What to Do if Your Cell Phone Goes Through the Washing Machine

By Brad Harris

Without taking the proper steps after your cell phone has been through the wash cycle, your device could become permanently disabled when it was otherwise salvageable. Following a few simple but timely steps could restore your phone to mostly normal functionality.

Put off Panicking

Once the phone has been discovered in the washing machine, an understandable amount of anger and fear can result. Before doing anything else, you need to rein in these emotions to avoid taking actions that could further damage the phone. Driven by panic, many people immediately attempt to power on the device to see if it still works. Doing so can cause a short that fries the internal electronics. Know that all is not lost, take a deep breath and act calmly.

Drying the Device

To dry up the moisture inside the phone, it is necessary to remove the back cover, take out the battery and extract the SIM card if your phone has one. Set these items aside in a safe place where they can air dry. As for the phone itself, use a can of compressed air -- with the nozzle held at least two inches away -- to blow dry the charging port and direct air through the speaker grill. The phone should then be sealed in a zip lock bag with an absorbent substance to remove any leftover moisture. A handful of uncooked rice or a piece of bread will do, but if you have any packets of silica -- which come packaged with new sneakers or electronics -- those will work best. Store the bag in a safe place.

Waiting it Out

While it may be frustrating, the device must be given proper time to dry before you attempt to power it up again. Leave the phone in the plastic bag overnight and then put everything back together. Turn it on and cross your fingers. As long as the phone was not turned on immediately after the wash cycle, it should boot up normally with most functionality restored.

Further Considerations

Because mineral deposits can be left behind when the water evaporates, some functions of the device may no longer work. It is common for these deposits to cause issues with camera and speaker functionality. Place a call to test the audio using both the internal speaker and the speaker phone. You should also attempt to take a picture in order to assess the camera's operative state. Unfortunately, if issues are found, your warranty has been voided by the liquid damage and your carrier will not replace the phone free of charge. It may, however, allow you to send in the phone for repair.