How to get water out of iPhone and make it functional again

Steps you can take before rushing to Apple support

by: - Last updated on: March 3rd, 2021

Key Takeaways

  • If you dropped your iPhone in water (or some other liquid), there are ways to fix it before you rush to Apple.
  • Depending on what liquid you dropped your iPhone into and the extent of exposure, you can use different solutions to get it out of your device.
  • If you prefer a risk-averse approach, there’s Apple’s recommended solution, which is to keep your phone in a dry, open space with good airflow to let it dry itself.
  • Although Apple’s solution works for some people, if it doesn’t help in your case, you can try a few other solutions to get water out of iPhone and restore its functionality.

iPhone water damage is a common problem. And when it happens, more often than not, people find themselves wondering what exactly should be their subsequent move – one that does not further damage their iPhone and instead turns things around in their favor. If you have had a first-hand experience with a similar situation, where you accidentally dropped your iPhone in water, you can relate to the uncertainty in action it imposes at that instant.

Get water out of iPhone

Generally speaking, the very first thought people usually have as soon as their iPhone (or iPad or iPod Touch) comes in contact with water (or any other liquid) is whether they should turn it off or leave it as is. The dilemma in action arises since turning off the device requires unlocking the water damaged iPhone for a brief stint, which imposes the doubt if doing so would short the circuitry and cause permanent damage to the device. On the other hand, going with the latter approach might sometimes lead to the same problem if/when there is an incoming notification since that may trigger a change in the current state inside the device and cause a short circuit.


The second thing to worry about with a wet iPhone is corrosion on your internal components. This is caused by a variety of minerals and chemicals found in most water sources that react with electrical current. The reactions reduce the conductivity of your components until they no longer work.

Naturally, the question that arises next is what should you do if you find yourself in a similar situation. Well, to answer that and other related queries, we have put together a detailed guide listing down the steps to help you get water out of your iPhone. But before we look into these steps, let’s, first, take a look at the water-resistance/ IP rating of different iPhone models. That way, you know how much exposure to liquid can your particular iPhone model survive.

Mind you, there are no waterproof iPhones, only water-resistant devices. Following is a list of all the iPhones with their respective splash, water, and dust resistance rating, along with the degree of submersion they can withstand.

  • iPhone 12 series (iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max): IP68 (6 meters up to 30 minutes)
  • iPhone 11: IP68 (4 meters up to 30 minutes)
  • iPhone Pro and 11 Pro Max: IP68 (6 meters up to 30 minutes)
  • iPhone XS and XS Max: IP68 (2 meters up to 30 minutes)
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation): IP67 (1 meter up to 30 minutes)
  • iPhone X and XR: IP67 (1 meter up to 30 minutes)
  • iPhone 8 and 8 Plus: IP67 (1 meter up to 30 minutes)
  • iPhone 7 and 7 Plus: IP67 (1 meter up to 30 minutes)

Furthermore, the following iPhones: iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone SE (2nd generation), iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, are all resistant to accidental spills from liquids like tea, coffee, beer, soda, and juice. And so, if you happen to accidentally drop any of these liquids on your phone, Apple suggests that you can rinse the affected area on the device with tap water and wipe it off with a dry, lint-free cotton cloth.

Apple’s solution to fixing wet iPhone

Apple recommends its own way of fixing your wet iPhone if you drop it into water or some other liquid. Like we just mentioned in the previous section, if you own any of the iPhone models listed above and it came in contact with a liquid (other than water), you should, first, rinse the affected area and wipe it off with a clean, dry cloth. Once done, Apple recommends putting this device in an open and dry area with good airflow to let it dry on its own. Alternatively, it also recommends placing the device in front of a (cool) fan to dry off excess water and moisture on the surface.

Letting iPhone in open space

IMAGE: Negative Space (Pexels)

Of course, these steps also apply to the other scenario, where your device came in contact with water. In which case, you can, first, pat-dry the device to get rid of water on its surface and ports and then leave it in a dry and open space with good airflow to let it dry itself.

While this method is Apple’s recommended way to deal with a wet iPhone, it does not seem to be an ideal solution to deal with a situation when the phone has been subject to prolonged submersion. Since when that happens, it is likely that the water might have ingressed into the iPhone speakers and ports. In which case, you need a more practical solution than just placing your liquid damaged iPhone in the open air to let it dry itself.

So here’s how you can fix your wet iPhone if Apple’s recommended way does not help or if your device has been exposed to liquid for long.

How to get water out of iPhone

Depending on what iPhone model you own and how much water (or liquid) has ingressed into it and the extent of exposure, there are different steps to fix your wet iPhone. If your iPhone is in a case, water might have gotten trapped when you dropped it. Remove the case and any other accessories from your phone, including your screen protector.

Step 1 – Pat-dry your phone

If you are the person having had a near-unavoidable encounter with water, one of the things towards fixing your water-damaged iPhone is to pick it up and shake it. Doing so will get rid of water on the surface and ports. Now, to ensure there is no liquid left inside the lightning port (charging port), speakers, and microphone, hold the device with the lightning connector facing down and slowly pat the device. If you have a case on your phone, remove it and thoroughly pat-dry the device with a soft, dry cloth.

Pat-dry your iPhone

Make sure you do not use any fan or heater to dry the outside of your iPhone as this can damage many of its sensitive components.

Step 2 – Switch off your iPhone

Like we mentioned initially, whether you should switch off the iPhone or keep it as it is, is a dilemma that strikes you the moment you drop your phone into the water. However, the general consensus turns out to be that turning your phone off is a far better approach than leaving it on. Because when you switch off the phone, you minimize the chances of incoming notifications (or other factors) causing a short circuit and damaging the internal circuitry.

So, once you give a vigorous shake to your iPhone and pat-dry it, power it down. While you do it, try to be quick and take as few steps as possible.

Step 3 – Remove SIM card

After you have pat-dried and switched off your phone, the next thing you should do is remove the SIM card along with the SIM tray. Next, carefully dry out both and check if the water has ingressed into the SIM slot. In case it has, use a soft cloth or an earbud to gently dry it and get rid of any moisture. Again, avoid using hairdryer or fan to dry the sim tray.

iPhone water damage

IMAGE: Brett Jordan (Unsplash)

Step 4 – Dry out wet iPhone with silica gel or rice

a. Drying iPhone with silica gel

Silica gel is a hygroscopic substance that induces dryness in its vicinity by absorbing moisture. You have probably already seen it in packaging for electronics, clothes, or other materials that need to be kept away from moisture. It can get rid of dampness in the air, making it an ideal desiccant for storing any products that are prone to mold or mildew. However, you can use it to dry out a wet iPhone as well. Silica gel is great for absorbing moisture from both the inside and outside of anything.

Silica gel sachets

IMAGE: Pixabay

Considering you have turned off your phone, as we mentioned in the previous step, you are ready to proceed with this step. First, take a bag/pouch and put some silica gel packets into it. Now, take your pat-dried iPhone and carefully put it into the bag. If you can’t manage a bag or a pouch, you can use a plastic container, fill it with silica gel packets/sachets, and put your iPhone in it. Once everything’s set, put aside this bag/pouch/container for 48 to 72 hours.

b. Drying iPhone with uncooked rice

As strange as it may sound, you can use uncooked dry rice to dry out a wet iPhone. Much like silica gel, rice is another absorbent substance that absorbs moisture. Although it is not as effective as silica, you can still use it if you can’t manage to get your hands on silica gel.

For this method, take a container or bag and fill it with uncooked rice. Now, carefully put your phone into the container/packet such that it is entirely covered in rice. Again, similar to the above step, keep aside this container/packet for at least 48 hours. We repeat. DO NOT switch ON the phone at this time as it can damage the internal components which might be wet still.

We have seen some people saying it’s useless to place a wet iPhone in a bag of rice and even claiming it can harm the device. But that’s not true. Dry rice is indeed better than leaving the phone under direct sunlight or shade since the moisture inside can’t be absorbed.

In case you are wondering how to know if your iPhone is dry, unfortunately, there is no easy way for that. Opening up the phone is not an option so there is no sure-shot way. It’s better to wait for as long as possible and then take a leap of faith to proceed with switching it on.

Step 5 – Switch on your iPhone

After you’ve put your iPhone in a container filled with silica gel or uncooked rice for at least 48 hours, take it out and clean it with a soft, dry cloth. Now, put back the SIM card into its tray and put the tray back into the iPhone. Once done, make sure everything is installed properly and back in place. Finally, press and hold the power button to turn on the phone.

Switch on your iPhone

IMAGE: Faizur Rehman (Unsplash)

If you followed all the steps until now, things might turn in your favor, and your phone should boot up fine. In case it does, congrats, you’ve managed to fix your phone. However, if it doesn’t, you might need to head over to an Apple service provider and have them fix it for you. This is so because the steps we’ve mentioned above do not work for every scenario. What this means is that if your iPhone was submerged into water/liquid for a longer period, chances are, the liquid might have ingressed deeper into the ports and circuitry of the device – needless to say, the kind of liquid it came in contact with to also makes a significant difference to the whole situation. In which case, your best bet is to reach out to Apple support or an authorized service partner/repair shop and get their expert assistance.

Dos and Don’ts of fixing wet iPhone

A lot of the time, when you accidentally drop your iPhone into the water, or it comes in contact with some liquid, you panic out of anxiety and get into the zone of performing involuntary actions in an effort to check if your phone is alright. However, while you do that, little do you realize that such actions might cause more harm to your phone than they do any good. And therefore, to help you keep your device in good health, here are some Dos and Don’ts you should keep in mind.

Dos

1. Turn off your phone the moment you get it out of the water (or some other liquid).
2. Always use a soft, lint-free cloth to pat-dry the device.
3. Only use soft earbuds to absorb water from the SIM slot when necessary.
4. Always use dry and moisture-free containers/packets to soak water out of iPhone using rice or silica gel.
5. Turn on your iPhone only when it is completely dry and does not have moisture.

Don’ts

1. Avoid using your wet phone.
2. Never plug a charger into your wet iPhone.
3. Do not insert a sharp, foreign object in your phone’s port or speakers in an attempt to get rid of water or moisture.
4. Do not attempt to blow-dry the device using a hair dryer.
5. Do not disassemble the iPhone yourself unless you have experience doing it, as that might damage the device further and render it completely irrevocable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

(a) How to determine the degree of water-damage on your iPhone?

Most Apple products come equipped with liquid contact indicators (LCI) or water-damage indicators that make it easy to identify the degree of liquid exposure your device has been subject to. With iPhones, too, you get the same indicator, and it helps Apple determine if your device is liquid damaged. In which case, it isn’t covered by their one-year limited warranty. You can locate the indicator on the iPhone under the SIM card tray. Ideally, the LCI should be silver or white. But when it is activated (i.e., it comes in contact with liquid), its color changes to red.

LCI indicator on iPhone

(b) If I dropped my iPhone in water, how does Apple know?

When you take your device to the Genius Bar for a repair, they can determine if it has been water damaged. They do this by looking for several different signs. As mentioned earlier, the LCI inside the sim tray or headphone port will turn red when it gets wet. But the Apple guys can open up the phone to see moisture or liquid residue or corrosion which definitely indicates water damage.

(c) How to get water out of speakers?

Getting water out of the lightning port and speakers can be difficult. Although a gentle shake should get most of it out, sometimes, speakers still tend to hold on to some liquid. If your iPhone accidentally comes in contact with water (or other liquid) for a brief stint such that it only exposes the speakers, there are a couple of ways to go about this situation and get water out of your iPhone speakers. One, you can use the Water Eject shortcut [Guide to using Shortcuts] to generate different frequency sound waves and propel water out of the speakers. Or, alternatively, you can take advantage of the Sonic app to generate sound waves in different frequencies at your will and get rid of water from the speakers.

If your iPhone has been subject to extended exposure to water, and you performed all the earlier steps to fix it, but the speakers still sound muffled, these two solutions should help you eject the remaining liquid out of the speakers.

(d) Do rice and silica methods really work?

Both uncooked rice and silica are desiccant, meaning they possess the ability to absorb moisture from their vicinity. Although, when stacked against each other, silica gel proves to be better at absorbing moisture than rice, which is why we recommend putting your wet phone into uncooked rice for a longer period than keeping it with silica gel to absorb all the moisture.

(e) Can I attempt a DIY water damage repair?

While we certainly don’t recommend this method to fix water damaged iPhones, we know there are some daredevil folks who would want to attempt fixing it themselves. The good folks at iFixit have written an in-depth guide if you choose to attempt DIY repair. In addition to buying a few specialist tools, you need to get some 90% isopropyl alcohol to soak your damaged parts.

(f) How can you retrieve data from your water damaged iPhone?

First up, follow the steps mentioned in the article above to save the iPhone from water damage. It is still possible to recover iPhone data even if the device is totally dead. Even if you’ve tried everything and you think your device is beyond repair, there’s still hope. If you have an iTunes or iCloud backup, you can restore data from that backup.
For that, you need access to another iPhone. iTunes can restore your data to a new phone using the backup. What if you don’t have another phone to restore the data to? You should try one of those iPhone data recovery software and use the existing iTunes backup to manually scan for lost data.

(g) Will your iPhone be covered under warranty if its LCI is still white?

Liquid Contact Indicator (LCI) is hidden in the device’s headphone jack and charging port and alerts users of excessive water exposure. If Apple determined that the LCI is white, it indicates that the paper was not exposed to water, and therefore your warranty remains intact. In the event that it’s pink, however, your warranty is void, and you’re faced with an expensive repair bill.

(h) How to fix water damaged screen of iPhone?

In case your phone fell in water or liquid accidentally, water may get into the display screen. Follow these steps to fix a water damaged iPhone screen:

  1. Fill half of a bowl with uncooked rice.
  2. Place your device screen facing down in the bowl.
  3. Cover it up with plenty of uncooked rice.
  4. Let the phone stay covered overnight with rice.
  5. The rice will remove moisture from your phone’s display screen.

(i) Can I Sell A Water-Damaged iPhone?

Some companies will buy water-damaged iPhones from you so they can be recycled responsibly or parts salvaged. It’s not likely you’ll get much to start, but that money could be put toward purchasing a new phone. Start by investigating your insurance coverage and then proceed to check the repair cost. The last option is to sell it to one of those phone recycling companies.

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