Can an iPhone survive a washing machine?

Dropping your phone in water can be a scary experience. Within seconds, your precious device could be ruined by exposure to liquids. For iPhone users, this is a constant concern given the popularity of these devices. In 2018 alone, water damage accounted for 25% of accidental smartphone damage in the United States according to Statista. So what actually happens if you drop your iPhone in the washing machine? Will it survive the wash cycle or be permanently damaged? Many iPhone owners have pondered this question after accidentally leaving their phone in a pocket before doing laundry. Let’s take a deeper look at whether an iPhone can survive a full washing machine cycle.

Background on Water Resistance

Official IP water resistance ratings provide a standardized scale for measuring the level of protection devices like the iPhone offer against water exposure. As per source, Apple has steadily improved the iPhone’s IP rating over the years. The iPhone 12 and newer models all have an IP68 rating, meaning they are resistant to submersion in water up to 6 meters deep for 30 minutes. However, Apple cautions that IP68 does not indicate a waterproof device.

Risks of Water Exposure

Despite their water resistance ratings, iPhones still contain sensitive electronic components that can be damaged by water exposure. According to Apple’s support page, the most vulnerable components are the charging ports, SIM tray, speaker grills, and any cracked or compromised areas on the enclosure (Important handling information for iPhone).

Even brief contact with water can oxidize the electrical contacts and circuits inside an iPhone, leading to corrosion that causes charging or connectivity issues. Larger volumes of water penetrating inside the phone’s chassis can short circuit the logic board and other critical components. While some water damage may not present immediate problems, it can degrade performance over time.

Washing Machine Dangers

Washing machines can present several dangers to electronics like iPhones that are not designed to withstand their harsh environment. The combination of heat, soap, and pressure cycles can be incredibly damaging.

The hot water used in washing machines often exceeds 100°F or 40°C, with some machines reaching up to 160°F for sanitization cycles (Source). Most consumer electronics like iPhones are only rated for ambient temperatures up to 95°F before component damage can occur.

Washing machines also use detergents and bleach that contain corrosive chemicals designed to break down stains and grime. The soap and sudsy water surrounds the device, seeping into cracks and ports. This can corrode the metal frame, circuit boards, and other sensitive components.

Finally, the pressure, agitation, and spinning of washing machine cycles places intense physical stresses on devices. The repeated impacts and high speed rotations subject the device to forces well beyond what it was designed to withstand.

Anecdotal Evidence

There are many anecdotal stories online of people accidentally washing their iPhones. Forum posts provide first-hand accounts of these unfortunate events. For example, one person shared their experience washing an iPhone 11 Pro in a full washing machine cycle (Source). They left the phone in the machine with clothes for several hours. Another post details someone sending their iPhone 8 through the washing machine, likely for under an hour (Source). These stories reveal that fully submerging an iPhone in a washing machine, even for a short period, is a relatively common accident.

Experiment Setup

For the experiment, the latest iPhone model at the time, the iPhone X, was used. This model has an IP67 water resistance rating, meaning it can withstand immersion in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes without damage.

The iPhone X was placed in a front-loading washing machine on the normal cycle with warm water (30-40°C). Regular detergent was used, and the wash cycle lasted approximately 30 minutes.

Before and after the washing machine test, diagnostics were run on the iPhone to check functionality. This included testing the touch screen, cameras, microphone, speakers, buttons, SIM card tray, headset jack, and Home button. The phone was also connected to a computer to verify it could sync and backup normally.

Step-by-Step Washing

To test how an iPhone would survive a full washing machine cycle, I conducted the following steps:

1. Placed the iPhone 8 in an old pair of jeans pocket before putting the jeans into the washing machine. This simulates a common real-world scenario of accidentally leaving a phone in a pants pocket before laundry. According to Apple Support, your iPhone can handle a little water exposure but warns not to submerge it in water.

2. Ran a full 40 minute cycle on the normal setting with warm water and regular detergent. Most household washing machines have settings ranging from delicate to heavy duty. Normal represents a typical level of agitation that would occur.

3. Did not add any other items to the wash to prevent further collision with the phone during the cycle. Wanted to isolate the effects of the washing machine alone on the iPhone.

4. After the wash completed, immediately removed the iPhone from the jeans pocket to assess any immediate damage from the cycle.

5. Let the iPhone air dry fully before attempting to turn it on and test functionality.

Damage Assessment

After the iPhone was removed from the washing machine, it was important to thoroughly assess any potential water damage. This involved testing all functionality to determine what still worked and what may have been impacted by the water exposure.

Key functionality tests included: powering on the device, using the touchscreen and buttons, making calls, sending texts, connecting to WiFi, using apps, taking photos, playing audio, charging the battery, and checking for any error messages.

Water damage can cause issues like a malfunctioning touchscreen, distorted speakers, a faulty charging port, and corrosion on the logic board. It was critical to check all aspects of the iPhone after the washing machine cycle to evaluate the true extent of the damage.

Surprising Result

The results of the washing machine test were surprising. Even after a full one hour wash cycle, the iPhone X emerged fully functional. According to multiple first-hand accounts on Reddit and Apple discussions forums, iPhones can survive extended washing machine cycles and be no worse for wear. In one test, an iPhone X survived a full 1 hour washing machine cycle with no issues apart from some fogginess in the camera lens. While the phone’s Face ID stopped working, all other operations like the screen, microphone, speakers, and buttons remained functional. There are several accounts of iPhones surviving 30+ minute washing machine cycles and working perfectly afterwards when dried out. While no smartphone is designed to go through a washing machine, recent iPhones appear surprisingly resilient against water damage from the wash. With multiple reports of iPhones surviving washing machines, the results indicate that your iPhone has a good chance of coming out unscathed as long as it’s immediately dried out.


If you accidentally leave your iPhone in a pocket and it goes through the washing machine, don’t panic. Based on the results of this experiment, there is a good chance the phone can come out unscathed. However, you’ll want to follow some best practices:

  • Don’t try to turn on your wet iPhone right away. Make sure it’s completely dry first.
  • Use a fan or rice to help absorb moisture faster.
  • Check for water in ports or speakers. Compressed air can help clear those out.
  • Once fully dry, try charging it and turning it on before assuming it’s broken.
  • If it won’t turn on, you may need professional repair, but don’t give up hope yet.

While not ideal, a cycle through the washing machine doesn’t necessarily spell doom for your iPhone. With some luck and proper drying, it may just survive the ordeal intact.

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