What to Do When You Spill Water on Your Laptop

What to Do When You Spill Water on Your Laptop

If you are like us, you never thought seriously about what to do when you spill water on your laptop…until a terrible accident occurred. Considering how many people have the habit of eating lunch at their desk, it’s surprising that accidents like this don’t happen more often. Sometimes it’s your fault and sometimes you can blame the dog or the baby. Whatever the case, once you get past that sinking realization that your laptop may be fried, it’s time to swing into action.

Remove All Power Sources

First and most importantly, you must unplug your laptop. This may seem obvious, but many people panic and forget. If you are googling this from your nearby desktop, unplug that laptop now! Also, remove the battery. This will disconnect any source of power that might lead to electrical trouble inside the laptop. If possible, you also want to remove the hard drive, to protect your data.

Now, the likelihood your computer will recover depends on a variety of factors. The most important factor is the kind of liquid you spilled. If the liquid is water or tea without sugar or milk, your chances of recovery may be greater. If the beverage is sugary, such as Coke or Pepsi, you may be out of luck. The reason for this is that when sugary or milky beverages dry, they leave a residue behind that will effect the performance of your computer.

Leave Your Laptop Facedown to Dry

After removing all power sources, you should now make an effort to dry out your computer completely. If you spilled a lot of water on your laptop, you should drain the excess liquid off and dab it with a paper towel or other highly absorbent fabric. Then, leave the laptop open in a facedown position for 2-3 days. Some people suggest leaving it in the sun (the thinking is that the sun will help it dry better).

Confirm Whether the Laptop is Functional

After a couple days, double-check to make sure all visible parts are completely dry–including the battery and the power cord. If everything is dry, you can reinsert the battery and plug the computer in. Now, try turning your computer on again. If the computer starts, let it run for about an hour. If at this time it has not recovered, you may have to seek professional assistance from a computer repair specialist.

In our case, the spill was only water and we followed these instructions to a “T”, but to no avail. The almost-new MacBook Pro was not recoverable and had to be replaced. At least it was recently backed up. Despair not, though! We have heard of people being successful with these efforts. It may all depend on the angle of the water spilled…

Below is a video that demonstrates most of the steps we have just described.

What to Do When You Spill Water on Your Laptop: Video 1

Here’s another one, not as detailed (or cute) as the first. Also, this video recommends tipping the open laptop on its side to drain the water out, but we recommend resting it facedown, so the liquid doesn’t spread around.

What to Do When You Spill Water on Your Laptop: Video 2

Finally, this article from the Guardian newspaper has some good advice for what to do when you spill a drink on your laptop.

Note: The above suggestions are based on generally accepted best-practices, but should not be taken for legal or professional advice. As mentioned previously, it is always best to seek the assistance of a computer repair specialist.

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