Does It Work to Put Your Phone in Rice After You Get It Wet?

By Gareth Downes-Powell

Water-related cell phone accidents are common -- getting soaked in the rain or falling from your pocket into a puddle, for example. Most warranties do not cover water damage. However, if you act quickly, coming into contact with water does not have to mean the end of your phone, and after a careful drying procedure, many phones can survive with no long-term damage. A handy tip for drying out electronic items is to use some uncooked rice to draw out and absorb the excess moisture.

Remove the Battery

If your phone gets wet, remove the battery immediately. Do not attempt to switch the phone on to check if it still works, as powering up the phone may lead to the water shorting out components, which can cause permanent damage. If your phone uses a SIM card, remove it from the phone to dry any water trapped underneath. Wipe off any excess water from the outside of the phone using an antistatic cloth.

Blow Dry

The next step is to try to remove as much of the excess moisture from inside the phone as possible, by blowing or sucking air through the phone. You can use a tin of compressed air, of the type commonly used to clean keyboards and monitors, to blast the water out the same way it entered. You could also use a hair dryer, but it must be on a cold setting as hot air will damage the inside of your phone. Alternatively, you can use a wet or dry vacuum cleaner to suck excess water from the inside of the phone.

Rice

After you have removed as much of the water as you can from the phone, fill a bowl with uncooked rice and then submerge your phone so the rice covers it completely. Leave in a warm, dry place, allowing the rice to absorb the moisture evaporating out of the phone. If you do not have any rice, you can also use the silica gel packets often found packaged with electronics products. You can also place the phone’s battery and SIM card into the rice to dry them out at the same time, but do not insert these back into the phone at this stage.

Drying Period

Depending on the amount of water in the phone and the ambient temperature, the phone will normally dry out within 24 to 48 hours. Check the phone after an initial 24 hours, and if you see any hint of moisture, leave it in the rice for another 24 hours. Repeat this process until you are sure the phone is completely dry. When the phone is dry, wipe off any rice dust with an antistatic cloth, and then replace the SIM card and battery. You can now turn on your phone and check if it powers up correctly.

Precautions

Do not apply heat to the phone, with a hair dryer, hot air gun or similar device, as this can damage the phones internal delicate circuits or melt the adhesives used inside the phone. If your phone comes into contact with salt water, although it may sound counterproductive, wash the phone thoroughly with fresh water or distilled water before starting the drying process. Salt water leaves salt crystals behind when dry, which can cause corrosion and are more damaging to the phone than a rinse with fresh water. Be aware that many phones have internal water indicators that change color permanently when wet, revealing the historical presence of water to phone vendors and service centers, for example.