Rex’s Perilous iPhone: Will it wash?

iwash-20100429-163740You’ll recall, in my iPhone’s last adventure, it was recovered after being stolen. I was able to track it by using Apple’s MobileMe service. As stolen iPhones have become all the rage during the past two weeks, my iPhone decided it needed a new adventure. So last night, unbeknownst to me, it decided to stay in the pocket of a pair of khakis my wife included in a load of laundry. My iPhone went through the full cycle, suds and everything.

Shockingly, neither of us raised our voices or blood pressure. Unfortunately, I had little room for accusing her of anything as she has spent the past three decades telling me to take stuff out of my pockets or “it’s your fault if something gets ruined.” She also benefitted from three decades of taking stuff out of my pockets, even when I constantly leave stuff in. (This may be sounding a bit sexist so let me clarify something: my wife and I have divided certain domestic chores and, by her choice, keeping me away from anything that can shrink or change the color of clothing has kept me out of the laundry room.)

Besides, I figured that any iPhone that had already been stolen and recovered was not going to let something as minor as being sent through the spin cycle keep it down. (I do recall a fast regret sweeping through me when I thought how convenient it would have been if this incident had happened a few weeks later, like around the first week or so of July.

As is my general practice when such a thing occurs, I quickly googled “wet iPhone” and found multiple variations of the same advice regarding the use of a vacuum cleaner to attempt to remove water from the inside of the unit (I think the spin cycle already took care of that) and putting the phone in a bag or container full of rice or little bags of silica (which, for some reason, we don’t have sitting around the house). I also discovered that Apple will replace such a phone for $199 without making one extend their contract. That Plan B at least gave me a $200 incentive to see if I could get the phone working with rice and a shop vac.

So I vacuumed it rather aggressively and then used a hair dryer on it (lowest speed, medium heat) for about 15 minutes on both ends. I then put it in a tupperware container filled with rice and set it under a heating pad I shaped like a pup tent (I improvised the heating pad part, as I couldn’t think of anything else to keep it somewhat warm, but not hot).

This morning, about ten hours later, I dug the phone out of the rice and plugged it in and was shocked when it booted up. Fortunately, I wasn’t shocked in the electrical way, but in the, “geez, I found this advice on the internets and it actually worked” way.

All the apps, the browser and the phone worked fine with no sound distortion. As the screen still had some background fogginess, I put it back in the rice for some more de-humidifying. According to some comments, people have kept them in rice for up to a week. (Warning: Don’t eat the rice as I’m guessing that eating rice that has absorbed iPhone moisture for a week is not approved by Green Peace.)

One final thing: The best part about having this happen was reading all the spectacularly moronic ways people have ended up on a blog entry about wet iPhones — most of which seem to either involve toilets or, as with Gray Powell, beer.

  • We had the same kind of thing happen to us. My step son dropped his ipod that we got him for Christmas into the toilet. Needless to say the kid was really upset, but fortunately I had heard stories like this before – about how they can dry out. It did take a few days and even during that time the Apple rep in one of our local stores told me that there was only a 50-50 chance that it would ever work again. I guess I wasn't as smart as you because I didn't use the heat and it did take a few days, but sure enough after about 3 days we had a working ipod.

  • I thought my odds were less than 50-50 considering it had spent lots of time in water. But reading about so many people who had dried one out at least got me to try. i think it will take several ays to dry out completely

  • We had the same kind of thing happen to us. My step son dropped his ipod that we got him for Christmas into the toilet. Needless to say the kid was really upset, but fortunately I had heard stories like this before – about how they can dry out. It did take a few days and even during that time the Apple rep in one of our local stores told me that there was only a 50-50 chance that it would ever work again. I guess I wasn't as smart as you because I didn't use the heat and it did take a few days, but sure enough after about 3 days we had a working ipod.

  • I thought my odds were less than 50-50 considering it had spent lots of time in water. But reading about so many people who had dried one out at least got me to try. i think it will take several ays to dry out completely