Spill Water on your Laptop? What to do…

Pretty much everyone who’s had a laptop in heavy use for a while will have either come close to or actually spilled water on their laptop (or any other liquid). I managed to avoid doing so with the last 2 ‘cheap’ laptops I owned however on Monday I managed to throw a half a pint of water all over my nearly new MacBook Pro (insert ‘not at all cheap’!). So aside from the panic, prayers and assortment of 4 letter words how am I typing this blog post 2 days later on the very same MacBook? Below are my tips from this experience and the 10 years + I’ve had to help others who’ve done the same, however each case is different and they should be used as deemed appropriate (i.e there are no guarantees in these scenarios).

  1. Be careful, liquid isn’t a great combination with electronics but it can be equally bad for the end user and others, better to loose a laptop than shock the life out of you…literally!
  2. The type of liquid doesn’t affect these steps, if it’s liquid and it’s a conductor it’s not good for your laptop.
  3. Pull out the power cable (it’s from a transformer so you shouldn’t get a shock but even still pull from a dry part and don’t damage the connector) The liquid is not your enemy it’s the short caused by the water meeting live connections.
  4. If possible pull the battery out. MacBooks and most ultrabooks this isn’t an option but if you have a removable battery get it out pronto.
  5. If you can’t get the battery out kill the power somehow, no proper shutdown’s here it’s better to loose the document you’ve got open or the upcoming sugar crush than to loose the device.
  6. Turn it over, if the water went in through the keyboard get it back out through the keyboard, leaving it upright just lets gravity bring the water further into the electronics. Avoid however getting the water onto the screen or letting it drip onto something else that may short. Best case scenario a towel under the keyboard and the screen kept out of harms way.
  7. Keep the machine somewhere warm and dry, what you want is to let the water evaporate. In my case I had a heater nearby and ran a hair dryer over it a few times (on cool setting)
  8. Resist the urge to turn it on, I’ve heard of the above working in 1 day, 2 days and 3 days, but the longer you leave it the better the chance that the water internally will have dissipated.



  1. Put the device in a bag of rice (works well with smaller items like phones) the rice absorbs the water quicker than air.
  2. Put some silica bags in a box with the laptop in a dry area. Again the silica absorbs the moisture.
  3. Open the laptop and dry the electronics with a cotton bud or similar – THIS IS FOR EXPERIENCED USERS ONLY. I didn’t need to do this with my MacBook so it’s questionable if it is required at all – though the main reason I didn’t is because I’d misplaced my screwdrivers!



Turns out prevention is better than cure so here are some tips to avoid experiencing this at all:

  • Buy a spill resistant keyboard or a laptop with one built in.
  • Drink liquids only from water bottles with a ‘sports cap’ I have now switched to a Britta filter bottle.
  • Drink coffee from a travel mug and keep the top closed when idle.
  • Don’t drink at the keyboard – If you are a caffeine addict like me this one isn’t really an option but for some there is hope…
  • Keep the cable spaghetti under control, I spilt my drink by having a glass get pulled over when my mouse got trapped. Wireless is a great option here (assuming you keep you battery stocks high)

Any other real life experiences or tips would be greatly appreciated in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.


My new setup for working and getting the liquids in:

My desk now comes with sippy cups


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