How do you fix laptop if it gets wet?

What to do if you spill liquid on your laptop

If you accidentally spill water or another liquid on your laptop, don’t panic! But do act quickly. Liquids and electronics don’t mix well, but fast action can help save your laptop. Here are the steps to take right away if your laptop gets doused:

  1. Unplug the laptop and remove the battery right away. This is the most important step. You want to stop the flow of electricity to prevent short circuits.
  2. Turn the laptop upside down. Tilt it to allow the liquid to drain out of openings and vents. You can even gently shake or rotate the laptop to help the liquid flow out.
  3. Use paper towels, cloth towels, or tissues to soak up as much liquid as possible. Target wet areas on the keyboard, trackpad, and ports. Try not to rub or spread the liquid around.
  4. If possible, remove keycaps and wipe underneath. Use tweezers if you can’t get your fingers under sticky keys.
  5. Leave the laptop open and positioning it upside down until you’re sure all moisture is gone. This could take several hours or overnight.
  6. Do not try turning on the laptop until it’s 100% dry. Water and moisture anywhere could create problems or shorts once power is running through it again.

The quicker you can remove power sources and mop up moisture, the better chance your laptop has of surviving the spill. Don’t try shortcuts like blow drying or microwaving wet laptops, which will cause issues. It requires good old air drying to fully evaporate moisture that got inside.

How liquid damage affects laptops

Liquid spills don’t necessarily mean a laptop is doomed. But moisture in the wrong places can create both immediate and long-term problems:

– Short circuits: Small amounts of liquid can bridge connections on a logic board and create shorts. These stop components from working properly or disable them completely.

– Corrosion: With time, moisture causes corrosion on electronic components, damaging their performance. This might not be noticeable at first but worsen over weeks and months.

– Physical damage: Liquid can make some laptop components like keyboards or trackpads unusable. It may dissolve adhesives or high-friction surfaces.

– Power system damage: Moisture reaching the laptop’s DC power jack or battery can ruin the ability to power on the system or charge batteries.

– Data loss: Extreme liquid damage can make a hard drive unreadable, causing potential permanent data loss if backups aren’t available.

So while instant disaster from a spill is possible, gradual component failure over time may be more likely. That’s why you want to thoroughly dry a laptop as soon as possible after a spill.

Isopropyl alcohol for water-damaged laptops

If water or a mostly-water liquid was spilled on a laptop, isopropyl rubbing alcohol can help displace moisture faster than air drying alone. Here’s how:

– Use 91% or higher isopropyl alcohol for electronics. Lower concentrations contain too much water.

– Dampen (don’t soak) a cotton swab or soft cloth with a small amount of alcohol and gently rub or dab motherboard components, connectors, battery connectors, etc.

– Let the alcohol evaporate off components; don’t leave big pools. Then swab components with a dry cloth.

– Be very careful not to drip alcohol on or around screen panels. It can damage screen coatings.

– Repeat the process until no moisture comes up on the swabs. Then let air dry completely.

The alcohol helps break surface tension and carries away droplets better than drying alone. Be very sparing with liquids here, as you don’t want to create any new moisture issues! Have plenty of dry swabs ready.

Opening up and cleaning inside a wet laptop

For significant spills, or if you suspect moisture got deep inside a laptop’s casing, it’s best to open it up for cleaning. This takes more time and effort but gives you direct access to the motherboard and components to ensure they are totally dry.

Here are tips for open-case drying:

  • Review service guides to see how your specific model comes apart. Manufacturers don’t make laptops easy to open!
  • Use plastic spudgers to carefully pry apart the case. Look for tabs, screws, and snaps to release.
  • Once the bottom is off, disconnect the battery again before proceeding.
  • If possible, gently flip the motherboard upside down so remaining moisture can drain out of connectors.
  • Use compressed air to blow out traces of water from crevices and tight spaces if needed.
  • Swab any damp-looking spots on the board with alcohol using cotton swabs or a toothbrush.
  • Let the open laptop air dry upright for at least 24 hours before reassembling.

Taking apart a laptop introduces some risk of damage, so only open it up if you really need full interior access. But for major spills, getting inside to dry out the motherboard properly can prevent big problems later.

Fixing physical laptop damage from liquid

Beyond moisture issues, spills can create physical damage to various laptop components and parts:


Keyboards are very vulnerable, both to the immediate effects of moisture as well as long-term results like stickiness or corrosion. Some steps for wet laptop keyboards:

– Remove keycaps to clean and dry underneath.
– Swab keys and base with isopropyl alcohol.
– Use compressed air to blow out any particles or debris.
– Let thoroughly dry before reattaching keys.
– If keys become sticky or stop working, the keyboard may need replacement.


Trackpads can also be damaged by moisture. Here are some fixes:

– Dry the surface and wipe down with isopropyl alcohol.
– Remove trackpad entirely if possible to clean contacts underneath.
– Use cotton swabs to absorb moisture from around buttons and mechanisms.
– Let fully dry before reattaching. Test buttons and tracking.
– If trackpad becomes unresponsive, replacement may be required.


Liquid that seeps into ports can corrode contacts and prevent connections:

– Use compressed air to spray out droplets from ports.
– Insert and remove cables, dongles, etc. to absorb moisture.
– Use a dry toothbrush to scrub port contacts if corrosion develops.
– External keyboards, mice, and USB hubs can be used if ports don’t recover.


Liquid getting between the display and bezel or into panel laminations can create visual artifacts:

– Don’t try drying the screen itself. The inner layers can’t easily be accessed.
– Clean outer screen surfaces gently with a microfiber cloth only.
– Water damage may require a full display replacement if issues emerge.

How to dry out different laptop components

Laptops contain a number of internal electronic components that can each be affected by moisture exposure. Here are some tips for drying common parts:


The motherboard is the core logic board inside a laptop. To fully dry it:

– Unplug all connectors to expose contacts.
– Use 90%+ isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs to clean contacts.
– Let air dry inverted for at least 24 hours.
– Visually inspect for corrosion once fully dry.

Storage drive

Hard disk drives and solid state drives store all data:

– Remove drive from laptop if possible to air dry separately.
– Don’t power on wet drive – let dry for 48+ hours.
– After complete drying, connect to another PC externally to check drive health.
– Drives with moisture damage may need data recovery or replacement.


DIMM memory modules should be dried before re-installation:

– Use cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol to clean module contacts.
– Air dry removed modules for 24 hours upright.
– Test one module at a time after drying to check for issues.
– Damaged modules may not slot properly or cause crashes.

Power supply

The AC power brick and cord provide vital electricity:

– Dry any droplets on the charger exterior.
– Make sure DC jack on laptop is totally dry before reconnecting.
– If charger got wet directly, have it checked by a repair tech first.
– Bad power supplies can damage recovered laptops. Replace if in doubt.


Additional components like fans, heat sinks and wireless cards may also need drying:

– Unplug all connectors and use alcohol swabs on contacts.
– Compressed air can clear any fan blades or heat sink fins.
– Wireless card antennas should be completely moisture-free.
– Test components individually once fully dry.

Taking the time to methodically dry each laptop part improves the chances of bringing an exposed system fully back to life.

Signs of liquid damage after drying laptop

How can you tell if moisture caused permanent damage after drying out a laptop? Here are some warning signs:

  • Visible corrosion – green growth on contacts indicates corrosion.
  • Short circuits – components powering on erratically or sparking.
  • Failed POST – laptop won’t pass power-on self-tests.
  • No power – laptop won’t turn on at all despite drying.
  • No video – blank screen with no image.
  • Dead ports – ports/jacks not recognizing connections.
  • Key failures – keyboard keys not inputting properly.
  • Touchpad issues – cursor lagging or incorrect movements.
  • Peripheral problems – improperly working external devices.
  • Crashing and freezing – programs freezing and hardware not responding.

If you notice any of these problems after the laptop has dried out, moisture may have caused component or system damage. The only remedy then is to replace parts or have professional service done.

Professional data recovery for wet laptops

If a spilled-on laptop won’t power on or boot properly even after thorough drying, data recovery specialists may still be able to salvage storage drive contents, depending on the nature of the moisture damage.

Professional data recovery uses specialized tools to extract data from drives in non-operational computers. This is an expensive service but often much less costly than losing critical company or personal data permanently.

The best chance for data recovery is if the drive itself remained dry internally. Opening up external cases reveals IDE, SATA and SSD drives that look like standard desktop varieties. Drives that had no internal moisture exposure have a good prognosis for data recovery.

Even with partial moisture reaching internal platters or chips, experts can often recover data fully or partially using specialized hardware and techiques in a sterile lab environment. Damaged component boards can be swapped out and disk contents imaged.

But drives exposed to substantial liquid internally have a poorer outlook. Corroded platters, etched chips and delaminated chip boards may make data retrieval impossible. The less moisture reached the actual storage components, the better.

Evaluate your data’s importance, recovery costs and potential laptop repair costs to determine if professional recovery makes financial sense. But for Irreplaceable data, it’s often worth the expense to partner with specialists.

The best way to fix a wet laptop: prevention

While this guide outlines ways to potentially fix a spill-damaged laptop, prevention is much better. Some quick laptop use habits that help avoid liquid damage:

  • Don’t eat or drink near a laptop.
  • Install laptops away from sinks, sprinklers and weather exposure.
  • Shut down rather than leave open containers around a laptop.
  • Keep laptops safely away from children and pets.
  • Carry laptop bags carefully to minimize bumps and drops.
  • Only use laptops in safe, stable positions.
  • Keep liquids well away during hardware upgrades or repairs.
  • Transport and store laptops separate from any liquid containers.
  • Be prepared to act quickly if an accident does happen!

Implementing careful practices provides defense-in-depth against laptop moisture damage. But if disaster does strike, hopefully this guide has given you some helpful laptop drying tips and steps to try. With rapid response, equipment can often be returned to working order.


Liquid spills don’t need to be the end of a laptop if you act quickly to remove power sources, mop up moisture, and thoroughly air dry components. Isopropyl alcohol helps clean up water-based spills and displace moisture in hard to reach areas. For major exposures that may have reached internal parts, opening up the case provides full access for drying. Look for signs of component corrosion and damage after drying is complete to determine if repairs or replacements are needed. And going forward, keep drinks far away and take preventative measures to avoid repeat data disasters!