Dropped cell phone in vinegar water. What should I do?

Yes, need answer fast pretty much applies here.

I have a Samsung Instinct. It just fell into a 1/2 cup of 50/50 vinegar/water mixture, with the top part (the speaker) submerged briefly. I took it out as quick as I could and removed the battery. It’s now sitting upside down on the edge of the counter with the speaker exposed to air so it can hopefully drain out.

What else can I do to reduce any damage? How much likely got inside and is the vinegar going to damage the circuit board?

One good tip I heard was to store it in a bowl of (dry) rice. The rice is hygroscopic and will absorb moisture.

However, with vinegar being involved, I’m not terribly optimistic about the phone’s prospects if it gets into the electronics. It is a weak acid and would likely cause corrosion and/or shorting if it got in contact with metals.

Replace the now-red water-exposure sticker with a white one.

Just sayin’…

If it were mine, I would take the battery out, baptize it in distilled water, wrap it in cheesecloth, bury it in silica gel for a while, and hope for the best.

Now that I have provided a serious answer in good faith, I don’t feel guilty at all about suggesting that Vinegar & Water + Cell Phone = Bluetooth earpiece.

you should be ok if the liquid has evaporated. It was important that you removed the battery as soon as possible. Leaving it in would have damaged the phone due to immediate corrosion. I think the fact that the solution was acidic my not be a concern if it has all evaporated. Good Luck

I have stuck it in brown rice. Crossing my fingers. I can’t afford a new phone right now. :frowning: I’ve got another 6 months or so until maxing out my discount with Sprint. Never did anything like this before.

The battery was not in the liquid, just the top 1/2 inch or so of the phone. Nevertheless, I removed it immediately.

Oooh, I do have a bluetooth headset. I hope that would work if I shorted out the speaker.

If this is just another way of saying, “You’re screwed,” thanks for your input. Helpful.

That would be a way of saying, “here’s how you get a new phone for free”, which of course would be an action of dubious legality.

Took phone out of rice, turned on, made and received phone calls. Everything seems to be operating just fine.

Thanks for replies. :slight_smile:

Since your phone is working I can elaborate on this less with a less oblique reference to doing something “illegal.”

Many cellphones have a little indicator sticker which turns from white to red on exposure to liquid.

Cellphone carriers get a lot of calls from people whose phones drowned for one reason or another–think toilet bowel.

People dry off those phones, and they are often still non-functional. They call and tell the company their phone doesn’t work. Now you would think the company would ask, “Has it been exposed to water?” but the company knows the customer is going to hedge on that answer. So what they ask is,* “Ma’am, would you remove the battery and tell me if there is a little red sticker there?”*

“Why, yes” you reply.

“Well, ma’am, our warranty does not cover your phone, but we’d be happy to supply a new one for a charge.”

Now if the sticker was no longer red because it had been replaced with a white one (from…ahem…an internet supplier of these or a friend’s phone), well, BEG might be in a better position to have said phone replaced under warranty.

IANAL but I should be. You would have answered only the question asked, and nothing more. I suppose it’s possible the carrier might ask a follow-up question of whether or not you’ve replaced the sticker, and after that all replies are up to you, of course.

If it were me, I’d really store it in there for another week or so just to be safe. At least keep it there when not in use.

Man, somebody sure was in a pickle there for a bit.

Don’t be surprised if people you talk to on your phone now think you’re a douche.

Yeah, a friend who worked with the phone company mentioned that cellphones have the water-sensing sticker. Not sure what colours before and after… I would be surprised if it was not tamper-proof too. They get a lot of returns where they have to tell the customer that baptism is not covered in the cellphone warranty.

Rice will act as a mild desiccant, but unless you live in a really humid area it’s really not going to do much. If you just do nothing to the phone it will dry out at about the same rate as it will if you put it in rice. People don’t like the idea of doing nothing, though, and most of the time a dunked phone will work again after it dries out. So you end up with a lot of “I put the phone in rice and it worked afterward” stories which makes people think that the rice did something useful. The good thing though is that putting the phone in rice, while not necessarily all that helpful, doesn’t do any harm.

Other techniques that are commonly passed around as cures can actually be quite damaging to your phone. Freezing the phone for example can do a lot more harm than good. You’ll turn all the water inside into ice, and ice expands when it forms. This can damage components inside the phone. Freezing doesn’t get rid of the water, either. It just turns it into ice. Once the phone thaws out you’ve got water inside of it again, which puts you right back where you started.

Another technique that works but can still be dangerous is to heat the phone in an oven. If you raise the temperature a bit you’ll make the water inside evaporate faster. The problem is that if you raise the temperature too much you’ll damage the phone. So, this works, but it’s risky. It’s better to just set the phone on the counter and not touch it.

Hair dryers are a bad idea. Most hair dryers are good producers of static electricity, which can damage your phone.

The most important thing is to take the battery out as quickly as you can. Exposing the speaker to the air as the OP did is a good idea too.

The OP’s case is complicated a bit by the presence of vinegar. When you get other substances mixed in with the water they can get in behind the buttons and gunk them up. Rinsing the phone with pure water can help get the other stuff out (vinegar or whatever) but try to avoid dunking the speaker if possible. Vinegar is a weak acid and can technically damage the circuit board and other components inside the phone, but a quick dunk isn’t likely to do much damage.

Sometimes, opening water-damaged electronics and swabbing any bits of visible corrosion with the highest %age rubbing alcohol will do the trick, too. I had a brand new MacBook Pro that got a little water in it and refused to turn on. I had no idea it had happened, but when I took it to the Genius Bar, the guy opened up the computer and showed me the water damage. (Even if I had known that it had happened, there’s not much I could do since the MacBook has an internal battery, and I couldn’t disconnect it if I wanted to.) There was a little bit of corrosion on the circuit board, but there was no doubt it was water that had leaked in. Unfortunately, even though my computer was only 30 days or so old, water damage is not covered by the warranty. The repair bill would have been $1200+., or 2/3 the price of the computer.

Initially, I asked them to repair it, then the next morning had a change of heart, picked the computer up, bought some 91% isopropyl alcohol, and went to work. I cleaned up every last bit of visible corrosion with a Q-tip and alcohol. Ten minutes later, fully functional computer. It’s been three months on, and no problems.

So, with water damaged electronics, if you’ve got nothing to lose, it’s always worth a shot, if you see visible corrosion on the circuit board, to get some rubbing alcohol and clean it off. It may just save you a boatload of money, if you’re lucky.

No suggestions.

Just wanted to mention that I laughed when reading your comment.

I doubt it will make you feel any better…but the other day I dropped my toothbrush into the toilet. I was peeing at the time…while brushing my teeth.

Luckily, toothbrushes are much less expensive than cell phones…and I have a half dozen in the closet…so no big deal.

But I laughed at myself for doing something like that…and why not at you.

I believe there’s usually at least one more of those little stickers inside the phone somewhere so even if you replace that one the one under the battery cover they can still open the phone up and check the other one.

Thanks everyone for the informative replies. I actually had no intention of attempting to deceive my cell provider. Usually, I find it just bites you in the butt eventually. If worse came to worst, I married an electronics technician and would have had him pop it open to fix it if possible. In the event it’s no longer covered by warranty, there’s no harm in voiding the warranty by cracking it open to see if he can fix it. The corrosion info is useful if I have problems with it in the future.

In another six months, though, I hope to replace it with an Android phone, so if it lasts till then, I’ll be content.

You guys are a riot! :smiley:

That’s quite alright. Once I turned it on and discovered it worked, I laughed while explaining what happened to my husband. It was a really dumb move anyway and I should have seen it coming.

In case you’re wondering why vinegar/water, I had made a solution to clean my laptop LCD screen and read that vinegar cuts the grease and dries quickly. That cup of solution was left over and I was contemplating what to save it in for the next time I need to clean something electronic. Go figure.