Smartphones, tablets, Mp3 players and other handheld gadgets have become indispensable parts of our lives. In many cases, they’ve become expensive parts, too -- which makes us motivated to protect them, and devastated when we fumble one into the pool, the sink or (gulp) the toilet.

Not all gadgets will survive an unexpected bath. Much is left up to chance. But if you know exactly what to do and you’re able to act quickly, there’s a chance your device will be good as new in about 48 hours. Learn this process now so you’re ready in case the unthinkable happens.

First Things First

When your gadget gets wet, time is of the essence. First, remove the device from the source of water. Second, power it off as quickly as you can. If it has a removable battery, taking the battery out is probably the fastest way to do this. Otherwise, use the power button.

Next, take the device apart in as many pieces as reasonably possible. That means removing any protective cases, accessories, data cards, batteries and battery covers. You want to strip down the primary component of the device so that there’s as little as possible to prevent air from getting in and water from getting out.

Get It Dry

Now that the emergency measures are taken care of, you can move at a more relaxed pace. It will take about 48 hours for most of the moisture to evaporate, and it’s a bad idea to turn your device on in the meantime, so there’s no rush.

Towel dry the device completely, taking special care to dry openings like headphone jacks and power cable ports. Q-tips are good for getting moisture out of these tight cracks. 

Suction is another great way to draw out moisture, but is often impractical. There are some small vacuum devices and attachments that can do this well, but they aren’t commonly found in the average home. If the device was dropped in a clean, safe liquid, like tap water or a punch bowl, it may be possible -- though not necessarily pleasant -- to suck out a little moisture with your mouth.

The Rice Trick

Most people know about this handy trick by now: submerge the device in a bowl of uncooked rice. Rice is a safe, effective and natural desiccant that can help speed up the evaporation process. Puffed rice cereal also works well. Keep the device buried for the full 48 hour waiting period, rotating the device every few hours.

While You Wait

Since you have 48 hours to burn, you should look into your device’s warranties, if applicable. New, registered devices may be covered under manufacturer’s warranties, or you might have purchased secondary warranties either at the point of purchase or afterward through a third party. If you have a warranty that fully covers water damage, you may be able to file a claim before you even find out if your device survived the deluge. And if you have a limited warranty, you’ll know what your options are by the time your gadget dries out.

Moment of Truth

After 48 hours, check your device thoroughly for any signs of lingering moisture. It’s electrical shorts caused by the water -- not the water itself -- that you really need to worry about. If it appears to be dry, reassemble the device and try to power it on. If everything works fine, you probably dodged the bullet. If not, it’s time to turn to those warranty options if you have them.

Drying out the electrical system in your home is completely different from drying out a waterlogged smartphone. If your home has endured flooding from either a broken pipe or a weather event, shut your home’s power off at the main breaker switch and call your local Mister Sparky for emergency service.

Keep Reading More Tips and Tricks

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