Drying Out a Wet Laptop

Published On: 2012-02-06By:

The other day I had a VERY unpleasant situation happen.  I managed to dump a basically full 64oz (1.8 liter) cup of iced tea all over my desk.  In theory this shouldn’t be a problem but it landed right on top of one of my laptops.  Thankfully the laptop was off but it was plugged in when this happened.  Now I’ve dumped water on computer components before, and I’ve had a pretty good track record with getting things dried out pretty easily, so I figured that I’d share my little trick that I use with everyone.  It’s actually quite an easy process, and works with more than just electronics.  In fact I’ve even used it to dry out the inside of our car.  The method of choice?


Yep, that’s right good old fashioned white dinner rice, uncooked of course.  The reason that rice works is because rice makes an amazing desiccant.  For those who missed the episode of Numbers where they talked about desiccant’s, a desiccant is something that draws the moisture out of something else.  In the cast of the TV show it was drawing the water out of a dead body, in this case out of my dead laptop (they didn’t use rice in the show).  You know those little packets that come in just about everything that you buy, that say “Don’t eat” on them?  That’s a desiccant.

In the case of the laptop, I quickly unplugged it and pulled out the battery.  Then got a box a bit bigger than the laptop, and dumped a bunch of rice into the box, dropped in the laptop, which I then covered with more rice.  Then the battery and an HP TouchPad that got drenched as well.  Cover everything with a healthy layer of rice and let sit for several days.  The nice thing about this technique is that there’s no head, no chemicals, no cloth or paper towels to touch anything in the laptop.  Just the rice absorbing up any water in the laptop.

When doing this with a car, you can’t put the car in a box and fill it, so a slightly different approach is needed.  In my case we had a car door opened just a crack which let in rain water (yes it really does rain in Southern California).  Using a vacuum and towels we could only get so much water out, but we didn’t want to worry about the floor of the car rusting out.  So we pored about 10 pounds of white rice into the floor board of the car a waited about 6-8 hours for the rice to absorb all the water.  When we vacuumed out the rice everything underneath was nice and dry.

Back to the laptop.  I left the laptop in the rice for about a week in this case, and thankfully the laptop came back in perfect working order.

To pull this off I used about 15-20 pounds of rice total.  When I dumped the cup Kris went to Costco and picked up a 50 pound bag of rice and I used a large bowl to get it into the box.

Hopefully you never have to use this trick, but if you do there it is.


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