Next Time You Have a Wet iPhone (or Other Device)…

It's a very moist iPhone 5.

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #239

People ask me what they should do with their wet iPhone—one that has been inadvertently soaked in water (or other liquid)—more often than almost any other issue. I’ve heard about phones that fell into toilets; phones that went into the washing machine; and phones that were accidentally moistened in fresh, salt, and chlorinated water.

My Old Advice

Until recently, my wet phone advice was to:

  1. Turn it off as soon after the incident as possible.
  2. Dry it as best you can with a soft towel.
  3. Wrap it in pantyhose or paper towels to protect it from dust.
  4. Seal it in a container or zippered bag for 48 hours with a desiccant like uncooked rice, kitty litter, or a bunch of those little bags of silica gel in the box of almost every electronic device today.

For what it’s worth, the results of that advice over many years has been decidedly mixed. I’d be surprised if half of the devices came back to life and at least some of those that came back to live for a while died prematurely anyway.

Still, it was the best advice I had for many years and I had nothing better to offer you.

Until now.

Put Your Wet iPhone in a DryBox

I’d seen DryBox kiosks at some local H-E-B and Walmart stores, with big, “wet phone rescue” signs on top. But they offered little information about what would happen after you stuck your phone in its sealed compartment for 30 minutes and paid $34.95.

So, I looked up David Naumann, the founder of Dry Ventures, which makes the DryBox kiosks, and asked him. He graciously offered to meet me for a demonstration.

I watched him drop a live iPhone 5 into a bucket of water, swirl it around for a few moments, and then put it into the DryBox.

David submerged this iPhone 5 in a tub of water for a couple of minutes.
David submerged this iPhone 5 in a tub of water for a couple of minutes.
After its dunking, David placed it into one of the two drying compartments in the kiosk.
After its dunking, David placed it into one of the two drying compartments in the kiosk.

He explained that the patent-pending technology employs a combination of heat, vacuum, and light to extract all of the moisture from your phone in around 30 minutes.

Improving Your Chances of Wet iPhone Recovery

While we waited for the cycle to complete, I asked what people can do to improve their chances for recovery. Naumann said, “The most important things are to turn it off, don’t try to charge it, and get it into a DryBox as soon as possible.”

The longer you wait, the worse the chance of recovery. When you get your phone into a DryBox chamber within 12 hours, there’s about an 85% chance it will recover. Your odds drop to around 70% after 24 hours, and plummet lower if you wait 36 hours or more.

DryBox has a money-back guarantee, and David said that of the more than 40,000 devices they’ve rescued, only around 5% have asked for a refund. That’s impressive, and much better odds than rice, cat litter, or silica gel.

After about 30 minutes David unlocked the DryBox with the same credit card he used when he put it in, and the now dry iPhone 5 worked flawlessly (I used it to make a couple of phone calls, just to be sure).

Close-up of the DryBox deal and how it works.
Close-up of the DryBox deal and how it works.

My NEW Advice

So, my advice today is to perform steps 1 and 2 as described above. Then, get your phone into a DryBox as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, if you live almost anywhere but the Southwestern US, you’re unlikely to find one as close to you as this one was to me (about 10 minutes from my house).

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