Spilled water on your laptop? Here’s how to fix it

If you've spilled water on your laptop, act fast and you might be able to fix it

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So, you’ve spilled something on your laptop. Whether you put your glass down too close to your computer, or were using it to play music at a party and your Elaine dance didn’t go as planned, you may be reading this article frantically on your phone while trying to figure out how to save your precious laptop from the liquid you just spilled on it.

It’s important to note that if your laptop gets wet, time is of the essence. You must turn it off, unplug it, and remove the battery at once. Every second counts. Do not bother to take the proper steps to turn it off, either – go ahead and press that power button until your machine shuts down. If you haven’t done that yet, stop reading and do so now before following on with our tutorial below, and accept the hard truth that your computer will be out of commission for a few days.

In case of wet-laptop emergency

Step 1: Remove all components that are easily detachable. Unplug your mouse and any cables, and remove any flash drives and DVDs. Leave your laptop bare.

Step 2: Dry the outside of your machine. Open your laptop as far as it goes, hold it upside down, and wipe dry any wet surfaces that you see with a towel or another lint-free absorbent fabric. The type of liquid matters: Water is the least corrosive, while sugary and alcoholic liquids are the most harmful. Either way, the goal is to mitigate their effects as much as possible by drying the computer immediately.

Step 3: At this point, we’d recommend you take advantage of the warranty if it’s still applicable, or take your machine to a repair shop.

If you don’t want to have a professional take a look at it for you though, there are some more steps you can take to try and dry your machine out. Note though, that neither Digital Trends nor the author accept any responsibility for damage caused to your machine from taking it apart.

Break it down

While laptops of years gone by made the process of opening them up and removing components easy, that’s not really the case with modern day laptops. We wouldn’t recommend doing much to them unless yours makes the process relatively painless, as it’s easy to damage a laptop by taking it apart and the last thing we want to do is make the situation worse. That said, here are some steps you can take if your laptop allows it.

Step 1: If you haven’t already, remove your battery. This can be achieved by pressing a switch or button on the underside of your laptop.

Step 2: If you’re concerned about liquid leaking through the whole system to components like your memory and storage drive, you can remove those too. In some laptops you’ll find panels that allow for their removal on the underside. In most cases you’ll need to use a Phillips screwdriver to remove them. With the memory, press the side clips to eject each stick. With the solid state drive or hard drive, you’ll likely need to undo more screws to free it from the frame. Be sure to carefully detach it from the power and data connection ports or cables.

Step 3: Examine each component you’ve removed to check for any sign of wetness or corrosion. Any wet parts should be dried, but if the liquid is anything other than water, you’ll want to wipe it off (you can use a cotton swab) with 99 percent isopropyl alcohol – this will dissolve gunk without causing damage and evaporate without leaving residue.

Step 4: Once you’re done, you’ll want to leave everything alone to air-dry for two to three days in a warm, dry area. Remember that a fan will hasten the drying process. Do not use a hair dryer, as this could cause static problems. Once you’ve picked your machine apart and given the components time to dry, you can follow the instructions in reverse to put your laptop back together and see if it works.

Hopefully, all will be well, but if not you’ll want to take it to a repair center.

If your laptop cannot be taken apart

What if you have a Surface Book 2 or MacBook or any another laptop that refuses to be taken apart? This situation drastically reduces your options, so you’ll have to take it to a repair center.

Between the time that liquid is spilled on your keyboard and the time that you take it to the store, here’s what you can do: Hold your machine upside down, wiping dry any visible wetness with a towel.

Then, lay it down on a dry surface – an excellent option is a large bag of rice because rice is absorbent enough to help draw out any liquid that made its way inside through the crevices of your keyboard. Use a big bag, a lot of rice, and place it all in a warm, dry room. Feel free to turn on a fan to speed the process along until the time when you can carry your laptop to a repair store.

Waterproofing options

To safeguard your laptop in the future, we’d recommend investing in a silicone or clear plastic keyboard cover, a waterproof laptop skin for the top and bottom halves of the case, and a waterproof laptop screen protector. You can also carry your laptop around in a great laptop bag. Be careful not to cover any ventilation holes, however, and use scissors to cut the skin if necessary to ensure that your ventilation holes are left free.

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