Cell phone through washing machine. Anything Saveable?

I am the luckiest man in the world. My wife never searches through my pockets, which would be great if i was having an affair. However, since I am not nor do I ever plan to have an affair, her lack of rifling through my pockets has caused some problems, mostly involving items going through the wash that shouldn’t.

My phone is the latest Victim. What, if anything, can be saved?

I plugged it in see what would happen, (after letting it air dry and using a hair drier over the last few days.). The phone does turn on, but all it says is “download in progress”. I have no idea what it could be downloading, and apparently it can’t figure it out either.

So, can salvage anything that wasn’t sawed? Contacts and ringtones and apps? Or is that all gone forever?


Does it have a separate memory card? That’s probably still good, and could be read in a card reader.

Water (especially that stuck in small spaces) takes ages to go away. My digicam had a stuck shutter button after a spell in the rain, and didn’t work for weeks. I eventually fixed it with some careful dousing with rubbing alcohol - I’d recommend you give that a try yourself.

I did this with my cel in 2008.

Nothing salvagable for me.

  1. Turn off phone
  2. take it apart as much as possible (battery, covers, keyboard)
  3. let soak completely with clean water. replace water and rinse again,
  4. soak in >95% alcohol (not 70%), replace alcohol and rinse again
  5. air dry or gently use warm air
  6. reassemble
  7. turn back on
  8. replace cell phone when steps 1-7 fail to fix it

My (now ex) wife washed her phone about a year ago. Tried to let it dry out for a few days to no avail (wouldn’t even turn on) so I threw it in a drawer with a couple other old phones so I could take them to recycle when I got the chance.

Well, I never quite got around to going to the recycler. About 6 months ago, my phone was having problems, so just for the hell of it I plugged in exes phone, and it started charging. I let it charge adn put in my SIM, and it worked perfectly and has ever since.

Funny thing is not too long after that, she saw it and said ‘Hey, you got a phone just like my old one’. Yep. I sure did.

Get as much extra water out of/off the phone as possible.

Remove the battery, place phone in an air-tight container of uncooked white rice.

Seal container.

Hope for the best.

Having worked in the cell phone industry, I have to ask - how does the double rinse help? Are there latent starches you need to remove to improve the final consistency, or what?

**Cell phone through washing machine. Anything Saveable? **

Your washing machine will be fine. Don’t throw it away. Just pick out the broken pieces of cell phone and it should work without problems.

I rinsed with water (Distilled is better than tap) to get rid of the detergent residue. I used my chemistry experience to justify the double dip. I stuck it in a bowl of water for a while that reduced the contaminants by (I’m totally guessing) ~90%. The second dip, further reduced the contaminants by another 90%.

Same with the Alcohol dip. The first one conceivably reduced the water concentration to 10%, the second alcohol dip reduced the total water content to 1%.
If I wanted to be really anal, I would have done 3 rinses each.

I had pretty much the same experience with a Motorola Razr (remember those?). I had dropped it in the bathtub and it wouldn’t work at all, so I went and got another one. A few months later, I tried the old one and it worked fine.

I’ve heard - and done once with some success - that disassembling the phone and putting the parts in something absorbent - dry rice or cat litter - works.
Last time I dropped my (old non-smart) phone in water, I shoved the parts in a bag of rice, two or three days after it got soaked. After a day in the bag of rice it did indeed work again except the screen had a permanent blemish so I got another one. But the battery and everything worked fine.

Ah. Hadn’t considered residual soap. Good call.

Once you get this treatment, you’ll never have to worry about this again…


SIM card should still be fine. (Assuming you’re on a carrier that uses SIM cards here…)

If you have an old phone, or someone you know has an unused phone, you can use your SIM card in it until you get your phone replaced. If your phone is the type that stores contacts on the SIM card (my understand is that most do not), you might have a saved contact list as well.

As for apps, that depends on what OS the phone was running and whether the app store considers purchases to be “per-user” or “per-device.” In short, not enough info to answer that.

A few years ago, I washed a RAZR and only knew about it when the dryer started making more noise than normal.

The phone was already as disassembled as possible without using tools. I put the phone into the oven and set it to “proof” which is about 100 degrees for a day, and other than a blotch on the display, it was fine ever after.

I did this a year ago. My brother picked me up at the airport. As was custom he brought a, ahem, cooler of cocktails so I made one. A little while later I couldn’t find my cell. After looking all over the floor of the truck I decided to just call my phone with my brother’s cell. Much to my chagrin my cocktail lite up (it was night time). His truck’s center console caused my phone to slide right into the drink holder (and into my drink!)

I opened the battery compartment and left it all out in the sun for a few hours. Worked fine for the rest of my vacation and for about six months after! Eventually the touchscreen started not working right.

Just FYI: Cell phones usually have a moisture detection patch, a small square of material that turns (and stays) red when it gets wet. In case you try and play dumb with your provider…

Happened to me too. A few months after washing it & it worked again.

So, if I understand this correctly, I should dip everything in distiller water twice, then alcohol twice. Correct?

And what kind of alcohol are you talking about? Rubbing?

What should I do with the battery? That doesn’t go into the soaking process, right? Anything else I should avoid putting through the soaking process?

I never knew rice was so absorbent… Thanks for the tips!

Yes, for me I did the dip and swish for a while twice. I didn’t just dip it and pull it out. I let it soak for 30 min or so each time. I did it with the battery too…everything went in. It had already been washed, so I didn’t think I could do anymore harm than had already been done.

I actually used some 95% ethyl alcohol I had lying around, then some isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). I would use either and the isopropyl is probably better, because it is cheaper. You have to use 100% if you can get it. Soaking in 70% isopropyl alcohol will just leave you with 30% water in the soak solution. I think you can readily buy 100% isopropyl, you might be able to find HEET in a car parts section of the store. Check the label for the ingredients…isoHEET should be isopropyl alcohol. regular HEET may either be (denatured) ethyl alcohol or methyl alcohol. Note: I havent tried methyl alcohol (methanol). I expect either of these alcohols to work similarly, though don’t know for sure. But if you consider your phone is ruined anyway, it doesn’t matter if you ruin it again.