What do I do if I spill liquid on my MacBook?

Dealing with a liquid spill on your MacBook can be worrisome, but there are steps you can take to give your computer the best chance of surviving the accident. Following proper procedures immediately after the spill occurs is crucial for avoiding permanent damage. In this guide, we will walk through recommended actions if you’ve gotten liquid on your MacBook keyboard or trackpad.

What to Do Immediately After the Spill

The very first thing you should do if you spill a liquid on your MacBook is power it off. Press and hold the power button for several seconds until the computer fully shuts down. Do not simply put it to sleep by closing the lid. Cutting power to the machine right away helps prevent electrical shorts that can fry components.

Unplug all connected cables and devices as well, including USB drives, monitors, the power adapter, etc. You want to eliminate any attached components that could also be affected by moisture. Set your MacBook upside down at an angle to allow the liquid to drain out. Use a towel to absorbing any pooling around the edges.

Avoid Turning It On Until Thoroughly Dry

It can be tempting to power your MacBook on immediately to assess the damage. But turning it on before it has had time to fully dry risks causing an electrical short circuit, which can permanently destroy parts inside. Have patience and wait at least 24-48 hours before hitting the power button again. The longer you leave it powered down and drying, the better.

Dry the Outside Surfaces

Use a microfiber cloth to gently blot up as much liquid from the keyboard, trackpad, ports, and outer shell as possible. Be cautious not to rub vigorously or you could push moisture further into cracks. Dry the areas around vents and ports thoroughly, as any lingering liquid could seep down. Let the exterior air dry for several hours before moving to the next steps.

How to Dry Out the Inside

Unfortunately, simply drying the outside of a MacBook does not ensure all the liquid trapped inside dries properly. Here are some techniques for removing moisture from internal components:

Leave It In Front of a Fan

Direct an electric fan at your open MacBook to help circulate drying air into the crevices. Position it approximately one to two feet away at a moderate setting. Rotate the computer every six to eight hours so airflow reaches all areas. Continue for at least 24 hours. The moving air will help evaporate any water lingering under keys or the logic board.

Use Drying Packs

Place your MacBook in a sealed bag with silica gel drying packs. Silica gel absorbs moisture through a process called adsorption. It’s very effective at reducing humidity levels and drying out electronics. The sealed bag containing the packs and laptop should be left for at least 48 hours to thoroughly dry internal parts.

Try a Dehumidifier

Run your MacBook in a room with a dehumidifier to facilitate moisture removal. Dehumidifiers work by chilling air then condensing and collecting water droplets. Position your open MacBook so the circulating air passes over the keyboard and internal components. With the humidity lowered, moisture will more readily evaporate. Aim for 24-48 hours drying time.

Cleaning Up After Liquid Exposure

Once you are certain no liquid remains and your MacBook is completely dry inside and out, you can move forward with cleaning it up and safely using it. Here are some tips for getting your computer back up and running:

Inspect for Damage

Check for any apparent damage caused by the moisture. Are individual keys sticky or less responsive when pressed? Does the trackpad fail to click cleanly? Is there visible corrosion around ports? Run diagnostics to check for issues like dead pixels on the screen or problems with wireless connectivity.

Clean the Keyboard

Scrub the keyboard to remove grime or sugary residue left behind after drying. Use isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab or soft toothbrush to gently clean around and under each key. Let it fully dry before powering on. A can of compressed air can help blow out debris under keys as well.

Sanitize the Screen

Wipe down the monitor using a microfiber cloth dampened slightly with distilled water or isopropyl alcohol. Dry completely with a soft cloth. This will remove dirt and odor-causing bacteria left after contact with liquids. Inspect for blemishes like stained pixels that may have resulted.

Restart and Test Components

After cleaning, plug your MacBook back in and power it on. Verify all hardware and software components are functioning normally without any glitches or strange behaviors, which may indicate lasting damage. Backup critical data in case issues do arise down the line. Contact Apple support if problems persist.

Precautions to Avoid Future Spills

Here are some measures you can take to avoid repeating liquid accidents and protect your MacBook in the future:

Precaution Details
Use a protective case Invest in a waterproof case or shell that seals your MacBook. It adds protection when using your laptop in risky settings around pools, drinks, etc.
Prohibit food/drink near the computer Set a rule against any open containers of liquid within several feet of your workspace to reduce spilling risk.
Keep drinks covered Use lids, caps, or covers on cups and bottles when they are present near your MacBook.
Elevate the laptop Use a stand, riser or stack books to lift your MacBook off the work surface. Spills will run underneath instead of into crevices.
Angle the screen back Tilt the screen away from you to direct any dripping liquid away from the keyboard and trackpad.

Implementing one or more of these measures will help you avoid catastrophic liquid damage to your expensive MacBook in the future. Stay vigilant!

When to Seek Professional Help

If you followed all the proper steps but your MacBook still exhibits odd behaviors like freezing, crashing, or display issues, it likely suffered internal water damage. Continuing to use it could worsen any corrosion occurring. In that case, seek professional help rather than troubleshooting yourself.

Apple Authorized Service Providers have techs experienced in repairing liquid-damaged Apple products. They will diagnose the full extent of the damage and the required repairs. This may involve replacing corroded components. While not cheap, their services can rescue a seemingly doomed MacBook.

Independent repair shops and tech experts may be able to fix liquid damage for less cost. Search for one with experience addressing spills in electronics. They may have the skills to replace just the damaged parts without requiring full replacement of the logic board or other expensive components.

Weigh the Cost of Professional Repairs

Severe liquid damage often requires hundreds of dollars in professional repair costs. At a certain point, you need to add up the price of parts replacements and labor and compare it to just purchasing a brand new laptop. For older model MacBooks with extensive water damage, replacement may end up being your most cost-effective option.


Spilling liquid onto your MacBook can be stressful, but does not automatically mean the end of your computer if handled properly. By immediately powering off the device, drying it thoroughly, cleaning it up, and potentially seeking professional help, you can give your laptop the best chance of regaining full functionality. Keep liquids far away from your workspace in the future and consider protective accessories to avoid a repeat incident. With quick action, your expensive MacBook can survive an accidental liquid exposure.