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I dropped my AirPods Pro into my coffee. What I did next saved me $250

Did you know the AirPods case floats? It does, at least for the few seconds I unintentionally tested it before I traded panic for action.
david-gewirtz
coffee
Image: David Gewirtz

AirPods have been out for six years across three generations, including AirPods Pro with some degree of noise cancelling capabilities. I got my first set of AirPods (the Pro model) very late in the game, towards the end of 2021. 

I do have some difficulty keeping them in my ears when moving around, but when sitting on the couch in the family room, they are clutch. My wife also has a set, and to understand why they've become so important to us, you need to understand the family room dynamic.

Also: Don't buy your AirPods from Apple! The best deals right now

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Pixel

Image: David Gewirtz

Our family room is the hub of our house. Not only do we use it for typical family room activities, but it's also our company's conference room and presentation area, and where both my wife and I spend much of our computing time. We have four Macs and three iPads in this space, as well as having our iPhones in constant attendance. At the center of the family room is a large TCL Roku TV.

The family room became the hub of the house mostly due to our adorable little 8lbs-pup, Pixel. Pixel yaps, whines, and cries pitifully when either of us leave the "pen" (the area with the couch, TV, and side tables) for more than a half hour or so. Over time, it became apparent that the little fuzzy shoe-sized tyrant ruled the roost. If Pixel wants us in the pen, generally speaking, in the pen we will be.

Yes, I've held my own against admirals and generals and tech industry billionaires. But the dog with those ears, that face, and the tiny tail seems to own my soul. P0wn3d. Stipulated.

My wife and I also tend to work on different schedules, so while someone might want to watch TV or training/education videos, the other might be napping or watching something or reading or writing. With each of us having our own pair of AirPods Pro, we can consume whatever media we want and not disturb the other person.

So, it wasn't just unfortunate when I accidentally dunked my AirPods Pro (case and all) into a cup of coffee. It was a family crisis. As I fished them out of the brown liquid that's normally the elixir of life but was starting to seem like Pod poison, I panicked. I used a level of profanity only a seasoned programmer is capable of producing.

My wife sought to calm me down. She told me I could probably make them work, but worst case, I could just buy another set. It was when I told her I really didn't want to spend another $250 that the AirPods' oversized role in our lives became fully clear.

"It'd be worth it," she said. "These help maintain family harmony. No matter what, we need you to have a pair."

Fortunately, I was able to dry them out. Here's how.

How to save your AirPods from coffee 

I started with the obvious. I took a paper towel and dried them off as best as possible. I removed the rubbery ear tips and dried both the AirPods Pro themselves and the tips, making sure to get the paper towel into every nook and cranny.

I did the same with the case. Let's be clear right now: that case is not waterproof. Even though the case was closed, quite a bit of coffee made it inside. I carefully dried the hinge area, the outside and the cubbies where the AirPods Pro sit and charge.

But I couldn't truly be sure that was enough. After all, I couldn't dry the miniaturized tiny speakers inside each pod, for example. This is where the second overnight phase of AirPod Coffee Triage came into play.

I found an air-tight container (yes, the irony of that is not lost on me). Into it, I dropped the AirPods, the case, and a bunch of silica gel desiccant packs.

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Image: David Gewirtz

Every roll of filament I get comes with a desiccant pack because 3D printing filament tends to be hydroscopic (it absorbs water from the atmosphere). Whenever I open a new roll of filament, I save the desiccant, so I had a fairly nice collection of packets on one of my filament shelves. You can also purchase desiccant packets to keep on hand in case of your next tech emergency. 

As the image above shows, I threw a bunch of those packs into the hermetically sealed container with the AirPods, closed it, and let it sit for 24 hours.

And it worked. Or, to be more precise, they worked. After 24 hours, I finally tried my now dried-out AirPods Pro and was hugely relieved to find that they were just fine.

Important final note

Before I close this, I want to share one final tip. Resist the temptation to immediately test the wet, damp, or newly dried AirPods.

You may have noticed that I did not try using the AirPods right after I dried them with a paper towel. Liquid can cause electrical shorts, and the electronics in the AirPods Pro are so small that even the tiniest bit of liquid could short the devices out. I waited until I was pretty sure the desiccant had absorbed all the moisture before applying a current to the electronics.

And it was good. Family crisis averted.

What about you? Have you ever dropped electronics (or anything else) into coffee or other liquid? How did that turn out for you? Share with us in the comments below.


You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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