Life After Your iPhone Goes Through the Wash 

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It was not a good moment when my wife walked in with my cargo short still sopping wet from the washing machine and asked “did you leave your phone in your pocket”? I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m forgetful, that I have laundered my phone before, or that I buy earbuds in bulk because they too go through the wash periodically. All those things are true, but I just don’t want to give you that impression.

The right thing to do at that point, and I knew it, was to make sure the phone was off and immediately leave it for a few days in desiccant or a bag of rice to pull the moisture from the phone. I knew that was the right thing to do, but I was feeling the pressure of a business trip little more than 24 hours later and I thought of going without my iPhone was unthinkable.

The one thing you should never do, the thing I did, is to try and turn the phone on at that moment. You never want to see is a tiny spark inside your iPhone that lights up briefly and then goes out with all your hopes. My iPhone was dead and I had killed it.

I remember when I used to carry just a simple flip phone and the thought of losing my phone was bad but somehow not quite as bad as this. I have come to rely quite a lot on having a smart phone, particularly an iPhone, in my pocket.


My phone is my entertainment. As an avid listener of podcasts on my commute or while I work I had to go to Plan B. I also have an iPad mini which can also run the Downcast app I use to listen to podcasts. Fortunately Downcast synchronizes your playlist to iCloud so I just needed to update my iPad and I had my shows. Unfortunately, connecting to a tablet rather than a phone, even a small tablet like the iPad mini, is more awkward. Walking down the street with an iPad in your back pocket it is possible just cumbersome.


We’ve already established that I’m a forgetful person and yet somehow I still managed to be quite productive. That is because my iPhone is part of my external brain. I keep list of things that I need to do today, tomorrow and someday in the Things app on my iPhone. Fortunately Things also synchronizes my To Do items to the cloud and I can pull up those items on my computer and my iPad as well.


I track my activity, how far I bike or walk in a day, with Moves. I probably walked just as much without my iPhone… but how would I know. Last year, I used to use the LoseIt app to monitor my calorie consumption and was able to lose 20 pounds with the help of my iPhone.


My iPhone is also my connection to the web. When I’m at home or work I have Wi-Fi, but in between (like on the train) and in other places I tether my laptop and my iPad to the Internet through my iPhone. I bought my iPad without a data service to save money on a second plan. The board of the charity where I volunteer has gotten used to getting the meeting notes I type up before they get home from the meeting. This time they had to wait a little longer.

The lack of an iPhone also mean that the googling I do from the meeting to make sure that I get my facts right didn’t happen. It meant that I had to pay attention because I could not get other work done at the same time, although some might say that was a good thing.

I lost my connection to Siri while I was in the car or walking to work. I use Siri constantly to ask the time to check on the weather of the city that I was traveling to later in the week, to leave myself to do list reminders, to check the score of the San Francisco Giants game, or even to dictate this article. The ideas for the things that I need to remember seem to happen most often when I’m driving or walking rather than when I am sitting conveniently at my computer. Without my iPhone, I have, ironically, become more forgetful than ever.

I lived for the day without an iPhone and then came home and with great hope took my phone out of a container of rice. I tried to turn it on. Nothing. It was time for a new iPhone.


The experience at the Apple store was, quick, simple, but expensive. I would love to say that it will teach me never to wash my iPhone again. I would really love to say that. While processing the purchases of the new iPhone I needed to use the renewal from one of my other family accounts because mine was not quite ready for an upgrade. The clerk asked which account to use and I stared at the three numbers blankly, not quite sure which number was my wife’s, my son’s, or my daughter’s. That’s something I let my iPhone remember. I actually I reached in my pocket for my external brain before sadly realizing it wasn’t there.

I returned home with the new iPhone one model newer but not two models newer as would have happened if I could have waited until the new phone came outing the Fall. I restored the backup I had previously saved for my iPhone on my laptop. The backup was recent although not quite as recent as it should have been.

All my photos, my apps and much of my data all synchronized back from the laptop. The recent photos and videos I had taken had automatically backed up to iCloud. I had to reenter my passwords but I use the 1Password app which synchronizes my strong passwords to the cloud so I don’t have to remember those. After a couple of hours, my iPhone was back. Siri still has the same familiar voice and most of my data is back, except for some notes and the source for an edited iMovie that were not backed up.

We rely on our gadgets a lot these days. Some will complain that we are losing the capability to do what we should be able to do by ourselves. Maybe so. But this addictive device has change the way I work. It has changed it for the better and you can have my iPhone when you pry it from my cold dead hand… or occasionally you can find it in my washer.

Sent from my iPhone

Update – I now have the iPhone 7… which is water proof… it’s like they were thinking of me.

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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

One Response to “Life After Your iPhone Goes Through the Wash ”



Yikes! So sorry to hear that, Chris. Glad you had a fairly recent backup and you didn’t lose much!

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