Does Putting Your Phone in Rice Work? [Drying a Wet Phone]

If you accidentally drop your phone in water, you have likely heard of the suggestion to put the wet phone in rice. Will this trick work? Does putting your phone in rice work?

Putting a wet phone in dry rice will not fully extract the water and dry the phone. An experiment showed that only 13% of the water in a wet phone was drawn out after being put in rice for about 48 hours.

Putting a wet phone in rice can even introduce starch and dust into the phone.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, this rice myth persists. Dry rice does absorb water, so this leads people to think it will dry out a phone.

Read on to learn more about the phone in the rice trick and how you can properly dry your phone after it gets submerged in water.

Does Putting Your Phone in Rice Work?

Putting your phone in rice does not work. Uncooked rice will not draw out all the water from a wet phone. Doing this may even introduce starch and dust into the phone.

Craig Beinecke, the co-founder of TekDry, conducted a study to see how much water is removed by the rice. After putting a wet phone in rice, he discovered that only 13% of the water was removed. [1]

Well, if you would like to be exact, yes, it does work – but with only 13% efficiency. That means rice will not completely dry out your phone.

The drying phone in rice theory seems to be credible because rice does absorb water. If it absorbs water, then it could absorb the moisture inside a submerged phone.

Rice really absorbs water but not the moisture inside a wet phone or other electronic devices. It can’t fully dry the insides of a wet phone.

This myth continues to persist mainly because when someone accidentally drops their phone in a sink full of water or a swimming pool, their family or friends will tell them to put the phone in rice to dry it.   

Gazelle.com also conducted a test in 2014 which showed that this trick does not work. They used seven desiccants normally found in households in the test, including instant rice, oatmeal, and couscous. [2]

They found that the uncooked rice is the least absorbent of all the desiccants used. Their recommendation is to leave the phone to air dry on a shelf for at least 24 to 48 hours. They said that this procedure appears to be the best option.

does putting your phone in rice work

Possible Origin of This Rice Myth

For several decades, in tropical countries, people would use rice to dry wet electrical equipment.

An article published in 1966 in Yankee Magazine titled “Make It Last: Over 1,000 Ingenious Ways to Extend the Life of Everything You Own” seems to have popularized this idea. [3]

Its author, Earl Proulx, wrote that if you take your camera to a warm place where there’s high humidity, you can prevent rust and fungus by storing it in a porous bag full of silica gel desiccant or uncooked rice.

Another article published much earlier in Popular Photography seems to indicate the same theory. In its June 1946 issue, its author stated that in place of silica, tea, brown paper, and rice could also work. But you will need a huge amount to get the desired effect.

How Does the Rice Trick Work?

The theory is built around the ability of rice to absorb water. With this ability, rice can draw out water from a small electronic device like a smartphone. To do this trick, here are the steps you can follow:

  1. Wipe the wet phone down with paper towels or dry cloth;
  2. The phone should then be taken apart since moisture is present inside the phone that the towel can’t reach. When you take apart your phone, a red dot will signal inside the phone, indicating that there is some water damage on the phone; and
  3. Submerge the battery and its other components in a bowl or box of uncooked rice for at least 24 hours. The absorbent capacity of rice will then do its work on the moisture inside the phone.

After 24 hours, you can expect that there will be no more water running out of the phone and its components. But the true test is when you put your phone’s parts back together.

Sure enough, the phone will seem to work fine. The trick seems to work.

However, after some time, the degradation of the phone’s performance will be apparent. It might not ring as loud as it should, or there might be other problems.

Some have the unfortunate experience of not being able to power their phones and use them after a few days of use.

It Might Work, But It Wouldn’t Last

To deeply understand how this wet phone in rice trick works, let us consider the actual real-life experience of a person who thought that he had this trick going for him.

A certain person accidentally dropped his Apple smartphone in the lake and could only retrieve it one day after.

The first thing he did is put his cell phone in rice. After 24 hours, he pulled out the phone from the box and charged it. After he charged it, he hit the power button and the screen lit up.

Does putting your phone in rice actually work? In this case, it did. After reentering his Apple ID, the whole system booted up without any problem.

Everything seemed to be working, including the camera, speaker, and microphone. While this is going on, he could see pockets of moisture evaporating from under the screen.

His phone seems to be working after being submerged in water for one whole day. He paraded his resurrected phone to his officemates the following Monday. He led everyone to believe in the efficacy of the trick.

So, to him, the cell phone in rice trick has been validated. He called his phone ‘the electronic living dead.’ Until two weeks later.

does putting your phone in rice really work

His phone became sluggish and unresponsive. One evening, it finally stopped receiving any signal. “Searching…..” became permanently etched on the screen’s upper left corner. He brought it to the carrier to have it checked.

After inspecting the gadget for 45 minutes without getting any inkling of the problem, the staff suspiciously asked him: “Sir, did you get this phone wet?”

Does putting your phone in rice really work? Putting a wet phone in rice won’t work in drying the phone fully. It will remove about 13% of water, but the insides will still be wet. The myth persists because each time a phone falls into a pool, sink, or bathtub, the concept is transmitted anew.

Is There a Better Solution?

Yes, fortunately, there is. There is a company that offers emergency electronic device rescue services. Its name is TekDry, with Craig Beinecke as its co-founder. This company has developed a special machine that looks like a suitcase bomb.

It can draw liquid out of cell phones and other electronic devices by using low heat and negative pressure. When properly used, this machine will actively expel liquids out of a drenched phone in approximately 20 minutes.

TekDry has also tested the rice theory if there is any truth in it. Their test measurements found a slight water loss due to the evaporation if the waterlogged device was left to dry in an open room than enclosed in a rice container.

However, a certain company-sponsored this test to prove that the rice trick wrong.

How to Properly Dry Your Phone?

If you don’t have access to the TekDry machine, you can use the following steps to dry your wet phone and hopefully make it work again:

1. Get It Out of the Water Then Shut if Off

First, you need to get your phone out of the water and then turn it off. Shutting the power off will reduce the risk of short-circuiting the system.

2. Remove Every Accessory That You Can Remove

You should remove all your the phone’s accessories. These include the protective casing, the SIM and SD cards, the battery, and all components that you can safely remove. However, you should not remove components soldered to your phone.

3. Dry the Phone

Get some paper towel or a lint-free cloth towel and start drying your phone. Wipe off all the moisture that you possibly can. Dry the front and back of the phone.

Get the cloth or paper towel into the charging port, SIM and SD card slots, headphone jack, battery section, and all the nooks and crannies that are wet.

Other tips when drying your phone:

  • Don’t blow air into the phone because it will only push water deeper in it.
  • Please don’t use a blow drier because it will heat your phone unnecessarily. The maximum heat the iPhones can withstand is about 113 °F (45 °C).
  • Don’t put your phone inside a microwave.

4. Air-Dry Your Phone

Place your phone in a spot where there is good air circulation. Please don’t put it in a place where there is too much heat.

5. Don’t Use Your Phone for the Next Two Days

Allow your phone to rest for at least 48 hours. This should be enough time for the small amount of moisture still left in the nooks and crannies of your phone to evaporate.

does putting your phone in rice actually work

6. Use 91% Isopropyl Alcohol

If you are a techie and are able to take apart the components of your phone, you can facilitate the drying by using Isopropyl Alcohol with 91% concentration. Clean every component of the cellphone that you can remove (and reinstall) with this substance.

7. Try Turning It On and Watch What Happens

After giving it enough time to dry and rest, hit the power button of your phone. Hopefully, everything will go well and your phone will boot up. If not, call for the help of a professional phone technician.

Risks of Using Rice to Dry Your Phone

You can still try the drying phone in the rice trick if you want to. Perhaps it will dry your phone, or it may not. It really depends on how wet your phone and how long it has been submerged in water.

In any case, there are certain risks to using rice for drying it.

It might even harm your phone instead of doing it well. Uncooked rice contains dust and starch. These foreign substances can lodge inside the small nooks and crannies of your phone. They will be hard to remove and can adversely affect the performance of your phone.

After drying your phone with rice and it seems to function without any problem, you will be encouraged to use it as you normally do. You will not have the motivation to have a qualified phone technician to check it.

But if there are still some small amounts of moisture inside your phone, it will eventually affect your phone’s performance. This moisture will cause a short circuit in the phone’s system and may cause your phone to fail. It might not even be able to power up after some time.   

Conclusion: Does Putting Your Phone in Rice Work?

Drying your phone in rice does not work. Unclean rice can even introduce starch and dust into your phone. An actual test showed that only 13% of the water was extracted from a wet phone after it was put in rice for about 48 hours.

Sadly, despite the evidence to the contrary, this rice myth continues today. This is because the rice can absorb water. This is the main contention of this myth. Since rice absorbs water, it must be able to draw out water inside a wet phone.

You now have the opportunity to stop this myth by not transmitting this idea to a family member or a friend who accidentally drops his phone on the sink or the pool.