What happens if you get water on your MacBook keyboard?

Getting water on your MacBook keyboard can be a worrying situation. Water and electronics don’t mix well, so it’s natural to be concerned about potential damage. Fortunately, with some quick action, you can likely prevent any serious issues.

What are the risks of getting water on a MacBook keyboard?

The main risk is that the water could short circuit the keyboard or other internal components. Here’s a quick overview of some of the potential effects:

  • The keyboard could stop working properly. Individual keys may stop responding, or the whole keyboard could become unresponsive.
  • The trackpad could behave erratically or stop working altogether.
  • The MacBook may not turn on at all if water reaches the internal logic board.
  • Internal corrosion could develop over time, progressively worsening these issues.

The degree of risk depends on the amount of water spilled. A few drops are less concerning than a larger splash or a fully drenched keyboard.

What should you do right after spilling water on a MacBook keyboard?

If you act quickly after a spill, you have a good chance of saving your MacBook from damage. Here are the key first steps to take:

  1. Remove power source: Unplug the MacBook and disconnect any other attached cables or accessories. This helps prevent short circuiting or voltage spikes.
  2. Dry the surface: Gently shake out any excess water and dab the area with a clean, dry lint-free cloth.Try to soak up as much moisture as you can.
  3. Absorb moisture underneath: Place the closed MacBook keyboard-side down on a dry towel. The towel will help draw out water from underneath the keyboard.
  4. Let it air dry: Allow the MacBook to dry completely before turning it on again. This gives time for any remaining moisture to evaporate.
  5. Don’t use hair dryers/heat: Avoid applying heat, which can cause condensation and moisture damage inside.

How to clean water-damaged MacBook keyboards

If the spilled liquid contained sugar, oils or other contaminants, the keyboard may need cleaning to avoid sticky keys or residue buildup. Here are some safe cleaning methods:

Dry cleaning

  • Use compressed air to spray out any trapped debris from between the keys.
  • Gently brush the keyboard with a dry paintbrush or toothbrush to dislodge particulates.
  • Blot the keyboard with a microfiber cloth to absorb dirt or oils.

Disinfectant wipes

  • Wipe down the keyboard using isopropyl alcohol wipes designed for electronics.
  • Let the keyboard fully dry afterward before using the computer.
  • Avoid getting moisture into openings like around the keys.

Distilled water rinse

  • If sticky residue remains, dip a cotton swab in distilled water and gently clean between keys.
  • Distilled water won’t conduct electricity like tap water.
  • Thoroughly dry the keyboard before powering on again.

Signs of water damage on a MacBook

How can you tell if water exposure has damaged your MacBook? Here are some telltale signs of keyboard and internal water damage:

  • Keys become difficult to press, stick, or stop working.
  • Trackpad buttons get stuck or unresponsive.
  • Keyboard backlight malfunctions or keys no longer illuminate.
  • MacBook won’t power on when pressing the power button.
  • Screen displays vertical gray lines from water damage to logic board.
  • Built-in speakers and headphone jack have no audio output.
  • Internal corrosion indicated by strange odors coming from vents.

The above symptoms may appear immediately after a spill, or gradually over time if moisture was trapped internally. Avoid turning on a wet MacBook to help prevent short circuit damage.

Drying out a water-damaged MacBook

If your MacBook did get wet, don’t lose hope. It may still be possible to revive it by thoroughly drying it out. Here are some tips:

Leave it powered off

Don’t turn on a wet MacBook or charger. Powering on increases the risk of short circuiting while moisture is still present. Remove all power connections and let it sit powered off until completely dry.

Disassemble components

Take apart the MacBook as much as safely possible which exposes internal parts to air. Consult repair guides to properly detach components like the screen, logic board, battery, etc.

Use desiccant packs

Place moisture-absorbing desiccant packs inside the disassembled MacBook overnight to extract out dampness.

Air dry components

Allow components like the logic board, keyboard, trackpad, etc to dry out separately for 72+ hours before reassembling.

Check for hidden moisture

Inspect all internal parts, connectors, circuitry for trapped moisture before powering on again. Extended air drying may be needed if moisture got deep inside the MacBook’s internals.

When to take a water-damaged MacBook to a repair shop

For major spills or if you notice corrosion, it’s best to take your MacBook to an Apple Store or repair shop. They have tools and methods to thoroughly dry out and save water-damaged MacBooks. Here are some good times to seek professional help:

  • Liquid spilled directly into ports like the MagSafe charger, USB-C, or audio jack.
  • MacBook won’t power on or shows clear signs of internal damage.
  • You don’t feel comfortable disassembling components to dry out.
  • Corrosion is visible on internal hardware like the logic board.
  • Keyboard keys remain sticky/sluggish after cleaning attempts.
  • Spill voided the MacBook’s warranty and Apple refused service.

Shops like Rossmann Repair specialize in board-level repairs on liquid damaged Apple products. Getting an expert opinion improves your chances of safely reviving a water-damaged MacBook.

How much does it cost to repair water damage on a MacBook?

The cost to repair a liquid-damaged MacBook depends on the severity of the damage. Here are average repair costs for common issues:

Repair Average Cost
Logic board replacement $500 – $700
Keyboard replacement $150 – $300
Trackpad $120 – $250
Screen $250 – $600
Battery $120 – $200
Speakers $80 – 150

Labor, diagnostic fees, and taxes can add $100+ to the total bill. Extensive disassembly to dry internal parts also adds cost. Component-level board repair may be cheaper than outright replacement.

Can you fix a water-damaged MacBook yourself?

It’s possible to repair minor water damage yourself, but more serious issues often require professional equipment and expertise. Here’s an overview of DIY MacBook water damage repair:

  • For spills limited to the keyboard, you can often successfully dry it out yourself using the methods covered earlier.
  • Replacing an unresponsive keyboard/trackpad is doable, though requires totally disassembling the MacBook to access the components.
  • Screen, battery, speaker, port replacements are straightforward. Guides and replacement parts are readily available online.
  • Logic board repair requires electronics microsoldering skills and tools. Best left to a professional unless you have experience.

Weigh the costs of professional repair versus doing it yourself. Extensive disassembly can be difficult and may risk damaging components if not done carefully. Liquid damage often affects multiple parts necessitating a range of repair skills.

Tips to prevent water damage on a MacBook

While accidents happen, you can take proactive measures to reduce the risk of getting your MacBook wet:

  • Use a waterproof case or cover in rainy/snowy weather.
  • Don’t eat or drink over or around your MacBook.
  • Close any drinks before moving them near your MacBook.
  • Keep MacBook away from sink splash zones, as well as pools and beach sand.
  • Ensure kids and pets don’t have access to set drinks on a MacBook.
  • Carry MacBook in a padded bag separately from liquids.
  • Avoid placing MacBook on condensation prone surfaces like cold windows.

Being mindful of your beverage placement, kids’ antics, and weather conditions goes a long way in preventing damaging spills on your prized Apple notebook.


Getting moisture in your MacBook keyboard or other internals can certainly cause problems, but doesn’t have to lead to catastrophic damage. By responding quickly to dry it out and cleaning any residues, you can often recover a liquid-damaged MacBook if caught early. For significant spills or malfunctioning components, seeking professional repair services raises your chances of success. Taking some basic precautions can also help you avoid the worry of water damage in the first place. With proper care, your MacBook and beverages can co-exist peacefully!