What to do if you ever drop your phone in salt water

Has your cell phone accidently been dropped in salt water? Then you have come to the right place. This guide will offer some suggestions on what you can do to try to prevent your phone from being damaged and how to prevent future damage to your smartphone or electronic device.

I just dropped my phone in salt water!

If you just dropped your phone in salt water then you should try to act quickly and proceed with the following advice. If you have dried your phone in rice already and it’s not working properly despite being completely dry then click here to skip to that part of this guide.

Try to act fast

Take your phone out of the salt water!

Remove your cell phone from the salt water as quickly as possible if for some reason you have not done so already.

Don’t press anything!

As hard as it is you must try to resist the urge to see if your smartphone is still working:

  • Don’t try to turn the phone on
  • Don’t try to use its touch screen
  • Don’t press any buttons
  • Don’t use the phone at all

Take off all of the removable parts

Take the back cover off of the phone

Not every phone has a back plate but if your phone has a removable battery then go ahead and take the back plate off.

Remove the battery

If your cell phone allows you to remove its battery then take the battery completely out of the phone and set it aside. Salt water is very conductive and this should help to avoid an unnecessary electrical short. Make sure that you don’t plug your phone into a charger either until you’re sure that your phone is completely dry.

Take it out of its case

Chances are you have done this already but if you own a protective case for your cell phone then take it out of its case and let your phone breath a little bit.

Remove the SIM card

Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards are very common on cell phones these days and help phones sync and communicate with their wireless service provider properly. If your phone utilizes a SIM card (which is pretty likely) then remove it from the phone.

Remove the SD card

If your phone is making use of a Memory card or a Micro SD card to be specific then take it out of the phone as well. Most quality SD cards can be pretty resilient to such situations but take it out so that we can treat the SIM card slot as well.

Leave these parts off of the phone for the time being. If there is any liquid or moisture on these items then I recommend that you try to dry them off with a dry cloth. An Anti static cloth or wipe would be ideal but shouldn’t be necessary and a regular dry cloth should be sufficient.

Soak the phone in alcohol

This might sound a little odd but since your phone was dropped in salt water you should seriously consider giving it a bath in 99% isopropyl alcohol. And here is why…

If your phone was dropped in the ocean or was dropped into sea water or you were at the beach and you forgot your phone was in your pocket when you or a loved one ran into the water, or if you were playfully pushed into a salt water swimming pool. If there is even a chance that that salt water, and minerals and other content might have gotten into your cell phone and you want to get that stuff out of your phone as best and as much as possible.

Not only is salt water really good at conducting electricity salt water can lead to corrosion which can cause some serious problems later. If this happened at the beach then that salt water can also contain lots of dirt, minerals and other content which can leave a mineral deposit behind after the phone has completely dried.

Dry or still wet consider using alcohol

If your phone was dropped in salty water and you have let the phone dry out completely and it doesn’t seem to want to function properly, or it was functioning correctly and then all of a sudden something on the phone started to malfunction, whatever it is that seems to not be working right any more, you should consider bathing your phone in 99% isopropyl alcohol.

If your phone was just pulled out of the salt water then I recommend soaking it right away. Not only will the alcohol help clean out the phone and help to get all of that salty mineral water out of the device but it will also help the phone dry more quickly.

Why use alcohol?

Many people already know that alcohol is commonly used to clean electronics as it can not only clean and disinfect but it also dries pretty quickly, what many people don’t know is that alcohol is a non conductive liquid.

You can actually submerge your phone completely in 99% isopropyl alcohol and you won’t have to worry about an electrical short occurring. This is why alcohol is one of the best tools for what I suggest you do next.

Using alcohol to fix and prevent water damage to cell phones

So, what I suggest that you do if you ever drop your phone in salt water is to immediately soak the phone in 99% isopropyl alcohol.

Submerging your phone in 99% isopropyl alcohol will allow the alcohol to get into the insides of the phone and penetrate into all of the places where that salt water could have ended up. This should help remove left over salt water and other potentially unwanted minerals from the phone.

Soaking your phone in alcohol

I found that when soaking a phone in alcohol a Tupperware or plastic food container works well. Anything you can use which will allow you to completely submerge the phone and preferably something that isn’t too big so that you won’t end up wasting much alcohol.

Once your phone is immersed in alcohol I recommend that you let the phone soak for an hour or two periodically checking on the phone and gently shaking it under the surface of the alcohol. You want to make sure to try and get the alcohol into every nook and cranny within the phone to clean out the phone completely.

Since you don’t want any salts or minerals to remain in the device you might also consider removing the phone from the alcohol after letting it soak for 30 or so minutes, draining all of the alcohol that you can from the phone and then you can give it another bath in a fresh batch of alcohol.

Let your phone dry completely

After letting it soak for a couple of hours or so you can remove the phone from the alcohol, let the phone drip dry as best as you can (trying to get as much alcohol out of the phone as you can manage) and then drying the outside of the phone with a clean dry cloth.

Then you can let the phone sit and dry overnight or however long it takes for the phone to dry completely. Dried rice can help speed up the drying process as well. It shouldn’t take too long to dry as alcohol evaporates pretty quickly but letting your phone dry overnight is never a bad idea in my opinion.

Give it a try

After your phone has had enough time to dry go ahead and power it on to see if everything on your phone is working properly. Hopefully the alcohol has worked its magic and with any luck your phone will be back to 100% again.

Thanks for reading

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this guide and at the very least found it informative and insightful. If you did like it and would like to show me that you liked it then don’t hesitate leave a friendly post in the comment section below. If you mention what type of phone you own and what type of problem the alcohol was able to help you resolve in your comment it will make your comment even better!

Before leaving a comment

I welcome all friendly, well written, legible, and thought out comments or questions that you might have about your cell phone and any problems that it might be experiencing after getting dropped in or exposed to salt water and if you are simply taking the time to post a friendly comment then I look forward to reading what you have to say BUT before posting a question make sure read some of these commonly asked questions about using isopropyl alcohol to fix or revive a cell phone. Chances are very good that your question has already been answered and can be found listed on that page.

Can this fix my phone?

Soaking a cell phone in 99% isopropyl alcohol can solve all kinds of problems that can result on a phone that’s been exposed to moisture of any kind (especially salt water).

So if your phone is experiencing problems, no matter what that problem is, I recommend that you use 99% isopropyl alcohol to try and fix it.


While 70% and even 91% isopropyl alcohol can be commonly located in your local store 99% isopropyl alcohol can be a bit more uncommon and a little more challenging to try to locate and acquire and I don’t suggest using anything but 99% isopropyl alcohol to try and fix a high end electronic like a smartphone. You can read more about why this is in that FAQ post I linked to earlier.

I have also found that one of the best places to find and purchase 99% isopropyl alcohol for the lowest price is online from stores like Amazon.

Wherever you end up getting it you may want to purchase a little extra just to keep around the house in case something like this ever happens again or should you need it for something else. Isopropyl alcohol has a million and one uses and it’s never a bad idea to have some available should you need it.

That being said, thanks again for visiting and I hope that you are able to use this little trick to save fix or revive your beloved cell phone.

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