Should I air dry my wet laptop?

Quick Answer

Air drying a wet laptop can potentially work to revive it, but there are risks. The best approach is to immediately power off the laptop, remove the battery, and dry the exterior. Do not try to power on or disassemble the laptop while wet. Allow it to air dry for at least 24-48 hours before attempting to use it again. Even then, lingering moisture or corrosion can damage components over time. Professional data recovery or repair may be needed if the laptop does not work normally after drying.

What happens if you get water on your laptop?

Getting water or liquid spilled on your laptop can be devastating and potentially ruin the sensitive electronic components inside. Here’s what happens:

  • Short circuits – Water is conductive and can short circuit the electrical connections on internal components like the motherboard, RAM, CPU, etc. This can lead to catastrophic failures.
  • Corrosion – Water causes corrosion as it dries, especially if it contains minerals or contaminants. This can gradually damage connections and traces on circuit boards over time.
  • Residue – Minerals and contaminants in the water leave behind residue as they dry out. This can interfere with electrical contacts and connections.
  • Component damage – Sensitive components like processors, chipsets, and data storage devices may be damaged immediately from liquid exposure.
  • Data loss – Short circuits, corrupted firmware, or damaged components can result in potential data loss or drive failure.

The extent of the damage depends on the amount of water, what components got exposed, and how quickly it is addressed. Fast action is important to stop ongoing shorts and dry out the laptop.

Can placing a wet laptop in rice help?

Placing a wet laptop in a bowl or bag of rice is a popular home remedy for drying it out. The theory is that the rice will absorb the moisture from the laptop without causing additional damage. However, this method has risks:

  • May not absorb moisture fast enough – Thick components like a motherboard can hold water internally where rice cannot draw it out.
  • Trapped moisture – Packing rice around the laptop can trap moisture against the surfaces rather than absorbing it.
  • Residue – Rice dust and other particulate left behind on the laptop can interfere with operation.
  • Delays drying – The laptop cannot air dry efficiently when smothered in rice.

Rice does have a very low risk of causing electrical shorts or corrosion compared to other DIY drying methods. But prolonged exposure to moisture is still detrimental. Air drying is faster and more effective. Rice should only be used to draw moisture from difficult to reach areas. It is not reliable as the primary means of laptop drying.

Is it safe to dry a wet laptop with a hairdryer?

Never attempt to dry out a wet laptop using a hairdryer or other heat source. This will very likely cause permanent damage. Here’s why:

  • Short circuits – Rapid heating can create shorts between components as moisture evaporates.
  • Thermal stress – Intense heat stresses the soldered connections on the motherboard and other circuitry.
  • Warping – Extreme temperatures can warp or melt plastics like the case, button membranes, screen, etc.
  • Data loss – Electrical shorts and corrupted firmware from heat exposure leads to potential data loss.
  • Condensation – Residual moisture under ICs or other components will evaporate from heat, condensing in other areas and causing additional failures.

The safest way to dry out a laptop is to allow it time to completely air dry before attempting to apply power. If using an external fan, make sure ambient air temperatures remain low. Avoid heat lamps, hairdryers, microwaves, or other heat sources which could damage electronics. Patience is required for the drying process to be effective.

How long does it take for a wet laptop to dry out?

Most experts recommend allowing a wet laptop to air dry for at least 24-48 hours before attempting to use it. However, drying times can vary based on:

  • Amount of liquid – The more water spilled, the longer it takes to fully evaporate.
  • Type of liquid – Water evaporates quickest. Milk, soda, coffee, etc may leave behind residue.
  • Laptop design – A detachable keyboard dries quicker than a fully saturated ultrabook.
  • Humidity – Damp, humid environments slow evaporation.
  • Circulation – Active air circulation speeds drying vs stagnant air.
  • Components – Some parts like the motherboard can hold moisture longer than exterior case.

Watch for visual cues that moisture has evaporated, like no visible droplets, dampness, or darkened areas on components. The longer you allow the laptop to air dry with it powered off, the better. It could take 3-5 days or longer if high humidity levels or extensive liquid exposure. Test its function afterwards and allow additional drying if any moisture remains inside.

What is the best way to dry out a wet laptop?

Follow these best practices for safely drying and potentially reviving a liquid-damaged laptop:

  1. Immediately power off the laptop – Shut down normally if possible, or hold the power button to force power off. This helps prevent shorts as moisture spreads.
  2. Disconnect the AC adapter – Unplug the AC power cord to prevent electric current from reaching the laptop.
  3. Remove the battery – This eliminates another source of electric current to the components.
  4. Drain excess liquid – Tilt to drain any standing liquid from openings like vents or the keyboard.
  5. Dry the exterior – Use a microfiber cloth to absorb water from the outer case. Do not wipe inside.
  6. Position the laptop to air dry – Prop open the lid at about 45° angle and allow maximum air circulation.
  7. Wait at least 24-48 hours before powering on – Give adequate time for moisture to evaporate.
  8. Check for visible moisture before testing – Inspect for any droplets, damp areas, or darkened spots.
  9. Re-assemble and test – Replace battery, power on, and check for normal operation.

This process allows the laptop to thoroughly air dry without risk of electrical shorts. Blowing ambient temperature air speeds the drying. Avoid rice, heat sources, disassembly, or turning the laptop on while wet. With luck, your quick action will result in a revived laptop.

What are the risks of turning on a wet laptop?

Powering on a laptop that is still wet or damp involves serious risks of component damage. Here are reasons you should wait until it’s fully dry:

  • Short circuits – Power allows current to flow. Moisture creates shorts and dangerous stray currents.
  • Failed start up – Components like RAM and CPU may not operate normally when wet.
  • Corrosion – Electricity accelerates corrosion of metallic parts as moisture dries.
  • Erratic function – Any moisture ingress can cause odd behavior like freezing, crashing, etc.
  • Permanent damage – Attempting to operate wet electronics can destroy ICs and other parts.
  • Data loss – Shorts or corruption of storage drives may render data unrecoverable.

While you may get lucky, the vast majority of the time turning on wet electronics leads to catastrophic failure. It’s simply not worth the risk just to test function a little quicker. Let the laptop dry out completely for at least 24-48 hours before applying power.

Is it safe to disassemble a wet laptop for drying?

It’s generally not advisable to disassemble a wet laptop, even to try and dry the interior. There are a few reasons this practice is risky:

  • Exposes delicate parts – Opening the case allows moisture to reach components like the motherboard.
  • Difficult reassembly – Correctly realigning and connecting small parts during reassembly can be challenging.
  • Causes corrosion – Drying agents like rice can leave behind corrosive dust.
  • Voids warranty – Manufacturer warranties are voided if a device is taken apart by the user.
  • Further damage – Mishandling during disassembly can damage cables, connectors, and components.

Unless you have specific electronics repair training, the risks usually outweigh any potential benefits. Components damaged by liquid will require professional data recovery or repair service anyway. Let a skilled technician handle disassembly using proper tools and techniques.

Can a wet laptop be fixed?

It is sometimes possible to successfully repair and recover a liquid damaged laptop. Factors that improve chances:

  • Quick power off – Immediately removing electric power limits damage from shorts.
  • Thorough drying – Allowing sufficient time for moisture evaporation before testing.
  • No power on attempts – Preventing current flow while wet reduces corrosion and component failure.
  • DI water spill – Pure water with no minerals causes less corrosion than other liquids.
  • External damage only – If moisture didn’t reach internal components, prognosis is better.

The extent of damage depends on where liquid got inside and how long it was left wet. Components like the keyboard, RAM, and storage drives may need replacement if corroded or shorted out. In severe cases, a damaged motherboard requires professional service. Data recovery services can sometimes retrieve data from a failed drive. Quick action by the user gives a malfunctioning laptop the best chance of being cost-effectively salvaged.

How much does it cost to fix a liquid-damaged laptop?

The cost to repair a liquid damaged laptop can range from $200 to $1000 depending on factors like:

  • Level of damage – Was it only external or did internal components get affected?
  • Cost of replacements – Expensive parts like motherboard or screen will increase cost.
  • Data recovery needed – This adds significant cost if drive components got damaged.
  • Technician time – The longer it takes to diagnose issues and perform repairs, the greater the labor fees.
  • Brand and model – More complex designs like ultrabooks cost more than basic models.
  • Warranty or insurance – Coverage under either of these reduces out-of-pocket expense.

For minor spills that only damage the keyboard, expect a bill around $200 for replacement parts and cleaning. Severe moisture exposure that ruins core components like the motherboard can run up to $800-$1000 or more for full repair. Data recovery from a failed drive adds $500-$1500 depending on the extent of the damage. Keep the laptop well protected against liquid damage since repairs are rarely cheap.

Is liquid damage covered by laptop warranty?

Unfortunately, accidental liquid spills and water damage are not covered under most manufacturer warranties. The standard limited warranty covers only defects in materials or workmanship. Damage from the user spilling liquids is considered avoidable and not a warrantable defect. However, there are exceptions:

  • Premium warranties with accidental damage coverage will pay for spills.
  • Credit card purchase benefits may reimburse repair costs.
  • Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance could cover laptop damage from some accidents.
  • Third party extended warranties often include accidental damage from spills.

Carefully check the terms of your specific laptop warranty, credit cards used for the purchase, and applicable insurance policies. While the basic OEM warranty excludes liquid damage, other available protections may help offset the costly repairs.

How can I prevent liquid damage to my laptop?

Use these laptop safety measures to avoid the risks and potential damage from liquid exposure:

  • No drinks nearby – Keep food and beverages well away from your laptop to prevent spills.
  • Lid closed when not in use – Hinge down the display when not actively using the laptop.
  • Carry properly – Transport securely in a padded case, briefcase, or backpack.
  • Use a protective case – Cases can shield against minor splashes and drops.
  • Water resistant bags – Use a waterproof bag or sleeve if exposed to heavy rain.
  • Keep in climate controlled spaces – Avoid hot, humid areas that accelerate liquid damage.
  • Get warranty coverage – Choose plans that include accidental damage if available.

Making spill avoidance and proper handling a priority helps maintain a long, reliable laptop lifespan. Be prepared for accidents by knowing the proper drying techniques in case one does occur. But ideal practice is to keep your laptop well away from risks of liquid damage.


Dealing with a liquid damaged laptop can be stressful, but following the right steps improves your chances of reviving it. Immediately power off the laptop, disconnect the battery, and allow thorough air drying for at least 24-48 hours. Do not attempt to power on or disassemble the laptop while wet. With patience and proper handling, there is hope of bringing a wet laptop back to normal function. In severe cases involving component damage, seek professional repair services and data recovery assistance. Being prepared ahead of time and taking quick, appropriate action gives you the best odds of cost-effectively fixing a fluid-soaked laptop.