I accidentally put my Garmin watch through the washing machine, and this happened

Person choosing washing machine cycle
(Image credit: Getty)

It was so easily done. I scooped up a big armful of miscellaneous sportswear and socks of roughly the same color, stuffed them into the washing machine, and set the program. With headphones on in another part of the flat, I couldn't hear any ominous clanking that might have alerted me to the accidental addition to the load as it soaped, soaked, and span.

Only when I emptied the machine at the end of the cycle did I realize what had happened as I reached into the drum to fish out any errant socks and came away with a very soggy Garmin Fenix 7. I've been testing the new Garmin Enduro 2 recently and had clearly lost track of the Fenix's whereabouts (there's no point wearing two, as Garmin Connect will only sync data from the primary one).

The watch was powered off, so there was no way of knowing if any serious damage had been done, but I managed not to panic. I've accidentally given my husband's Garmin cycle computer the same treatment once before, in exactly the same way, and it was absolutely fine.

I made sure it was dry, then plugged in the charging cable – and to my enormous relief, it was absolutely fine. No flickering, weird  glitches, or unprompted activations of the touchscreen. Phew.

How to clean it the right way

The odds were always good – this is a watch built to withstand swimming and watersports, after all – but it's definitely not the wisest way to clean your best GPS watch. If you want to do it properly, Garmin recommends rinsing the silicone band with water, or cleaning it with rubbing alcohol and a lint-free cloth to remove stubborn sunscreen or other gunk. For the watch body, water or a dampened lint-free cloth is your best bet, with a soft brush to clean any dirt from charging ports.

There were a few other factors that might have helped, too. The cycle was only on 30C (good for saving energy and preventing damage to fabric), and I was using a non-biological laundry detergent. There was no thick, scented fabric conditioner, though I had tossed in some Nikwax BaseFresh.

The lessons from all this? Check all laundry very carefully before throwing it in the machine, keep expensive watches on a stand when not in use, and don't freak out if something does happen. I only regret that the watch wasn't switched on so I could see how many steps it recorded during the spin cycle. At 1200RPM, I might have even earned a new badge.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.