38)

  1. Walter Poch says:

    My iPhone has swimming capabilities, so it went into a pool, after some direct sun ~8hs, worked again, but no WiFi component is detected; it's grayed out on the Settings. 🙁

  2. Stephen says:

    This post was just an excuse to brag about your hot wife wasn't it? : )

  3. palermo4 says:

    @Walter – Did you try shaking your iPhone rather briskly for several minutes each day?  Also, did you take out the sim card?  No harm in trying even though it has been awhile.  Please do that and let me know what happened.

  4. palermo4 says:

    @Stephen – Wife?  Who said wife? 🙂

  5. Walter Poch says:

    I tried, but without luck, I also tried the freezer trick (http://bit.ly/dX9CTP) with not success either.

  6. palermo4 says:

    @Walter I am sorry that the suggestions in my blog did not help. I blogged about my experience  because I was quite honestly shocked that I had any degree of success.

  7. Carl Getter says:

    I tried the procedure on http://www.iphonewaterdamage.org which is very similar to yours. I was so stupid to instantly try to turn it on when getting it out of the water. After replacing my battery my iPhone could restore in iTunes again.

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  9. <a href="http://www.the-restorers.com/">water damage Ketchum ID</a> says:

    Glad I read this first before I turned it on! I just dropped it in the sink. <a href="http://www.the-restorers.com/">water damage Ketchum ID</a> . I totally would have fried my new 4s!!!

  10. water repair says:

    waterdamage-phoenix.com

    Nice information.

  11. Water Damage Fernway PA says:

    <a href="firedex.net/water_damage_fernway.asp">Water Damage Fernway PA</a> This is good to know. I know someone who dropped their phone into the toilet last week. I think that happens more often than people think.

  12. Moonbaby0302 says:

    My iPhone never even turned off. I had Pandora blasting and dropped it in the tub. I tried to turn it off before rice-ing it. Hope that doesn't frig up the process.

  13. Sam Peters says:

    yes! finally a blog that can tell me how to repair my iphone

  14. iPhone 4! says:

    So my iPhone 4 got wet somehow while I was at  PE summer school. My phone had a crack in it down the right screen but didn't like spiderweb crack. When I went to get my phone from my backPack, the light (flash) on the back was on and the camera had condensation in it, no visible water but like bubbles I guess. So I tried turning it on. Nothing. Hitting the home button. Nothing. So I was just like fine u know what I'll wait til after school since I leave at 12 (start at 7:30 :P). So I checked on my phone at break and the light was now dead. Great. So right afterschool I ran home and put my phone in a large can of uncooked rice. The next day my dad took it to apple but they said there's no wau we can fix it. So my dad said well she needs a new phone so what can I do? They made him buy a 50$ case and gave him a free iPhone 4 ( same as the one damaged) so I guess it's a good deal but the rumor that you get a free new iPhone that's the newest one isnt true. I have had water damage to another iPhone 4 and it worked just fine, but this phone with the crack wouldn't come on. Oh well at least I got a phone. Good luck to any of you.

  15. Ethan says:

    I shouldve googled this earlier

    I now have my iPhone 3GS sitting in a container of rice, after using it after it dropped in a small cup of Coke. Its been used for a few hours, and Im gonna try blow drying and shaking it out tomorrow morning, then I will repeat this process.

  16. piper says:

    Beneficial information, switching on the phone may be cause of short circuit inside the phone so it is very essential to dry before switching on the phone. By the way it works sometime but not always.

  17. Florida iDoctor says:

    This was a terrific article and hit on just about every point. Many of the steps that are outlined by palermo4 are the same steps we follow in our iPhone repair shop in Palm Harbor, FL.

    We, at Florida iDoctor, do things a bit differently in terms of addressing water-damaged smartphones that make their way into our shop. You see, we are located in Palm Harbor, Florida and only a stones-throw away from the beach!

    Of course, the first thing we tell our clients is IF your phone hits the water, to get it to us asap. Rice can work okay in a pinch, but the actual success rate using a bowl of rice is quite low if it were scientifically studied. Fresh water is bad for any smartphone. Pool water (with chlorine) is the next worse type of water infiltration. The most caustic of all water is salt water. Water with high levels of NaCl (salt) is very damaging to electronics due to the high level of corrosivity. Our recommendation is if your phone falls in salt water, to actually rinse it off under tap water in order to try and wash away some of the salt residual. We also ask them to remove the battery (if possible). One word of extreme caution…DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT try and power on your phone to see if it still works no matter how tempting that may seem. You are certainly likely to short out motherboard components if current is applied through the circuits of a water-logged phone.

    With that being said, once a client brings us their water-logged phone, the first thing we do is remove the battery. We then tear the phone down to the basic components (battery, frame, motherboard, cameras, etc). Once it is taken apart, we place the motherboard in an professional-grade ultrasonic cleaner using a proprietary dielectric cleaning fluid. This is one of the keys along with making sure the fluid is heated up. Once the board has come out of the ultrasonic cleaner, we rinse it off thoroughly with a deionized (DI) water. DI water is ultra pure and this rinse step will ensure that there are no trace contaminants on the board.

    We then take the clean motherboard and put it into a container of desiccant along with all of the other components of the phone. We use a proprietary desiccant with the highest adsorption rate of any desiccant available on the market. This is super-critical so that you can wick away any moisture from the motherboard and the components as quickly AND EFFECTIVELY as possible.

    We let everything sit in the desiccant for 24 hours to ensure complete moisture removal. Once complete, we reinstall all of the components and also install a NEW BATTERY (NOTE: We recommend never reinstalling the same battery once it has come into contact with water).

    If anyone needs further help with this process, simply let us know. Since our store is located near the Gulf of Mexico in Palm Harbor, FL we see water damaged iPhones in our shop every day. This process we listed here has achieved over a 74% success rate in restoring water damaged iPhones.

    Rick

    Florida iDoctor

  18. Wesson says:

    Help Palermo!!!!!! My iphone 3Gs is water logged and Soooooo dim i can barely see it!!! its been water logged for about 4 months:-( Is there any hope?? And i would like to meet your wife 😀

  19. pranav says:

    Dear Rick

    I got my new iphone 5 wet. it din soak in water, but there has been some water. but not as much liek soaking or falling in water for a few secs.

    It did start after sometime with no display but it did vibrate when put on vibrate mode. Also, later at night the display was OK. Since i was travelling and had nothing else, i kept it near the lamp and thought it would be fine by morning as i just saw the display.

    Sadly, it hasnt worked since then. I kept it enlcosed in rice for almost 3 days and then tried powering it with no success.

    what are my chances?

  20. Sarah says:

    I am buying an iphone on ebay but it said water damage should i buy it

  21. water damage repair San Diego says:

    I read the whole blog & found it very helpful for water damage. It happens many time with most of us that our iPhone or mobile phone fell in water & in hurry we didn't get that what to do so here your blog help lots. Thanks for sharing it.

  22. Rupert says:

    Hi, I have now done about 6 iphones. I find the rice thing really helps, and definataly take the sim card out. what i do is blow through the sim card socket for a few minutes, until the water dribbles out, i then leave it in rice, for about 48 hours, and then repeat the process, i then leave it pulged in, and try the power a few times, and all 6 times it has worked, the screen is alwyas messed up for a couple of weeks after though, but i put it in rice in the evening. hope this helps 🙂

  23. Mia says:

    @palermo4 Hi just yesterday I fell into my pool cover after I lost my balance. I got out about 8 seconds and just then I realized my iPhone was in my pocket. Thankfully I did not turn it on. I immediately put it in a rice bag (I did not know about the whole hair dryer thing yet) after one day I took it out the screen was so dim, so I did the hair dry thing and after 6 minutes NO water came out. I also tried restarting it but no luck what should be my next step?? Please answer fast.

    Thanks, Mia

  24. palermo4 says:

    @Mia – I would recommend repeating the process outlined in this blog again.  Take out the sim card, put the phone in the rice bag for a full 24 hours.  When I blew the hair dryer on the phone it took almost 10-15 minutes before I saw one drop of water.  Patience is a virtue…

  25. Mia says:

    @palermo4 Thank you for replying so quickly I will try the process again but I do not have an installed SIM card should I still take the card holder out?? I will probably update you on the situation tomorrow to see how what possible steps to take next 🙂

  26. Tatyana says:

    I did exactly the same thing. A day later my iphone was back one (: Very happy although my battery life dies fast tatyanabrown359@gmail.com

  27. Mera says:

    Hi what if its  happen long time ago and  and did not figure out what to do? Do you think the process still work? Please help its been a month.

  28. palermo4 says:

    @Mera you should try anyway.

  29. palermo4 says:

    @Tatyana Hooray!  The process doesn't resurrect your phone entirely.  Think of your iPhone as a working zombie phone until you upgrade 🙂

  30. wootton says:

    put your phone under a desk lamp, and keep an eye on it to make sure it doesnt start melting. Ive done the rice trick and tbh its awful, doesnt achieve a lot and with what little it achieves it annoys you when i week later you realise your speaker is nackered as it has rice in it. The Gadget Show tested all the random suggestions and the desk lamp was by far the most successful method.

  31. Lisa says:

    Hi,  I think I have water in my speaker as I was out in the rain and had my iPhone 5 in my pocket, now I can here no volume at all! I've treys drying it out but nothing will work!! Will my volume come back at all??

  32. S300 got wet says:

    pls.help my celphone got wet. after a few hour of air drying , i switched it on andit opened but after 30 mins. using  my phone freezed so i removed the battery for few minutes and put it back and turn my phone on, but this time it didnt switched on..what had happened?

  33. riley says:

    I dropped my phone in toilet a few days ago. I immediately took it apart and put in zip lock baggie.. waited for several hours and powered it up. it turned on and was working fine for a lil bit then started flickering and went really dim u can barely see it. i took it back apart and put it in rice for two days, then powered it back up and got the same thing.. a dim screen.the phone works fine except for the screen being really dim. what can I do and is it going to crash on me?

  34. Imari says:

    Well I was cutting a watermelon yesterday and left my iPhone upside down I meant to move my phone and forgot to. When I picked the phone up it had watermelon juice all over the screen. I dryed the screen with a paper towel and now my phone says "charging isn't supported with this accessory" and now my volume isn't working. When someone calls me it rings and I hear it perfectly fine but when i play music I don't hear it! WHAT DO I DO NOW!?

  35. Gina says:

    My phone somehow got wet a few months back..and the only thing that happened to go out was my sound.  If My phone has had water damage this long is there anything I can do to fix it myself?

  36. Didn't rinse with water says:

    dried with saltwater inside, now I am scared to turn it on…

  37. emma says:

    I was standing on the break wall near the beach and a wave hit the rocks and splashed me but my iPhone didn't get directly hit it was in my pocket in my leather jacket, I took it out and my screen was dim and fuzzy I tried turning it off but the touch screen wouldn't work so I ran back to the car which was 2kms away and rapped it in tissue and then headed home to put it in rice. My LED light on the back near the camera is on and wont turn off but I am hoping and praying it works as the phone didn't get a direct hit of water. I really hope this works

  38. twin1234 says:

    Thanks cause mine working now yassasssASS