What to do when you spilled water on a laptop

  • If you have spilled water on your laptop, turn it off completely and unplug all accessories.
  • Open a wet laptop as much as possible, dry accessible components and (if possible) disassemble the machine for complete drying.
  • Here’s everything you need to do to recover a spilled laptop.

Water and electronics don’t mix, and if you spill water (or any other liquid) on your laptop, you need to act immediately. An accidental spill isn’t necessarily a death sentence for your computer, but the potential for permanent damage is real. Here’s what you need to do to save your laptop if you spill liquid on it.

1. Turn off the laptop

In the first seconds after a spill, the first thing to do is turn off the computer. For almost all laptops, the fastest way to do this is to press and hold the power button for six to 10 seconds until you force it. After the laptop turns off, immediately unplug it from its power adapter or wall outlet.

A laptop power button.

Press and hold the power button until the laptop turns off.

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2. Unplug all accessories

Once the most urgent need to shut down and unplug the laptop has been satisfied, move on to isolating the laptop from all accessories. Remove anything plugged into the laptop, including USB cables and peripherals such as thumb drives that might be plugged into the USB ports.

3. Dry anything you can easily reach

You will want to work quickly, removing as much water as possible as quickly as possible. The longer your laptop is wet, the more permanent damage is likely to occur, especially if the liquid was not ordinary water.

At the same time, be careful, especially if you open the laptop and handle internal components (see the section on opening your laptop). Many components are delicate.

Generally you will want to use absorbent cloths Where paper napkins to absorb liquid, but for small parts and for nooks and crannies, use Q-tips. That’s all you need for a water spill, but if you’ve drained other types of liquid like soda, coffee, or tea, it’s important to remove any conductive residue that may be left behind. when the liquid evaporates. Small amounts of rubbing alcohol will help for this, but always dip your cotton swab or cloth in the alcohol – never pour or spray alcohol directly on the components.

Cloth and cotton swabs for drying a laptop with spilled water.

Absorbent cloths and cotton swabs are sufficient. Never use a heat source like a hair dryer.

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You must also do open the laptop in a wide “V” shape and the supporter upside down on a flat surface This way, any liquid that has seeped into the machine can leak out through the keyboard, vents, and seams of the case. Leave it in this configuration while you plan your next move, giving the trapped liquid a chance to get out. Continue to dry the surfaces of your laptop when liquid appears.

An open laptop set to air dry.

Open the laptop and turn it over so water can drain through vents and seams.

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4. Open the laptop and remove the components (if you can)

This step depends on the type of laptop you have and your own comfort in essentially performing electronics surgery. If your laptop allows it, remove the battery from the bottom of the case. Many newer laptops have non-removable batteries, in which case you should skip this step. But if the battery is removable (usually via a button or slider on the bottom of the case), take it out and set it aside. Dry the battery if it is wet.

If the laptop is user-serviceable, open it up to access internal components such as the hard drive, processor, and RAM. If possible, carefully remove all easily removable internal components and set them aside. Thoroughly dry all those internal components that you can access.

Leave all of these components outside until completely dry – this may take several days. Be patient and make sure the laptop and all of its internal components are completely dry before reassembling it and turning it back on. This is also true if you can’t open the laptop or remove components – wait several days (or more) before turning it back on.

5. Have your laptop serviced by a professional

If you have easy access to a local computer repair shop or warranty service center for your particular laptop, consider getting it professionally repaired as soon as possible. Professionals can take care of your laptop and make sure it’s cleaned and dried more thoroughly than you can with makeshift home tools and techniques. If professional service is not an option, remember to be careful, thorough, and allow it to dry for a minimum of several days before re-energizing.

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