IT Freedom Blog

Laptop Spills and Thrills

by Matt Miller on

Many of us work with a cup of coffee constantly within reach, like an emergency flotation device for when we sink into a drowsy stupor. Unfortunately electronics, sleepy people, and liquid do not mix well, and when that inevitable spill comes it can cause huge problems. Liquid damage can lead to expensive repairs or shelling out the big bucks to buy a brand new computer. For the best outcome when you spill, there are some important steps to take, and it is critical that you move quickly.

After the Spill:

  1. Turn your laptop off immediately. Then unplug it from the wall, and unplug the power cord from your laptop.
  2. Next, turn the laptop upside down and remove the battery.

**Note that if you have an Apple computer, removing the battery will involve unscrewing the back and a little disassembly. If you feel comfortable doing this, there are free guides available at

  1. Dry as much of your computer off as possible by dabbing with a paper towel or Q-tip. If you feel confident enough to take your laptop apart, delicately dab the inside of your computer dry as best you can.
  2. Prop up your laptop so that it can dry upside down and open. For example, you can place it on two stacks of books and place a fan nearby. Although you’ll be anxious to turn it on and see if it works, it’s critical to let the laptop dry out completely. The general recommendation is to let it air dry for 3-5 days.
  3. When you power it back on, look for any signs of damage. If anything is acting unusual, it could be a sign that there is liquid in the machine. Even if your laptop works initially, any leftover liquid can cause corrosion and damage later on. So if you suspect it was damaged, or there’s still moisture inside, take it to a professional for repair.


Of course, the most obvious prevention method would be to just not mix drinks and electronics, but is that really realistic? Even while I was writing this article I found myself sipping coffee while typing (although now I set my mug about an arm’s length away from my laptop). Here are a couple things you can buy that can save you money in the long run:

  • A laptop stand. Raising your laptop up will not only help it avoid liquid damage, but can help you sit with better posture at your desk.
  • Use a wireless keyboard. You know what’s cheaper than replacing an entire laptop? Only replacing a wireless keyboard.
  • And, of course, it wouldn’t hurt to only use lidded coffee cups and water bottles at your desk.

So, although some mornings it seems like that cup of coffee is the most important thing you have, don’t forget about your infinitely more important (and expensive) computer.


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