Is it theoretically possible to use conventional water washing methods for external cleaning of a smartphone claimed to have IP68-level waterproofing?

Regular water washing refers to a cleaning method similar to glass and ceramic utensils, such as using ordinary tap water flow, a toothbrush, or some cleaning agents for simple external cleaning. Some sudden thoughts about dropping your phone while squatting.

The IP68 rating of phones might be one of the rare cases in human history of “guarding against gentlemen but not against petty men.”

On one hand, various phone manufacturers spare no effort in using IPXX level water and dust resistance as a selling point in their promotions. However, when asked if they support replacement due to water damage, they immediately evade the question.

Phones with IP68 rating do not support replacement for any reason due to water damage

One manufacturer’s reasoning seems somewhat plausible, which we can discuss.

They attribute water damage to “human factors.” This seems somewhat reasonable at first glance. Why would your phone get water damage? It’s because you, intentionally or unintentionally, exposed it to water. Essentially, it’s due to human factors. Therefore, they do not support replacement…

But upon further reflection, I find this unreasonable. Since IP68 water resistance is used as a selling point, washing the phone or bathing it should be within reasonable use. If the phone gets water damage under normal conditions without any extraordinary external force, then isn’t this a failure to meet the advertised “IP68” water resistance quality?

Since it is a quality issue, why isn’t replacement or repair allowed? Is that reasonable?

Promotions sound appealing, boasting IP68 level water and dust resistance, claiming the phone can be submerged for various depths and durations and still function normally. But once water damage occurs, they ignore it? Thus, I believe IP68 water resistance is more theoretical than practical. Even if the phone suffers water damage due to subpar IP68 quality, manufacturers can easily disclaim responsibility. They might claim abnormal use, external pressure, or wear and tear leading to water ingress, among other excuses.

Therefore, in my view, as long as manufacturers shy away from facing the replacement or compensation issue related to IP68, it falls short of expectations. My advice is to avoid trying it unnecessarily. For everyday phone cleaning, just lightly dabbing with water is sufficient.

About IP68 Water and Dust Resistance

IP68 support is not limited to water resistance; it also includes dust resistance. Don’t underestimate the importance of dust resistance. Effective dust resistance prevents dust particles from entering the device, significantly reducing internal contamination. Rather than emphasizing the importance of water resistance, in fact, most people need dust resistance more.

In IP68, the first digit 6 represents the dust resistance level, and the second digit 8 represents the water resistance level. Correspondingly, IP6X means the dust resistance level is 6, with unknown water resistance. IPX8 means the dust resistance level is unknown, with water resistance level 8.

** These are the specific protective requirements for different dust resistance levels

IP68 is the second-highest level of protection against dust and water in the standard GB/T 4208-2017 “Degrees of Protection Provided by Enclosures (IP Code)”. The website of the China National Standardization Management Committee explains that this “recommended” (the “T” represents recommended and non-mandatory) national standard (GB represents national standard) adopts standards from international and foreign organizations such as ISO and IEC, making it an internationally recognized standard. The ‘6’ in IP68 represents the highest level of dust protection, indicating “complete protection against the entry of dust and foreign objects,” while ‘8’ represents the second-highest level of water protection (the highest water protection level in the new standard is 9), signifying “no harmful effects shall result from continuous immersion in water under conditions specified by the manufacturer, even when the enclosure is temporarily submersed.”

However, IP68 does not guarantee “absolutely no water ingress.” It’s important to note that once a phone is submerged in water, it is considered user-inflicted damage, and official warranty coverage may not apply!!!

Why would a phone with an IP68 “dust and water resistance rating” still experience water ingress?

There are primarily two reasons:

  1. IPX8 water resistance rating does not require protection against “high-temperature, high-pressure water jets.” This requirement is part of the IPX9 water resistance standard, which IPX8 does not have to meet. So, using high-temperature, high-pressure water jets can potentially lead to water ingress.

  2. Waterproof standards do not prevent the entry of water vapor. IPX0 to IPX9 water resistance ratings protect against “physical” water but do not guard against “water vapor.” While a phone may remain dry when submerged in water, taking it to a place with high water vapor concentration (like a steam room) may result in “water ingress.” In reality, it’s water vapor entering and condensing inside the phone.

So, is it theoretically possible to wash the phone under normal circumstances?

In theory, regular washing with water is possible.

However, based on the information above, two points should be noted:

  1. Pay attention to the water temperature; avoid using hot water, especially hot water with water vapor, as this is more likely to breach the protection.

  2. Be cautious of water pressure; you can wash the phone in a basin of water, but avoid using high-pressure water to spray it directly, such as holding it under a high-pressure faucet. There is a possibility of water ingress in this scenario, which is beyond the protection level. (Regular faucets are likely not an issue, but high-pressure faucets may still pose a risk of water ingress.)

It is advisable that for regular phone cleaning needs, it is safer to use a damp cloth, soft cotton cloth, or other paper towels dipped in water for wiping and cleaning, followed by drying with a dry towel or paper towel.

According to waterproof requirements, washing the phone in still water at room temperature is also permissible, but no one can guarantee that the phone will remain 100% dry in such conditions. After all, if it does get wet, there is no warranty coverage.

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First, let’s start with the conclusion: IP68-rated waterproof phones cannot be cleaned using the conventional water-washing method.

Different waterproof ratings are part of the research content in quality control, which is one of the tasks I used to work on for a long time. It’s actually a very specialized topic. Here, I won’t use too many professional terms or national standards. I’ll try to express the reasons in a concise and easy-to-understand language.

IP68 dust and water resistance enhance a phone’s protective capability. It means that the phone has this dust and water resistance capability when it leaves the factory. The reason why there is a seeming contradiction between “supports IP68 dust and water resistance” and “the manufacturer does not support water damage replacement” is that many people have misconceptions about IP68.

When designing a phone, by increasing the number of interfaces and gaps in structural components, the phone is made with IP68 capabilities when it leaves the factory. It’s an enhancement of passive protection against dust and water ingress. However, it cannot guarantee active water ingress protection. For example, direct water washing, due to the ever-changing conditions during washing – such as the stress applied, water quality, water depth, the duration of phone usage, previous impacts the phone has experienced, and many other variables – can all weaken the IP68 protection capability.

So, before and after the Redmi Note 13 was released, high-level executives posted multiple Weibo images of direct water washing, which personally surprised me. Subsequently, several KOLs also conducted live video demonstrations. If consumers take the same measures and the phone experiences actual water damage while not supporting replacement, wouldn’t that create a contradiction? In my personal view, the entire marketing strategy seems very amateurish and is truly a source of both amusement and bewilderment.

IP68 waterproofing involves highly specialized waterproof testing equipment. Mobile phone manufacturers rigorously conduct tests according to national standards during the research and development process.

IP68 dust and water resistance is generally only found in flagship phones from major manufacturers. Supporting this feature comes with higher costs and requires many design considerations, which can be particularly challenging for phones with limited internal space. Additionally, the use of high-end components for middle to low-end devices is not financially viable. Moreover, the extra waterproof structural components or customized tools further increase product costs. The Redmi Note 13 has one model that supports IP68, but when it comes to the higher-end K70 series, IP68 is absent, and this is the reason.

In summary: IP68 does not support conventional water washing.

This is a summary of personal experience and understanding. Please feel free to like, bookmark, and follow @Chief Engineer. If you have different perspectives or questions, you can discuss them in the comments or send a private message.

Let me give you a somewhat imperfect analogy:

Regardless of the size of the boat, all boat hulls are waterproof, but that doesn’t mean they can all be used as submarines.

So, my answer to this question is: In theory, it’s possible, but in reality, very few people do it, and it’s not recommended.

First, we need to understand what the IP68 waterproof rating in the question means and what specific protective effects it has in real life.

⭐ A Brief Overview of IP68

IP stands for Ingress Protection and is derived from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard IEC 60529. It is used to evaluate the enclosure’s resistance to solids and liquids and consists of two digits.

The first digit represents the level of protection against dust and foreign object intrusion, with a maximum of 6.

The second digit represents the degree of sealing against moisture and water immersion, with a maximum level of 8.

For example:

IPX8 indicates support for waterproofing with a rating of 8; IP6X indicates support for dust resistance with a rating of 6; IP55 signifies support for both dust and water resistance, with both ratings at 5.

PS: Regardless of dust or water resistance, a higher number indicates a higher level of protection. You can refer to this table for specific protection levels.

Dust resistance explanation:

Dust resistance explanation

Water resistance explanation:

Water resistance explanation

⭐ IP68 Phones Can Be Washed with Water

From the table above, it’s clear that IP68 is currently the highest level of dust and water resistance. Therefore, in theory, if a phone has an IP68 waterproof rating, it can be used underwater for an extended period. However, even though it supports underwater use, it has to operate under specific water pressure standards. As we know, the deeper you go in the water, the greater the pressure. So, using it in deep water areas makes it more susceptible to damage. In such cases, higher requirements are placed on the components. Sometimes, we can see professional underwater sports equipment like watches that can be used at depths of tens or even hundreds of meters underwater. The pressure and water resistance requirements for such devices are very high. However, for the smartphones you mentioned, their depth during regular water washing usually won’t exceed 10 meters, so they don’t face significant water pressure issues. From this perspective, IP68-rated phones can be cleaned with water.

⭐ Reasons Not to Recommend Water Washing

So, as I mentioned at the beginning, while it’s theoretically possible to clean with water, why is it not recommended? There are two reasons:

(1) Although many flagship smartphones may support IP68 waterproofing, the tolerance limits for waterproofing vary between different manufacturers and models. Ordinary people do not have the ability or the habit to distinguish these differences, and hasty use may lead to problems.

For example, even though both iPhone 15 Pro and OPPO Find X6 Pro support IP68 waterproofing, the testing conditions differ significantly. iPhone 15 Pro can stay in water up to 6 meters deep for 30 minutes, while OPPO Find X6 Pro’s test conditions are 1.5 meters deep for 30 minutes. Similarly, other high-end smartphones that support IP68 waterproofing, such as Huawei MATE 60 series, Redmi K60 Supreme/Note 13 Pro, Samsung S23 series, and Xiaomi 13 Ultra, have variations in depth conditions.

(2) Waterproofing effectiveness is not permanent; it deteriorates over time as usage increases. Waterproof performance will not remain at the excellent level it had when the device left the factory. If you accidentally wash it while the waterproofing effect has deteriorated without you knowing, it may lead to problems.

The IP68 waterproofing supported by smartphones is based on data obtained under relatively ideal laboratory conditions. However, real-life environmental conditions are often more complex. Over time, the performance of dust and water resistance in smartphones will decrease, and water washing carries significant risks. While it may not pose a problem during one washing, there’s no guarantee that it won’t cause issues during the next one.

Not recommended to wash with water

⭐ Conclusion

So, even though IP68-rated waterproof phones can theoretically be cleaned with water, it’s still best to avoid exposing your phone to water whenever possible. At the very least, avoid deliberate contact with water. Develop good habits when using your phone. Remember that higher-level waterproofing is designed to provide peace of mind against unexpected losses and is not suitable for routine water washing scenarios. Just as in the analogy I mentioned at the beginning: not all boats are suitable for use as submarines.

The above is my perspective. Do you have any different viewpoints? Feel free to leave comments for discussion in the comment section. @Zhihu Digital

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First, let me provide my conclusion: theoretically, you can wash your phone with water for cleaning purposes. However, I do not recommend doing so because if your phone gets damaged by water, the manufacturer will not honor the warranty. Now, let’s delve into a detailed analysis:

IP68 refers to the level of the Ingress Protection (IP) code, which is a standard for the protection level against dust and water for enclosures, specified in the Chinese national standard GB/T 4208-2017. The IP code consists of two digits, where:

*The first digit “6” represents the dust protection level, ranging from 0 to 6, with 6 being the highest level, indicating complete protection against dust ingress, known as “dust-tight.” *The second digit “8” represents the water protection level, ranging from 0 to 8, with 8 being the highest level, denoting protection against continuous submersion, where the enclosure remains waterproof under specified pressure and time conditions without harmful effects.

In terms of waterproofing, here is what each of the 0-8 ratings signifies:

*IPX0: No waterproof protection. *IPX1: Protection against water droplets falling vertically with no harmful effects. *IPX2: Can withstand water droplets when tilted up to 15 degrees. *IPX3: Can resist water droplets when tilted up to 2.5 degrees in all directions. *IPX4: Protection against splashing water. *IPX5: Protection against water jets from any direction without harmful effects. *IPX6: Protection against strong water jets. *IPX7: Can still function when immersed in water. *IPX8: Continuous submersion in water.

So, theoretically, you can wash your phone, and it won’t be harmed by water. However, I still recommend against washing your phone because if you damage it by doing so, it won’t be covered under warranty. Currently, water damage to a phone is considered user-inflicted damage, and there is no free warranty policy for it. So, if you accidentally damage your phone by washing it, there will be no recourse.

In fact, this rule can be understood because no one can determine whether the water damage to the phone is due to a quality issue with the phone or because the phone has been previously repaired or damaged in some way that compromised its waterproof capabilities. Especially with phones frequently subjected to drops and impacts, minor damage to the rear cover or casing might not affect daily use. Still, if there is a small gap and it is immersed in water, it will allow water to enter, causing damage inside. In such cases, who is responsible? When a phone is brand new, it is undoubtedly IP68 waterproof, but after a few drops, it may lose its waterproofing completely. Additionally, some phones may have inherent quality issues, and malicious individuals may blame water damage for pre-existing problems, which can be challenging to prove.

Therefore, currently, phone manufacturers do not support replacing or warrantying phones that have been submerged in water, so it is not recommended to wash your phone with water.

I’m familiar with the phenomenon of certain features of digital products being “exaggerated.”

It’s not just mobile phones claiming to have an impressive IP68 waterproof rating; some cameras also claim to have splash-resistant capabilities, but they can only handle light rain.

When it comes to truly waterproof devices, “action cameras” are the ones to consider. Major manufacturers like DJI, Insta360, and GoPro all offer waterproof action cameras that can withstand submersion to a certain depth, a feature most regular phones can’t match. However, it’s important to note that these are designed for extreme sports and have a different purpose compared to smartphones.

Now, here’s the question: Why do smartphones with IP68 waterproofing still tend to get water damage? How can you protect your phone from water damage?

The Culprit of Phone Water Damage

Understanding IP68 Waterproofing:

IP68 is not only about waterproofing; it also includes dust resistance. It’s the highest level of protection in the IP code standard, which evaluates a product’s resistance to dust and water. To assess the waterproofing level of a product, you can look at the XX in IPXX. The first X indicates dust resistance on a scale from 0 to 6, with 6 being the highest. The second X indicates water resistance on a scale from 0 to 8, with 8 being the highest. (As per the standards GB 4208-2008/IEC 60529-2001 “Degrees of protection provided by enclosures (IP Code)” in China.)

Even if your phone boasts IP68 waterproofing, you can’t be too complacent. Unlike specialized devices that operate in controlled environments, we carry our phones with us everywhere. They may end up on tables, lawns, stairs, or beds, constantly at risk of being dropped, scratched, or exposed to water. Over time, the phone’s waterproofing rating can deteriorate, falling short of the highest level of protection.

How to Protect Your Phone from Water Damage

Preventing your phone from getting wet requires you to be mindful of your phone usage habits. Normally, holding onto your phone securely is not a challenge, especially with the help of non-slip phone cases and pop sockets. However, it’s important to be careful when placing your phone down. Avoid putting it in places where it could easily slip, be sat on, stepped on, or bumped, such as chairs, the ground, or sofas—these are all places where phones tend to fall.

Waterproof Pouches

Certain accessories can help protect your phone from water damage. You may have seen delivery drivers or food delivery personnel using sealed waterproof pouches on rainy days to keep their phones safe while still being able to use them. These tools are made of plastic materials and have multiple layers with a press-seal structure. However, they have one drawback: you can’t charge your phone while using them, so their usage time is limited by your phone’s battery life.

Follow @张庸白 for more photography tips!

The answer is yes, but not recommended.

Between 2019 and 2023, I consistently used an iPhone SE II, and I’ve rinsed it countless times.

This iPhone has truly withstood the test.

My usage is quite demanding on the phone. For example, I use it to capture underwater shots outdoors and even placed it on a selfie stick to film videos in challenging conditions. After these adventures, I thoroughly rinse the iPhone under tap water. Thanks to its IP68 waterproof rating, there have been no issues with underwater photography or rinsing it with water.

I’d like to add that in August, the outdoor temperatures in Xi’an can exceed 40 degrees Celsius. Using a smartphone outdoors in such scorching weather, even without any heavy usage, can lead to significant heating. Under intense sunlight, there may also be high-temperature warnings, causing the phone to automatically disconnect from the network until the temperature drops. In such cases, I resorted to rinsing the phone with water as a quick and effective cooling method.

When shooting time-lapse videos of clear blue skies in temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius, the iPhone would give an overheating warning after just 5 minutes at most. After cooling down, it could only last for less than 2 minutes each time.

Of course, it’s essential to note that my actions were quite extreme, and I took considerable risks. I don’t recommend anyone to replicate or imitate these operations. Immersing the phone in water or rinsing it with water does carry a certain risk of causing water damage to the iPhone, which is often not covered by warranty. (I’m not familiar with domestic smartphones, but in theory, many manufacturers do not offer warranty coverage for water damage caused by human factors, and adults should bear the consequences of their reckless behavior.)

Finally, regarding the fate of this heavily used iPhone SE II, in mid-April 2023, due to improper use of third-party inexpensive fast chargers and charging cables, the internal power control module of the phone failed. This caused the phone to occasionally crash and become unresponsive to charging and forced restart attempts. It could only be powered on when it recovered by itself. In other words, the ultimate damage to this iPhone had nothing to do with long-term water rinsing.

Just remember two things:

  1. IP68 waterproof rating is indeed better than non-waterproof phones.
  2. Even with IP68 waterproofing, if water gets in, it won’t be covered by warranty.

The reason for no warranty is straightforward: water damage is considered an intentional act, categorized as “human error." An IP68 waterproof rating merely indicates superior water resistance but doesn’t mean your phone can function like a submarine, freely submerging in water without consequences.

So, if your phone gets dirty over time

It’s straightforward - use a wet wipe. If you don’t have one, you can dampen a tissue to create a makeshift wet wipe. With a little water, you can effectively clean the smudges. Then, use a tissue to quickly dry it. Keep the ports facing downward, and avoid getting essential areas wet.

This cleaning solution is inexpensive, typically around 10 yuan for an 8-pack of 10 sheets each. It’s safe for infants and toddlers. Cleaning your phone with this formula shouldn’t pose any significant problems.

But if you’re a bit more adventurous

Of course, you can roll up your sleeves and get hands-on. Nowadays, most phones have very few openings at the top, at most a microphone. Plus, most people use phone cases. In this case, position the top of your phone under a faucet, tilt it slightly (with the screen facing down), and rinse it quickly. Even if it’s not IP68 waterproof, this method is used. After removing a significant amount of dirt, take off the case, then use a wet wipe for the details. You can also use an old toothbrush or a soft brush for assistance. After you’ve completed the process, quickly dry the phone. It won’t be affected.

If your phone has a headphone jack or similar opening at the top, simply cover it with a finger while rinsing.

Once you’ve finished all these steps, play some games or install a benchmark testing app. Let it run for an hour to dissipate any residual moisture through internal heating. Then, everything should be back to normal.

For the USB-C charging port, it’s a good idea to use a hairdryer to blow out any remaining moisture before plugging in a data cable.

Remember, have bold ideas, proceed with caution, and follow the laws of physics. Don’t blindly trust advertisements or promotional claims, because water damage is not covered by warranty .

Anyway, you should know that normal people don’t usually do things like this:

This is merely a precaution for accidental incidents, like falling into water. In such cases, it’s crucial to quickly retrieve the phone, shake it dry through openings, and if necessary, turn it off. If water enters the internals, it can short-circuit the device, making it irreparable and data recovery difficult, which increases costs.

If your phone still works, consider yourself lucky this year. If it doesn’t, be more cautious and avoid reckless investment decisions. While you may have lost a phone, you might have gained valuable financial advice, ultimately mitigating losses. It’s a matter of trade-offs.

It’s not just theory; it’s practical too.

But remember, even with the same IP68 rating, waterproof capabilities can differ. Take the iPhone, for instance.

From the Apple official website:

  • iPhone X had an IP67 rating.
  • Starting with the iPhone XS Max and up to the current models, they feature an IP68 rating.

However, the IP68 rating for the XS Max only allows it to stay submerged up to 2 meters for 30 minutes. On the other hand, the latest iPhone 15 Pro Max, also with an IP68 rating, supports depths of up to 6 meters, a significant enhancement in waterproof capabilities.

I have confidence in the waterproof abilities of iPhones. During the summer, I’m comfortable taking photos directly in the pool or occasionally filming my family swimming. They worried about my phone getting damaged, but I assured them it would be fine, and it was.

In situations where it’s completely submerged with water pressure, it remains stable, not to mention light water splashes.

From online sources:

What’s even more remarkable is that many of you might have heard that if an iPhone sinks into water and is retrieved after a certain amount of time, it can still work.

At least when it comes to the IP68 waterproofing on iPhones, it’s done quite well.

But let’s be clear; it’s not advisable to deliberately submerge your phone in water for no reason. Firstly, if it does get water damage, Apple won’t cover it; it’s considered user-induced damage, much like breaking your screen. Furthermore, when electronic products are exposed to water, it’s not a minor issue. It could potentially affect the motherboard, leading to costly repairs. I once had a MacBook with water damage, and they replaced the motherboard for free.

Another point to consider is that many who drowned their iPhones were actually swimmers. Occasional use in such situations is fine, but there’s no need to push the boundaries unnecessarily; it’s not worth the risk. What if luck isn’t on your side?

Lastly, if your phone does get wet, remember to wipe the charging port dry before plugging it in. There could be potential dangers if it’s wet (iPhones also provide a wet charging port warning). However, it’s always better to be cautious.

Furthermore, a piece of advice: Similar to the Apple Watch, which is known for its impressive waterproofing capabilities, it’s still not recommended to wear it while taking a shower. Sometimes, the liquid isn’t just ordinary; what it’s most afraid of is steam. In such cases, regardless of the IP rating, it’s best to play it safe.

I am @SuperUncle.

Yes, it’s possible.

When I’m working in my yard, I often leave my phone lying on the ground. If it gets dirty, I simply rinse it off with the water hose I use for watering the plants. It’s never been an issue. Just avoid spraying directly into the charging port.

If you’re concerned about water getting in, you can check your phone’s airtightness. Open DevCheck and locate the atmospheric pressure sensor. Apply pressure to the screen, and the atmospheric pressure should increase. Release your grip, and the pressure should decrease. This indicates that the airtightness is intact. If applying pressure to the phone’s surface doesn’t affect the atmospheric pressure, it means the airtightness has been compromised.

It’s actually possible, provided the waterproofing hasn’t degraded.

Don’t just think about regular water exposure; some have even put their phones through a washing machine and retrieved them in working condition.

Sony has even advertised their phones in such scenarios.

Currently, the highest level of waterproofing for smartphones is IP68. To be specific, here’s what IP68-rated smartphones are capable of in terms of dust and water resistance:

Dust Resistance: IP68-rated smartphones have the ability to completely protect against solid particles like dust and other tiny granules. The phone’s casing, ports, switches, and other components have a high level of sealing, effectively preventing fine particles from entering the interior.

Water Resistance: IP68-rated smartphones can resist non-corrosive liquids like fresh water within specific depths and time limits. In general, IP68-rated phones can be submerged in water up to 1.5 meters deep for 30 minutes and still function normally. However, it’s important to note that this depth refers to static water pressure, not dynamic pressure. Water pressure varies underwater, just like the difference between the pressure of a heavy object resting underwater and the pressure when it’s dropped into the water. Waterproof standards typically refer to static water pressure.

However, the IP68-rated dust and water resistance of a phone is usually tested and evaluated under ideal conditions, and various factors during real-world use may weaken its protective capabilities.

For instance, water quality and depth: IP68-rated phones typically have waterproofing capabilities in freshwater, and their water resistance may be affected in liquid environments like saltwater or seawater. Additionally, if a phone is exposed to water conditions beyond the specified depth, force, or time limits, it may lose its waterproofing. It’s also worth noting that waterproof phones are not necessarily resistant to hot water or steam, so using them in the shower, for example, may not be effective.

Another factor is the sealing of the device’s body. If the seals, gaskets, or adhesives that provide waterproofing become damaged or aged, the dust and water resistance of the phone can be compromised. For instance, intense impact or extended use may cause these seals to wear or loosen, resulting in a decrease in protective performance.

The phone’s ports and switches, such as the charging port and headphone jack, generally need to remain closed to effectively prevent liquid ingress. Some ports, like the charging port, may come with rubber plugs from the factory. If these interfaces or switches are not properly closed or become damaged, the waterproof capability may be affected.

The frequency and duration of real-world usage may also impact protective capabilities. Frequent exposure to underwater conditions or extended immersion in water may gradually weaken a smartphone’s waterproof performance. Just like the hot pot in the image above – it can only handle so many rounds of exposure. Similarly, when using high-pressure water jets for cleaning, the water pressure can exceed the static pressure of 1.5 meters, so it’s not advisable.

Previously, to test the waterproof performance of a certain brand of bone conduction Bluetooth earphones, I wore the earphones and swam back and forth in the swimming pool numerous times. I also wore the earphones while diving several times and submerged my iPhone more than ten times during video recording without any protective case, and there were no issues.

So, rinsing a smartphone that supports IP68 dust and water resistance with clean water is perfectly fine; just use tap water for washing without any worries.

However, there’s one thing to note: even if a smartphone supports IP68-level dust and water resistance, if it gets water damaged and results in a malfunction, the manufacturer won’t provide warranty coverage.

On one hand, different smartphone manufacturers may label their models as supporting IP68-level dust and water resistance, but the actual waterproof capabilities can vary. For example, some models can support placement in water up to a depth of 4 meters for a maximum of 30 minutes, while others can support placement in water up to a depth of 6 meters for a maximum of 30 minutes.

On the other hand, a smartphone’s waterproof performance may decrease with time and be affected by bumps and drops. Moreover, it’s often difficult to determine the exact cause of water ingress in a smartphone.

So, even if it’s labeled as IP68, if you intend to use water to clean your smartphone, be prepared for the possibility that water damage may not be covered by warranty, especially for smartphones that have been in use for two or three years.

To Know”

First, I suggest everyone remember a maxim of utmost reason:

Waterproof but not foolproof

For smartphones, IP68 is actually on the same level as parameters like microcrystalline glass (Apple’s super-ceramic crystal panel, Huawei’s Kunlun glass, Xiaomi’s Dragon Crystal Glass), titanium alloy frames, and Xuanwu architecture.

It means that in daily use, you won’t perceive much difference, and even if it’s effective in specific scenarios, you won’t notice a significant change. For example, if you spill water on your phone, quickly pick it up and wipe it dry, and it’s not damaged, you’d think it’s because you acted fast. If it falls on the ground, and the screen doesn’t shatter, you’d think you got lucky. Moreover, even with an IP68-rated device, waterproofing isn’t foolproof. While the probability decreases, if water damage does happen to a user, it becomes a 100% probability for that user.

I don’t have many opinions on this matter. Flagships should naturally come with this feature, and it’s understandable that many mid-range and budget models omit it or don’t get certified due to cost considerations. I’m not too concerned about marketing or boomerang effects; it’s simply a matter of not taking consumers' emotions into account. Although I’m certain I would choose a machine with IP68.

On the topic of being waterproof but not foolproof, I’m quite impulsive. I’ve already had two IP68 waterproof smartphones that got waterlogged.

The first one was cleaned in the conventional way, and when I rinsed the middle frame, water entered from the SIM card slot. The whole phone got soaked, and because I was at school at the time, the repairman’s skills were very poor, and it almost couldn’t be saved.

The second one got waterlogged during a shower, causing Face ID to malfunction. Fortunately, this time the repairman was more reliable.

Now, looking back at this, the reasons are quite obvious:

  1. IP68 only applies to immersion tests in laboratory-pure water environments and does not include scenarios involving water flow impact. An obvious example of this is tap water rinsing, which certainly isn’t a submersion scenario tested by manufacturers.
  2. Smartphones will experience a decrease in waterproofing effectiveness over time due to use and may be affected by bumps. For instance, the second smartphone that got waterlogged experienced deformation of the middle frame due to a fall, causing the screen’s lower left corner to lift, which also led to a loss of waterproofing.
  3. Non-pure water, including solvents such as shower gel and alcohol, can dissolve and damage waterproof adhesives. Organic solvents, in particular, can deteriorate waterproof seals, further reducing waterproofing performance.
  4. IP68 cannot prevent water vapor from entering the interior of the device and condensing.

From the manufacturer’s perspective, as long as the device can achieve the claimed waterproof rating in laboratory and national standard test environments when it leaves the factory, it is fully compliant with regulations. However, manufacturers find it challenging to take responsibility for users' post-purchase usage environments, device wear and tear, and other factors. Therefore, it’s natural for clauses about no warranty coverage for water damage to exist.

Regarding cleaning a smartphone, I directly recommend that everyone follow Apple’s advice. The terminology may be abstract, and other manufacturers may not have this page, although the materials and craftsmanship of Android devices' back covers vary widely. However, in general, there shouldn’t be significant issues, as they are mostly made of various types of leather and glass, and some are plastic.

The following are IP68 models: Note that it’s a slightly damp cloth and limited solvents.


Regular models:

Plastic models:

In reality, they are more or less the same.

Theory is possible, but pay attention to the following three points to avoid regrets if something goes wrong.

  1. IP68 waterproof rating is conditional waterproofing.

  2. Waterproofing effectiveness decreases over time and under different usage conditions.

  3. Water damage is not covered by the warranty.

Let’s discuss each point one by one.

IP68 waterproof rating is conditional waterproofing

Currently, waterproofing is based on the national standard “GB 4208-2017” and “IEC60529.” For instance, in “GB 4208-2017,” it can be understood roughly as follows:

IP, where 6 represents dust resistance, and 8 represents waterproofing. Specifically, it means:

Let’s not delve into dust resistance and focus on waterproofing. Take a closer look at the meaning of the second digit. You can see that 8 mainly indicates short-term immersion in water, which corresponds to IPX8.

Further details are as follows, indicating that this primarily involves immersion in water, but it does not protect against water jets. For instance, the standards for water jets (represented by 6) include requirements for flow rate, water pressure, distance, time, and so on. Meeting the requirements of 8 does not mean meeting the requirements of 6. Therefore, in scenarios like washing with water, which involve water jets, this is not within the protective range of IP68. So, simply rinsing with water cannot be guaranteed by IP68.

Additionally, corrosive substances like toothpaste can also reduce waterproof performance, as can brushing. It doesn’t mean it can’t withstand them, but IP68 testing does not include these factors.

Waterproofing effectiveness decreases over time and under different usage conditions

This doesn’t need much elaboration. Waterproof adhesives, for example, deteriorate over time, and sealed areas may develop gaps. Extreme environmental conditions, such as extreme heat, cold, dirt, and excessive dust, can all affect sealing conditions, which in turn affect waterproof effectiveness.

Water damage is not covered by the warranty

For example, Apple’s official website clearly states that damage caused by immersion in liquid is not covered by the warranty for the iPhone 15 Pro [1]. Similarly, Huawei’s official website for the Mate 60 Pro [2] explicitly states that damage caused by immersion in liquid is not covered by the warranty. Xiaomi also states that immersion in liquid is not covered by the warranty. This means that even though a device is rated IP68, if you choose to submerge it in water, it’s your responsibility.

Let’s look at it from a different perspective. If we were manufacturers and covered water damage under warranty, that would be problematic. With human ingenuity, people could intentionally find ways to make the device take in water. There are plenty of methods to make a device take in water, and the repair costs for the manufacturer would skyrocket, making it unsustainable. So, why do smartphone manufacturers promote IP68 dust and water resistance? It’s to reduce the probability of damage when you accidentally come into contact with water in unintentional situations, such as accidentally spilling a glass of water or getting caught in the rain without an umbrella, not for soaking the device.

Of course, I know some people wash their phones, and it really depends on luck; some people have no issues. Whether you are willing to try it depends on your risk tolerance.


Original Question

Before discussing this issue, let’s first understand what “IP68” is.

The term IPXX refers to the protection level of the enclosure, whether it’s the international standard IEC60529 or China’s national standard GB/T 4208-2017, both have detailed regulations on this.

IP stands for Ingress Protection, followed by numbers and letters, used to indicate the level of protection of the device’s enclosure.

The first digit following IP represents the level of protection against solid foreign objects and ranges from 0-6, which, for devices like smartphones, can be understood as the dust resistance level. The second digit represents the level of protection against harmful effects caused by water ingress, ranging from 0-9, with each level having specific requirements, as shown in the figure below:

For the IP68 mentioned in the question, the first digit is 6, indicating the highest dust resistance level, essentially completely dustproof, preventing dust from entering the phone’s interior. The second digit is 8, which is a sub-top-level protection. In earlier standards, 8 was the highest, but in the 2017 revised standard, 9 was added, representing high-temperature, high-pressure water jets. This is mainly used for special industrial or military equipment in harsh environments, and consumer-grade products do not need to meet this standard, so it can be ignored. For smartphones, we can consider 8 as the highest waterproof rating.

In the standard, there are no specific test conditions prescribed for level 8 waterproofing, but level 7 waterproofing has clear requirements. The lowest point of the enclosure with a height of less than 850mm should be below the water surface by at least 1 meter for 30 minutes. Level 8 waterproofing is just stated to have more stringent conditions than level 7 waterproofing, and the specific testing protocol needs to be negotiated between the user and the manufacturer.

Now, let’s look at the explanations provided by smartphone manufacturers regarding dust and waterproof ratings.

All smartphone manufacturers will tell you that damage caused by immersion in liquids is not covered by the warranty.

Some people might think this is deceiving consumers. If you advertise a device as waterproof, I should be able to clean it with water, and if it gets damaged, it’s your problem. This idea is actually a form of challenging thinking. Of course, I can’t say whether this idea is right or wrong, or whether it’s reasonable or not. If you think there’s an issue, you can always complain to consumer protection associations. We are just considering this issue from a normal and rational perspective. Smartphones are not designed for frequent water exposure; they are not specialized underwater equipment. If it were a submersible pump or an underwater camera, it would need to withstand prolonged immersion. Once damaged in such scenarios, it’s clearly a manufacturer’s quality issue.

The dust and waterproof features of smartphones are meant to reduce the probability of water damage if your phone accidentally comes into contact with water. It’s a protective feature, not a standard feature. Furthermore, this protective performance will decrease with wear and tear. Therefore, you should only consider it as insurance to reduce the probability of damage and not intentionally create challenging environments for it.

It’s like wearing a bulletproof vest to reduce the probability of injury if you happen to get shot, not to become a superhero running through a hail of bullets thinking it should protect you perfectly.

If, even in light of this, you still insist on asking this question, I can only say, theoretically, it’s possible, but not recommended.

Sure, that’s definitely possible, and under normal circumstances, there shouldn’t be a problem with it. The interior of the phone won’t get wet. However, there’s always a slight risk involved because if the phone does get water damaged, the manufacturer won’t cover it under warranty.

When smartphone manufacturers design their devices, they do follow the IP68 standard, but the primary purpose of designing to IP68 is to safeguard against extreme scenarios.

For example, there’s a story where someone’s Huawei phone accidentally fell into the sea, but when retrieved, it still worked perfectly without any issues. However, if you were to discover that your phone had water damage after retrieving it, and you approached Huawei for free repairs, they would likely decline.

The significance of having IP68 on your phone lies precisely in this scenario: in case your phone accidentally goes into the water, it’s less likely to get damaged.

But please don’t deliberately test its limits.

Most flagship smartphones today support IP68, and they can handle being briefly submerged in water without problems.

In fact, many mid-range devices also offer splash resistance. For instance, getting caught in the rain or accidentally spilling water on your phone generally won’t damage it.

It’s not just phones; many digital products nowadays have waterproof designs.

Once, I was wearing headphones while washing my feet, and I accidentally dropped the headphones into the foot basin. I quickly retrieved them, dried them off, and connected them to my phone to check. Initially, there was no sound, so I assumed the headphones were damaged and left them unused.

After a few days, I decided to try connecting them to my phone again, and to my surprise, they were working perfectly fine.

Having used so many digital products, I can attest that waterproof designs do have their value. In case of unexpected accidents, they prevent product damage, especially for high-value items like smartphones that cost several thousand yuan. If such products get water damaged, the losses can be substantial.

If the phone has never been disassembled, it is possible to wash it with tap water and a toothbrush. As for cleaning agents, I’m not sure, as I haven’t tried them.

Because the main source of dirt on the phone is dust and stains, using tap water and hand washing can easily clean it, and there’s really no need for cleaning agents.

During the pandemic, I often had the habit of washing my phone. I would wash my phone almost every time I washed my hands. At that time, I was using the Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G. Over the course of a year, I washed my phone at least 280 times or more, and it hasn’t had any issues so far.

However, after I replaced the screen, I reduced the frequency of cleaning. I now wash it every ten days or so, as I had the phone disassembled, and I don’t dare to wash it as freely as before.

Now I’m using the Vivo X90 Pro+, and I still wash it regularly, about every three to five days. It hasn’t had any issues either.

Of course, it’s worth noting that manufacturers no longer offer warranty coverage for water damage, so if you’re concerned, you might want to avoid washing it. After all, anything is possible, and in case something goes wrong, it’s up to you whether you’re willing to take that risk.

The method you mentioned theoretically has no possibility.

Conventional water washing refers to simple external cleaning methods such as using ordinary tap water, a toothbrush, or some cleaning agents .

Among these methods, within the first year (or even shorter) of using a new device, tap water can be used for rinsing, but not a toothbrush or cleaning agents.

The device’s waterproof and dustproof performance is one-time, and the highest protection level supported by the device is only the ideal capability in the initial product stage. Moreover, the performance of dustproof and waterproof will gradually decrease with time, and even if the dustproof and waterproof components are replaced, they cannot restore the protective ability of a new device. There are also many limitations in daily use.

Many products do not explicitly mention these issues in their product descriptions. For rigor, we can refer to Apple’s [1] product description for IP68 (modified for the device).

The device is dropped from a height or subjected to other impacts. The device comes into contact with soap or soapy water (e.g., during a shower or bath). The device comes into contact with perfume, solvents, cleaning agents, acids or acidic foods, pesticides, lotions, sunscreens, moisturizers, or hair dye. The device comes into contact with high-speed water flow (e.g., during waterskiing). Wearing the device when cliff diving or high diving. Wearing the device in a steam room. Wearing the device in a sauna. Wearing the device in a sauna at temperatures above 55°C (130°F).

Regarding the application of IP68 in daily devices, it is recommended not to worry too much about it. Trying to use the device underwater is purely a risky behavior. Many devices claim to have the highest protection level while also having water intrusion detection built into the phone. If it really gets wet, the manufacturer will not provide free warranty service.

Almost every manufacturer will have a sentence in the notes section: “Damage caused by immersion in liquid is not covered by the warranty."

And Apple directly tells you what behaviors have a lower risk in using the device: “Apple Watch is water-resistant to a certain extent but not completely waterproof. For example, you can wear and use Apple Watch during exercise (it can come into contact with sweat), walking in the rain, and while washing your hands.”

As for why you can’t use a toothbrush, it’s worth mentioning what IP68 is:

IP68 is the highest level of dustproof and waterproof performance supported in current civil standards.

The full name of IP is Ingress Protection, although it is translated as “防护等级” (Protection Level) , the literal translation “接缝接口处” (Seam Interface) more clearly conveys its meaning. So, if you use a toothbrush, it is very likely to damage the waterproof seal at the seam interface, so it is not recommended.

If you frequently change phones, then it can be done

In theory, it is possible, as IP68 is the highest level of dust and waterproof standard in GB/T 4208-2017 Shell Protection Level (IP Code):

Dustproof Index: Completely prevents foreign objects and dust from invading. Waterproof Index: The electrical appliance can be immersed in specified water pressure indefinitely without causing damage.

Therefore, sometimes I directly wash my phone with water, but I do not recommend others to frequently wash their phones.

Why? Let’s explain with iPhone’s official description of the IP68 level:

Splash, water, and dust resistance are not permanent conditions and resistance might decrease as a result of normal wear. Do not attempt to charge a wet iPhone; refer to the user guide for cleaning and drying instructions. Liquid damage not covered under warranty.

So, there are two reasons for not recommending it:

Splash, water, and dust resistance are not permanent and will gradually degrade

Image Source: iFixit

The implementation of splash, water, and dust resistance on electronic devices mostly relies on sealing gaps with waterproof adhesives and rubber gaskets. Over time, these adhesives naturally age due to factors like time and temperature, leading to a degradation of the splash, water, and dust resistance functions of electronic devices.

Components like the phone’s earpiece and microphone often use a combination of a waterproof mesh structure and a waterproof membrane. The former uses the cohesive and surface tension of water to prevent it from entering the interior, while the latter adds a nano-coating to enhance splash and water resistance, achieving the effect of “sound transmission without water leakage.” However, coatings, like adhesives, age and wear off over time.

Furthermore, IP68 only guarantees splash resistance and water resistance, not corrosion resistance. Tap water, swimming pool water, and seawater all have certain levels of corrosiveness, which can be more damaging to standard IP68 devices.

Liquid damage is not covered under warranty

Not only Apple’s warranty policy, but most smartphone manufacturers explicitly state that damage caused by immersion in liquid is not covered under warranty for IP68-rated phones.

This means that if you use a water washing method for cleaning and your IP68-rated phone has experienced a decline in water resistance, you will need to bear the cost of repairs, which can be quite expensive for motherboard replacements from major brands.

I’ve been accustomed to rinsing my phone with running water since the iPhone 7 Plus.

In fact, I started washing my phone with water from the Sony Z2 onwards.

Even when I replaced the battery on the Sony phone, they would provide a waterproof sealing test report.

Currently, I haven’t had a single phone damaged by water.

But, waterproofing comes with conditions!

First, waterproof performance decreases with the increase in years of use.

In other words, a new phone has the best waterproof performance. After a year, rubber parts will age and deform. You need to replace the waterproof gasket and reseal it to maintain waterproofing.

Second, it’s waterproof against still water, not dynamic conditions.

Surviving in 1.5 meters of static water for 30 minutes under test conditions is not easy.

If the phone freefalls into the water, the transition from the water’s surface to the bottom is not in still water.

You must descend very slowly to the target depth, and returning to the surface should be equally gradual.

Divers who ascend too quickly risk lung injuries.

So, it can be said that a phone’s waterproof specifications are truly for reference only.

Third, it’s only waterproof against pure water.

It doesn’t protect against seawater, sugary liquids, oily soups, acidic or alkaline water.

Any liquids with strong corrosion, high permeability, or that react with rubber are not protected.

That’s why it’s advisable to use waterproof pouches along with accidental damage insurance.