Why you shouldn't put your phone in rice if you get it wet accidentally

A phone in a bowl of rice
Many on the internet advise doing just that - but it can lead to more damage. Photo credit: Getty Images

The worst has happened and you've dropped your phone in the bath while watching Netflix and it's gone wonky, so what should you do?

If you're to believe big parts of the internet then you should be reaching for a big bag of uncooked rice to put it in so that the moisture is drawn out.

However, one Apple Store employee in the US went viral on TikTok this week saying doing that could actually do more harm than good.

In the now-deleted video, Karleigh, who worked for the tech giant for three years, told her followers to avoid putting wet phones in rice because of potential damage to the phone.

"The rice can get stuck inside your charging port, your speaker, your microphone… and the rice can actually damage the hardware inside the phone," she said.

"There are tiny little pins and things like that in your charging port that the cable connects to so the rice can be damaging.

"I would say that if you do get liquid in a device to turn it upside down or position it in a way the water can just dry out," she told her followers.

This took many by surprise, although quite a few followers backed up her advice.

"I dropped my phone into the ocean and then put it in a bag of rice and it definitely made it worse - had a few pieces get stuck and so I had to get a new phone," one wrote.

In a piece for The Conversation last year, IT associate professor Ritesh Chugh confirmed putting a phone in a container of rice to dry it out was a "myth".

Chugh said the phone should be shut off immediately and wiped dry with paper towels or a soft cloth.

A gentle shake should be used to remove water from charging ports, avoiding vigorous shaking to avoid spreading the water further.

The SIM card should then be removed and a compressed aerosol air duster used to blow out the water if one is available. Hot air dryers shouldn't be used to avoid damaging seals and the screen.

Chugh then recommended drying out the phone and ports in front of a fan before leaving it in an airtight container full of silica gel packs overnight.

"Do not charge the phone until you are certain it's dry," Chugh concluded.

"Charging a device with liquid still inside it, or in the ports, can cause further damage. Apple suggests waiting at least five hours once a phone appears dry before charging it (or until the alert disappears).

"If the above steps don't help and you're still stuck with a seemingly dead device, don't try opening the phone yourself. You're better off taking it to a professional."