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Why shouldn’t you use rice on your phone?

Having water damaged electronics is an unfortunate situation many people find themselves in. While the intention is good, attempting to dry out a wet phone or other device using rice can often end up causing more harm than good. In this article, we will explore the reasons why rice is ineffective for drying phones, look at better alternatives, and provide tips on how to avoid water damage to electronics in the first place.

Why Rice Doesn’t Work

At first glance, putting a wet phone in a bag or bowl of rice seems like a sensible idea. Rice is known for being highly absorbent, so it would make sense that it would draw moisture out of a water logged phone. However, there are several reasons why rice does not work well for phone drying:

  • Rice absorbs slowly – While rice is absorbent, it does not draw water out of objects quickly. It can take many hours or even days for rice to absorb enough water to make a difference in drying out a phone.
  • Rice can get stuck – Small bits of rice can make their way into phone ports and crevices. This rice dust can later harden and clog components.
  • Rice does not prevent corrosion – Even if rice absorbs some external water, it does nothing to prevent internal corrosion of electronics from liquid damage.
  • Rice lacks air circulation – Phones need moving air to fully dry out internal components, which rice does not provide.

Perhaps the biggest issue with the rice method is that any absorbed moisture stays trapped in the rice itself. There is no circulation or evaporation, so the moisture cannot escape. This slow, ineffective drying can allow corrosion to develop inside a wet phone even when submerged in rice.

Better Alternatives to Drying a Wet Phone

While rice may not be effective for saving water damaged phones, there are some better options to try. Here are a few methods that may work better than rice:

Use Drying Packets

There are specialty drying packets, often containing silica gel, that are designed to rapidly draw moisture out of objects. These little packets contain a highly absorbent substance that pulls water molecules from the air and surrounding materials. They are similar to the “do not eat” packets that come in certain products to maintain dryness.

To use drying packets for a wet phone, place the phone and several packets together in an airtight container or plastic bag. The packets will quickly get to work absorbing water from the phone. Be sure to follow any instructions on the packet packaging for proper drying times.

Try a Fan

Creating air circulation around a wet device can accelerate drying. Point a fan directly at the phone to speed evaporation. Make sure to keep the phone propped or angled in a way that allows air to flow into ports and crevices.

Use Silica Gel Kitty Litter

Plain unscented silica gel kitty litter contains the same highly absorbent silica as drying packets. Spread phone components out on a tray of kitty litter. Gently stir the litter occasionally to expose all surfaces to the absorbent material. The crystals will draw moisture away from the electronics.

Invest in a Dry Box

For frequent travelers or those prone to spills and accidents, a dry box may be a worthwhile investment. These sealable bins use either desiccant packs or an internal fan to create a moisture free environment. simply place your wet device in the box, seal it, and allow the dry air to thoroughly dry out the phone.

Tips to Avoid Water Damage

While it’s good to know phone drying options, prevention is the best way to avoid having a water damaged device in the first place. Here are some useful tips to keep electronics safe from moisture:

  • Keep phones away from water – Avoid setting phones down near sinks, pools, baths or other wet areas.
  • Invest in a waterproof case – For phone use near water, get a certified waterproof protective case.
  • Never charge wet devices – Only charge electronics after they are fully dried out.
  • Turn off wet phones immediately – Powering off helps prevent short circuiting.
  • Don’t place wet phones in heat – Avoid microwaves, ovens, etc. Heat can damage electronics.
  • Act quickly if phones get wet – The sooner you start drying, the better.

Signs Your Phone Has Moisture Damage

How can you tell if your phone has sustained water damage, even after attempts to dry it? Here are some signs of moisture damage in electronics:

  • Cloudy spots under the screen
  • Rainbow colored patches on the display
  • Distorted or blurred visuals
  • Speakers sound muffled
  • Microphone has reduced sensitivity
  • Connection ports are damaged
  • Device does not power on
  • Short battery life

If you notice any of these issues after your phone has gotten wet, moisture may have already reached internal components. It is best to have a water damaged device evaluated by a repair specialist.

Professional Repair Options

For phones with clear signs of water damage, professional repair service may be needed. Phone repair shops have specialized tools and methods for dealing with liquid damage. Here are some repair options they may use:

  • Ultrasonic cleaning – Uses ultrasonic waves and cleaning solvents to fully clean interior phone components.
  • Isopropyl alcohol rinse – High purity alcohol helps displace moisture and prevent corrosion.
  • Vacuum drying – A vacuum system accelerates evaporation of fluid from the phone.
  • Replacement of damaged parts – Swapping out corroded connectors or electronics.
  • Board level microsoldering – Repair of damaged solder joints on phone circuit boards.

Phone repair experts know the intricate inner workings of smartphones and tablets. They have the skills to fully dry internal components and repair any damage. Water damage repair can get costly but may be worth it for expensive phones.

Should You Use Rice to Dry Your Phone?

After looking at why rice is ineffective for drying wet phones, it’s clear that rice is not the best choice. Rice:

  • Absorbs water too slowly
  • Can leave behind rice dust
  • Does not prevent internal corrosion
  • Traps moisture without circulating air

Instead of rice, use purpose made drying packets, fans, silica kitty litter, or a dry box to rapidly extract moisture. And be sure to take precautions to avoid getting your phone wet in the first place!

Comparison of Drying Methods for Wet Phones
Method Pros Cons
  • Readily available
  • Absorbs slowly
  • May leave residue
  • No airflow
Drying Packets
  • Very effective absorbent
  • Compact and reusable
  • Need to buy packets
  • Accelerates evaporation
  • Provides airflow
  • Can blow dust into phone
Silica Gel Kitty Litter
  • Very absorbent
  • Lets moisture fully evaporate
  • Messy
  • Kitty litter gets everywhere
Dry Box
  • Fast, controlled drying
  • Reusable for future drying
  • Expensive equipment purchase

The Bottom Line

Trying to resurrect a water logged phone with rice is a common mistake. Rice may seem like an easy fix, but it simply cannot dry out phones fast or thoroughly enough. Specialized drying methods and professional repair provide the best chance at saving wet devices.

Still, prevention is the best cure. Keep phones shielded from moisture and liquids. And if disaster strikes, don’t reach for the rice – use more effective drying options instead.