Few things go together as poorly as water and electronics. A spilled glass of water or worse is a panic button when it happens close to your laptop. Don’t lose hope, however! If you’re fast, efficient, and thorough in the steps that you take immediately following the spill, you can minimize damage and potentially save your computer.
Turn Off Your Computer!
First things first—power down your laptop immediately. If water comes into contact with live circuits inside of your computer, you might as well throw in the towel. Next, unplug the AC adapter. If your laptop has a removable battery, detach that as well.
This will help to prevent any circuits from shorting out if water has seeped deeper into the laptop. External accessories should be swiftly removed as well. This includes mice, speakers, wireless cards, and USB sticks.
Drain Away Remaining Liquid
Now that you’ve removed the risk of live circuit exposure, it’s time to make sure there’s no liquid inside of your laptop. Flip it upside down (open, with the screen hinge facing upward.) This will allow anything inside to drain away from precious hardware components.
While the laptop is draining, find a dry, lint-free cloth or paper towel and begin cleaning any visible water.Clean around the keyboard and any visible holes in the laptop case. If your computer features an easily removable keyboard, detach it and set it aside for separate cleaning. Most keyboards are extremely resilient against spilled liquids, but should still be cleaned and handled carefully.
Use the same cloth to remove any moisture on the laptop screen as well. Due to the sealing of this part of the computer, it’s difficult for water to damage the laptop screen, but should it happen, it may be necessary to consult a professional in computer repair.
Use caution when proceeding, since all makes and models of laptops differ slightly.Some feature water-resistant keyboards, which are designed to prevent any spilled drinks from reaching deeper into the computer. Even if your laptop has this feature, it’s still important to begin a cautious disassembly of those parts you are familiar with, in order to continue removing moisture.
As always when handling delicate electronics, ensure that you’ve “grounded” yourself to remove any static electricity from your person. This can be done by touching anything metal.
If you are entirely unfamiliar with the assembly and disassembly of a laptop computer, it is best to allow a professional to continue caring for it at this point. Certain seals and parts must be removed to access the inside of a laptop, and this could quickly void any remaining manufacturer warranty left on your computer.
Drying Your Laptop’s Components
Keep the battery in a container of uncooked rice. This will help to leech any remaining moisture from inside of the battery, and ensure that it properly powers the computer again.
Other components, such as storage drives and RAM memory, should only be dried or handled once they’re removed from the computer. Use lint-free materials to carefully wipe away any visible moisture, and give each piece of hardware ample time to dry. I can’t recommend using any form of heat to hurry the drying process, but a low-intensity heat lamp is likely safe. The laptop and its parts should be left alone to dry for 24 to 72 hours.
Once you have done all that you can to remove moisture from the water damaged laptop, replace the battery and any removed hardware, and attempt to turn your machine on. If any components fail to activate or remain damaged, such as the screen, keyboard, or USB ports, now is the time to contact the computer’s manufacturer.
However, if your machine is successfully operating once more, congratulations! Depending on the extent of the spill or submersion, a water damaged laptop can most certainly be returned to its normal state.