How do you fix a spilled drink on a laptop keyboard?

Spilling a drink on your laptop can be a nightmare scenario. Liquid getting into the keyboard or other components can cause serious damage and ruin your machine. However, there are steps you can take to try to save your laptop and get it working again after a spill.

What should you do immediately after spilling on a laptop?

If you’ve just had an accident and spilled a drink on your laptop keyboard, remain calm but act quickly. Here are the steps to take right away:

  1. Unplug the laptop and remove any attached cables, drives, etc. You want to stop the flow of electricity to prevent a short circuit.
  2. Turn the laptop upside down to drain out as much liquid as possible. Hold it at an angle and tap the bottom lightly to help the liquid run out.
  3. Open the laptop and position it at an angle to help drain the liquid from the keyboard and internal components.
  4. Dry the exterior of the laptop with a towel or cloth. Soak up any visible moisture on the keyboard, screen, etc.
  5. If possible, remove the battery and AC adapter to cut power entirely.

The goal in these initial steps is to get as much liquid drained out and dried up as quickly as possible before it has a chance to dry and cause permanent damage.

How to clean spilled liquid from inside a laptop

Once you’ve done the immediate liquid draining steps above, you’ll need to clean the interior components. Here’s how to safely clean liquid from inside your laptop:

  1. Get a can of compressed air. Hold the laptop at an angle and spray the compressed air around the keyboard, ports, ventilation holes, and other openings to dry out moisture.
  2. If you have removable key caps, pop those off and dry underneath each key. Let the keys air dry completely before replacing them.
  3. Use a dry microfiber cloth and cotton swabs to blot up any remaining moisture you see inside the laptop. Be very gentle around delicate electronics.
  4. Check for any wet spots on circuit boards or components. Use a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol to gently clean. Let dry fully.
  5. For hard-to-reach spots, try using a hair dryer on a low setting. Keep it moving constantly to avoid overheating any parts.
  6. Place paper towels or cloth down to soak up moisture under the keyboard or other areas liquid could be hiding.

Take your time and gently dry all areas you can reach. Compressed air and blotting are safest for drying without causing damage. Avoid submerging any components in liquid.

How to dry out a wet laptop keyboard

The laptop’s keyboard often gets the brunt of a spilled drink. To dry out a wet keyboard:

  • Unplug the laptop immediately and remove the battery if possible.
  • Shake excess liquid from the keyboard and blot with an absorbent cloth.
  • Spray compressed air liberally across the keyboard to clear moisture from under keys.
  • If you can remove the key caps, do so and dry the keyboard thoroughly before replacing keys.
  • Place the keyboard keys-down on a dry cloth and allow to completely air dry before reattaching.
  • After drying, inspect under keys for any remaining sticky residue. Clean with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol if needed.
  • Once totally dry, reconnect the keyboard to test it before reassembling the laptop.

Take your time and make sure no moisture is trapped under any keys or in the keyboard assembly before using it again. Water trapped under keys can eventually corrode contacts and damage the keyboard.

How to dry the screen and external parts

Liquid spilled on the exterior of a laptop can also seep into delicate components. Follow these steps to dry out the screen and case:

  • Use an absorbent, lint-free cloth to blot moisture from the laptop’s screen. Do not wipe or rub the screen.
  • Dry any wet spots on the laptop case or lid with a towel. Remove any standing liquid right away.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to gently blot damp areas around the ports, vents, speakers, etc. on the exterior.
  • If moisture got behind the screen, carefully dry it with compressed air and a cloth. Check for kinks in any cables as well.
  • Let all exterior surfaces fully air dry before reassembling or testing your laptop.

Take your time drying the exterior to prevent water damage issues. Avoid getting moisture in openings like vents and ports while drying.

Tips for drying laptop components

Here are some additional tips for effectively drying liquid out of specific laptop parts and components:

  • Motherboard – Blot with isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs. Let air dry for 24 hours.
  • Ports – Use compressed air to spray out and water trapped in ports. Clean externally with alcohol and cotton swabs.
  • Fans – Dry with compressed air. Do not spin fans until fully dry to avoid damage.
  • Speakers – Remove and air dry away from laptop. Do not play until fully dry.
  • Hard drive – Do not power on until dry. Opening the hard drive housing can also help dry out the drive platters and internal components.
  • Battery – Remove and completely air dry battery before reinserting into laptop.

Go slowly when cleaning electronic components and let them fully air dry before reconnecting power and operating your laptop normally.

Keys to drying a wet laptop effectively

Here are some key tips to keep in mind when drying out a spill on your laptop:

  • Act quickly to soak up liquid before it has time to dry in place and cause damage.
  • Drain out as much liquid as possible and use compressed air to blow-dry internal components.
  • Blot gently with microfiber cloths. Never wipe or scrub delicate electronics.
  • Completely disassemble parts like the keyboard to clean and dry every surface.
  • Let components fully air dry for at least 24-48 hours before reassembling.
  • Check for stuck keys or visible moisture under keys before reusing keyboard.
  • Test components individually before powering on entire laptop.

With careful cleaning and plenty of drying time, you can help salvage a laptop from liquid damage. Just be extremely gentle to avoid causing further issues from rough handling of parts.

When to take your laptop to a professional after liquid damage

If you followed all the drying steps but your laptop still isn’t working properly, you may need professional help. Some signs it’s time to see a repair specialist include:

  • Visible corrosion on electronics even after cleaning
  • Laptop powers on but will not boot into operating system
  • Shorts or sparking inside laptop
  • No power at all when pressing power button
  • Cracked screen or damaged ports
  • Keys or keyboard unresponsive after full drying
  • Beeping sounds on startup
  • Smoke or burning smell from laptop

A repair shop has specialized tools to fully take apart and clean your laptop at a component level. They may be able to salvage damaged parts, replace corroded electronics, and recover lost data from a drive.

Some shops even have recovery systems designed to thoroughly dry out electronics. This gives them the best chance of reviving a liquid-damaged machine.

Preventing and preparing for liquid spills on a laptop

While quick action can sometimes save a spill-damaged laptop, prevention is the best policy. Here are smart tips to avoid this situation in the first place:

  • Never eat or drink over or around your laptop.
  • Keep drinks in sealed containers with lids away from your workspace.
  • Shut your laptop when transporting it with a drink in the same bag or case.
  • Keep your work area free of clutter that could knock over a drink.
  • Teach children proper laptop care to avoid spill accidents.
  • Use a spill-proof laptop cover or shell case for added protection.
  • Place laptops away from edges of tables and desks.
  • Set drinks on a separate table or surface than your laptop.

You can also prepare for potential accidents by having a laptop spill survival kit ready. This can include:

  • Compressed air canister
  • Isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Paper towels
  • Small screwdriver and tweezers
  • Disposable gloves and surface wipes
  • Backup drive to rescue data if needed
  • Airtight containers to store wet laptop parts

Being ready to take quick drying action can help minimize the damage from the inevitable spill.


Spilling a drink on your laptop can be scary situation, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your machine is a total loss. If you act fast to drain, dry, and clean all components, you have a good chance of saving a liquid-damaged laptop. Just be very gentle, take your time to fully dry each part, and watch for any signs of persisting issues. Keep best practices in mind to prevent spills, but be ready just in case with a spill readiness kit. With quick thinking and the right drying techniques, you can recover from even the worst laptop keyboard drink disasters.