In this blog post, we will cover what to do if you spill liquid on your laptop, notebook, or netbook. We will review potential repair options and suggest ways to prevent this from happening in the future.

If you spill liquid on your computer…

The first, and most important step, is to not panic. If you act in a panic, you run the risk of making the problem worse. For example, if the spill is contained on top of the keyboard, picking it up and tilting it might cause liquid to flow into the case and onto the motherboard. If that happens, your motherboard will most likely short out and may damage other components, rendering your system dead, or at least too costly to repair. So don’t panic.

Pick up the spilled container of liquid first to prevent further spilling. Next, unplug your laptop if it is plugged into an outlet. You will also want to remove the battery as quickly as possible without tilting the laptop. After you have removed the power, you will need to clean up the laptop.

Note: Some laptops come with “spill-resistant” keyboards that isolate the keyboard from the internal components. If you have one of these, a channel should be indicated to where you can simply tilt the laptop and drain away any liquid.

To clean up the spill, you should use any safe, absorbent material available (thick paper towel work great). Absorb as much liquid as possible.

Repair Options…

At this point, the type of liquid becomes important. Is it a sugary liquid like soda or was it an alcohol-based drink like a martini, or perhaps it was just a glass of water? If the liquid was clear (good indication of water/alcohol based liquid) then you might be able to get away with pulling out the keyboard and letting the computer dry out for a day or so. This is not so easy in humid climates, but can be accomplished by using a low temperature heating source (dry heat).

If the liquid is sugary and has leaked past the keyboard and onto the internal system components, then it requires a massive cleaning. The motherboard will have to be removed and cleaned with solvents.

So if you accidentally spill, cut all power and clean the spill with absorption. Contact a computer repair specialist to have the laptop analyzed. A good professional will test all components and give you a quote for repair/replacement. It might just require some cleaning or it might need more. Even if the laptop is professionally cleaned and inspected, there is always the chance that a hidden bit of moisture will plague the whole system upon power-up.

Unfortunately, the biggest victims, based on our experience, are motherboards, in which case it is often better to replace the laptop rather than repair it. If the motherboard is still functioning, then other system components might go awry including video, wifi, usb ports, disk errors, etc., in which case, the motherboard will need to be replaced.

If you are lucky, your laptop will only need a cleaning and drying. If that doesn’t work, then it’s time to see if your insurance policy covers spills or just suck it up and shell for a new spiffy laptop.


Companies spend millions of dollars each year training people how to avoid accidents. It’s a major industry in its own right! They don’t spend money for nothing!

It’s far too easy for people to cause an accident. We have a virtual obstacle course set in front of us every day. Nonetheless, there are some steps we can take to eliminate a vast majority of the instances in which accidents can take place. 🙂

In my 25 years of working with computers, I have never spilled anything on any of my computers. Yet in the same time period, I must have spilled hundreds of drinks, broken dozens of glasses, and generally made the point that I can be a complete klutz.

Yet I’ve never spilled anything on my computer. How so?

It’s preparedness. When a drink is near the computer, it is registered in my brain as such. It becomes a dangerous object. If I’m not aware of my surroundings or the potential danger that abounds me, then I have already lost.

Yes, it comes down to awareness. Be aware of your surroundings. An introduction of your friend telling a wild story with their hands can lead to disaster…if you are not aware.

Of course, the simple solution is to not allow any liquids to come within striking distance of your computer.

So in review…

  • Don’t freak out
  • Unplug/depower
  • Absorb
  • Call a pro

Any questions? Ask away! 🙂