While the advice below is still relevant, we've augmented and updated our smartphone-saving best practices. See: Got water in your iPhone? Here's how to save your device.
Ever drop your iPhone in the toilet? Sink? Bathtub? All is not lost.
It's very possible to recover a liquid submerged iPhone and bring it back to its full glory. But first, a few things have to go exactly right. Second, timing is everything. Your iPhone is in cardiac arrest and you only have a few minutes to save her.
The following is a true story about how a reader completely submerged his iPhone 4 in a sink and returned it to its original glory. Here's how to rescue your iPhone from an unintended liquid submersion (sometimes called the "toilet baptism").
1) You must turn the iPhone off and this part is critical. After submersion, dry the surfaces immediately and press and hold the power button. Use the slider to turn off your iPhone -- as soon as possible. Seconds count here and depending on how fast you recovered it from the water, the touchscreen may or may not work. If you can't slide to power off, you're probably dead in the water (pardon the pun). If you can't turn it off chances are that the water will soon cross a critical connection and short the device, meaning certain death. If you can turn it off, congratulations you went from a zero percent chance of recovery to a 50 percent chance of recovery. (If it won't slide, keep trying. Mine didn't work immediately but eventually slid to power off on the ninth or tenth try.)
2) Find the nearest hardware store to you that carries DampRid. This may be a challenge without your iPhone, but a local hardware store is your best friend right now.
3) Wrap your iPhone in a towel and get to a hardware store ASAP. Bonus points if it's extra hot in your car. In fact, hotter is better. Put the iPhone on the dashboard in your hot car and leave the air conditioning off. Throw caution to the wind and leave it on your dash while at the hardware store.
4) Get a Ziploc bag, thicker, "freezer" bags are better, but not required.
5) Option: If you don't have a hardware store that's drivable (or you're at home) use the rice trick. Throw your iPhone into a Ziploc bag surrounded by rice. Store it in a warm, dry place for 24 hours and cross your fingers. It doesn't hurt to throw your iPhone into rice while driving to the hardware store to get DampRid.
6) Purchase some DampRid, a commercial desiccant that removes moisture from the air (like the little packets of silica that come in the box with a new pair of leather shoes). DampRid is your best friend in times like this and is probably three to four times more effective than rice. It comes in many form factors and I recommend the Sachet (FG40) version which costs around $5 for a twin-pack. If your store only has DampRid in the pail, buy that. Timing is the most important factor right now.
7) Sandwich your iPhone between two DampRid sachet packets (porous side in).
8) Put the iPhone/DampRid sandwich into a heavy Ziploc bag and store it in a warm dry place. Don't keep it on your car's dashboard in direct sunlight or anything crazy, but keeping it in a warm-to-hot car is fine.
9) Leave your iPhone in the DampRid zip lock bag for a full 24 hours, not less. Use this non-iPhone time to reflect upon your stupidity and to atone for your sins. Make a pact that no Twitter or Facebook update is so important that you need to be using your phone in the loo. This is also a good time to remember that purchasing a non-subsidized replacement iPhone costs between $500 and $700.
After a full 24 hours have expired, cross your fingers and power it up. There's no guarantee that it will come back to life, but if you a) recovered it fast enough, b) turned it off in time and c) got it into a desiccant within the first 10 minutes or so, your odds are fairly good that your iPhone will come back to life -- good as new. Mine sure did.
Note: Sometimes your device will only partially work after 24 hours "in the bag." Don't panic. Another time I did this my iPhone worked fine except for the microphone, but that too came back to life about 24 hours later.
Have you ever submerged your device? How did you bring it back to life?
Toilet image: OnsecaShow.com