Rights & Money

Save Your Laptop After a Spill

In the event that you spill something on your laptop, these tips just might save the day

By Matt Smith


If there’s one thing that all laptop users fear, it’s spilling water or hot coffee on their computer. If it ever happens to you, don’t panic—act quickly and you may be able to save your machine.

– First, unplug the computer’s power cable if it’s plugged in. Be careful that you’re not risking electric shock, however: if you’re standing in water or your clothes are wet, play it safe and switch the power off by flipping the circuit breaker.

– Turn the computer off. Time is of the essence, so don’t bother shutting it down the proper way—just hold the power button down until the computer shuts off.

– Unplug anything that’s plugged into the computer, such as an external keyboard, mice, and USB keys.

– Pat down the surfaces of the computer with a soft dry cloth to soak up any water.

– If possible, remove the battery and any other internal components that are easily accessible. Put these into a container of rice to soak up the moisture.

– Leave your computer to air dry in a warm, dry room. Set it in an upside down V shape so that any liquid can drain out of the keyboard more easily. You can use a fan or a can of compressed air to help it dry out faster, but avoid using a hair dryer as you run the risk of causing damage by static shock or overheating internal components. Don’t bother leaving the whole computer in rice—air drying will work better and you won’t risk getting grains caught inside the machine.

– Let it air dry for at least 24 hours—the longer the better. You need to be sure that your computer is completely dry before turning it on again, as any moisture left inside could cause a short circuit and more damage.

– Have your laptop cleaned and serviced by a professional, especially if it had coffee or sugary drinks spilled on it. These beverages can leave sticky residues on the inside of the machine or corrode the electrical components. And even if your computer turns out to be toast, the repair tech should be able to rescue your files from its hard drive.





Photo: iStock/riskms.