spilled water on laptop keyboard

Spilled water on your laptop or keyboard

Spilling liquid on your laptop or keyboard doesn’t have to be a call for replacement or a kiss of death if you quickly take the necessary actions. People often freak out under such circumstances and miss the initial counter measures. Every second is crucial in this situation. The first step is to immediately press the power button until your device shuts down.  Next, unplug all the connections, and remove the battery. These two steps should be carried right away within seconds of the spillage to reduce the intensity of the destruction. Your laptop can be salvageable if you follow the essential steps at the right time. We have come up with an in-depth guide on this topic to help you take the required actions under such a mishap.

Wet laptop emergency procedure

  1. Switch off your laptop, remove the battery, and take off easily detachable parts. Disconnect all accessories (if attached) like a mouse, USB drive, cables, etc. Leave your device bare for some time.
  2. Bend the laptop screen to the maximum and hold the device upside down to drain out any liquid accumulated in the keyboard. Dry the upper surface of the laptop. Wipe the wet portion with a clean towel or any absorbent fabric. Using hairdryers or heat guns to dry the laptop surface should be avoided at any cost. Forced hot air will not serve the problem; rather will cause more damage to the laptop components.
  3. If your laptop is still under warranty period, it is recommended to take advantage of it. Reach the nearest authorized service center of your brand and consult a technician. In case your brand does not have a service center at your location, search for a local repair shop, and get your device checked.

The type of liquid, water, coffee or coke, spilled on your laptop matters to a great extent. Water spilled on a laptop causes less damage when compared to alcoholic and sugary liquids. Liquids containing sugar and alcohol can even cause permanent damage to the device. This is because the alcoholic and sugary liquid is more corrosive and contains more conductive elements. However, in both cases, our main motive is to dry the laptop instantly and reduce their effect. If you don’t want an expert to take a look at your laptop, there are a few more steps that you can try to dry your device.

Dismantle your laptop

Older laptops can be dismantled easily, but this is not the case with newer laptops. We would not recommend opening up a laptop unless you have hands-on experience of it. This step should be carried only if the situation demands so. Following are a few steps that you can attempt to open up a laptop: –

  1. The dismantling procedure starts with removing the battery if your device allows it. Removing the battery is a simple task. It can be accomplished with the help of a button present on the underside of the laptop.
  2. Being a crucial part of the laptop, it is advised to remove both the RAM and the hard disk to protect them from damage. To carry this task, you will have to open the underside panel of the laptop with the help of a Phillips screwdriver. There are side clips present on each side of the RAM panel. Press the side clips to eject the RAM, clean it, and keep it in a secure place. To remove the hard disk, you’ll have to open a few more screws. This process should be carried gently. Be careful while removing power connections and data connections from the hard disk, because a single mistake can result in the loss of data.
  3. Thoroughly examine the opened components for any sign of wetness or corrosion. Wipe the panel with a clean cloth and dry out the parts. If the spilled liquid is sugary or alcoholic, then clean the parts with a 99% solution of isopropyl alcohol. The purpose of this solution is to dissolve gunk without leaving behind any residue.
  4. Once you have checked all the parts and are sure about brushing away all signs of wetness and corrosion, leave the parts in a warm area to dry for a day or two. Preferably keep the parts under a fan in a ventilated area, as it speeds up the drying process. Never use forced hot air to dry the parts. It may cause static issues.
  5. After allowing the parts to dry for two days, box back the laptop and check the functioning. Hopefully, the laptop starts without any issue. But if the laptop does not function, take it to the authorized service center and get it repaired.

Spilled coffee on laptop keyboard

What to do if your laptop cannot be dismantled?

If you have a modern laptop like Apple Mac-book, Surface Book 3, or any laptop which does not permit to remove the battery, then you cannot follow the above-mentioned steps. In this case, you are left out with only one option i.e., to take the laptop to the nearest service center.

In the time between spillage of the liquid and taking the laptop to the service center, follow these steps to minimize the risk.

  1. Hold the laptop upside down and drain out the liquid.
  2. Wipe the wet area with a clean towel
  3. Keep the laptop on a dry surface under the fan or in a ventilated place.

These steps are hardly going to help much. But trying something is better than nothing while awaiting a response from the service center. Placing the laptop under a stack of rice can significantly resolve the issue. This is an often rehashed recommendation with a few considerable issues. Rice is a hygroscopic material. It is not much helpful if the spilled liquid contains sugar, alcohol, or anything besides water. It can only absorb the moisture from the surface in contact and fails to absorb moisture deep inside the laptop. Usually, rice contains flakes and specks of dust that can cause more issues if trapped inside your laptop.

In case of laptops that cannot be opened, the ideal choice is to reach the nearest service center and get the issue fixed. Trying to open the laptop forcefully without any experience may cause more damage to the device. In worst case scenario, due to some constraints, if you cannot reach the service center, then keep your laptop in a ventilated area untouched for a few days. Do not attempt to switch on the laptop soon after the liquid spillage as it can short circuit the motherboard and ruin your device.

How to safeguard your laptop?

As they say, “precaution is better than cure” safeguarding your laptop can prevent the occurrence of such issues. Do not consume drinks and use laptop at the same time. To protect your laptop from liquid spillage, you can use a silicone keyboard cover or purchase a complete shell. You can even purchase a laptop riser and connect an external mouse and keyboard for operation. Never keep your laptop unattended on a table or bed after work. Pack it in a bag and keep it safe. If you already have experienced liquid spillage on your laptop a couple of times in the past, then it might be the time to purchase a laptop that is designed to resist more abuse. Also, you can purchase accidental damage cover provided by leading laptop brands like HP and Dell.


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