Jul 12, 2012
“I have just taken out my laundry and discovered that I accidentally left a memory card in my pants pocket and washed it. I know that I shouldn’t try using the memory card while there is a chance that it’s still wet. How can I remove the water as quickly as possible and hopefully save my wet memory card?”
If you immerse a memory card, USB thumb drive, mobile phone or other electronic device in water, it is a race against time to draw as much moisture out of the device as possible before the damage becomes permanent. In your house, you may already have one of the best natural desiccants known to exist: rice. If you use it quickly enough by surrounding the wet item in dry white rice and allowing it to absorb the water into the grains, you may be able to fix your wet memory card and avoid needing to purchase a new one.
If you immerse a device in water, the first and most important step is to turn it off. If it’s a mobile phone or other device with a battery, remove the battery immediately. As long as the device has power, the water can cause a short circuit, leading to permanent damage. In addition, remove any memory or SIM cards. Use napkins or paper towels to remove as much excess moisture as possible.
Using the Rice
After removing the any components of the wet memory card, phone or other device, place everything in a large bowl of uncooked white rice, surrounding every component with rice on all sides. Place the bowl away from heat sources and leave it for at least 24 hours. During this time, the rice absorbs trace moisture from the components, making them dry enough to use safely. If you see any condensation on the inside of the device’s screen after removing it from the rice, or if any of the components still feel tacky, leave the components in the rice for another day. If the device is thoroughly saturated with water, you may need to change out the rice. When you are certain that the wet memory card or other device is completely dry, try using it. If it works, the electronics gods have spared you this time. Try to be more careful!
Many products ship with small packets of silica gel. Silica gel is highly absorbent and can work as a replacement if you do not want to waste rice. Save the silica gel packets from products you purchase, storing them in a zip-top plastic bag to keep them dry.
Things to Avoid
When a device gets wet, it is imperative that you avoid the temptation to fix it with a hair dryer. The heat can melt adhesives and other components inside the device. Instead, blow excess water out of the device using a can of compressed air.
Top image via Wikipedia.