How long does it take for rice to dry out electronics?

Rice is often used as a desiccant to try to dry out wet electronics like phones, tablets, or laptops that have been exposed to moisture or submerged in liquid. The idea is that placing the wet device in a container or bag of rice will gradually draw out the moisture thanks to rice’s natural absorbent properties. Some people swear by this DIY drying technique as an emergency fix after water damage, though experts debate how effective it really is. This article will take an in-depth look at using rice to dry electronics, including how long the drying process takes, key factors that impact results, proper techniques, and alternatives to rice.

How Rice Works to Absorb Moisture

Rice is hygroscopic, meaning it can absorb moisture from the surrounding environment. The starch molecules that make up rice have many hydroxyl groups that allow for hydrogen bonding with water molecules. This gives rice an affinity for ambient moisture. According to the IRRI Rice Knowledge Bank, “Rice is a hygroscopic material. The starch in rice has sites to hydrogen bond with water molecules, allowing it to trap moisture from the surroundings.”

When rice is placed near a wet phone or electronic device, it will pull moisture into the rice grains and away from the device through this hydrogen bonding capacity. The moisture migrates from areas of high humidity (the wet device) to the dry rice grains. Over time, this can help dry out the device by absorbing the moisture.

Factors That Affect Drying Time

There are several key factors that impact how quickly rice can absorb moisture and dry out electronics:

Type of rice – White rice tends to absorb moisture faster than brown rice. White rice has the outer bran layer removed, allowing it to absorb water more rapidly. Brown rice still has the bran, which slows down moisture absorption.

Amount of rice – The more rice you use, the faster it will be able to absorb moisture. More grains means more surface area to take in water. Experts recommend using at least 2 cups of rice for small devices.

Size of electronic device – For larger devices like laptops that have been exposed to water, more rice is needed to effectively absorb moisture. Smaller devices like phones require less rice. The ratio of rice to device size affects drying time.

Overall, white rice combined with a generous amount provides the quickest drying for both large and small wet electronics. Brown rice can work but will take longer.

Recommended Drying Times

The recommended drying time for a wet phone or other small electronics like earbuds will generally be 24-48 hours when using uncooked rice as the drying agent. For larger devices like tablets, laptops, or gaming consoles, it’s best to allow 48-72 hours for thorough drying.

According to experts, after 48 hours in rice, only about 13% of moisture was removed from a wet phone. This illustrates why it’s important to be patient and allow ample time for the rice to fully absorb any liquid trapped inside the device. The precise drying time depends on factors like how long the device was exposed to liquid and how quickly the rice was applied.

For smaller devices like phones, plan on 24 hours at a minimum, and extend the drying time up to 48 hours if the device was immersed for more than a few seconds. For larger electronics, doubling these timeframes is a safer approach to ensure it dries out completely before attempting to power on again.

It’s also recommended to check on the device and rice periodically while drying. Gently shake or move the rice around to expose all surfaces evenly. Just be careful not to further introduce liquid into any ports or openings.


Monitoring the Drying Process

It’s important to monitor the drying process to know when your device is fully dry. Here are some tips:

Check the weight and moisture levels periodically. Weigh the device on a kitchen scale to track the weight over time. The weight should gradually decrease as moisture is absorbed by the rice. Also, inspect closely for any visible moisture or condensation on the device or rice. As it dries, you should see less condensation on surfaces.

Look for condensation. Condensation inside the container is a sign that moisture is still evaporating from the device. Check the lid and sides of the container for signs of condensation, which indicate moisture is still present. As the moisture decreases, condensation will also decrease.

According to a study by Gazelle (, most of the moisture absorption happens in the first 24 hours. After 48 hours, only marginal additional drying occurs. So make sure to check the weight and moisture levels at least once per day for the first 2 days.

It’s a good idea to stir the rice once per day to maximize moisture absorption. Be very gentle when handling the wet device to avoid any further damage.

Storing the Rice Afterward

After using rice to dry out wet electronics, it’s best to discard the rice instead of trying to reuse it. The rice has absorbed moisture from the device, which can lead to bacteria growth over time. Reusing the rice poses potential health risks if consumed.

According to sources, the rice should not be reused or eaten after drying electronics:

“Rice is absorbent and will draw moisture out from your wet gadgets. However, it will also draw out minerals and salts from your device too. This rice should not be reused or consumed after drying out a phone or gadget.” (Source)

“Do not reuse or eat rice that has been used to dry a wet cell phone or other electronics. The rice has absorbed moisture and contaminants from the device, which can allow bacteria to grow if stored for later use. It is best to discard rice used for drying.” (Source)

The contaminated rice could make you sick if eaten, so throw it away once finished drying the electronics. Getting a new batch of rice is a small price to pay for avoiding potential health hazards.

Other Drying Methods

While rice is a popular household item for drying out electronics, there are some other effective drying agents you can use:

Silica gel packets are a common desiccant that can absorb moisture. These are often found in product packaging to keep contents dry during shipping and storage. Placing wet electronics in an airtight container with silica gel packets may help draw out moisture (Source).

Some cat litters contain silica gel or other desiccants. These crystal-based litters can also absorb water. Put the wet device into a sealable plastic bag with the cat litter. Make sure the device doesn’t directly contact the litter (Source).

You can also disassemble the device as much as possible to allow for increased airflow. Removing covers and batteries can help moisture evaporate quicker. Let it air dry for at least 24 hours in a dry environment.

Preventing Water Damage

There are a few key steps you can take to help prevent water damage to your electronics:

Use a waterproof case – Investing in a durable, waterproof case is one of the best ways to protect your device from water damage. Waterproof cases create a seal that prevents water from getting inside. Just make sure to fully close and latch the case anytime you have your device around water. Popular electronics like phones, tablets, and cameras typically have waterproof case options available.

Limit exposure to moisture – Be mindful of taking electronics into humid, damp environments or places where they could get wet. Avoid setting them on sink edges, using them in the rain, or leaving them poolside where splashing could occur. When possible, leave devices behind or store them in a dry, safe location if you’ll be around water.

Inspect ports and seals – Check any protective rubber seals around ports or openings to ensure they aren’t compromised or showing wear. Damaged seals can allow moisture to seep in. Also inspect charge ports to remove any lint or debris that could prevent proper insertion of cords/cables.

Use silica gel packs – Small silica gel packs can be placed near electronics to absorb excess ambient moisture and condensation. Renew the packs regularly as they become saturated.

Avoid steamy areas – Limit electronics use in hot, steamy areas like bathrooms or kitchens when boiling water. The moisture in the air can condense inside devices.

Wipe off excess moisture – If your device does get a little wet or damp, be sure to gently wipe off any excess moisture right away with a soft, absorbent cloth.

When to Give Up and Replace

At a certain point, water damage to electronics can become irreparable. If corrosion has set in or components have become permanently damaged, trying to resurrect the device may be futile.

Corrosion will continue to spread on circuit boards and components, eventually leading to failure. According to iFixit, corrosion is difficult to clean off circuit boards once it has occurred.

Additionally, mechanical damage from water exposure can be permanent. Switches, buttons, and ports may become unusable if water causes grittiness and loss of function. Attempting repairs would likely be unsuccessful.

In these cases, it’s best to fully replace the water damaged device. The internal electronic components have been too compromised from corrosion and mechanical failures to be revived through drying methods.


In summary, rice can be an effective way to dry out wet electronics, but it has some limitations. The rice absorbs moisture through the process of adsorption, but how well it works depends on several factors like the type of rice, proper positioning of the device, and the severity of the water damage. Most sources recommend 24-48 hours of drying time before checking on the device. However, rice may not fully dry out the interior components, and water can cause corrosion over time. Other drying methods like desiccant packs, sunlight, heat, or fans may be more effective alternatives. The best solution is to quickly power off and dry out an electronic device that gets wet, and determine if professional help is needed for severe water damage. With quick action, there is a chance of saving the device and data, but critical water damage may require replacing the item.