Saving my iPhone 4 from a visit with the washing machine

{UPDATE: 9/3/2013 This same phone is still working! The speaker phone (microphone) never worked again after the washing machine + after some time the volume buttons have also stopped working. I am able to watch videos and hear using the speaker. I probably could have some work done to replace the microphone or the volume buttons, but I've gone this long...}

This morning I came across the most detailed and genius blog post at C.R.A.F.T about saving an iPhone with a broken shattered screen. I had no idea it was even possible, let alone a diy project!! It left me wondering if there was more I could do to help revive my iPhone that recently had a visit with the washing machine.

{If you have just found your iPhone in the washing machine, I completely understand that you do not give one flying f*** how my iPhone ended up in the washing machine. I understand, go ahead: Skip to the break}

But before I can tell you about resolving the nightmarish issue of finding your iPhone in the washing machine, it's only fair that I tell you how it happened:

I'd first like to blame the horrible wind we've been having. My Mom & sister in law were visiting for the weekend and to our surprise right before leaving the house we came across this:
Last photo taken with my iPhone4 before the washing machine incident. 

Cue the music: dun, dun, dun. Change of plans. Within minutes of realizing the tree {which originated on the property we rent} was blocking the road for almost the entire neighborhood our plans changed. Thankfully a nice neighbor was already there, chainsaw in hand, helping us to solve the problem. I could not in good conscience leave him to do all the work when the tree did originate on the property of the house I was living. I decided to help move it {35 weeks pregnant or not, no one can accuse me of being a lazy neighbor!} what I did not take into account was the sheer amount of rain that was going to fall from the sky while helping to clean up the mess. I stupidly put my iPhone in the pocket of my jeans, waiting for my husband to call back from his camping trip, like anyone can actually HEAR the ringer of an iPhone or FEEL it in a pocket when it vibrates. When I returned to the house completely drenched, I stripped my clothes in the stairway because they were so soaked, and beelined for (another) warm shower. 

After rehashing the incident, we were ready to move on with our day. Without realizing it, my mom threw all of the soaking wet clothes (she'd been out there with me) into the washer. And soon after I asked, hmm...where is my cell phone. I called it numerous times. There is no way it would RING if it was in the washer. It didn't go straight to voicemail so certainly it could NOT be IN the washer. {Wrong!} I searched the sofa cushions, my bedroom, all of the usual hiding places and then about 10 minutes later I heard it: THUNK. And I knew. My heart sank. I rushed to my front loader and pressed the "cancel" button enough I'm lucky I didn't short out the electrical panel. After rifling through the pile of soaking wet clothes, I found it. My heart sank. {It's at this point that I should add, my husband sometimes feels neglected by me because of the iPhone, it just offers a connection to the world-real or virtual-that I really don't remember life before having it!} My soaking wet iPhone looked so pitiful in my hand. Immediately I let lose a long string of choice words. 

Within seconds of realizing what happened, my mother asked, "does it work?" and my reply was the much harsher version of: "I don't know." I immediately towel dried the phone off and made my way to my computer to start googling any variety of: wet iPhone, iPhone in washer, iPhone washing machine, how to dry an iPhone. Ugh. 

{What to do if your iPhone just took a swim in the washing machine}
  • All of the websites that I visited seem to agree: DO NOT FOR ANY REASON TURN THE PHONE ON. Turning it on only increases the chances of frying the internal computer. Be patient. Let it dry. I'd read depending on the severity of the "dip" expect a minimum of 5-7 days drying time. I attempted 6 days in, but had water marks on the screen, and decided to give it more time to dry. 
  • Immediately remove as much excess water as you can. I used the closest hand towel because it was within reach. 
  • Blow dry the phone on low, paying close attention to all of the holes & openings of the phone. I would safely say 10-15 minutes will give you a chance to curse the phone, the washer, the water, Apple, the phone company, the insurance company, etc. 
Pay close attention to EVERY opening in/on the phone.
  • Attempt what we refer to as the "rice coffin." Fill a container with rice. Place your phone into the rice. And for good measure, cover the phone in rice. Every so often, I would flip the phone so it was face up/face down...

  • I have no idea why this should work, but I figured if I was going to wait to see if my phone would ever have life again, it might as well have a comfy resting place. Hopefully, it will not be it's last! I've also heard silica gel (the little packets you get in new shoe boxes) also can help dry the phone. I'd heard silica gel can be purchased at craft stores in the floral supply section, I don't know much about that, so do a little more research before attempting that. I did throw a packet of silica gel in with the rice, because hey, why not?!
  • Get some spray air. The canned kind. I found a can at Walmart for about $5. BestBuy tried to sell me 2 cans for $15, and I nearly had a heart attack for the second time in one day. Spray the canned air into ALL of the holes, paying particularly good attention to the head phone hole. I don't know why that hole, but in my research it seems like that's a good place to pay attention to...
  • Keep your phone turned off. 
  • If you're feeling antsy and miss your phone, still keep it off, but I'm guessing it can't hurt to have a session with the blow dryer or the canned air each day. Do that if it makes you feel better. Just don't turn the phone on. 
  • When you've gone through sufficient iPhone withdrawal and the world seems rosy and light again, it's a safe bet that it might be time to attempt to turn on your iPhone. I waited 6 days and attempted to charge my iPhone using my computer/iTunes. Initially it did nothing. The pit in my stomach that I'd been ignoring for 6 days was back full force. I walked away. I swear I did not cry. About 30 minutes later, I notice that iTunes was asking to sync my phone. It wanted the phone to be reset, I was fine with that, as long as the phone had life again. It did act a little funny, and iTunes was kicking the phone off, and doing strange stuff, so I decided to cut my losses and to put the phone back into the rice coffin for a few more days. I was hopeful since it did turn on! 
  • Give it more time, turned off, with random hits of blow dryer or canned air and adequate time in the rice coffin. 
  • Try, try again. I plugged it in, knowing the battery was completely dead I let the battery charge fully before messing with iTunes. The screen moisture seemed completely different. The first time I attempted to turn it on it seemed somewhat blotchy, the second time it was diagonally striped sections of wetness. I did notice 5 little "stars" in the top left side of the screen. I decided I could live with some "irregularities" as this phone did just live through a horrific visit with the washing machine. {See below picture of the screen today, 11 days in}
  • Test functionality (if you think you and your phone are ready) I was able to make and receive calls, take pictures, sync to iTunes after resetting the phone, go on the internet, etc. The only thing that appears to have been lost is the speaker phone. I'm okay with that. I suppose that over time I'll remain hopeful that it might return. Once I realized the speaker phone was lost, I also noticed it randomly turning off (to a blank screen with just an apple) leaving me feeling there must still be some moisture. 
  • Because I just wasn't sure, I decided to give the phone more time in the rice coffin. If I'm at home, I keep the phone turned off and in the rice. If I go out, I bring the rice coffin with me and just turn it on if I need to call someone. Just in case. The "water marks" on the screen seem to be getting progressively less. So, I take that as a good sign. 
Streaks are faint across the mid-section of the screen, but have gotten remarkably better. Also 5 brighter "stars" appear visible right along the status bar. A huge improvement from the first attempt to turn the phone on! 

What I've learned: 
  • don't take your iPhone out into a rain storm. 
  • don't let your Mom do your laundry. 
  • make sure to always have some rice in your pantry. Canned/Spray air isn't a bad thing either. 
  • time is your friend. 
  • keep your fingers crossed. 
Please let me know if this is helpful and if {God forbid} it works for you. 

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