Can I Use Silica Gel to Dry My Phone? A Lifesaving Guide!

In this digital age, electronic gadgets are with us all the time, and everywhere. From the poolside, to cafes … making them prone to accidental liquid spills. When this happens, many wonder (after the initial expletive) “can I use Silica Gel to dry my phone?” especially as water resistance in devices like iPhones, Samsung Galaxy S series phones or OnePlus phones deteriorates over time (rubber seals fail with time). Laptops, which mostly lack any water resistance are especially at risk from liquid spills.

Being prepared for such mishaps is wise. If you’re quick, lucky, and have enough silica gel on hand, you can hopefully dry your phone, camera, laptop, or other dunked gadgets. Hopefully they come back on without any problems. While that’s not always the case, let’s explore how you can give your equipment the best chance to survive a liquid spill.

An iPhone Pro Max covered in water droplets. Can be dried with Silica Gel.
Waterproofing of phones may deteriorate over time.

This guide explores how to use silica gel, to hopefully restore electronic gadgets to working condition after they have liquids spilt on them.

We’ve talked about Silica Gel quite a bit so far, but you may have heard in the past that a bag of rice is your best bet to dry out something in an emergency. Well, that’s not quite right. Rice may be more commonly available in houses, but has its own associated problems.

Silica Gel is exists solely to absorb moisture, and is non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and can be reused hundreds of times. Silica Gel is the best way to dry out a phone, tablet or laptop that has accidental water damage or splashes.

Understanding Silica Gel; What Is It?

Silica gel is a porous, granular form of silicon dioxide known for its ability to absorb moisture. It’s often found in small packets inside product packaging to keep items dry. Its moisture-absorbing properties make it an ideal solution for drying wet electronic gadgets.

You can also find silica gel in a loose granular or bead form. Another benefit is that silica gel also comes in a self-indicating form, which changes color when it is saturated with humidity. Once it’s fully saturated, you can just dry the silica gel in an oven and reuse it.

How To Use Silica Gel To Dry Phone, Laptop, or Other Gadgets

1. Power Off and Remove the Battery from Your Device (if possible)

  • Power Off: The first step in handling a wet electronic device is to turn it off immediately, and with the utmost urgency. This helps prevent short circuits and further damage.
  • Remove the Battery: If the device allows, remove the battery to cut off all power. This step is crucial for gadgets like phones and laptops, where the battery can be accessed.
    If the battery is still inserted, some circuits are still powered, and there is also the possibility of shortcircuiting the battery. With sealed devices, you can’t remove the battery, so there is no point worrying about this. Instead, move on the next step – removing all liquid.

2. Remove Liquid and Residues

  • Wipe Off Excess Liquid: Use a soft, lint-free cloth to gently wipe off any visible liquid from the device’s surface. Shake it until all liquid that has entered it is removed.
  • Clean Ports and Openings: Use cotton swabs or soft brushes to clean any liquid and sticky residue (from soft drinks, coffee or tea) from ports, openings, and crevices. Any such substance that leaves a residue could cause an electric current to bypass the intended circuitry and cause an short circuit.

3. Place the Wet Phone in Silica Gel

A mobile phone covered in silica gel to dry it out fully after water exposure
A phone can be dried with silica gel.
  • Prepare a Container: Find a container large enough to hold the device and sufficient silica gel packets.
  • Place Silica Gel Packets: Fill the container with silica gel packets or loose silica gel, ensuring enough coverage around the device. If you’re using loose silica gel beads, ensure that there is no silica gel dust in the container.
  • Insert the Device: Put the wet phone in the silica gel inside the container, ensuring it’s completely surrounded by the silica gel packets or beads.
  • Seal and Wait: Seal the container and leave it for 48-72 hours, allowing the silica gel to absorb all moisture. This could be hard, but resist all urges to turn your device on for at least 2 days.

Silica Gel absorbs moisture from the air, and by reducing humidity, encourages droplets to evaporate quickly. Since many phones, especially waterproof phones like the iPhone, are tightly sealed, the amount of airflow between the interior of the device and the silica gel may be limited, which means that it will take time for all the moisture to evaporate.

4. Inspect and Test the Gadget

  • Inspect it for Dryness: After the waiting period, carefully inspect the device to ensure it’s completely dry. If you see some indications of moisture under the screen, in the ports or anywhere else, return it to the box for further drying. Inspect it again in 24 hours.
  • Test the Device: Once that it passes your visual inspection, power on the device to check its functionality. There is always a chance that your device did not survive the initial immersion. If unsure whether it’s fully ok, or if the device does not turn on at all, consider professional inspection and repair. Sometimes the device may not be a total write-off. Other times, we’re not so lucky.

Applicability to Various Gadgets

If your phone got splashed with water while outdoors, you may want to keep it in silica gel for a while to dry out everything.
An old phone may no longer be waterproof.

While we only mentioned mobile phones, laptops and tablets, the procedure outlined above can be used for many different mechanical and electronic devices to remove moisture that has penetrated deep into the device.

  • Smartphones and iPads: Follow the above steps, paying attention to openings like charging ports and headphone jacks.
  • Watches and Cameras: Ensure proper cleaning of intricate parts and consider professional help if needed.
  • Laptops: Laptops may require more extensive drying and professional inspection due to their complexity.

Conclusion

Silica gel offers an effective and accessible solution for drying electronic gadgets exposed to liquids. In today’s world, where electronic gadgets are essential, water damage is a common concern that can lead to costly repairs or replacements.

By following the steps outlined in this guide—powering off the device, removing liquid residue, and using silica gel for drying—you can significantly increase the chances of restoring your waterlogged phone or other gadgets to working condition. I’m not saying that they WILL be ok… But your chances do increase.

If you keep some silica gel packets on hand, and know how to recharge the packets, then you will be well-prepared to tackle unexpected spills or immersions, potentially saving both your devices and your wallet.

Sebastian Chase
Sebastian Chase

Sebastian Chase is a mobile digital photographer who enjoys trying out new mobile technologies, and figuring out how to get them to deliver high-quality images with minimal effort. Join him on his mission to help mobile photographers create incredible images and videos with their new-age digital cameras, no matter the form that they may take.

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