Last night, I posted this photo to Instagram
"#whatnottodo? Is a desiccant/sp packet damaging? What is the best course of action?"
My reply went like this,
"Damaging by wasting time perhaps. The moment water with an electrolyte in it (virtually any water source you'd actually drop your phone in) enters your phone and comes in contact with dissimilar metals (there's somewhere around 15 different types of metal in the phone), corrosion begins to grow immediately. Add electricity (the battery or plugging it in before it's dry) or more electrolytes (ocean vs lake) and the speed at which the corrosion grows increases.
Corrosion, not water is the actual reason a wet phone stops working. There is NO desiccant that can remove corrosion, let alone water. That's right, I said a desiccant cannot force water out of the phone. Desiccants absorb water from the air, or that it's in close proximity (ie, touching) with. When water is inside an aluminum and glass box (ie, a phone), there is no amount of silica gel or rice or kitty litter that is going to "make" the water come out.
Eventually, the water evaporates and exits the phone. A true desiccant will then absorb this water. This is a moot point because the corrosion left inside the phone is the true killer/problem."
1) Prevention! Be more careful with your phone (easier said than done), or if you're around water a lot or just accident prone, put it in a waterproof case. There are plenty on the market. (my recommendation is for Lifeproof - it's saved my phone many times at the lake).
2) If your phone did get wet, resist the urge to turn it on or plug it in. This is almost always the knee-jerk response after pulling the phone out of the water, but resist the temptation. Powering on or attempting to charge or use a wet phone can (and almost always will) do more damage.
3) If possible, remove the battery. (not easy on many phone models, including all iPhones and new Galaxy phones. The recipe for lots of corrosion includes an electrolyte (the water with it's dissolved minerals), dissimilar metals (throughout your phone's interior), and electricity (battery or charge cord). You need to break this recipe down asap. If you have no ability to remove the battery, find a cellphone repair store near you and have them do it. If they offer water damage treatment, consider paying for the service. Rice may be free (to you), but replacing your phone when the rice lets you down will cost more than the water damage cleaning would have.
At this point, most people have done everything they can do and the outcome of your wet phone has either been decided (it either started working or your replaced it) or it's in the hands of someone with more tools and experience than you - who is furiously trying to bring it back to life.
Or you're a die-hard DIYer and want to take cleaning/repairing it on yourself. If so, here's the steps I follow: http://www.riceisfordinner.com/repair-blog/wet-phone-cleaning-steps
Good luck! And remember, correlation does NOT imply causation! Whoever originally decided to stick their wet phone in rice, only to get lucky and have it work later could have just as easily stuck it in a box of spiders, then claimed the spiders fixed it after it started working again. Rice does NOTHING for wet phones. In fact, I've started a series of tests to "prove" rice is for dinner, not saving wet electronics, so stay tuned! ;)