SYLO: What to do when you've dropped your phone down the loo
We're having a go at helping you sort out all life's big stresses. From asking for a pay rise to the horrible moment when Facebooking on the bog goes terribly, terribly wrong.
This week, Gadget expert Holly Brockwell from tech site Gadgette calmly explains your options.
Holly says: Firstly, let me say: I’m so sorry. But all is not lost. The first thing to ascertain is whether this is even a problem; quite a lot of high-end smartphones are water-resistant, even if they’re not advertised as such. The Samsung Galaxy S5 and S7 are officially fine in water for up to half an hour, and there are stories of the S6 surviving a dunking even though it isn’t officially amphibious. The same goes for the iPhone 6S: while Apple doesn’t sell it as water-resistant, unofficial tests suggest it is.
It’s worth clarifying, though, that water-resistant isn’t waterproof. So there’s still a chance your phone is in trouble. What should you do?
1. Turn it off IMMEDIATELY
While your phone’s switched on, there’s a good chance the water will cause a short circuit, which leads to problems that can’t be solved just by drying it out. To minimise the chances of that happening, turn the phone off immediately. If you’ve got one of the rare phones that still let you remove the battery (older phones often do, and some newer ones like the LG G5), take that out as soon as the phone is off and put it to dry somewhere outside the phone.
2.Dry it by hand, DO NOT stick it under the hand dryer
You want your phone to get as dry as possible, as fast as possible. So remove anything that could impede the process: back covers, screen protectors, cases, headphones, even the SIM tray. Then dab the whole thing carefully with a paper towel (you don’t want to push water into any cracks). Dry your SIM card thoroughly if it’s wet, because otherwise it will rust.
3. Leave it well alone
This is the painful bit. Place the phone on something matchbox-sized (this means more airflow than if the whole of one side is on a surface) and leave it completely alone for at least 24 hours - ideally 72 if you can manage it. Seriously. No turning it on “just to check.” No prodding buttons. Leave it - turning it on too soon could cause irreparable damage.
Contrary to urban legends, burying your phone in rice won’t do anything, and aiming a hairdryer or fan at it will cause more problems than it solves. Sadly, the best way is the old way: leave it out to dry.
4. Press and hope
After a full 24 hours, turn your phone on. If it seems OK, put your SIM card back in and test it. If it’s not switching on, this is the time to go and get professional help, as the phone is likely not fixable - unless you’ve just forgotten to put the battery back in.
If the phone is on and working, bear in mind that this still isn’t the end of the road. Water damage can cause corrosion and rust on the inside, and that can take months to show. Additionally, if the liquid you dropped it in wasn’t water, it’s more likely to encounter problems later: the sugar in fizzy drinks or the salt in seawater can cause their own issues inside the handset. Keep an eye on it, cross your fingers and hope for the best.
5. Prepare for next time
Not many people are organised enough to have phone drying kits just sitting around the house. But this is your chance to prepare; there are scores of companies making emergency rescue packs that you can have on hand next time this happens (which it won’t, of course). They usually consist of an airtight pouch and some kind of dessicant - a substance that draws out water from the air.
There’s also the DIY version: start saving up those little silica packets you get with new shoes and bags. If you’ve got an airtight container like a small tupperware box or a ziplocked food bag, you can put them all in there with your phone to give it a better chance of survival.
Good luck, and may the droplets of doom stay far from your phone.