There’s nothing quite like the sense of dread that hits you when you drop your smartphone in water. When you’re at your most panicked, it seems like everybody has conflicting ideas on how to fix your most prized possession: “Use a vacuum!” “Blow on it with a hairdryer!” “Bury it in uncooked rice or dried oats!”

It’s enough to make you wonder if there’s a way to fix it that actually works. When you need to restore your phone immediately, you can’t afford to have any doubts!

As it turns out, one household item puts the rest to shame when it comes to saving your beloved smartphone. And if you’re a cat owner, you’re especially in luck…

Saving your water-damaged smartphone could depend on one crucial item: synthetic “crystal” kitty litter. While it has long been recommended that you use rice in such situations, this works much better!

Water-Damaged-SmartphoneFlickr / Lisa Norwood

If your phone has been submerged in water, first try to air-dry it for 24 hours. Attempt to remove the battery or unscrew the case on iPhones for more airflow. (Something to note: water damage this severe nulls the warranty on your iPhone, so you’re definitely on your own in trying to fix it!)

Open IphoneFlickr / Eli Duke

Next, you’ll want to get synthetic rather than regular kitty litter, called the “crystal” kind. Make sure that the only ingredient is silica gel. Why kitty litter, you ask? It’s because it has the same dehydrating agent as those packets that often come with other electronic devices or new sneakers.

Silica Kitty LitterFlickr / Klaus Nahr

Place your smartphone and at least 4 cups of the crystal kitty litter into a one-to-two-quart container, making sure to cover the phone. Let it sit for 24 to 48 hours. Under no circumstances should you remove it before this time!

Phone SilicaGazelle

After the time has passed, remove your smartphone, reassemble the pieces, and turn it on! Unless your phone is truly damaged beyond repair, this should definitely work. You don’t necessarily need to spend hundreds of dollars on a new device!

Iphone onFlickr / Rubi Joselin Ibarra

The silica gel in the synthetic kitty litter draws water out of the phone’s nooks and crannies and saves the complex electronics. Regardless of how it works, though, the relief when your smartphone turns back on after getting water damage is simply unbeatable.

Share this helpful hack with your friends below!