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Dropped A Memory Card In The Washing Machine? (I Did.) Here’s How To Dry A Wet Memory Card & Save What’s On It

Memory cards must be waterproof.

I say that after learning (the hard way) that you can still use a flash memory card after it’s gotten wet in a washing machine… toilet… you name it!

I accidentally ran our flash memory card through the washing machine — twice. Fortunately, everything on the card survived.

Here’s What I Learned Firsthand

Last week I was multi-tasking. On one of my many trips downstairs to let the dogs out — before I headed back upstairs — I remembered to take the memory card out of our Canon Digital Rebel camera. (Bravo. I remembered.)

My aim was to download all of the pictures to my computer once I returned upstairs, so Jim would have plenty of space on the memory card when he took the camera on his upcoming business trip.

Well, that was the plan.

Here’s what really happened…

Lynnette: (the morning Jim was leaving on his trip) Oh no!

Jim: What???

Lynnette: I think I forgot to take the memory card out of my pants pocket before I washed them! (I had spilled an entire can of soda on my lap hours earlier and decided to toss them in the wash before a stain set in.)

I ran to check the pants — which, at this point, had made their way to the dryer — which had just completed its 20 minute cycle on HIGH heat.

To my surprise… No memory card in the pants pockets. And no memory card hanging out with all the clothes in the dryer. Whew.

I figured that I must have intended to take the 1GB memory card out of the camera & download the pictures. Yeah, it was starting to come back to me… each of the steps that I meant to do before Jim left for his trip. For one reason or another, I guess I just never got around to it. (Ehhh… I was wrong.)

Fast Forward To The Good Part

A few days later, Jim’s in Canada and I’m at home doing another load of laundry.

Once the wash cycle is complete, I transfer the clothes from the washer into the dryer only to discover a waterlogged memory card resting at the bottom of the washer tub!

I was panic-stricken. I know, they’re only pictures. And if I’d gotten by this long without needing those pictures — or without even knowing which pictures might be on there — then what’s the big deal, right?

For what it’s worth, I currently have 24,217 digital photos stored in Adobe Photoshop Album on my computer… it’s the best photo organization software on the planet! And I think it’s pretty amazing that we just so happen to own two of the best digital cameras, according to a J.D. Power survey.

And Now The Best Part…


Our Compact Flash memory card was run through 2 complete loads of cold-water wash. That means about an hour of being completely submerged in water and surviving 2 full spin cycles!

How did the memory card fare in the end?

All of the pictures were still there. AND the card itself seems no worse for the wear!

This is the actual memory card that was run through the washer… twice.

I’m sure many brands of memory cards might have survived just as well, but we’ve always used Lexar Compact Flash cards (…and Simpletech SD cards for our Kodak DX 4330 digital camera).


As soon as I found the memory card in the washing machine, I shook and shook to get as much of the water I could out of it.

I didn’t want to put it back in the camera or the card reader at this point. I wanted to make sure it was completely dry before attempting to access the photos.

About a week later is when I put that memory card into my card reader and wa-lah… all was right with the world again.

Memory Cards Must Be Waterproof!

I’m not alone here. Others have put a digital memory card in the washing machine. And they’ve also been able to retrieve all of the photos from the memory card.

In their own words:

“I accidentally put 4 of these through the washing machine. Their little plastic cases were filled with water, and I was shaking water out of the cards. After leaving the cards sitting out for a week, I was still able to use them — and I didn’t lose a single picture!”

K. Larson – Amazon Customer Review

“The Internet is awash (pun-intended) with stories of photographers accidentally running their flash memory cards through the washing machine and, after the cards were left to dry, discovering that they’d lost no pictures.”

— Rob Galbraith

“Though not indestructible, they have been known to survive going through the washing machine in pants pockets as well as being run over by a car on a muddy road.”

Bob Johnson

Digital Camera Shopper brutalised various forms of memory cards, as documented by the Beeb here. Memory cards were dunked in coffee, dipped in cola, and run through a dishwasher. Everything from old-fashioned SmartMedia and CompactFlash through xD and Secure Digital cards held up without a hitch. (None of the media fared as well in more brutal tests with a sledgehammer and being nailed to a tree).

— Doug Mohney – The Inquirer.net

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