Avoiding a Problem That Afflicts Nearly 20% of Smartphones

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Friends, today I bring you a bit of practical advice for avoiding a problem that is perhaps more common than you might think. The problem in question can be inconvenient, costly, and embarrassing, in fact, it usually checks off all three of those adjectives.

Fortunately this problem is completely preventable.

What is the problem in question?

Here’s a hint: “clunk, clunk, sploosh, ahhhh!”

I realize that’s a rather vague hint, though it’s probably enough for some readers to catch on. For others, allow me to fill in the details.

Tranquility Interrupted

This past Saturday morning I was relaxing in our living room, enjoying my first cup of coffee, and making my way through “The Millionaire Next Door” trying to determine if we were prodigious accumulators of wealth (PAWs) or if we were just average accumulators of wealth (AAWs). (It turns out we are high AAWs – for now.) As I was arriving at this conclusion my serenity was disturbed by loud noises coming from our powder room.

The occupant of that room was my wife and the noises were, you guessed it:

Clunk, Clunk, Sploosh, Ahhhhhh!

Like almost 1 out of every 5 smartphone owners she had dropped her phone in the toilet. To add to her misfortune the phone had fallen into an . . . ahem, already crowded pool.

Alas, there was nothing to do other than to fish the phone out of the bowl while trying not to disturb the other inhabitants.

We dried it off (when I say we I mean she) took it apart as best we (she) could and stuck it in a bag of rice hoping it would dry out and be as good as new in a few hours.

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A horrifying scene

Nearly 1 in 5 People Drop Their Phones in the Toilet??

It’s true. According to this c/net article a study on the topic revealed that 19% of smart phone owners end up dropping their devices in the commode.

A question you might ask is why anyone would do actual research on this phenomenon. Well, as it turns out the study that produced these findings was commissioned by Plaxo, the now defunct company that provided automated address book updates and cloud-based storage for contact lists normally stored on smartphones.

Plaxo was naturally interested in understanding the magnitude of the smartphone-in-toilet problem because their service offered a solution to those who suffered a case of the dropsies while using their phone in the loo.

For a small fee Plaxo would happily store your address book in their cloud and you would never again have to worry about losing all your contacts should your smartphone go for a swim in the john.

A Simpler Solution

But guess what, Plaxo went out of business in October of 2017. Could its demise be at least partly attributable to the fact that there is a simpler solution to this problem?

I think that is entirely possible.

After dedicating about 3 seconds of thought to the problem I developed a solution which I now share with you at no cost.

That solution is this:

Don’t take your phone into the bathroom!!

Elegant in its simplicity, no? I didn’t even have to commission a study to figure out that if you don’t take your phone into the bathroom it’s almost impossible for it to end up in the toilet.

To help us implement this solution at home I have placed the below sign on each of our bathroom doors.

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They’re subtle enough to blend in with any decor but nonetheless they clearly make their point. I’m confident that they will be effective.

Did Everything Come Out Alright in the End?

Though we now have a solution to prevent future episodes of inadvertent cell phone and toilet introductions there was still the matter of trying to bring my wife’s phone back to life.

After several hours in the bag of rice her phone remained unresponsive. There was no visible “contamination” but the phone appeared to be all but dead. The screen was completely black and despite pressing all the buttons on the phone in every imaginable combination we could not produce a sign of life.

The only glimmer of hope came from plugging the phone into the charger which caused a small LED light on the front to blink. Was the phone trying to tell us it still had a pulse?

As a last ditch effort to save the phone and prevent us from having to shell out the cash for a new one I decided to take the moribund device to a cell phone repair shop.

Be Glad This Isn’t Your Job

My wife’s weekend was not off to a good start. In addition to the phone in the toilet she had also twisted her ankle and injured her back, though not while on the toilet.

I tried to console her by letting her know she wasn’t the only person I knew who had dropped more than the usual and customary objects into a toilet. A co-worker of mine has dunked no fewer than three smartphones at last count.

But despite my wife’s misfortune, the person I felt truly bad for in this entire episode was the poor soul behind the counter at the cell phone repair shop.

For just a moment if you will, picture yourself in the shoes of the kind and cheerful individual who greeted me as I walked in. This person was there to be of service and help out where he could and in return for his efforts he was offered something that had been pulled from a stranger’s toilet.

As I told the young man behind the counter:

Hello kind sir, my wife dropped this phone into the toilet she was using and as a result it no longer seems to work. I wonder if you might be able to take hold of it from me and see if you can figure out what’s wrong with it. Naturally we haven’t washed it off so as to not make matters worse.

Poor guy.

If ever you are having a bad day or perhaps not finding much enjoyment in your own job I hope you can take comfort in the fact that while at work you are not routinely offered items that have been retrieved from others’ toilets. I hope you will find solace in the realization that roughly 1 out of 5 people you deal with at work will not return to your office asking you to fix something that has been backstroking in their commode.

Let This Be a Lesson

In the end my wife’s phone was able to be resuscitated and we were only out $25 for our troubles. I’m still thinking about how to categorize that expense. It’ll show up somewhere in our January report.

The problem turned out to be software related. Something about debugging a glitch caused by inadvertent contact with a foreign substance.

But let’s be honest, $25 is a small price to pay to bring a dunked smartphone back to life. We could’ve easily been out 4 to 8 times that much if we had to replace the phone and that wouldn’t have been frugal at all.

So friends, let our misfortune be a lesson to you and also a reminder. When answering the call of nature there is no need to make or receive any other calls. We should all enjoy the fact that the bathroom should be a safe-haven from the need to multi-task.

When visiting the john I urge you to stay focused on the task at hand and save yourself the inconvenience, cost, and embarrassment that we (she) had to suffer through. Remember that the solution to this problem is as simple as:

Don’t take your phone into the bathroom!!

Have a great weekend!





  1. On vacation a couple years ago I was in the pool and hot tub for 30 minutes with my phone in my pocket. Ouch.

    After several weeks and a new battery, that phone (Samsung Note 4) did turn on again. It was never the same. The Wi-Fi would turn off and on. It was toast.

    I used the local Craigslist, got some cash and bought a replacement. Tough lesson learned.

    (It) happens.


    1. Wade – I am amazed that you ever got that phone to even turn on after a 30 minute dunking!

      My wife has noticed that her battery isn’t lasting as long as it used to. Uh oh. Hard to blame it after the way it was traumatized.

      Thanks for stopping by and keep that replacement phone out of the hot tub.


  2. It really never occurs to me to use my phone whilst simultaneously using the loo… to me they are completely separate activities…

    Then again, my phone is secured in a (completely safe, but geeky) holster attached to my belt… I’ve heard that many casualties are the result of storing phones in one’s back pocket so they go for a swim as soon as you drop trou…


    1. Couldn’t agree more – one thing at a time – at least in the lavatory.

      I got one of those holster gadgets for my last phone and never used it. I have to agree they are a bit geeky. But hey, if it keeps your phone out of the pool go with it.

      Thanks for the comment!


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