Test five: Lobster Phone

There was surely no chance that something as complex as a mobile phone could possibly endure a wash? No, of course not. Absolutely and utterly dead, the plastic cover shows water sloshing across the screen, but nothing else.

Lobster

Plugged into a USB, a tiny red light glowed pathetically like a dying robot, but failed to register anything. Also, where did all the tissue on the screen come from? There was none in the wash. Officially broken forever.
STATUS: DEAD

Test six: Vonage WiFi Phone

Far simpler than a mobile phone, surely a slim VoIP handset could manage getting extra-clean? Not only could the new-fangled internet phone not survive our chores, but it fell apart most impressively.

Vonage

Escaping the pocket, it then unclipped its casing and unplugged the five-pin wire holding the battery in place. Putting it back together helped not at all, the poor thing failed to recognise either its own charger, or a computer. Officially a paperweight.
STATUS: DEAD

Test seven: Bluetooth Headset

Of all the items going into the pockets, this was the one we desperately hoped would meet an extraordinary and awful demise. So when it emerged utterly unscathed, looking only more smug, it was somewhat disappointing.

Bluetooth

Disappointing until we dropped a brick on it. Twice. Would it have worked? We'll never, ever know! The only regret that remains is that it wasn't being worn by someone who endorses such things when we finally smashed it. Officially crushed to death.
STATUS: DEAD

Test eight: CF Compact Flash Reader

A success? As an aesthetic object? No. The plastic casing is cheap and fell apart. The metal components and complex circuitry, now exposed to soap and water? Oh, sure, they work fine.

Card reader

Plugged into a USB slot it instantly fires up, no problems whatsoever. Please feel free to machine wash your compact flash card readers at any time, so long as you don't mind the casing collapsing. Officially mostly fine.
STATUS: ALIVE

Conclusion

So what have we learned? Well, to apologise to our mums, as they used to say, "Always check your pockets before washing, unless your pockets are full of USB flash drives." It's quite remarkable how much did manage to survive the warm, soapy spinning, especially when you remember they're made of metal and electricity.

It's important to note that when fishing the clothes out of the machine, we also found a pen (broken), an AAA battery (fine), and a 5p piece (also still working), thus proving that even when deliberately filling your pockets with electronic items to put through a washing machine, you're still going to wash things unintentionally.

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First published in PC Format Issue 124

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