So Your Phone Went for a Swim…: Saving your wet technology

Just about all of us have an important piece of technology we carry around with us 99% of the time – cell phones, smartphones, laptops, tablets… The list seems to be getting longer each year. And just about all of us seem to have a clumsy side, making this precious tech we carry, at times, pretty vulnerable. A laptop knocked off a kitchen table, an iPad that falls out of your bag – we’ve all had these happen once or twice. But what do you do when your favorite piece of tech meets what we’ve always been told to keep it furthest away from: liquid?

If you know anyone who’s accidentally dropped their smartphone in the toilet or spilled “a little coffee” over their keyboard, be sure to pass on these tips that will, hopefully, help them save their tech before it’s too late!


Cell Phone/Smartphone
If your phone finds itself swimming in toilet or in the pool you’re lounging next to, never fear: there’s a relatively easy save that could prevent you from having to buy a new one!

1. Remove the battery cover as well as the battery. Set them aside on paper towel or a cloth.
2. Remove the SIM card, if you can, and also set that on the paper towel or cloth.
3. Place your phone in a plastic bag filled with rice and let it sit for at least 24 hours. The rice will seep up the water trapped inside your phone, hopefully removing all of the liquid and drying it out.

If your phone malfunctions or fails to boot after this trick, you may have to take it in. But if you use the rice method almost immediately, you reduce this risk greatly!

Note: Have an iPhone?
The batteries of iPhones are designed to not be removed by consumers. If your iPhone goes for a dip, remove the SIM card and tray (that can be found on on the right-hand side of the 4, 4S, and 5, and on the top of the 3G and 3GS). Put it in the rice bag and let it sit  for at least 24 hours.

Note: Rice didn’t work like you wanted it to? Dunk it again! (Sort of.)
Submerge your disassembled phone into pure isopropyl alcohol for 30 minutes. After this, take the phone out and dry it with a hair dryer. Let it sit for at least a day, then reassemble and attempt to power on. 100% pure IPA is not conductive and will push excess water out of the places inside your phone that you can’t reach.

cell in water

Laptop
1. Immediately take out the battery and disconnect any power sources. You do not want any electrical current running to the laptop, as this, in combination with the liquid, could cause a shortage in vital components. As a matter of fact, unplug EVERYTHING – USB cords, headphones, mice, etc. You’ll want nothing attached!
2. Pick the laptop up and turn it upside down in your hands. You want to stop any liquid from seeping further down onto the important stuff inside. If you spilled a lot, you may see some of the liquid actually seep out the front keys – that’s okay. Getting the liquid out is good!
Note: Want to be thorough? Shake the laptop!
3. Clean any excess liquid you find on top of the keys with a paper towel.
4. If you’re comfortable, take the laptop apart as much as possible. Remove the RAM, the hard drive, and remove the keyboard if you know how.
5. If you can remove the keyboard, gently clean stains or corrosion on the circuit boards or other parts underneath the keyboard with a toothbrush.
6. Let it all dry! Wait at least 24 hours before reassembling your laptop.
7. When you do reassemble, start with the last thing you removed and working backwards. Once you’ve got it all put together, plug in a power source and power it back on!

Always be sure to consult a tech professional if you continue to have further issues with your watery technology or if you are uncomfortable with any disassembling process. And be careful with liquid around!

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