Saving a Laptop from Liquid Damage

If you spill water, or even worse, coffee, tea, beer, wine, milk or juice on your laptop, it won’t do it a lot of good, especially if it’s sticky. Take the following steps to limit and maybe save your laptop from further damage:

  • Immediately turn the laptop off.
  • Remove the AC power adapter and battery. If the liquid touches the circuits on the laptop, then it will short out.
  • Unplug all attached equipment such as printers, mice and wireless cards.
  • Turn it upside down to make a ‘tent’. This will prevent the liquid going deeper into the laptop.


  • Mop up as much of the spilled liquid as you can. Use a lint-free paper towel or cloth to clean.
  • Examine the keyboard. You might be lucky enough to have a spill-resistant keyboard.
  • Pour out the liquid contained in the keyboard enclosure.
  • Remove and clean an easily removable keyboard.
  • Clean the sticky residue. The screen, the keyboard and the buttons may be dirty. Use a lint-free cloth that is slightly damp.
  • Let it dry. Make sure that the parts are dry, there are different theories on drying:
    • Dry naturally: Prop the machine up like a tent, away from surfaces, so that air can circulate in and around the entire unit. Leave the machine until it is completely dry (48 hours).
    • Dry with light heat: Use moderately warm sources of heat. Let it dry for approximately 12 hours. A dehumidifier may improve drying time.
  • Never use a hair dryer: this will cause static problems and contaminate your laptop.
  • While it is drying, place the laptop battery (if it is removable) in uncooked rice.
    • Do not put the whole laptop in rice though – rice can get trapped in grills and fans which would create even more damage!
  • The best way to remove all residual moisture is to patiently draw it away with a vacuum cleaner held over the affected areas for up to 20 minutes in each accessible area, making sure that you have already removed the majority of liquids and moisture manually and dried all visible moisture by hand, so that none enters the vacuum cleaner. This method is preferable to leaving it to dry naturally as it halts any oxidation from occurring deep inside small surface mount components and connections, that can result in issues later on.
  • Contact the IT Office who can advise further.

To learn more about dealing with spills check out this video: