As flash drives are so small, they are easy to put in a pocket and forget about, which can lead to an inadvertent trip to the laundry. Most flash drives will survive a trip through the washer, as they are usually well sealed and have no battery. It is important not to use the drive if any moisture is present, but once dried the drive should still be useable with the original data intact. All that is required to save a wet flash drive is a bowl of uncooked rice.
Dry the flash drive as much as possible with a piece of paper towel to absorb excess moisture.
Gently pry open the case of the flash drive if possible, using a small flat-blade screwdriver to separate the two halves of the case. This is not essential, but will cut the drying time and will help to limit corrosion. Dry the inside of the case as much as possible with the paper towel.
Pour some uncooked rice into a small plastic bag, and then place the flash drive in the bag and seal. Place the bag in a warm, dry place for at least 24-hours. The rice draws out and absorbs any moisture present, speeding up the drying time and ensuring the drive is completely dry.
Check the drive after 24 hours. If you can see any moisture, leave the board for 24 hours and repeat until the board is completely dry.
Reassemble the case, ensuring the two halves are tight shut. Use a small spot of glue to hold the two halves together securely if necessary. You can then use the flash drive as normal.
Things You'll Need
Small flat-blade screwdriver
Sealable plastic bag
If damage occurs to the USB connector on the flash drive, cut the peripheral end off an old USB cable and solder the wires directly to the board. You can then plug the cable into your computer and download the data from the drive.
Do not plug in the flash drive until you are sure it is completely dry. Any moisture can cause an electrical short that could destroy the drive.
- Unpluggd; How To Dry Out (and Hopefully Save) Wet Electronics; Gregory Han; February 2010
- Unpluggd; How To; Save Your USB Drive from Certain Death; Taryn Fiol; September 2008
- "The Washington Post"; A Wired-In Guy Getting Set for a Big Date; Ernesto Londoño; June 2007
- Digital Inspiration: Dropped your Mobile Phone or iPod in Water?