I washed my USB Flash Drive, now what?

I am famous for this kind of thing. Its always when I hear the clunk of some foreign object bouncing around the clothes dryer that I realize I’ve done something un-smart.

This time I discovered the problem early. I learned I had put my two best largest USB Flash Thumb drives in the washing machine when I was emptying the washer.

I was not pleased. One of the drives is a 16 gig flash drive that I use to transport GF video files around. And there might be a bunch of photos from our Canon EOS Rebel that don’t exist anywhere else on that drive.

After getting over the initial ‘Doh!’ moment, I remembered a NY Times article on what do to for electronic gadget emergencies. The article suggested putting the flash drives in a bowl and covering them with rice. ( I can’t find the article online right now, so no link )

So I did this. I used brown rice, as that’s what we had in the cabinet. Don’t cook and/or eat this rice afterward.

Rice will absorb water out of electronic devices

Rice will absorb water out of electronic devices

I let it sit for a few days, and then plugged the drives into a laptop.

They both turned on.  wow.

Every once in a while the wind tilts in your direction.

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  1. Tim says

    Flash drives are a lot more robust than you think they would be. I work in IT at a university here in Texas and we routinely see them get washed, dropped out of moving vehicles, run over, bent and knocked out of computers, you name it.

    More often than not then end up working just as before.

    Good work on DIY. Most people would either freak out and panic or just throw it away without trying anything.

  2. Eric Gunnar Rochow says

    good point tim. i didn’t freak out , i just felt real stupid, which is a common occurrence in my life.

    but i was happy to see the flash drive came back.

  3. Ali says

    I felt the biggest looser of the century when my USB stick fell outa my pocket and fell between a gap in floor and a lift which was on 5th floor. The technicians will try to recover it this afternoon, hope they will. But they told me that there is 3 feet of water at the bottom of the lift. My stick is in thier for more then 24 hours now and I have a lifes work on it and no backup. Pray for me guys

  4. says

    i did the same thing but realized and took it out of the washer ASAP then used the blow dryer on it. Then put in the computer and it worked and every thing was there.

  5. Alex says

    Well, I go to law school and I always try and save my notes on my laptop and on my USB stick. Well I was writing a few papers for class and my USB worked perfect. Later that night I came home after class and inserted my USB into my laptop to review some notes. As I inserted the USB all it siad was that it can not read the format. I was not too worried since I thought I saved it on my laptop, apparently i didn’t. I had 30 pages of notes and all I had in my laptop was 9. A coworker of mine said that her husband can fix it. So I put it my pocket the next night after class to be sure I put it in the car. That morning, I woke up and was ready to get my USB stick when I looked out the window and saw this dog at the front door. I opened the door to see if it had a collar. The dog stepped back a little then he lunged forward. I dont know if he tried to bite or what but it scared me!! After that little excitement. I got my clothes and put it in the wash. I was then having some breakfast when I realized my USB was in my pant pocket and in the wash. Now it’s a awaiting game to see how much I messed this USB up. WHAT A WEEK!!!

  6. Paul says

    So i washed my usb a couple of days ago and put it in a my balcony with a lot of sunshine to evaporate some of the water that’s been there. Now I’m trying the rice method gonna let it sit for a couple of days and then hopefully it’ll be back on.

  7. Lakhmir says

    Had(still have a working one) Sandisk cruzerblase USB 16gb…
    in the wash and drier for nearly 2 hours… out and plugged into laptop didn’t work…
    2 minutes of blow drier.. and it works the same AGAIN!.

  8. LEO says

    Ya its working.. It’s a nice trick.. I never thought such idea.. superb.. I bring back my pendrive…


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