My 11/01/09 Missoulian column
Last month, I washed my cell phone. It looked like it needed a good cleaning, and it was time to do laundry anyway, so I left it in that little upper pocket of my coat – made just for cell phones – and threw it in the washer.
After the last spin cycle, I unloaded my clothes and found my cell phone in the bottom of the washer, all nice and clean. But there was now water behind the screen, and the screen itself was ominously lit up with crazy characters.
Did I make a mistake and use normal cycle instead of delicate? Should have I used fabric softener?
Ever since electronic devices came to be, there has been a long tradition of getting electronic devices wet. And this tradition will almost surely continue.
There are some who purposely wash electronics. (Google “wash keyboard” and see). I’m not going to try it, but many claim you can put your keyboard on the top rack of the dishwasher and get it nice and clean and will look like new. Just let it dry out overnight before you plug it into your PC, they say.
That day at the laundromat, I figured my cell phone was toast, but I took the battery out anyway and wiped it off. I knew all of my contacts were on the server at the cell phone company, so they weren’t lost.
Then I thought of something, actually without the help of Google. At home, I opened my phone and gently warmed it with a hair dryer on low. Some of the fog behind the screen disappeared. I left it open on my desk overnight, hoping it would dry itself out the rest of the way.
In the morning, I put the battery in and turned it on. The familiar cell phone logo lit up the screen, and soon I made a call.
So if you wash your electronics by mistake or on purpose, try Google, and maybe a hair dryer.