I have a roll of 35 min film that I found while cleaning out a closet. I stuck it in my pocket so it wouldn’t get misplaced, then accidentally ran it through the washing machine. Can it still be developed?? I am hoping and praying I didn’t ruin it.
Contrary to some comments here, a 135 film cartridge is very open to water intrusion. The film slot and both spindle holes are designed only to keep out light. The cartridge filled with water in just a few seconds after it was submerged. If you still have a a professional photo lab, preferably one with a darkroom and someone who knows how to use it, I would take it there. If the film wasn't exposed to any oxidising chemicals (bleach or peroxide), it may be fine after some special handling. The film in the cartridge naturally is springy and is usually resting in a hollow roll against the outside walls of the cartridge, so resist the urge to turn the cartridge spindle now since the wet film may have welded itself together and turning the spindle could damage it. In the darkroom, I would carefully remove the cartridge end and gently see how easily the roll comes out. If it won't, I would soak the whole thing in plain water for a while and try again. It should soften up and be able to be unrolled to a reel and thoroughly washed. Once clean, they can either develop it manually while still in the reel, or dry it and reload it into a cartridge so it can be sent off to a lab for normal machine processing.
The film is probably fine, but definitely heed rackandboneman's comment about informing a lab about what happened. They may not take your film if it's contaminated.
Water is certainly not going to harm film. Detergent probably won't, either. Some detergents contain dyes that could settle on the emulsion or backing and may be harder to remove if the roll went through the dryer as well.
Most of the film will be pretty tightly wrapped on the spool, so anything that gets in will likely only touch the first couple of layers (which are leader anyway) and the edges.
35mm film cartridges have to keep light out and are, in general, well-sealed. The exception is the felt part where the film comes out. I've never submerged a cartridge, and have no idea how much would get in. If you have a roll you don't care about, you could run it through the washer in the same pocket as the last one, break it open with a bottle opener and see how much liquid got in and where it settled.
My advice would be to find a camera shop that services pros and ask if they can hand-develop the roll in a tank or can point you at someone who can. Explain what happened; they might suggest an overnight soak in water followed by a couple of rinses and then the usual development process. It will cost more than machine developing, but you'll have the best chance of saving the roll.
I'm pretty late to the game here, but- not knowing if you dried it or not matters a lot. If the film was still wet (swelled gelatin) then we'd probably water bath it and get it into the machine directly, after washing it with photoflo.
If it's been dried, however, the lab is going to have to un-reel it and separate the gelatin from sticking, then clean it, then run it. And you're going to have some messed up photos, but it's still salvageable.
You're better off finding a custom lab (but they probably don't exist anymore).
Source: Former Kodak Pro employee. Former Lab Tech (and not the just 'run it' type).