USB stick went through the wash? WD-40 to the rescue!


3ozcan43896571Now here’s an interesting tip that I haven’t heard before, but after thinking it through, it makes pretty good sense. We all know that liquids and electronics really don’t go together like peanut butter and chocolate, but what happens when the two shall meet? In the case of a USB drive it’s a pretty easy scenario to imagine: just leave a memory card or thumb-drive in your pants pocket and you’ll get the full experience. No, I don’t think putting a USB drive through the washer will clean any viruses on the drive. ;)

So what to do if your data goes through scrubber? Dry it off really good and hit up the contacts with some WD-40 to avoid any rust on the metal. Very slick idea! So much so that I’m almost tempted to put an SD card in with my unmentionables for the next wash cycle. Almost….



Actualy, this is a _BAD_ idea! WD40 contains a shellac like substance, that will literally gum things up. Better plan is to rinse the stick thoroughly with distilled water, let it air dry, or use a hair-dryer on low, then apply an electronics contact cleaner. High heat (such as sunlight on your dash) may warp things.

As a previous comment noted, as long as you don’t apply a current while it is damp, you should stay out of trouble. The distilled water rinse is to remove any residual detergent, and the contact cleaner is to do what you thought the WD40 would, but do it safely.

John in Norway

‘Between duct tape and WD-40, do we really need anything else in life? :)’

A hammer is always useful as well.


Rust on the contacts? Unless you have some very cheap SD cards the contacts will be gold. And it takes quite a bit of effort to get gold to form compounds (ie rust)

Stacey Higginbotham

Okay, I’ve done this with an SD card (put it through the wash but didn’t add the WD-40) and the memory card worked for a few months and then quit. It could have been a burn out or it could have been the spin cycle. I may never know. Bottom line, the card did work for a while after, but you should probably grab your data off it and then retire it.


Between duct tape and WD-40, do we really need anything else in life? :)

But yeah, I have a 1GB USB drive that has hit the washer AND dryer cycles at least three times, and it’s still completely functional. Good thing I use high-heat dry cycles and dryer sheets, I suppose.

David aka DaveTN

“WD” stands for “Water Displacement”. Its a great tool to use on the old electronic ignition system on my motorcycle when it gets wet.
Funny thing is, most people think its a lubricant, which it is not intended to be.



Actually, all you have to do is leave it on the dash of a car in the hot sun for around 24 hours. As long as you don’t try to run any current through it until it’s dry it should work fine. My son found a Kodak digital camera (with SD card) in about 4′ of water at the lake; we know it had been submerged for at least a day since we’d bee there all day with nobody else around. He took the SD card out, opened all the doors (battery, SD cover), and left it on the dash of my truck for 2-3 days (in 100 degree Texas summer weather), and then put the SD card back in, put in some batteries, and the camera was 100% functional. However, he couldn’t identify any of the people in the pictures, so he couldn’t figure out how to return it to the owner.

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