Does rice really remove moisture from electronics?

It’s a scene we’ve all seen in movies and TV shows – someone’s phone or other electronic device gets doused in liquid, and they frantically grab a bowl of rice to try to save it. The belief that rice can magically rescue wet gadgets has become prevalent wisdom. But is it actually an effective drying method, or just an unfounded myth? This article will delve into the origins of using rice, examine whether it truly works, overview better alternatives, and provide tips from the experts on the best practices for drying out electronics after water damage.

How the Rice Method Became Popular

The practice of using rice to dry out wet electronics originated in Asian countries like China and Japan, where rice has traditionally been used as a desiccant (drying agent). Rice was readily available and absorbed moisture from the air, which made it well-suited for keeping camera equipment and film dry in hot, humid environments. This practice eventually spread to other parts of Asia.

According to Wikipedia, “Rice has traditionally been used to keep camera equipment and films dry in tropical environments” (source). Storing electronics in rice likely became popular because rice was a cheap, accessible drying agent. The rice method gained more widespread popularity when people started trying it to rescue water-damaged phones and other devices.

Why People Think Rice Works

The idea that rice can help dry out wet electronics took hold because on the surface, it seems logical. Rice is known for being able to absorb and contain moisture. When you leave rice in an open container, it remains dry and crispy. So when a phone or other device gets wet, putting it in a container of rice appears like it would draw moisture away from the device and into the rice (source).

Additionally, rice is inexpensive and readily available. It’s easy to grab a container of rice from the pantry to use for drying out a wet phone. The simplicity makes it an appealing do-it-yourself solution.

However, just because something seems logical on the surface doesn’t mean it actually works effectively. As it turns out, relying on rice to dry out electronics has some significant problems.

Problems with the Rice Method

Despite its popularity, there are a number of problems with using rice to dry out wet electronics. The main issue is that rice doesn’t actually absorb much liquid from the device Don’t Put Your Device in Rice. Here’s Why – iFixit. Rice is hydrophilic, meaning it can absorb water when immersed in it. However, when simply surrounded by air, rice grains do not pull in much moisture at all.

Additionally, rice does nothing to address the real threat of water damage – corrosion. When electronics get wet, minerals and impurities in the water start corroding the metal connections and components inside the device. Rice does not stop or reverse this corrosion process. In fact, the warm, humid environment created by the rice may actually encourage more corrosion No, Rice Doesn’t Fix Water Damage—Here’s What You … – MakeUseOf.

Better Drying Methods

While rice may seem like an easy solution, there are more effective ways to dry out electronics that have gotten wet. According to experts, some better options include:

Silica gel packets – These moisture-absorbing packets can be much more effective than rice at pulling moisture out of devices. Placing the device in an airtight container with lots of silica gel packets for 24-48 hours is recommended

Desiccant kits – Special moisture-absorbing kits can be purchased that are designed specifically for drying electronics. These kits contain powerful desiccants that actively draw moisture out. Follow the instructions for optimal results.

Opening the device – For some devices like phones, opening them up to expose the interior to air can help with drying. This allows moisture to evaporate from hard-to-reach areas inside the device. Only attempt this if you are comfortable doing so safely.

The key is to use products that are engineered to actively draw moisture out of devices. Passive drying methods like rice rely on slow evaporation and may not dry devices quickly or thoroughly enough.

When Rice Could Work

There are limited situations where using rice could potentially help dry out a device after water exposure. If only a small amount of water got on the exterior of the device, and you are able to put it into a bag of rice almost immediately, there is a chance the rice could absorb some external moisture before it has time to penetrate deeper into the device.

According to iFixit and Rossen Reports, rice is most likely to provide some benefit if only a few drops of water landed on the exterior shell of a device, and rice is used immediately to try and absorb that external moisture before it can do further damage. However, it’s still not the recommended method.

This would be considered a relatively low-risk situation where rice could potentially help, but there are no guarantees even in this case. The key factors are using rice immediately on only minor external moisture exposure before the water can penetrate deeper or cause interior damage.

The Risks of Rice

While using rice to dry a wet device seems harmless, it can actually lead to further damage. Rice is made up of starch and carbohydrates that can get stuck inside small crevices and ports. Trapped rice particles and moisture create optimal conditions for corrosion and oxidation to occur over time, eventually causing shorts and component failure.

According to a study by Gazelle, the consumer electronics trade-in company, using rice to dry out a phone was less effective than simply leaving it out to air dry. The rice trapped moisture inside the device and led to a higher failure rate compared to no rice. Bits of rice dust also got stuck inside ports and scratches, causing further issues (source).

Trying to dig out trapped rice particles by shaking or tapping the device can cause further damage to delicate internal components. The grains of rice can also scratch plastic and glass surfaces, leaving micro-abrasions that compromise durability. Overall, the risks of using rice outweigh any potential benefits.

Expert Tips

If your electronics get wet, it’s important to act quickly and properly to give yourself the best chance of saving your devices. Here are some expert tips on what to do:

First and foremost, turn off the device immediately. Don’t try to turn it on or charge it, as this can short circuit and further damage the device. Remove any batteries as well.

Next, you’ll want to dry the inside of the device before the outside. Carefully open it up (if possible) and use a can of compressed air to blow out any moisture. Be very gentle and don’t force anything.

After drying the inside, use a microfiber cloth to gently wipe down the outside, including any ports and buttons. Make sure no moisture is visible on the screen or anywhere else.

At this point, you can place the device in a bowl of rice or use desiccant packets. The rice will slowly absorb any remaining moisture. Leave it for at least 24 hours. Do not try to charge or turn on the device during this period.

Once thoroughly dried, you can attempt to turn on your device. If it powers on successfully, continue letting it dry for several more hours before charging or using heavily.

With quick action and proper drying techniques, there’s a good chance your wet electronics can be revived. But if you see signs of corrosion or permanent damage, you may need to seek professional data recovery or repair.

When to Seek Professional Help

For valuable electronics like computers, phones, or other devices, seeking professional help can be the best option if DIY methods don’t work or the device won’t turn on. According to Emergency Repairs Steps to Restore Water-Damaged Electronics, you should seek assistance for repairing electronics if the rice method fails, the device doesn’t power on, there are visible signs of corrosion, or you lack the proper tools and expertise. Professional data recovery services have specialized equipment like ultrasonic cleaning machines, moisture detectors, and dust-free clean rooms. They can fully disassemble devices, thoroughly dry internal components, replace damaged parts, and attempt data recovery if needed. For valuable electronics, it’s often worth the cost to have professionals handle water damage repairs and maximize the chances of restoring the device.


In summary, using rice as a drying method for wet electronics has become popular over the years, but studies have shown it is ineffective. The rice method persists because it seems like common sense that rice would absorb moisture. However, research by TekDry shows that rice absorbs under 0.1% of phone-drying liquid in 48 hours (1). Rice grains are unable to penetrate small openings and remove liquid from inside devices. Additionally, rice introdu