Introduction: How to Save a Wet MP3 Player, Cell Phone, Camera, PDA, Etc.

I'll get to why in a second, but if you do, you just lowered your chances of saving it. Take out the battery.

Most of us have managed to do it one way or another. You forgot to check your jean pockets before you washed them, you knocked your phone into the lake, dropped it in the toilet (let's hope you didn't flush it), or maybe you can't remember the exact details... but for some reason your camera smells like cheap beer and is dripping wet.

This instructable will guide you through the process of attempting to save your wet cell phone, PDA, MP3 player, camera* (See note). I'll use my MP3 player,since it's the last thing I managed to put through the wash...whoops. I'll shadow with a cellphone for those in that category (It went through the wash before, but I managed to salvage it). For all intensive purposes, assume when I say MP3 'player' or 'cell phone', I obviously mean your device.

I'm writing out the specifics about the how's, the why's, where's, and all that good stuff. I'll be the first to say, I'm all about the deet's (details). If you're not interested in a little more reading and a better understanding, you can just read above this dotted line in the steps, and ignore anything below it.

Yes, this line right here.
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If you have a accidental damage warranty, go talk with where you got it from and see if they do water damage! If you know you're screwed and your warranty is void or won't cover it--like when that little white dot on the inside of your cell phone (Water indicator) turned red--then you might wanna give it a shot.

Cameras are usually a lot trickier, mostly due to more moving parts, usually cramming everything to be as small as possible, moving parts (lens), and generally more fragile equipment. You can try getting a quote for fixing it, which if you have the money (or it's a pricey camera) I'd recommend since they'll be able to do a better job. If you can't afford it, give this a shot.

Step 1: Don't Turn It On

Take the battery out, flip the "HOLD" switch on (if it's your music player), tape the power button to 'OFF' if you can't take the battery out, whatever you can do to make sure it doesn't turn on.

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If it went into the drink when it was on (i.e. cell phone was on when you put in the wash) or you already turned it on, you poor bastard, Not much you can do about that now. There's still hope though. It worked with my Sandisk MP3, Woo hoo!

If it was OFF when you got it wet, DON'T TURN IT ON. If you do, you just risked: short circuiting, increasing accumulation mineral buildup on connections, and all the fun stuff that kills your phone. Basically it's bad news bears.

"But I wanna see if it works anyway. I mean, maybe I don't even need to do anything" Yup, those are my words when I wondered about my first cell phone I put in the wash... now it just displays a white screen (Sweet).

Step 2: Tools/What You'll Need

You can do this an almost infinite number of ways, some arguably better than others. I'll try to do my best of giving you the pros and cons of each, and namely show you how I go about it.

For this project, you'll need:

- Patience
- A soggy electronic device
- Jewelry screwdriver
- A relatively tidy workplace

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Optional Equipment
- A fan/Blow drier (Recommended)
- Tweezers (Recommended)
- Small Brush
- Compressed Air
- Paper towels/Q-tips
- Rubbing/Isopropyl Alcohol

Note: A lot of the tools are optional, however, they do make your work easier, as well as increasing the chances of getting your device to work again.

Step 3: Take It Apart

Take it apart as much as you can. Remember how you do this, 'cause you're, obviously, going to put it back together in the end. Also, make sure you don't lose any of the screws (use a small dish if possible).

Be careful not to separate any cables/ribbons.
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Take off the clasps, covers, anything surrounding it; take it apart as much as you safely can. We're going for air flow, so get it as bare boned as much as you can without breaking it (This is where cameras are harder to do, since they're usually pretty well put together, but do the best you can).

For my MP3 player, that's unscrewing the screws for the back-plate. For my phone, the face-plates, keypad, and battery (which should already be out, if you were following along). Put all the small parts in a dish or safe place so they won't roll away or get lost.

My MP3 player still has another set of screws for the faceplate, yup take 'em out.

Step 4: Rinse

Rinse your phone with water (distilled if possible) (or Isopropyl alcohol, but it has a very high risk of eating rubber seals**) or put it in a Tupperware container with water and gently shake it.

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"But I thought we were trying to dry it?"
Yup, sounds pretty counter-intuitive doesn't it?

When you dropped your PDA in the neighborhood pond , you might have forgotten about how nasty that pond really is (there's a reason even your dog won't drink that water). All that algae, mud, and whatever else smells fishy is in your phone. If it's still there when you turn it back on, it'll interfere with the conductivity of the circuits, so you wanna get it all out. Even if it you put it through the wash, there's still a good chance that it'll be "dirty" (Chlorine, Laundry Detergent Bleach, Iron in the water, etc.) and I'd recommend it. Distilled is best, but cold water works pretty well too.

Besides, it's not like it isn't already wet, right?

**Some people swear by Isopropyl/Rubbing alcohol in this step. The benefit of using this, is usually argued that it evaporates faster than water, gets it cleaner, and so on. I personally use water, because I don't like the idea of using chemicals if I don't have to (and again, possible buildup of residue/contaminants), but I'm sure that's an argument for someone who knows more about electronics and rubbing alcohol than I do. You also run the risk of damaging labels, ESPECIALLY plastic/rubber keypads, etc.

Step 5: Dry (Low Risk)

Dry it as much as you can via paper towel, q-tips, a small brush, and dry it as much as you can.

If you want to use faster, but higher risk drying methods, move onto the next step.

Lay out some paper towel, prop it up on something if you can (airflow), and get as much as you can by hand. Get those Q-tips in the nooks and crannies, and soak up and get rid of as much moisture as you can.

Then all your parts out, put it in front of a fan if you can, and let it dry for 1-7 days, longer is always safer.
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I've heard success/failure stories on all of the below (as I failed the first time or so when I tried to dry out my phone).

When you have a lot of heat (Oven, blow drier, dry in the sun), you run the risk of all the things that come with it: melting things, overheating transistors, burning into an LCD screen. I'd highly recommend the slow and steady fan method, but these can work if you don't have the time.

--Laying it out to dry/Fan--
Set it in front of a fan for a 1-7 days (the longer, the more likely EVERYTHING is to be dry and thus work again). If you really can't wait a week, at LEAST wait a day.
Pros: No problems with heat, increased airflow by using a fan, BEST chance to save device.
Cons: Slow.
Risk: Very low.

--Tupperware with rice/paper towels--
Put it in a container, fill it with rice or paper towel for 1-7 days. After 1-7 days, take it out and make sure all the rice/paper towel is out of the phone.
Pros: No heat, the rice/paper towel help pull the moisture out
Cons: Slow, rice can get stuck in your phone and cause problems down the line
Risk: Low

Step 6: Dry (High Risk)

I've been told these do work. Although like I said before, I'd highly recommend the simple spread and dry over any of these, but seem to work for some people so it's worth mentioning:

--Blow drier--
Dry for 5-15 min on a lower setting (Low, Cool, Warm).
Pros: Fast, evaporates using heat.
Cons: Heat issues, higher chance there's still water in it, lower chance of recovery
Risk: Medium

Set on the rack for 30-60 minutes at a fairly warm temperature (70F-100F)
Pros: Fast, evaporates using heat.
Cons: Heat issues, higher chance there's still water in it, your roommates preheat to 475 and make cookies, lower chance of recovery.
Risk: Medium-High

--Dry in the sun/On the sidewalk--
Set in out on the sidewalk for 30-60 minutes.
Pros: Fast, sun helps evaporate
Cons: Heat issues (especially screen issues), rain.
Risk: High

Set in the freezer for a day
Pros: No heat problems, cold temps can help a little to pull the water out
Cons: You face a good chance of just freezing the water in your device, only to have it melt and ruin it later.
Risk: Very High

Step 7: Put It Back Together

Once it's as dry as you can get it, brush, blow, or wipe off any dust that might be on your device.

(You can use isopropyl alcohol to clean your screen as well if you want).

Assuming you remember how you took it apart, put it all back together, put the battery back in.


Yes, you can finally turn it on.

Hopefully you've managed to save your phone, save face, and hopefully some frustration of having to shell out another $100 bucks for new one. Let me know if you have anything to add, or awesome recovery stories!

If all went well, you saved it, woot WOOT!!! You win!
If not, you have a couple options.

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--Charge it--
Your battery might be dead, try plugging it in for a while and see if it works

--New Battery--
Sometimes, the battery gets wet and goes shot. If you're willing and it's worth it, look into buy a new battery (store, ebay, etc.)

If you can, try to reset your phone to factory settings or something equivalent.

--Wait longer--
Remember when I said 1-7 days? Maybe not all the water is out and you fried your motherboard... whoops. If you didn't fry or short circuit any of the connections, you still might have a chance.
Great example: my brother's phone didn't work at first when he tried it. After forgetting about it and leaving it in a box for a few months, it managed to turn on and almost worked well enough to use again for resale... almost.

--Admit Defeat--
It's not always gonna work. Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do (if you lost it in the lake, or somehow managed to flush it down the toilet... you poor, poor unlucky bastard) and buy a new phone. Often times, Ebay will have some great phones (if you have a SIM card, you don't even need to get it activated by your carrier!), or worst case scenario, you go to your local wireless store and hang your head in shame.