Have a liquid damaged iPhone, iPad, or iPod? Here's what you should and shouldn't do!

Have a liquid damaged iPhone, iPad, or iPod? Here's what you should and shouldn't do!

I see lots of liquid damaged iPhones, iPads, and iPods on a regular basis. If you don't have AppleCare+, your warranty won't cover liquid damage. This is why a lot of people turn to places like The Pod Drop to reverse the damage. Not only can it be a lot cheaper than replacing an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, but it can allow you to get lots more use out of it.

If you are ever faced with the dreaded task of figuring out what to do with a water damaged iPhone, iPad, or iPod, there are some things you can do, as well as some things you should not do, before taking it in for service that will help mitigate the damage therefore making the success rate of repairing it much higher.

Types of liquid damage

Before we get into what to do with a liquid damaged device, it's necessary to know exactly what kind of liquid your device has incurred damage from. While any kind of liquid can damage electronics, some are more severe than others. Knowing how severe the damage is not only helps whoever is repairing it know what they're getting into, but helps you to know whether or not a repair is even warranted or if a new iPhone, iPad, or iPod may just be a better route right off the bat.

What is pH?

Before we go any further, lets talk about pH for a minute. pH is a commonly used indicator for liquids. The higher the pH, the less acidic it is. For example, water has a pH of 7, which is considered neutral. More acidic substances would have a much lower pH. While you don't need to know all the math and background behind pH, knowing a little will get you a long way in terms of determining whether the damage is repairable.

Alkaline (basic) substances

Anything with a pH of 7 or greater is considered to be an alkaline substance. If you had to drop your iPhone, iPad, or iPod in any kind of liquid, this is the kind you'd want to drop it in.

Here are some pH levels for common alkaline substances -

  • Bleach - 12
  • Ammonia - 11
  • Human blood - 7 to 7.5

It's interesting to note that bleach, which most people may consider more damaging, actually isn't as abrasive. Liquid damage from bleach can be reversed.

Acidic substances

If alkaline substances have a pH of over 7, that means that anything with a pH under 7 would be considered acidic. These are the fluids you'll want to keep your electronics devices far away from. For example, orange juice has a pH of around 3.5 which makes is very acidic. Acidic substances have a nasty habit of eating away at electronic components and failure rates are much higher when liquid damage is caused by an acidic substance.

Here are some pH levels for common acidic substances -

  • Orange juice - 3.5
  • Milk - 6.5 (some people consider milk neutral since it is so close to 7 in some cases)
  • Beer - 3 to 6 depending on the kind of beer
  • Soda drinks such as Coke - 2.5 to 4.2
  • Lemon juice - 2 to 2.5

In short, if you drop your iPhone in your morning glass of orange juice, while it may be possible to fix it, it's going to come down to how many internal components were damaged and how fast the problem is caught. With acidic substances, time is your enemy more so than with alkaline substances.

In most cases, mild contact may be able to be fixed but if your iPhone was soaking in a glass of Coke, you're probably going to be better off purchasing a new iPhone in the end.

Do's and don'ts

water damage do's and don'ts for iphone

Before we go any further, let's go over what you shouldn't do in order to remedy water damage. There are lots of common beliefs out there that we've found to be wrong over the years. Some of them can actually damage your device further.

Do NOT put your iPhone, iPad, or iPod in rice

Most people immediately think to put their phone in rice immediately following contact with water. This is actually one of the worse things you can do. While the logic of pulling water or liquid out of the device sounds like a good plan, it actually isn't.

Once the device completely dries out, corrosion sets in. You want to avoid this at all costs. In our experience, rice actually causes corrosion to set in faster. Not to mention, rice gets caught in headphone jacks, dock connectors, and other small places. I've actually seen rice get inside the device itself and cause buildup when it expands. Not only does it cause more damage from time to time, it's also not fun to pick out of small areas.

Most reputable repair places will tell you to place the still wet device into a plastic bag and bring it in as is. If they're telling you to put it in rice first, stay away.

Back away from the hair dryer!

Never, ever, under any circumstance take a hair dryer or a heat gun to a water damaged iPhone, iPad, or iPod. Much like rice, you're going to cause corrosion to set in faster and could potentially damage your device further.

To remove liquid, attempt to shake it out from any entry points or hold it upside down but pretty please, don't take a hair dryer to it.

Don't use a charger

Most people have an inclination to throw it on a charger immediately after water damage occurs. This typically happens if the screen blacks out or the device dies. Lithium ion batteries and liquid don't play nice together. Most places that fix water damage will replace the battery just as a precaution on all water damaged device. It's a good practice and something that should almost always be done.

On top of causing issues with the battery, you can also short circuit the logic board. Leaving the device completely turned off for a period of time is best practice. I would recommend staying away from chargers until you can get help fixing the issue from a professional. If you don't think the damage was bad enough to warrant taking it in for repair, I'd still avoid chargers for at least 72 hours before attempting to plug it in and turn it on.

React fast

Once you notice your iPhone, iPad, or iPod has come in contact with liquid, the most obvious thing to do is to remove it from the liquid. Sometimes if you catch it fast enough or it does not become completely submerged, the damage can be minimal.

Turn the device off

Immediately following any contact with liquid, always turn any electronics device off immediately. It is very possible that liquid can short it out. The safest bet is to completely turn it off.

Here is where I'd normally tell you to take out the battery but considering Apple products don't have removable batteries, which creates an issue.

If you've got a little bit of DIY knowledge and the tools laying around, taking the battery out of a water damaged iPhone isn't a bad idea. You can browse through our DIY articles in order to find a walkthrough on how to remove the battery from your iPhone if you'd like. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, don't. Just get it to someone who can in a timely manner.

Check water sensors

All iPhones, iPads, and iPods have water sensors. Check the dock connector and headphone jack with a flashlight to see if the sensors are triggered. By default, the sensors should be white. If they have turned red, you know liquid has gotten into one of the ports.

Get help

Don't wait too long before getting help. There are several places that can successfully reverse water damage using the correct tools and parts, including The Pod Drop. It's possible something as little as treating the logic board and a new battery may get your iPhone, iPad, or iPod back into working order.

While liquid damage is completely dictated on a case by case basis, most of the time, it can be fixed as long as you don't wait too long before and don't do anything to damage the device further.

The bottom line

Whether you're mailing your device in or taking it some place local, if you perform all the steps above and stay away from the things you shouldn't do, the chances of successful liquid damage repair become much higher.

The last, and more important step, is to make sure that whoever you are entrusting to fix your iPhone, iPad, or iPod has experience handling water damage. Good signs are if the employees give you honest advice and an initial estimate after physically seeing it. I will typically do an initial diagnosis right in front a customer and point out problem areas that I can see off-hand. If I don't think the device can be saved or that a new one is a better option, I can typically tell the customer that right off the bat.

Any reputable company should be willing to help find the best option for you. If you don't feel they are providing you that service, walk away and try elsewhere.

Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Have a liquid damaged iPhone, iPad, or iPod? Here's what you should and shouldn't do!

61 Comments

I was able to rescue an iPhone 4 that was fully submerged in 1 foot of water by turning it off, vacuuming it over and over (suck the water OUT instead of blowing it IN), then, despite what you mention in the article, left it in a bag of rice overnight to work out residual water that I couldn't remove with the vacuum.

The iPhone still works fine over a year later! The rice could have been inconsequential for sure - can't prove it one way or the other from my experience. I had to keep re-vacuuming to get all of the water out from under the glass covering the screen.

Vacuuming out the water probably helped more than anything. Rice leaves gritty residue and can expand if it gets inside the device causing more problems and actually locking moisture INSIDE the device. my guess would be you probably got a good deal, if not all, of the water out before you put it in rice.

Hey... So I jumped into a pool with mine accidentally forgetting the phone was in my pocket. I did dry it with rice(sorry) and now when I charge it the screen either turns blue or red (bright colors). I can see the water inside. How would I get it out. Can the pod drop do it? Please reply too me in an email @rickychoudhuri11@gmail.com thank you so much

Ricky

I put my water damaged iPhone 4 (more due to condensation than ever getting fully wet) into a sealed plastic bag filled with a few packets of silica gel and within a week the phone was back to normal.

Just drop it in 96% spirit. It will wash the water out. Then open it and let it dry. Spirit wont do anything bad to electronics.

"It's interesting to note that bleach, which most people may consider more damaging, is actually less abrasive than regular water."

What the F are you talking about in regards to pH??? The scale goes from 0 to 14, with higher numbers being Basic (alkaline) and lower numbers being acidic. Water is pH 7 which is exactly Neutral (neither acidic nor basic).

I'm not quite sure what YOU are talking about. What you're saying is exactly what I iterated in the article. My point was most people typically think bleach would have a worse effect than water, and that's not the case.

bah, redundant wording. i see what you guys were pointing out now. yesterday was a long day of writing, sorry about that. should have proofread better. thanks and fixed! :)

It is a service called AnoStyle that my company (Pod Drop) is offering. www.anostyle.com - it isn't available just yet but will be extremely soon. Dec 1 at the latest.

great article, I have succesfully replaced 3 cracked screens thanks to your DIY videos. I hope I never have to deal with liquid damage as I feel like an expert in switching out cracked screens.

Hey Allyson, you've got a typo in the title.
"Have a liquid damaged iPhone, iPad, or iPod? Here's what you should and **should't** do with it."

*shouldn't

Nice article, hopefully I won't be needing to read it twice though...

You always write great articles. The ph guide was good. Turning any electronics, and disconnecting from the power source is always good. If your phone is out of warranty, or you do not mind, I would also remove the battery. Even off, the liquid can cause the battery to short. Too bad Apple does not make a removable battery.

Yep, that's one of my biggest peeves with Apple. 9 times out of 10, the battery has to be replaced because it does short out w/ water damage.

I've used rice to dry out family members devices in the past, they've all survived the water and been fully functional.

Agreed, not sure how rice would get into the device? Since iphones are sealed. Could it get into the headphone jack or in the charging port? Sure it could but its not exactly impossible to remove. And if this happens to the average phone user and their options are letting the phone just air dry (which takes a significant ) or sicking it in a bag of rice I would say go with the bag of rice. But hey what do I know I've only been selling phones for 15 years and never heard of anyone damaging their phone by sticking in a bag of rice. Are there better options than rice - absolutely. But does the average person have packets of silca gel laying around? probably not. And many retailers including myself sell water damage rescue bags which work very well. However to say it could damage your phone to put in a bag of rice is pretty silly - I could also get struck by lightning typing this post but odds are against it...

iPhones are not "sealed". Rice gets wedged in between the dock connector and the headphone jack and sometimes breaks off pins in the dock connector. Pieces break off and find their way inside, saturate liquid, and then expands, as rice typically does when wet. I'd rather someone bring me a phone completely soaked or still in a cup of water than in a bag of rice. All it typically does is create more work as picking out rice between the dock connector and in the headphone jack isn't fun.

Sorry to nag on the rice issue. Is your only issue with it the possibility of a piece of rice getting in the phone, then?

I doubt the rice had anything to do w/ saving the phone. If you would have let it air dry it probably would have had the same effect. Some water damage is worse than others. In your case, the logic board was probably still in tact and dried out fine. That isn't always the case. More often than not, if the battery connector gets wet, the battery shorts out, causing the phone to not be able to take a charge nor turn on.

Would it make sense to drop it in Bleach if it gets water damage to change the pH of the liquid trapped inside?

My iphone fell into a lake for a good 5 minutes. It wont turn on or anything, i let it dry in a towel. How much would it cost to send in to drop pod to get the whole thing fixed or make an arrangement for a different iphone 4s to be sent? i dont think apple will replace mine even though they have been contemplating it.

My iphone fell into a lake for a good 5 minutes. It wont turn on or anything, i let it dry in a towel. How much would it cost to send in to drop pod to get the whole thing fixed or make an arrangement for a different iphone 4s to be sent? i dont think apple will replace mine even though they have been contemplating it.

If you go to thepoddrop.com we have a service request form you can fill out and send in. If you choose to take it to Apple, I believe they'll charge you $149 plus tax to swap it out for a new phone out of warranty. Hope this helps :)

Heya ive just dropped my iphone 4 into a cup that had tea in it, theres the tinest of dribbles left in the mug buh enough to have turned the indicator a very slight pink colour. I used cotton swabs and pads to clear it all out my only thought is it must have gone inside the two small speakers as when i tried to play music it either didnt have any sound and wouldnt let me change the volume yet when i cleaned again for a few seconds it was perfect then didnt work. As theres only been a teeny bit of tea i wondered if my phone would be okay? Im a little worried as only had it just over a month. Thank you :) xxx

*EDIT* the sound is working perfectly now and same with volume control. The indicator colour is still slightly pink not dark pink/bright red buh coloured all the same. Also once i was sure i dried the port thing i did connect it to a charger to see if it would still charge for a few seconds and disconnected and wiped the charger to be 100% sure of no liquids on that as well. Its nearly 2:30am so i couldnt put it in rice even if i wanted to. Now scared to go to sleep haha. Hoping air drying will work xxx

"Liquid damage from bleach can be reversed"

My wife bleach wiped her iphone 4 and the earpiece speaker is very distorted. Everything else seems to work fine.
How can I reverse the bleach damage?

So basically you said the general things that everyone knows, proving you don't know anything about what actually "TO DO", which is helpful to "NO ONE". You basically just forward them to a professional to fix the problems. At what cost? Under the things "TO DO", did you mention how to take apart the back to get water out? Or what tools to use? Or how to replace the battery, since the reaction to water will kill it, or severely limit it's life? Or how to change the dock connector? Or the camera? Or speaker? Why don't you say: "DON'T" turn on your phone. "DO" call a professional. Because really that's all you know to do. If I were you I would leave important problems to real professionals who can actually help people, and blog about glitter or hair extensions or texting or something. Something you actually know about.

Oh I see now. The solution is simple. What not to do. "DO NOT" attempt to use your own common sense to fix your phone with the countless number of resources out there. DO NOT search the internet for step by step picture instructions that can be found at places like here: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPhone+4+Teardown/3130/1 or here: http://appleiphonemod.blogspot.com/2012/12/how-to-fix-dock-connector-on-... DO be a sucker and send all your phones to people like this for $150 to $250 dollars, with no idea of what they're actually doing. I just replaced my battery for $5 dollars from ebay, and 2 minutes of my time. But I'm sure it's worth $150 for you to do it. Why don't you let everyone know that the only person you're trying to help here is yourself.

My mom dropped her iPhone 4S in water and she put it in rice for 48 hours (2 days). The device is not turning back on, and we even plugged it in to see if it would hopefully give us some sign. Do you have any idea of what to do? Also she doesn't really want to take the back off she thinks it will mess it up more, is there something I can put it in to restore it?

I dropped my iphone 3 in my toilet for about 4 seconds on saturday(5 days ago) immediatly i screamed and ran downstairs and told my mom. We put it in rice, 4 hours later i took it out and put it on the charger, it turned on and was working for about 2 hours, then it shut off. Now it’s no longer working. I put it in rice and have left it in rice ever since, now i took it out and it’s on the chargey EVERY 10 seconds it will show the apple screen for 2 seconds then shut off, WHAT DO I DO ?!!? ):

Yo yo Ally! Great post - and THANK YOU for debunking the rice myth. We deal with this a lot, and it lowers the revival rate. People think putting their corroded board in a baggie of FOOD will miraculously help it! Grr! It totally equals more problems, like you said. Enjoyed reading the article :))

Hey nice post, I would like to add if the phone fell in the sea dont hesitate to wash it right away with distilled water because salt is your components enemy. Then follow the dos and donts of this article

I've revived three iphones with water damage (some with full fresh water submersion) by baking in the oven at 170F for an hour.

My iPhone 5 is barely two weeks old and sometime yesterday morning after brushing my teeth, I noticed water on top of the phone. I immediately wiped it off and went about my day because my last HTC phone could get water on it and there was no issue. I even had a silicon case on my phone. On my way home from work I noticed the water damage and because I hadn't seen your article, I put it in rice with silica gel but it was still damaged this morning. I can't believe these phones are that sensitive to even drops of water. I didn't get the insurance because it was another $100 so what are my options now? I will put it back in the silica gel and hope for the best. It seems to be working fine.

Hi, I have an I-pod 5 that was dropped in water but it was only in it for seconds...and I did everything I could to make sure it didn't get too damaged. Everything seems to be fine with it expect that it is stuck in headphone mode. I was wondering if there was any way to fix this without taking it to someone or somewhere to get fixed. Thanks.

I hAVe an iPad 2 that shuts off (log in screen) whenever it moves, even a slight jiggle. Also, certain apps will not open for more than a split second. Any ideas why/what is going on?? I don't live near an apple store so I have not taken it in to date. Looking for ideas/opinions here first. Thanks!

Ok,

So, for all of those who are interested. I had my work iPhone 4s in my bag and spilt water inside my back, when it took it out i was on the train and the screen was on but just weird colours and nothing really visible, it had "visible" water damage.

The LED on the back of the phone was on and despite all the information i knew what i "should" do but i couldn't turn off the phone with any combination of the known buttons. Having no tools i waited 10 minutes until i got home and immediately removed the back cover and disconnected the batter. I left the battery out with the cover and dried off all the water i could see, i also then lightly dried the internal parts ( i mean lightly and not very hot) with a hair dryer.

I put my iPhone in a plastic Chinese take away container sandwiched between brown rice and wrapped this in cling film to keep it air tight as i did not have a bag. I placed this on top of my boiler in my warm airing cupboard.

I waited 24 hours and then put it all back together, it turned on first time, worked and all looked fine. There was still slight visual damage behind the screen with water but after a few days this evaporated on it's own. It has been working fine since.

Hope this helps people, please share your stories.

My iPad was on the floor next to me while I was in the tub. I moved a little to fast and water splashed everywhere, everything is working fine but now my volume won't work ? I sucked what I could out and is letting it sit straight up. Any opinions on what to do ? You think I'll get my volume back ?

Hey! My iPad got water on it tonight and my volume wasn't working either. It was stuck on headphones mode, but I got a qtip, took the cotton off so that it would fit in the headphones hole and cleaned around and my volume worked again! I see that your incident happened a while back, but it's worth a shot!

Okkay so this is lookin bad for me I dropped my phone in the lake in October and it was freezing cold and midnight so I just left it til morning. My friend swam down and got it for me and I had it in rice for days. I plugged it in after all that and it turned on fine no water in the screen but it won't connect to wifi and won't let me make calls or text and it only turns on when it's on the charger but if you have it on for too long it shuts off and turns itself back on and just keeps doin that. I really don't have money for a new one and it's February so I let that phone sit water damaged for months is there any way it can be saved?

So last night i put my ipad in charge next to a water bottle fell on the ipad, but the ipad is cracked and water go in the cracks.. so my quick reaction was a hair dryer, but I switch the hair dryer to cold air. after that I shook it so water can come out. but the thing is it's still not turning on. what should I do

i have a iphone 4s that was put in water around 2 my kids done it and i didnt know it and i noticed that its not coming on at all and i noticed that it was part red and part white and its not coming on what should i do and here in the last couple mins it would come on for a second and then turn back off

Hi need your help I've just dropped my phone in a glass of orange juice I've tapped all the water out and it's sticky so I dried it with a hair dryer which I know I shouldn't of but now it's in a bowl of rice going to leave it over night hope it will be fine in morning

Heye
I spilt hot tea on my iPod4 screen and now when I touch parts of the screen it doesnt respond. It was only On a small section but I quickly rubbed it in a towel and I didnt know what else to do! Please help!
thanks

I sprayed windex on phone and now it has a slight water stain in slight blue to clear, its very bright than the rest of my phone. What should i do? i haven't done anything since it happened like 10 minutes ago. HELP!!!!!!!

hey i dropped my phone in the toilet at work & pulled it out riqht away, but i would shake it to qet water out, i have no insurance on it or any coveraqe i paid $775 cash with the plan, what can i do i am in need for a new iPhone i have very important calls from my dauqhters appointments etc. & i dont know if apple can switch it out for a lower price what should i do?