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What to Do If You Spilled Water or Coffee on Your Laptop

spilled coffee on laptop

More and more tech products are now waterproof. For example, it was difficult to find waterproof phones unless you were willing to shell out the big bucks just a few years ago. Nowadays, all phones apart from the most basic, entry-level models have some sort of water resistance built into them.

Unfortunately, the one product class still not widely available in waterproof form is the laptop. This is due to a large number of reasons, such as a laptop requiring far too many openings (ports, vents, etc.). It is also due to the larger size of laptops compared to mobile phones. Obviously, ensuring that a larger device is waterproof is going to cost more money.

In time, we will probably see waterproof laptops available to the public at large. Until then, you can make use of this guide to protect your device if you end up spilling water or coffee on it.

Step 1: Turn Everything Off

Laptops can last a long time if they are properly cared for. However, water damage to laptop can quickly cause problems with numerous components. Even if it does not render the laptop completely useless, you will still need to replace the parts that have been damaged. That is, of course, if it is even possible to replace those components in the first place.

As such, the first thing that you should do when your laptop sustains water damage is to turn it off. This means completely turn it off (no sleep mode) and remove any peripherals that may be attached to your device through any of the ports.

As long as you manage to turn off your device immediately in the aftermath of the spill, chances are that you will be able to save it. The most common problem that occurs in this scenario is that the keys start to feel ‘sticky’.

This won’t happen if you have a spill-resistant keyboard, as most of these keyboards can handle up to 60 CCs of water. We also tell you how to fix sticky keys later on if your laptop does not have such a keyboard.

Step 2: Don’t Use Rice

This is a very common mistake made by users when their devices get wet. Sure, rice can be used to absorb moisture quickly. However, there are three problems when it comes to using rice to dry out laptops.

The first is that the rice cannot access the water that may have entered the device. For example, using the rice will be a bad idea if you want to protect your laptop’s battery from water damage.

The second problem is that while rice is good at absorbing moisture, there are better ways to protect your laptop anyways.

The last problem is that rice can get inside the device. If that happens, the rice will simply compound the problems that you have.

Here is what you should do instead of using rice:

Step 3: Remove the Liquid from the Laptop

As long as you managed to turn off the device in time, the laptop’s water damage will be minimal. Now, you need to remove the liquid from the laptop.

To do this, turn the laptop over and gently rock it from side to side. This will allow the vast majority of the water to get out through the numerous vents that exist on almost every laptop.

You also want to use a dry cloth to remove the liquid that may on the outside of the laptop. This is especially true for the keyboard, as that is where water damage seems to impact usability the most. For this, we would not recommend a microfiber cloth. Instead, use a cloth that can absorb water in a better manner.

Step 4: Dry Out the Laptop

Drying out the laptop is in itself a two-step process. The first step involves using a can of compressed air or a hairdryer. Remember that whichever method you use, you should hold the can/hairdryer at least 15 cm away from the laptop.

On top of that, make sure that you use the lowest setting on the hairdryer, both in terms of heat and the speed of the fans. If the air hits the laptop at too high a speed, you risk disconnecting wires and damaging components.

It is best to dry the internals of the laptop using this method for at least 5 minutes. The longer you do it the better. Once you are finished, you can leave the laptop to dry out on its own.

It is best to leave the laptop in a warm place, but never under direct sunlight or close to a heater. We recommend drying the laptop for 48 hours before you turn it on.

Step 5: Clean the Keyboard

By now, you should be able to turn on the laptop. Hopefully, everything is fine at this point. However, you may need to clean the keyboard as some of the keys may be sticky.

To do this, use a little bit of isopropyl alcohol spray on each key. Before you do this, you must completely turn off the laptop once again. Even though isopropyl alcohol is a cleaning agent, it is a liquid too. Using it on the keycaps when the laptop is on may risk further damage to the device.

Make sure to aim the spray in a manner that it goes down the key cap. After that, press the keycap repeatedly for a few seconds and the problem should be solved (repeat if it isn’t, only using a small amount of alcohol at a time).

You can also take a look at our detailed guide on how to clean a laptop keyboard. Cleaning your laptop’s keyboard regularly will help avoid any problems with sticky keys.


Remember that the most important that you can do when you have spilled water on your laptop is to turn it off instantly.

Alternatively, keeping food and water away from your tech devices is an easy way to ensure that spills never happen in the first place.

About author

A finance major with a passion for all things tech, Uneeb loves to write about everything from hardware to games (his favorite genre being FPS). When not writing, he can be seen in his natural habitat reading, studying investments, or watching Formula 1.

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