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Can you salvage a water-damaged Nintendo Switch?

Updated: Mar 30

Mario wistfully staring at a lake.

Water, the bane of most electronics in the world. Luckily, computers and TVs rarely have to worry about getting wet, but the portable nature of the Nintendo Switch means that you might take it to the pool, or the beach, or even place it next to the sink in your bathroom.

In those places, an unfortunate accident might leave your console as wet as if it had gone dancing in the rain. Is that the end of your Nintendo Switch? Well, it depends...

Is the water damage to the Nintendo Switch too severe to be fixed?

Was the Nintendo Switch fully submerged in water? If so:

Was it on? If the Nintendo Switch was on, then I have bad news for you. There is a 99% chance that it is dead. The water will probably have gotten inside the case, causing a short circuit, and frying the Switch from the inside.

Sure, you might have heard about a cousin´s friend who dropped her niece´s Switch at the pool and it survived, but just like some people survived falling from a plane without a parachute, that´s an extremely unlikely event gracing on miracle territory.

Was the console off? Are you sure it was off and not in rest mode? Just because the screen is off doesn´t mean the Switch itself is. If it was in rest more, then the console was still on and you can read the previous two paragraphs to see how serious the damage is.

If it was off, truly off, then the Switch might have a chance to survive. So long as you follow the steps of the next section of this article to the letter.

Was the Nintendo Switch only partially covered in water?

Assuming the Nintendo Switch wasn´t submerged, and instead was only hit by some drops of water on one side, the prognosis is much more positive. The water probably didn't enter the circuits inside the console, and therefore didn´t have the opportunity to cause any serious problems.

How to try and fix water damage from a Nintendo Switch.

If the Nintendo Switch was only partially covered in water and no drops managed to get inside, then the solution is simple. Grab a dry cloth and carefully wipe the wet area until the water is no more.

If the Nintendo Switch was submerged or you can tell that water managed to get inside the console after all, then there is something you can do to try and salvage the console.

  1. Make sure the Nintendo Switch is turned off. If it´s on, hold the power button at the top for some 15 seconds to forcefully turn it off.

  2. Place the Nintendo Switch on a smooth surface with the screen facing down. Preferably in a place with an open airflow.

  3. It is recommended to direct air into the cooling port, you´ll find it at the top of the Switch. It´s the little rectangular hole with the metal bars. But, DON´T APPLY HEAT TO THE NINTENDO SWITCH. That means no hair dryers if they don´t have a setting that lets them blow air at room temperature without heating up.

  4. Wait at least 48 hours for the Nintendo Switch to dry off. Do not attempt to turn it on before then, do not move it more than you have to avoid "spreading" the water inside across different circuits.

  5. After the 48 hours passed, try to turn it on and hope for the best.

Some people recommend putting the Nintendo Switch on a bag of dry rice to dry. After all, rice is good at absorbing water, so it should also work at absorbing moisture and helping the console dry off, right?

Well, the issue there is that rice absorbs water pretty much only when it´s getting boiled, and no one is recommending you boil your Nintendo Switch to test out the rice´s absorbing properties. It´s sort of an urban legend the fact that rice helps dry off electronics.

A bunch of rice.
Rice is not the magical cure it’s hyped up to be.

But, it´s unlikely to hinder the drying process anyway, so if it gives you more mental peace, you can also try that method. However, if you want to try something that actually absorbs moisture and doesn´t risk getting little grains inside your Switch, you can try it instead with silica gel. You know, the little bags inside shoe boxes that read "don't eat"?

If it still doesn´t work after all that time, then your only alternative is to call Nintendo Support and hope they can change or repair your Switch. It might be a good idea to call them even if the Nintendo Switch turns on and have them take a look at it.

Even if the water has completely dried off, it can leave behind some elements like potassium or salt that can keep corroding your Switch from the inside if not properly cleaned.

If the console still doesn´t work, the last, last ditch alternative you can try is opening up the Switch yourself and see if you can find and replace the damaged components. Or, at the very least, letting them dry off directly.

It should be noted that opening up the Switch will void the warranty. However, water damage is not covered by the warranty anyway, as Nintendo might argue that the damage was caused by "user negligence or accident", so it might be a moot point.

If you want to know how to open and replace any part of your Nintendo Switch, you can follow this handy guide over here, Here´s another guide for checking water damage on an iPhone, which you can use to check if the electronics on your Switch are fried or not.

It should be said, that opening your Switch should only be done if you have the technical expertise to do so. If this is the first time you open any electronic device, let alone a game console, you should leave it alone. You will only do more damage to the already broken Switch.

And that´s it. If everything else fails, you will have to buy a new Nintendo Switch. Since you still have the dock and maybe the Joy-cons, you can try to buy this version with only the console to save you a few bucks. (Although the OLED version uses a different dock) You can also check our guide on how to clean your joy-cons to prevent drift.

If you own a Steam Deck, we have the same guide about what to do if you drop it in water here. The steps are similar, but since the Deck is more modular, opening it up to clean the water-damaged parts is a bit easier.


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