Fitbits are NOT Waterproof

Last month, I invested in a Fitbit.

A Fitbit is a pedometer….but oh so much more than that. It’s a small device that clips onto your person (preferably somewhere on your torso) and it monitors how much you move using the same type of technology that is used in a Wii-mote. When worn properly, the Fitbit can keep track of how many steps you’ve taken, how many miles you’ve walked and give you an approximation on the amount of calories you’ve burned in a day. In addition, it comes with a wristband that you can wear at night so that you can track how much restful sleep you get. To make it all that much cooler, it comes with a docking station that you can keep plugged into your computer. It syncs your information with the fitbit website wirelessly every fifteen minutes, or whenever you are in range of the station.

Once your information is on the website, you can start to visually see what your activity looks like:

Don’t be alarmed by the crazy amount of calories burned here. I chose my most active day recorded. I mean, think about it: A day when I sat around watching Gilmore Girls re-runs would not be very interesting to look at!

As you can see in this picture, the website shows the calories I burned and ate on March 23rd. It also shows a graph of my active minutes throughout the day. The blue color indicates when I was “lightly active”, the yellow indicates “fairly active” and then the pink lines are when I was “very active”. On 3/23, I went for my “Unofficial 10K” during the afternoon, so that is why I was so active. Following my run, I did laundry, which would be the yellow lines. The blue lines were when I was puttering around the house, watching TV or cooking meals.

There is also a section of the fitbit website where you can track calories. I prefer the nutrition tracker at SparkPeople, however, so I track there, then just enter the amount of calories on Fitbit, so I can see the graphic comparisons against my activity.

Here is another graph for activity. When you look at my activity as a pie chart it doesn’t look so scary. Sure, I burned over 3,000 calories, but I was sitting on my butt in front of the television for over 8 hours as well.

Here is the sleep graph. As you can see, I actually got a lot of sleep that night. This is pretty unusual for me. I typically only get about 6-7 hours of sleep a night, if I’m lucky. Often it is less. This is something I am working on and I enjoy looking at my sleep report the next day. It kind of gives me an idea of what is going on at night.

I had been planning to do this review after a month or two of using the Fitbit, but unfortunately, my own stupidity stood in my way of letting you in on my product review.

Yep. I washed it. Take note everyone: Fitbits are NOT waterproof.

I packed my fitbit in rice and left it there for several days, hoping I could get the moisture out. When I plugged it back in, all I got was the message mentioned above. At first, I was hopeful, as many users report nothing but a blank screen. A couple of days went by, however, and I never got more than that flashing message. I tried resetting the device. Nothing. I was super bummed….$100 investment down the drain after only 2.5 weeks!

But then a couple of days later, someone responded to my tweet!

Could there be hope?

I e-mailed the Fitbit support team. They at first advised me to try the rice trick and then attempt to reset the device. I explained that I had already given this a try. Then they said the nicest thing any support team has ever said to me:

“Hi Alexa,

Ok, sorry that didn’t work for you. We would like to accommodate you with a replacement.

A replacement? Seriously? I am an idiot and I throw your device into the washing machine (accidentally, of course) and you will replace it?! You people are my new best friends!

The Fitbit support team did take the time to let me know that if I am an idiot and break it again, I will have to pay for a new device myself:

“Hi Alexa,

We really appreciate your business and are going to accommodate you with a replacement Fitbit. In the future, should a Fitbit tracker get lost or damaged because of exposure to water, you will need to purchase a new Fitbit tracker and base station. In exchange for our accommodation, we may ask you to tell us a bit about your experience with Fitbit. We are trying to understand how people use and interact with Fitbit so that we can create a better product. We would also like to hear any other feedback you might have, both positive, negative, and feature requests.”

Seems fair to me!

They were also incredibly quick with replacing it. We e-mailed on Saturday, it was mailed out on Monday and was at my apartment by Tuesday. Admittedly, they are based here in San Francsico, but still, I appreciate the prompt execution.

The new fitbit.

And it charges! Yay!

So I am going to resume my testing out of the fitbit. Based on the couple of weeks I’ve used the product, I would say that I am enjoying it. I like to be able to look down throughout the day and see how active (or inactive) I’ve been. I find that it encourages me to get up and get in a few extra steps and to not skip out on workouts…I mean, as I said above, it’s way more fun to look at graphs that show how awesome you are vs. how lazy you are!

The fitbit is also now teamed up with RunKeeper. I’m not sure of all of the details of that yet, as my fitbit broke right around the time they partnered up. I noticed from my RunKeeper account that my steps are being noted over there. I don’t, however, see my runs that I log with RK on the Fitbit site. Either I am missing something, or that is a feature that hasn’t been enabled yet. In a way, it doesn’t matter, as if I am wearing the fitbit, the calories/steps/miles are being calculated, which is all that matters. Even so, it might be nice to see the run logged as an activity automatically.

Another feature I’d like to see incorporated would be partnerships with SparkPeople and other nutrition tracking sites. Many of us who began our weightloss/healthy living journeys elsewhere are set in our ways as far as what sites we like to use. I would really like it if I could enter my food in at SparkPeople and have it automatically show up on the Fitbit site.

At any rate, the new ‘bit is alive and well, clipped to my pants as I type. I will let you all know how it goes in the future!

Note: In case you missed it, I purchased the initial fitbit with my own money. The replacement fitbit was sent to me for free by the company. I did not ask for them to do this and I cannot promise you that they will send you a free fitbit if you break yours, so please don’t test this theory! All opinions in this review are my own and based on the usage during the life of my original Fitbit.

Do you use any kind of device (Heart Rate Monitor, BodyBugg, Fitbit, Garmin) to help you in your healthy living routines?

32 thoughts on “Fitbits are NOT Waterproof

    1. Aw, sorry. No freebie. 😦

      It really is reasonably priced though. There is just the initial investment, vs. products like BodyBugg which require a subscription to use. I’m not sure if BodyBugg has a lot more to offer, but for my purposes, I wasn’t interested in paying any more beyond buying the unit. This was really key in me choosing to try out Fitbit.

      And yes, totally awesome for them to send me a replacement! Seriously one of the best customer service responses I’ve ever experienced.

      1. well, I was hoping that in light of all of the recent death and destruction and whatnot on my side of the ocean you’d feel an odd compulsion to get to the post office in a timely manner to bring some cheer a long time friend.. O:>

  1. I’d be interested in trying that solely for the sleep tracker, since I am not good at exercising… But, man! That device looks totally awesome!

    1. It isn’t just for intense exercising though. It’s about getting in steps and activity where you can. It would also be good for when you go to the rock climbing gym or other stuff like that.

      But yes, the sleep tracker is cool. I’m not so sure it is 100% accurate, as you may not actually be awake all of those times…you might just be moving. Of course, it’s good to know if you’re having restless sleep.

  2. I really love your blog, your mix of pics and stories are great. Fab that they realised you are an “influencer”, and have sent you a replacement. It is almost like being famous and getting free stuff! He, he!!

    I found you after searching ‘I used to be fat’, as in the MTV show which has just hit the UK and it referenced in a blog on Sparkspeople which after poking around lead me to your blog.

    Your journey is really inspirational – thanks for sharing.

    It was also interesting to read about Curves, there aren’t many over here.

    Anyway, just wanted to say ‘thanks for sharing’ and well done – your healthier life is an inspiration 🙂

    Abby, UK

  3. I am a Clinical Sport Psychologist & SR. MSL. I love my Fitbit and constantly suggest this unit to my clients as well. I recently had an issue with my Fitbit’s charging and not reporting infor correctly.
    The customer support is also sending me a replacement unit. Excellent customer service is a wonderful thing. Its especially important with the advent of technology. Horrible news always travels fasterthan the good.
    I definitely want to be apart of the CHANGE movement and report the good!
    Remain phenomenal,
    Dr. Kasmin Boswell

  4. I just happened across your site while looking up info about the fitbit in water…. I just got back from my swim workout and realized that I had forgotten to take off the tracker that was attached to my swim suit before starting my workout….. No!!!!!! I have it currently submerged in a bowl of rice in hopes it will make a speedy recovery….. Now I feel naked without it…. This tracker had me so in tune with my movements through out the day as well as what I have been eating…. Great to know that if the little tracker doesn’t revive, that customer support seems to be very helpful in these situations…. Keeping my fingers crossed!

    1. It probably isn’t a recognized solution, but when I accidentally washed my replacement fitbit (yes, I am that lame), I just tied it up in a sock and dried it in the dryer. Worked like a dream.

        1. I would try the pack in rice trick before you try drying it….I only dried it the second time because I didn’t have money for a new one.

          When I dried it, I did normal dry temp with the rest of my laundry. Seemed to work a-ok.

      1. I, too, accidentally machine-washed my Fitbit in hot water!!! Was ready to say good-bye when I read about your putting yours in the dryer….. Miraculously, it worked!!!
        Thank you so much, I so appreciate your help.
        Also, I don’t seem to be able to get the screen which shows the ratio between calories eaten and calories burned. What do I need to do to get that screen?

        1. You have to put it in week view instead of daily so that you can see the calories burned versus eaten

  5. My mom got a fitbit, along with my dad, but my mom unfortunately lost her fitbit in a couple of weeks. I was wondering if you could replace her fitbit since she only had used it for such a short time. I would greatly appreciate it, as well as my mom, and she would be so proud of me. Please help.

  6. Washed my fitbit by mistake in the washing machine last night – low temperature wash. Hey presto stuck it on the charger, it charged and it works! Although I don’t think it recorded all the wash or spin cycles!

  7. I too……did a stupid thing today. Well more stupid than most of these. I dont’ swim much and was just laying out in the sun thinking, I won’t go swimming, i will wear my fitbit outside today. Well I got talked into swimming and realized an hour later I WAS STILL WEARING MY FITBIT!! OH NO!! This thing has changed my life! I have had it since April and have it on me almost 24/7, and now…I’m just PRAYING that it dries up and works. But I was swimming for awhile. It wasn’t just a quick machine wash. Right now, It’s in rice thanks to all the people who posted that idea. I sure hope that or the dryer works. I know they are only $100, but it took alot for me to even be able to get one. OH DEAR! I feel like such an idiot!! But thank you all for sharing your thoughts!!!

  8. I’m late on tagging onto this but your blog came up when I googled that once again my fitbit is giving me fits. I usually try to put it somewhere that it won’t get wet or sweated on and it was turned the wrong way when I was mowing the lawn!~ Dumb me… They are amazing… I had a problem where it went blank a few weeks ago and they offered to replace it for me and then it started working again. Hopefully that will be the case again. I love my fitbit and it’s customer service! They are amazing!!!

  9. Washer….swimming….how about OCEAN swimming?? Do you suppose the rice it is sitting in right now is going to help that?!?! Should I maybe rinse it with fresh water??? GASP!!!!
    We simply went on the ferry to the lighthouse and went shelling and beach walking and wading….into my NECK!!!! The Fitbit was in my ‘watch pocket’ …… 😦
    Now I have an Aria without a Fitbit…..

    Karla
    kc5288@gmail.com

  10. I just came across your website because I am doing some fitbit research before I purchase one (or ask for one for Christmas 🙂 ) and I wanted to let you know that you can now synch your fitbit with SparkPeople. YAY!!!!!!!

  11. Washed my Fitbit yesterday by mistake. So far no luck with the rice method. Going to leave it overnight and see what happens. If no luck, I’ll try the dryer. Had it roughly 3 weeks and love it. Have been telling everyone about it. Wanted the new flex tracker but didn’t want to wait until it was available to get started with tracking. Got addicted to my Fitbit One and hoping I didn’t destroy it. Fingers crossed. Otherwise I’ll call customer service with fingers crossed.

  12. I found your post when I searched for what to do if you send your fitbit through the washer and dryer. This is the 3rd time I have sent some type of electrical device through the washer and dryer. I found my fitbit one on a pair of jeans, I was excited when I saw that they company replaced yours for free. So I plugged it into my computer and pushed the button. The screen said fitbit and some numbers and then the battery icon came on. Right now I have it charging and it is showing a charge so I am hopeful that it works. I dried it on high heat with our jeans so we will see. Your post is very well done and I am very hopeful after reading that my fitbit my live!!!!

  13. Just washed and dried my fitbit (LG frontloader) and it seems to be perfectly fine! It did burn 617 calories during its ordeal, which I found amusing

  14. I, too have washed my FitBit…I think too many times. I was looking for help with mine flashing “FITBIT 2.25” and came across your blog. I just preordered the new FITBIT FLEX. Maybe the company will still replace my FITBIT so I can give it to someone. I think the wristband option will be better for me…since I can’t seem to remember to take it off my jeans!

  15. So glad I asked this question! Have been wondering whether I could wear my Fitbit while in water aerobics or aqua jogging. I’ve only had it for a month, and wore it on a recent vacation in Central Europe. Worked really well, and I was amazed how far I walked. And it stays attached to me better TNA any other pedometer I’ve ever and. Just a super fitness tool, but I do wish it was waterproof!

  16. I had my ultra for less than a week before I wrecked it. I didn’t put it in the laundry or completely immerse it in water but I went for a walk up a large hill on my lunch break in hot weather and got sweat on it. Lots! Ack! I didn’t realize what I’d done until that night when I went to put it on the charger and found that the contacts and the bottom of the clip were encrusted with a fine bluish-green powder. I guess, during the course of the day after my walk, the salty sweat corroded the contacts. I tried cleaning them as instructed on the website but the unit would only sync. It wouldn’t charge anymore. The contacts were discolored and appeared damaged, too. Because I bought it used on eBay, it was no longer under warranty so I wasn’t eligible for a replacement. Ouch! The people at Fitbit were very kind, though, and offered me half-price on a Fitbit One since the Ultra was discontinued. The One is designed to be waterproof and sweatproof but I’m going to be so paranoid I’ll probably carry it around in something waterproof anyway. The Fitbit One was on backorder so, in the meantime, I bought another used Ultra (much cheaper, no accessories) and I am guarding it with my life. It’s good to know that if, heaven forbid, it ends up in the laundry or something, there are things I can try to help dry it out. It seems that “regular” water won’t damage it as badly as sweat. Does anyone have any suggestions for waterproof holders for the Fitbit? Thanks!!

  17. Mine blinked Fitbit 2.25 at first when the battery had been drained, I didn’t realize the USB end wasn’t plugged in as I don’t have that many ports. After a minute or two it went away and showed the empty charge signal.

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