What to do if iPhone screen has water damage?

Water damage is one of the most common issues that can affect iPhones. If water seeps into an iPhone, it can cause all sorts of problems – from temporary glitches to permanent hardware damage. A water-damaged iPhone screen can display discoloration, flickering, cracks or unresponsiveness. In some cases, it may stop working entirely.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to try to revive an iPhone with water damage on its screen. The sooner you act, the better the chances of saving the device. Here is a comprehensive guide on what to do if your iPhone screen gets exposed to moisture.

Assess the Extent of Damage

The first thing to do when your iPhone screen comes into contact with water is to assess the extent of the damage. This will determine which repair methods may be required.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

– How much water exposure did the screen have? Was it splashed briefly or submerged fully? The amount of water ingress will impact the components affected.

– Are there any visible signs of damage like cracks, discoloration or flickering? Inspect the screen closely under bright light.

– Is the touchscreen still fully functional? Check if it responds accurately to touches across all areas.

– Do display functions like brightness and True Tone still work? Test this out in Settings.

– Can you still see the display clearly or is it distorted/blurry? Look for any odd patches or streaks.

– Have any errors popped up? Check if error messages appear suggesting hardware faults.

Thoroughly examining the screen will reveal how badly it has been damaged. Minor exposure may only require drying it out. But major water damage can lead to corrosion and permanent glitches requiring screen replacement.

Dry Out the iPhone Immediately

If the phone has only had brief, minor contact with water, drying it out immediately can help prevent further damage.

Follow these steps to dry an iPhone that got splashed or briefly dropped in water:

– Wipe down all exterior surfaces with a microfiber cloth to soak up excess moisture. Dry out ports and buttons.

– If the screen is still functioning, dry it by angling down and tapping a cloth on it lightly. Don’t scrub harshly.

– Pat the rear camera lenses dry gently without smudging them.

– Remove any attached cases or covers to dry the iPhone fully.

– Avoid using things like towels or tissue paper that can leave fibrous residues. Stick to clean microfiber cloths.

– Don’t attempt to dry with heat sources like hairdryers or stoves. The extreme heat can damage components.

– Let the phone sit upright undisturbed for at least 24 hours to allow residual moisture to evaporate fully.

– Only use the phone after it is completely dry. Check for any rattling sounds which may indicate lingering water inside.

Thorough drying can help restore minor water-affected iPhones. But for major exposure, more intensive repair methods are required.

Use Absorbent Materials

If the iPhone screen has been fully submerged or exposed to large amounts of water, simple drying may not suffice. The inner components need to be extracted of all residual moisture to avoid corrosion or short circuits.

Specialized water-absorbing materials can help draw out the water from inside the iPhone:

– Silica gel packs – These crystalized silica beads absorb moisture well. Place the iPhone and a few packets together in an airtight container. The silica will gradually extract water from the device.

– Rice – Uncooked rice grains can act like miniature moisture-absorbing sponges. Bury the iPhone in a bowl of rice overnight, ensuring grains get into the ports and buttons.

– Desiccant packs – These moisture absorber packets contain drying agents like calcium chloride or calcium sulfate. They work better than rice or silica for water damage.

– Water absorbing mats – Special hydrophobic mats pull water through the ports via capillary action into the mat. They are reusable and better than rice.

– Isopropyl alcohol – High concentration 99% isopropyl alcohol can displace residual moisture by evaporating faster. Use it sparingly on the iPhone with q-tips.

Ensure you give the water absorbents sufficient time (12-24 hours) to work and regularly change them out for fresh dry material. Check if there is improvement before attempting more repairs.

Open and Clean the iPhone

For major water damage where liquid has seeped deep inside the iPhone, you will likely need to open it up and clean the interior components. This requires taking apart the device.

Here are the steps to open and clean a wet iPhone screen and its internals:

– Gather the repair toolkit – plastic pry tools, tweezers, screwdrivers, gloves, ESD mat.

– Follow an online visual guide for your iPhone model to dismantle it down to the logic board.

– Disconnect the display cable and remove the screen carefully without tearing flex cables.

– Scrutinize the screen especially the flex cable ends for corrosion and debris.

– Check other components like cameras, sensors and connectors for water residue.

– Clean with 90%+ isopropyl alcohol and a toothbrush to remove grime, minerals.

– For stubborn buildup, use a non-conductive electronic contact cleaner.

– Let components dry fully before reassembling. A hairdryer on cool setting can help evaporate cleaner fluid.

– Reattach the cleaned display and other parts in reverse order of disassembly.

– Test and calibrate the reassembled phone before normal use.

This thorough cleaning of the iPhone’s internal parts is necessary for phones exposed to pond water, sea water or other liquid contaminants. It removes corrosive buildup that can destroy the logic board and other circuitry.

Use a Drying Box

A dedicated drying box provides a controlled environment to thoroughly dry out a water-damaged iPhone screen and internal components. It is an ideal solution for major water exposure.

Here is how to use a drying box:

– Place the wet iPhone dismantled down to its logic board in the transparent box chamber.

– Seal the box and connect it to a power source according to its instructions.

– Set the desired temperature between 95-150°F. Higher heat accelerates drying.

– Let the device remain for 12-48 hours. Monitor it through the window.

– Occasionally open up the box to wipe down visible moisture on components.

– The iPhone is dry when all condensation clears and no wetness remains.

– Reassemble the iPhone and check for any persisting issues before regular use.

The advantage of a drying box is it heats up the iPhone just enough to evaporate moisture without risking component damage. The transparent window lets you observe the drying process.

Use Alcohol to Displace Moisture

High concentration isopropyl alcohol can be an effective technique to displace and evaporate residual moisture inside an iPhone screen or other areas.

Here is how to use it:

– Concentrations of 90%+ work best to displace wateroptimally. Lower dilutions evaporate slower.

– Apply a few drops of alcohol directly onto the affected area with a pipette or syringe.

– Also inject it into the earpiece, speakers, microphone, ports and buttons.

– Let it sit for 10 minutes and then tilt the iPhone to drain out the alcohol mixed with dissolved water.

– Use blotting paper or q-tips to soak up the draining alcohol-water mix.

– Repeat this process 3-4 times until moisture is fully extracted.

– Dry out the phone for 24 hours minimum before use. The alcohol needs to evaporate fully.

– Be careful using alcohol on screen coatings or flex cables as it can damage their adhesives.

Isopropyl alcohol’s rapid evaporation ability helps quickly remove water from iPhone components and tight spaces that are hard to dry out otherwise. Use it cautiously in controlled amounts.

Replace Water Sensors

All iPhones contain 1-2 internal water contact indicators that turn red in color permanently when they get wet. Located near battery and logic board, they can trigger internal water damage warnings.

To clear this issue:

– Open up the iPhone and locate the tiny water sensors visible as white sticker dots.

– Check if the dot has turned pink or red indicating water contact. This causes system alerts.

– Use a hairdryer to heat up and dry out the activated sticker dots for a few minutes.

– If the color remains, you will need to replace the water sensors. Purchase new replacement adhesive dot sensors.

– Carefully peel off the triggered wet dot stickers and replace with new white dry ones. Reattach firmly.

– Reseal the iPhone before booting it up. The water damage warnings should now be cleared.

– Alternative DIY options involve coating the red dot with clear nail polish or small pieces of tape.

Replacing the water indicator stickers resets the internal water contact alerts and can prevent unnecessary software locks or refurbishing. Handle them carefully while swapping them out.

Dry Out with Silica Gel

Silica gel is one of the most powerful moisture absorbing substances making it great for drying out wet iPhone screens and internal parts.

Here is how to use it effectively:

– Purchase sufficient packets of high-grade color indicating silica gel beads. 100g can absorb 40ml water.

– Crumble and expose the beads fully for maximum moisture absorption.

– Bury the water-affected iPhone parts face down in the silica gel.

– Seal everything tightly in a container and leave for at least 48 hours.

– The orange silica beads will turn green when saturated with moisture. Replace them with fresh orange packets.

– Check the components periodically until all moisture has been wicked away.

– Reassemble the iPhone once totally dry and test it thoroughly.

The crystals in silica gel extract moisture through hygroscopic action. Their color change indicates absorption capacity. They work better than rice for drying electronics.

Use a Vacuum Dryer

A vacuum drying oven provides professional grade drying for water-damaged iPhones via controlled heat and vacuum pressure.

Here is how to use a vacuum dryer:

– Disassemble the iPhone down to its logic board assembly and place it in the vacuum chamber.

– Program the desired heat temperature up to 70°C and vacuum pressure.

– Start the vacuum pump to reduce chamber pressure and evaporate moisture.

– The process can take from 30 minutes to a few hours based on extent of water ingress.

– Visually inspect the components periodically through the glass door for complete drying.

– A magnifying glass helps identify any leftover moisture in tight spaces.

– Once bone dry, remove the iPhone parts and reassemble. Test thoroughly before use.

Vacuum drying’s combination of heat and reduced pressure accelerates water evaporation from the iPhone’s interior spaces and circuitry down to the molecular level. But the equipment is expensive and requires expertise.

Use a Humidity Control Box

Humidity control boxes provide an enclosed chamber that allows gradual drying of electronic devices through regulated humidity reduction over time.

Follow these steps to use one for a wet iPhone:

– Disassemble the iPhone down to its main logic board and place it uncovered in the humidity control box’s chamber.

– Program the target dry humidity level, say 10-20%, and time duration, typically 48-72 hours.

– Check on the drying progress periodically through the transparent window.

– Avoid opening the box frequently as it disrupts the gradual humidity reduction each time.

– Let the programmed drying cycle fully complete before removing the iPhone.

– Verify no moisture remains before reassembly. Extend the drying if required.

– Test out the iPhone thoroughly after putting it back together before resuming normal use.

The controlled enclosure methodically eliminates ambient moisture around the iPhone till bone dry, avoiding risks of condensation and short circuits. It takes patience but is less complex than a vacuum system.

Use Cat Litter

Cat litter containing silica gel can absorb significant amounts of moisture, making it a potential option for drying wet iPhones.

Here is how cat litter can be used:

– Ensure the cat litter is unscented and clay-based for maximum absorption.

– Fill a sealable plastic container with a 1-2 inch layer of fresh cat litter.

– Partially disassemble the iPhone and bury it face down in the litter.

– Secure the lid on the container and leave it for 24-48 hours.

– Check on absorption progress periodically. Agitate the litter gently to expose new surfaces.

– Replace all the damp cat litter with fresh dry material as needed.

– When fully dry, remove the iPhone and clean any clinging litter before reassembling.

– Check for any remaining issues before restarting the device.

Cat litter offers an inexpensive and readily available silica desiccant option. But it is slower than pure silica gel and leaves dusty residue requiring cleanup. Still, it can be handy for minor water exposure scenarios.

Use a Dehumidifier

Running your iPhone in front of a dehumidifier can provide a low-cost way to extract ambient moisture from a minimally water-damaged device.

Here’s how to use a dehumidifier:

– Place the partially disassembled iPhone a foot away from the dehumidifier’s airflow outlet.

– Position it so the outlet air directly hits the port openings and speakers where water may be trapped.

– Let the dehumidifier run continuously on high settings for 12-24 hours.

– Rotate and flip the iPhone periodically so all sides get thoroughly dried by the dry air blast.

– Check for condensation clearance and any remaining drops of water inside the ports.

– Reassemble the device only after complete drying. Check for issues.

– Dehumidifiers work best on mild water exposure. Severe internal water damage requires more advanced drying techniques.

The constant high-volume dry air flow from a dehumidifier can evaporate surface and residual moisture before it leads to corrosion or electrical shorts. Just ensure thorough drying.


Water damage on an iPhone screen can seem catastrophic but prompt action helps maximize the chances of reviving the device. For minor exposure, drying it out with cloths, rice or silica gel may suffice. For major water ingress, opening up and cleaning internal parts is necessary, along with more powerful drying tools like alcohol, vacuum systems or dedicated drying boxes. Persistent issues may ultimately require professional repairs or a replacement phone but these drying methods allow recovery of many marginally wet iPhones. The key is responding quickly as water exposure degrades phone components rapidly. With some luck and the right drying techniques, your iPhone may survive its watery misadventure.