How to Dry a Cell Phone Out With Rice

A bag of uncooked rice may seem an unlikely fix for a wet cell phone, but the moisture-absorbing properties of rice could save your cell. Dealing with surface water on a cell phone is easy, but if water gets inside the handset, damage can occur. Even when you can't reach all the moisture, rice often can. So, act quickly: Grab a bag of rice, stay calm and be patient.

Dry rice is on the table.
credit: YelenaYemchuk/iStock/Getty Images

Get Rid of Excess Water

Don't dump your phone in rice as soon as you get it wet. If your phone is on, turn it off immediately. Do not try to turn it on, no matter how badly you want to, as this might fry internal components. If you use a case, take it off. Remove any power cords, earphones or other attachments. Wrap the phone in a soft cloth and pat it gently to dry off the outside. Take out the SIM card and SD card, if you have one, and dry those too. These cards won't go in the rice, so put them somewhere safe. If you have a removable battery, take it out, wipe it dry and pat down the inside of the phone. Finally, wrap the phone in a cloth again and turn it from side to side, paying attention to buttons and jacks that might be hanging on to a drop or two of water.

Put Your Cell in Rice

Tip a bag of uncooked rice into a container or sealable baggie. Rice works best on moisture if your container is airtight. Bury the phone in the rice so that it's completely covered. If you have a removable battery, put that in too. If you have a choice of rice in your kitchen, go with one that is not enriched. Enriched rice may be better for you, but it's likely to leave a residue on your cell at the end of the process.

Wait for the Rice to Dry Your Phone

Next comes the hard part -- waiting. Using rice to soak up moisture is not a quick process and there is no fixed time for how long you should leave your phone to dry out. Wait at least 24 hours -- longer if you can stand it. Your cell may show intermittent signs of life after a few hours if you couldn't turn it off. This doesn't mean that it has dried out fully -- sometimes it'll work for a second or two and then die again. If you want to check for moisture before powering up your phone, take it out of the rice and put it on paper towels. Leave it for a couple of hours and then check if there is any moisture on the towels. If there is, put it back in the rice for another day or two. If not, wipe the phone clean, take a deep breath and power it up.

Cell Phone Drying Alternatives

If you search online for an alternative drying solution, you're likely to come across a few options. Some of these may work; others could kill your cell. Silica gel packets and drying sheets or bags do the same job as rice, but you may not have these on hand when you need them. Applying heat is not a sensible solution. You may think that using a hairdryer on a cool setting is OK, but it could push moisture further into the phone. Turn up the heat, and you could fry the inside of the handset. Ignore advice to put your phone in the freezer. After you take it out and the water inside defrosts, you'll be back to square one, and extreme cold can damage your screen and the handset's functions.