Accidentally Washed Key Fob: What to Do Now?

Accidentally washing the key fob is a common mistake that you may end up committing.

When your essential tool for unlocking and locking your car gets waterlogged, it may seem like a major disaster. However, by taking the right steps, you can rescue and restore your key fob’s functionality.

As soon as you realize your key fob has been washed, it’s crucial to act fast. You’ll need to safely open the key fob and thoroughly dry its components.

Additionally, you may need to clean the contacts to prevent damage and ensure the fob functions correctly.

Finally, replacing the battery and testing the key fob will determine if it’s working or you need to put in further efforts to restore its operation.

Let’s explore the right course of action if you accidentally wash your key fob.

Accidentally Washed Key Fob - What to Do?


Common Causes of Key Fob Accidents

Accidents involving key fobs often stem from everyday distractions. Forgetting the key fob in clothing pockets, inadvertently dropping it while juggling tasks, or placing it near liquids are common pitfalls.

  • Pocket mishaps: Forgetting the key fob in pockets that end up in the laundry.
  • Multitasking accidents: Dropping the key fob while juggling tasks.
  • Liquid exposure: Placing the key fob near water sources without realizing.

Stay mindful when handling your key fob, especially in situations where your attention is divided.

Immediate Actions to Take

Turn Off the Key Fob

First things first, turn off your key fob immediately if it has an off switch. This will help prevent any short circuits from occurring due to the presence of water.

Remove the Battery

Before anything else, carefully remove the battery from the key fob. Doing this prevents any further damage to the electronics inside.

Dab and Shake to Remove Excess Water

Gently dab your wet key fob with a clean cloth to absorb any visible water on the surface. Hold the key fob with the buttons facing down and shake it to remove any excess water trapped inside.

Place the key fob in a bowl of uncooked rice for 24 hours to help absorb any remaining moisture.

How to Dry the Key Fob?

Follow these steps to dry the key fob.

Disassemble the Key Fob

  • First, carefully disassemble the key fob to expose the internal components.
  • Gently remove the battery and circuit board, avoiding damage to delicate electronics.
Accidentally Washed Key Fob - What to Do?


Use Rice or Silica Gel Packets

Rice: Place the disassembled key fob in a container filled with uncooked rice for 24-48 hours. Rice is an effective, inexpensive desiccant that can absorb moisture.

A small Tupperware container or a Ziploc bag can hold the key fob and rice.

Silica Gel: Place the disassembled parts with silica gel packets for a faster, more effective drying solution.

Rice Vs Silica Gel

RiceLow costSlower drying
Silica Gel PacketsFasterMore expensive

Accelerate Drying with Air

  • Gently dry out the internal components using a fan or air conditioning.
  • Do not use a hair dryer or heater, as high heat can damage the circuit board and electronics.

Preventing Damage while Cleaning

Use Isopropyl Alcohol

To clean your key fob, gently dab a cotton swab soaked in isopropyl alcohol around the buttons and the inner parts of the device. Isopropyl alcohol is effective in:

  • Removing dirt and grime
  • Evaporating quickly, preventing damage


  • Safe for electronics
  • Readily available


  • Can irritate skin
  • Flammable

Inspect for Corrosion and Rust

Visually inspect the circuitry and metal contacts for signs of corrosion or rust. Some indications of the presence of rust include:

  • Discoloration
  • Powdery residue
  • Metal deterioration

Remove rust or corrosion with a toothbrush or cotton swab.

Apply Contact Cleaner Spray

A contact cleaner spray can be applied to:

  • Improve electrical connections
  • Remove oxidation from contacts

Example: WD-40 Specialist Electrical Contact Cleaner Spray

Use short bursts of spray and allow to dry before reassembling the key fob.

Replacing the Battery and Testing

Install a New Battery

To fix a key fob that has been accidentally washed, replacing the battery is often necessary. Here’s a simple guide:

  1. Open the key fob: Carefully pry apart the two halves of the key fob, using a small screwdriver or a sturdy fingernail.
  2. Remove the old battery: Gently lift the old battery out of its compartment.
  3. Insert the new battery: Make sure the positive (+) side faces the correct direction. Typically, it should face up.
Accidentally Washed Key Fob - What to Do?


Check if Key Fob Functions Properly

After installing the new battery, tests should be performed to ensure the key fob works as intended:

  • Lock and unlock the vehicle: Press the lock and unlock buttons to confirm they function correctly.
  • Test other buttons: If there are additional buttons like trunk release or panic button, test those too.

Pro tip: If the key fob does not work after installing a new battery, consider drying the electronics for longer or consulting a professional to assess the damage.

Reprogram or Replace the Key Fob

Reprogram the Key Fob

Reprogramming your key fob is often simple. First, replace the fob battery to ensure a strong connection. Next, follow your car manufacturer’s instructions to reprogram the fob. This process might differ depending on the make and model of your car.

Get a New Key Fob from Dealer or Locksmith

If your washed key fob isn’t salvageable, consider getting a new one. You can visit a dealership or a locksmith who specializes in car keys.

Dealership vs Locksmith

CostTypically more expensiveUsually more affordable
ConvenienceRequires a visit in-personCan often come to your location
ExpertiseSpecific to your car make and modelWorks with various brands

Waterproof Key Fob Options

To prevent future accidents, consider waterproof solutions:

  • Protective key fob covers
  • Waterproof key fob pouches

These options help shield your key fob from water damage, prolonging its life.

Preventing Future Accidents

Keep Key Fob Away from Water Sources

To prevent accidentally washing your key fob, always check your pockets before doing laundry to ensure the key fob isn’t inside.

Additionally, be mindful of where you place your key fob when you’re near water sources like pools or sinks.

Storing it in a designated location can help avoid it falling into water or being washed by accident.

Accidentally Washed Key Fob - What to Do?


Invest in a Protective Case

A protective case is a wise investment for keeping your key fob safe from accidents, spills, and daily wear.

The right case will offer water-resistant features and additional protection for the key fob’s circuitry, ultimately extending the life of your key fob. Consider the following while purchasing a protective case:

  • Material: Choose a case made from durable materials like silicone or rubber.
  • Water resistance: A water-resistant case will lower the risk of damage caused by contact with liquids.
  • Fit: Ensure your specific key fob model fits snugly in the case.

Material and water resistance

MaterialWater resistanceFit

Remember, prevention is key to avoiding damage to your key fob.

By staying mindful of keeping it away from water sources and investing in a protective case, you can greatly reduce the chance of accidents and keep your key fob functioning properly.

Key Fob Maintenance and Best Practices

Maintaining your key fob’s longevity involves more than just quick fixes.

  • Regular cleaning: Keep the exterior and buttons free from dirt.
  • Temperature considerations: Avoid extreme heat or cold.
  • Periodic inspections: Check for wear, cracks, or loose components.
  • Delicate handling: Treat your key fob with care to avoid damage.

By adopting careful handling habits, periodic cleaning, and vigilant maintenance, you can extend your key fob’s lifespan and reduce the chances of accidents.

Advanced Key Fob Features and Water Resistance

Many modern key fobs offer advanced features like keyless entry, remote start, and personalized settings. Manufacturers design them with varying levels of water resistance, but it’s essential to understand their limits.

While some fobs can withstand light splashes, others are more robust against submersion.

Regularly check your key fob’s water resistance rating and adhere to guidelines for its safe usage around moisture to prevent damage to its delicate electronics.


Accidentally washing your key fob can indeed lead to a frustrating situation, but it’s not necessarily a hopeless one.

By taking immediate action and following the right steps, you can often salvage and restore your key fob’s functionality.

With the right knowledge and proactive measures, you can maintain your key fob’s reliability and longevity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a wet car key still work?

It depends on the severity of the water exposure. In some cases, a wet car key might work after thorough drying. However, excessive water exposure can cause permanent damages, affecting its functionality.

How long does it take to dry out a key fob?

Drying time depends on the method and environment. Generally, it takes at least 24 to 48 hours to dry a key fob. Properly drying with good air circulation and low humidity speeds up the process.

What is the proper method to fix a water-damaged car key?

  1. Shake the key fob vigorously to remove excess water.
  2. Dry it using a clean cloth.
  3. Place button side down and let it drain for a few minutes.
  4. Open the fob and remove the battery.
  5. Use rubbing alcohol and a q-tip to clean the components gently.
  6. Allow all parts to dry completely before reassembling.

How can I tell if my key fob is damaged?

Symptoms of a damaged key fob include intermittent functionality, buttons not working, and weak signal strength. If the fob doesn’t respond after drying and cleaning, it may be permanently damaged.

How effective is rice in drying out a key fob?

Rice can be somewhat effective but not recommended as it leaves dust and residue possibly causing further damage. Instead, use a clean, dry environment with good air circulation for better results.

Can rubbing alcohol be used to clean a key fob?

Yes, rubbing alcohol is useful for cleaning key fobs. It evaporates quickly and helps to remove dirt and residue from circuit boards without causing additional damage. Use a q-tip or soft cloth for gentle cleaning.

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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