One of the worst feelings is accidentally spilling your drink onto your laptop. Water, alcoholic beverages, and coffee are common liquids people tend to spill on their laptops, even if they’re very careful. If you’ve wondered what to do if you spill water on your laptop, you’ve come to the right place!
If you’re concerned about if your laptop is damaged, read on to cover everything you need to know to salvage your computer from an accidental spill of water or sugary and alcoholic beverages. You’ll need to act fast to save your laptop, so it’s best not to delay.
How do you know if your laptop has water damage?
Once you’ve spilled liquid on your laptop, there’s a chance that your computer may have water damage. Small spills may have little effect on your computer; it entirely depends on the quantity spilled and where on the laptop it was spilled.
Here are some common signs that your laptop has water damage to look out for:
Leaking or Dripping
If you’ve had water spilled on your laptop and it begins to leak when you hold the laptop upside down or sideways, there’s likely to be liquid damage to your computer. The volume of water matters, as a small amount will affect your laptop less than an entire mug of water or coffee.
If the excess liquid dripping from your laptop is a lot, and the bottom panel is soaked, it may be worth taking to a repair shop to assess the damage.
Even if you don’t spill liquid on your keyboard, there’s a chance that it may not respond effectively. Water damage is prevalent in highly humid regions, where the laptop’s internal components (including the keyboard) can become damaged after many weeks of damp weather.
If you have yet to drop your keyboard or physically damage the components and it is not functioning, it may be due to humid weather.
Water damage can affect your speakers if left untouched, and you can identify if the audio from those speakers is distorted or muffled. While water damage to your speakers isn’t immediate, rust can destroy the sound quality and worsen your experience using your speakers.
Protect your speakers by keeping them away from water sources, ideally in a place high above where any spilled drink could occur.
Laptop Doesn’t Turn On
A laptop that doesn’t turn on is a sure sign of water damage, especially if you can recall when water or another liquid spilled onto it. If your laptop doesn’t turn on, even if the charger is plugged in or you see the dreaded blue screen of death, there’s a high likelihood that your laptop’s short-circuited from water damage.
What should you do if you spill water on your laptop?
If you’ve recently spilled water or another liquid onto your laptop, you’ll need to act fast to stop any permanent damage from occurring. Here are the immediate steps you should be taking to save a wet laptop:
Before you do anything, ensure your laptop’s turned off and remove the power lead from the computer. You can do this through the UI on the screen or just by pressing the power button. Keep the laptop away from its power cable or other connections like USB or flash drives. Water can cause links to your computer, so removing each component connected to your laptop is best.
From there, you’ll want to:
Remove the Battery
If you unplug your laptop, the next step you should take is to remove your battery if you can. Battery removal is simple if you can remove the battery without a screwdriver.
If you can’t remove your laptop simply by turning it upside down and sliding the battery out, it’s best to find a tool to remove the battery carefully.
Wipe it Down
Once you’ve removed the laptop from its power source and hard drive, you’ll need to dry your keyboard next. The best way to start drying your keyboard is first to grab a dry cloth and wipe down the wet surfaces of your laptop. Ensure you’ve wiped the entire device thoroughly, including the laptop’s hinge and screen.
Wiping it on a flat surface will stop any internal components from short-circuiting. And once you’re confident that no wet patches remain, leave your laptop to dry for 24 hours – preferably near a fan to dry it quicker.
Use Isopropyl (Alcohol)
Isopropyl alcohol is your best friend if you want to avoid a trip to the laptop repair shop. Grab your nearest 90% concentration of isopropyl and use it to wipe any potentially wet components after leaving your laptop out to dry for 24 hours.
Using alcohol will ensure that any excess water is removed and rust is minimized.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still want to know more about what to do if your gaming laptop has encountered an unfortunate spillage? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about what to do if you spill water on your computer and their answers.
Can a laptop survive a water spill?
Sometimes, a laptop can survive water spilled onto it without permanent damage, but this depends on the quantity of water spilled and where it was spilled. Laptops rusting over time can become an issue if you don’t act quickly, so always have something on hand, like cotton swabs, to prevent liquid damage.
If your laptop has sugary and alcoholic beverages spilled on it instead, the potential damage tends to be higher than just water.
What to do immediately after spilling water on a laptop?
If you’ve spilled water onto your laptop, immediately turn off your machine and remove it from its power source.
Remove the battery if you can, and try to dray and drain your device using absorbent materials like cotton swabs. Never use a hair dryer or a heat gun.
Take your laptop to a professional if you can to ascertain the extent of the damage.
Does putting the laptop in rice work?
This old wive’s tale may be helpful for other smaller electronic devices, but it won’t cut it if you’ve spilled plain water onto your laptop.
Rice may have the opposite effect on your device, as some laptop models have spaces in their ports and keyboards that rice can fall into, remaining within for a very long time. Don’t give yourself more problems by trying this trick.
If you’ve read through this article, identified if your computer has water damage, and proceeded with the proper steps to resolve your issue, you won’t have to purchase a replacement laptop anytime soon. While spilling a drink onto your device is more common than you think, it can be a death sentence to many laptops. Always ensure your computer is in a dry area with no sources of water that could impact its hardware.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, feel free to check out our other content, including the best way to remove stickers from your laptop and the easiest way to connect your Nintendo Switch to your computer.
Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.