Should You Put AirPods in Rice to Fix Water Damage?


AirPods are still among the best wireless earbuds in the market. Despite the hefty price, people still opt to buy them instead of their more affordable counterparts. The reason? AirPods are more durable and have better quality. So imagine if you accidentally dropped it in the pool or wash it together with your favorite pair of jeans. Scary, right? 

If you run a quick search of how to fix your wet AirPods, most of the suggestions you’ll see is to put them in rice. Sadly, this method is not more effective than simply air-drying your AirPods (excuse the pun). The rice method is a myth and honestly, it should be widely busted. 

We went to great lengths of research for you to know what to do next time your AirPods get wet (except putting it in rice, of course). This article will discuss whether your AirPods are water-resistant or waterproof, how much water your AirPods can take, Apple’s warranty, taking care of your AirPods, what happens when AirPods get wet, and how to fix them. 

Water-Resistant vs. Waterproof

Woman in a raincoat

A lot of people think these two terms are synonymous, but they’re not. It’s important for you to know the difference because many earphones are marketed either way. If you have no clue what the difference is, you will end up spending your hard-earned money on a feature that’s non-existent.

When a device is water-resistant, it means that it can tolerate water up to a certain degree. The water depth in which the device can fall is also limited. 

A common and accurate way to measure a device’s water resistance is the IPX rating. IP stands for ingress protection. It’s used to measure the capability of a device to protect itself from external contaminants such as water, sweat, dust, and dirt. It usually comes with 2 digits. The first one indicates a device’s protection capability from solids, while the second one indicates its liquid protection capability. 

However, there are times when a device’s capability for solid protection is unknown. These values are replaced with an X, and that’s why you can see devices with IPX# ratings. 

When it comes to IPX ratings, the higher the better. Devices can have ratings ranging from IPx0 (zero protection from moisture) to IPX8 (can be immersed in water with a depth of 1 to 3 meters). 

On the other hand, a waterproof device can fully tolerate water. It’s almost impossible, if not impossible, for water to enter a waterproof device. This means that it can be submerged in water no matter what the depth is. 

How Much Water Can AirPods Take?

AirPods are fantastic, but they’re not waterproof. Regular AirPods are not water-resistant, but AirPods Pro are. In fact, they have an IPX4 rating. This means that the AirPods Pro should survive if they get slightly splashed with water. So when your standard AirPods or AirPods Pro fall into the water, it might be damaged if you don’t dry it immediately.

Sadly, water-resistant seals degrade over time, which means that your AirPods Pro become less water-resistant as it grows older. Water-resistant seals cannot be resealed, too. So the older your water-resistant AirPods Pro get, the more careful you should be with them. 

How About My AirPods’ Warranty?

One of the first things that comes to one’s mind when a device gets damaged is its warranty. AirPods and the accessories that come with them have a one-year warranty that begins on the purchase date. 

Unfortunately, the warranty doesn’t cover damage due to accidents or unauthorized modifications. So if you accidentally drop your AirPods into water or wash them with your clothes, Apple’s not going to fix or replace them. Given this, it’s up to you to fix your AirPods. 

But before we get to the hows of fixing your wet AirPods, let’s take a look at how you can better take care of them. After all, prevention is always better than cure. 

Taking Care of Your AirPods

  1. Using Your AirPods

Taking care of your AirPods as you use them can make a huge difference. Remember, a device’s longevity mainly depends on how you use it. 

AirPods are not among the most durable devices in the world, so it’s best if you avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures and liquids. You can consider using foam tips to prevent dirt and moisture from entering your AirPods as you use them. Don’t forget to check your AirPods for dirt or water damage after using them for long. 

  1. Cleaning Your AirPods

AirPods can be cleaned using very mild soap, water, or 70% isopropyl alcohol. When cleaning, use a lint-free soft cloth to wipe the surface of your AirPods. Avoid wiping the mesh as moisture can enter it. 

To clean the mesh, you can use dry, lint-free cloth. Never use abrasive materials or sharp objects to clean your AirPods. 

  1. Storing Your AirPods

AirPods come with a charging case, so it’s best to put your AirPods in the case when you’re not using them. Make it a habit to put your AirPods away after every use.

Additionally, the case should be stored in a clean, dry place. Avoid storing it in scalding hot or freezing cold environments. Exposure to the sun when storing your AirPods should be avoided, too. 

What Happens When AirPods Get Wet?

airpods outside

There’s no universal answer to this. The state of your AirPods depend on how much water got in them. Maybe you were walking or running outside, and it started raining. The state of your AirPods would depend on how heavy the rain was. 

Accidentally dropping your AirPods in the pool or washing it with your clothes is an entirely different situation. If they get immersed in water for a long time, chances are, they will be damaged. There are testimonies of AirPods surviving the pool or washing machine though, so all hope is not lost. 

Various liquids can damage your AirPods in different ways as well. Lotions or solvents can damage the water-resistant seal, soda creates a sticky residue that can block the mesh, coffee can stain the exterior, and seawater can leave salt residue after it dries.

What to Do When Your AirPods Get Wet

  1. Don’t panic.

A rule of thumb: Don’t panic. You have to react quickly, and panicking will just rob you of your time. While your first reaction will probably be to cry or scream, try not to. Stay calm and do the following steps to save your precious AirPods. 

  1. Get them away from the water ASAP. 

After realizing what happened, take your AirPods away from the pool, washing machine, or rain as fast as possible. Place them on a dry surface or lint-free cloth for the surrounding moisture to dry. 

Don’t wait for the moisture to dry by itself though. Proceed to the next step right away. 

  1. Gently wipe your AirPods. 

Wipe your AirPods using dry, lint-free cloth. A micro-fiber cloth is the best option for this. If not, cotton cloth will be fine, as long as it’s not linty. 

If water got inside the small parts of your AirPods, you can gently tap on them using dry cotton swabs. 

  1. Let them dry.

After thoroughly wiping your AirPods, leave them out in the open and in non-extreme temperatures to dry. The best spots to put your AirPods are clean, dry places with gentle airflow.

Let your AirPods air-dry for at least 3 hours. Don’t use or turn them on during that period. If it’s possible to leave your AirPods to dry overnight or for 2 days, that would be great. 

Regardless of what other people say, you shouldn’t put your AirPods in rice. This is not more effective than air-drying. Plus, bits of rice might get stuck in your AirPods’ small holes and ports. Some scientists also claim that rice might speed up corrosion inside your AirPods.

Never get tempted to use a blow dryer or place your AirPods on a radiator to speed up the drying process. Doing so will only overheat your AirPods. Remember, patience is the key.

  1. Check the case. 

If your case gets wet, follow steps 3 and 4 to fix it. If not, check it for any dirt or moisture before putting your AirPods in it. Better safe than sorry, right?

Conclusion: Parting Tips 

Here are some quick tips to prevent your AirPods from being damaged by water:

  • Avoid leaving your AirPods on wet surfaces. 
  • Check all your pockets before putting your clothes in the washing machine.
  • Put your AirPods away from powders, drinks, or other solvents.
  • Never use your AirPods when swimming or taking a bath.
  • Keep your AirPods in your bag or pocket as soon as it starts raining.
  • Place your AirPods inside the case when not in use.
  • Avoid dropping or putting your AirPods under heavy things. 
  • Accessorize your AirPods for extra protection.

Apple really set the bar high with its AirPods, and taking care of them is up to you. Always take extra precautions for your AirPods. Don’t compromise, because Apple didn’t. 

Difference between Bluetooth versio...
Difference between Bluetooth versions

Rune Bearson

As you can see, I love my headphones! I use them every day when commuting, watching YouTube videos, playing guitar/piano and doing chores. I'm a podcast addict and I like all kinds of music from metal to chillout ambient.

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