Laptops hate drinks, any kind of them. Some may tolerate a small sip of vodka or scotch on the rocks, but that’s about all. Any other kind of drink – coffee, tea, wine, pop or any soft drink will kill them almost instantly.

I’ve been dealing with laptops for quite a long time but have seen just a couple of mainstream laptops that are spill-resistant. This is one of the biggest design flaws of all laptops. How hard is it for the manufacturers to put a plastic or metal tray under the keyboard that will prevent any liquids from entering the laptop? It doesn’t even have to be completely waterproof, just spill-resistant. Well, it’s not hard at all and very inexpensive to implement, but… Nobody does it.

Another “thing” is the keyboard. Many years ago some laptop keyboards had a plastic membrane under the keys, covering the actual contacts and preventing any dust, debris or liquids from damaging the keyboard. Unfortunately all newer laptops come with pretty much the same keyboards that have absolutely no protection from liquids. Just a few drops will usually kill a keyboard and it will have to be replaced.

What to do if you spill something on your laptop? Act quickly! Unplug the power cord and any other cords, turn the laptop upside down and remove the battery. Don’t try to shut down the laptop, that takes time… The damage you may do to the operating system by removing the battery while the laptop is running is insignificant compared to the damage the liquid will do to your laptop when it penetrates to the motherboard.

After removing the battery, keep the laptop upside down for a while, allowing the liquid to drain as much as possible. Don’t even think about turning it back on to see if it still works! It has to dry completely first. That takes at least 48 hours. After the liquid has drained, remove the hard drive, usually held in place by one or two screws, the CD/DVD if possible, and all small covers on the back that are held by screws (there is at least one, covering your RAM expansion slot, and possibly another covering the Wi-Fi card).

The next step is removing the keyboard. That is usually not very hard but unless you can get a service manual describing exactly how to do it on your laptop (the procedure varies for different models and brands), I would suggest letting a technician do it. It is important to remove the keyboard because it is most likely damaged and will need to be replaced and because that will expose the area where most of the spillage occurred, allowing it to dry.

The important thing to remember is not to turn the laptop back on before it is completely dry. However trying to speed up the process with a hairdryer is a very bad idea, as the temperature of the air is too high and may damage the laptop. I’ve seen a few melted laptop cases from a hairdryer.

If that was your business computer and you need to continue working, the best thing to do is to transfer the hard disk to an external USB enclosure, providing that it wasn’t damaged from the liquid (in 99% of the cases the hard disk is not damaged). That way you will have access to all your files (but not to your programs) and will be able to continue working on another computer.

74 thoughts on “Drinks”

  1. This happened to me two weeks ago to my Toshiba, orange soda being the culprit. I just happened to wait 2 days, since I’ve never seen this article before. On opening, the laptop was pretty sticky but pure ethanol, a toothbrush and a hairdryer did the trick. All the programs and keys are working, and although I did encounter a blue screen at start up. It never showed up again and I hope it doesn’t plan to……

  2. I spilled soup on my laptop (Toshiba) last night. Works fine. Didnt get it on the keyboard. Just by the windows 7 sticker.

  3. i killed my laptop by accidentally spilling Dr. Pepper on it i didn’t mean to and am quite upset … i will be less upset if it is possible to recover my hard drive it had all my artwork and photographs on there . how do i get everything off of my hard drive please assist ?

  4. Same thing for me as others here. Small party, tipsy girl, Macbook Air hiding in the corner trying not to be noticed! Girls somehow drops drink and most of the liquid finds the hiding Macbook.

    I just turned it upside down and also put it in the airing cupboard for a good 24 hours.
    And…. IT STILL WORKS!!

    Best regards,

    Tony Wentworth
    Honeywell 50250

  5. Laptop is becoming our best buddy in our daily life. We always like to take them along with us anywhere we go, so it is easy for the laptop keyboard become dirty. Whats’worse, because of our carelessness, we would suddently spilled some juice or coffee in our laptop keyboard. What should be do at this urgent moment? Don’t worry, I would share you some tips to clean the juice or coffee on your Dell Inspiron 6000 Laptop keyboard. The first thing you should do is take a deep breath and make yourself calm down, then power your laptop off and take your battery away,also you should remove a mouse, any DVDs, USB drives and any perpheral else that is connected to your laptop. Anyhow, you dont want any electricity running through that thing when you’ve got liquid on it somewhere. In fact,What a lot of people don’t know is that liquid isn’t necessarily bad for your computer because all the parts in there actually get washed before they’re get put into your computer. I know that’s scary but that actually happens. What’s more, most of laptop keyboards are anti-water now, so just take it easy! The next thing you have to do is turn it upside down so that all the liquid spills out. Grab some cloth or whatever you can to wipe off all the excess liquid. Now grab your hairdryer and run it off the keyboard until everything looks dry. Just to be safe, leave it unplugged for about a day or two so you can be sure that it dries out and just before you’re starting it up again go over it with a hairdryer again. What’s more, you could take this chance to clean your laptop keyboard throughly.

    First, different laptop have a different way of disassemble laptop keyboard, so make a owner’s manual so you know where each key goes. Carefully pry each key loose with a small screwdriver and place in a container. They pop off. DO NOT use excessive force. There may be a small rubber piece for each key. Remove all of these and place in a separate container. CAREFUL, these are small and like to jump away. Sencondly, Use a screwdriver to gently pop key off. Then store them in a safe place so that they don’t get lost. Then you will find some grease is on keys,some dust is on them,clean these first with cotton swabs and Rubbing alcohol. clean all grease. let all keys stand until keys is dry completely. Thirdly, use toothbrush and PTFE to clean the base board of keyboard. don’t use water,because there is transparent conducting film in the base board. if water into laptop keyboard, ,maybe happen a serious consequences. Fourthly, after the keys and base board of keyboard is dry completely,we install all Bracket of keys in base board of keyboard. careful don’t fracture these brittle bracket. now,we take the key above the bracket and press the key. the key will be install in keyboard.

    Finally, the laptop keyboard looks like a compeletly new one now. You can also see the following video guide for cleaning your keyboard.

  6. My daughter just spilled sprit onto the keyboard of my Dell laptop. She quickly unplugged, took out the battery and turned face (keyboard) down onto the bed. Now I’m praying! Keeping the faith. I will wait 48 hours before I turn it back on, should I take it to a computer shop first thing, before even turning it back on?

  7. hi…
    my laptop got some whiskey and lime spilled on it..the keys were all sticky but got them cleaned.enter and backspace don work! anyway they said i gotta get a new keyboard.if i dont replace it right away will that cause a problem in the long run or affect any other parts of the system???

  8. A lot of newer laptops are built to resist the occasional spillage nowdays. The keys themselves are so close together, that it doesn’t let water leak in to do the damage. This only applies if you spill a LITTLE bit of liquid though.

  9. I have a mac i got got it 5 months ago tonight i had a party and a drink of whisky and coke was dropped on the keyboard. We flipped it upside down and turned it off but me being the inpation person i am tryed turning the screen on and its black but the buttons are lit up. Is my compter done or is there a chance of it working again???

  10. I spilled roughly half a cup of coffee over my laptop.
    I turned it off and tried to mop it up etc and turn it over.
    About an hour later turned it on to see if it was ok 🙁
    It got progressively worse while i was on it – and i couldnt understand why!
    By the time I turned it off again (about 20 minutes later) hardly any keys were working.
    Is my computer going to live?!!!!
    Its less than 6 months old I am gutted.
    Please tell me what I can do.

  11. Yesterday I dropped a cup of soup and it went all over my laptop. It hit the screen, the power button, and the keyboard (just one section of it). It was a thick soup, not watery, and I quickly turned the laptop off and wiped it down. Everything seems to be working fine. Do you think I have anything to worry about? If it works right after the spill happens, does it usually continue to keep working? Thanks!

  12. I brought my ASUS laptop to a party at my friends house just yesterday, some time during our hangout a girl spilled two cups of Sprite onto it (and its less than 6months old!) Luckily we kept our cool, disconnected the power cords, turned off the machine while flipping it so to stand at an angle – the stream of Sprite just kept leaking onto my hand!
    After about 30 minutes I finally got everything dried, seems my keyboard has a rather special construction that includes a full metal plate under the keys, so there was literally no way soda could’ve entered the core of the laptop unless through air ducts – I’m glad your website helped reconfirm my method was correct! Thank you!

  13. Marian, noise that appears some time after starting the laptop is most likely from the fan failing. If your laptop is still under warranty – send it back for repair (but backup your files first).

    You can usually notice any liquids damage quite easy. Just take the battery out and look closely. If a liquid was spilled on top of it, the first thing to go is the keyboard.

  14. Hi my new HP laptop starts doing a noice some time after had started, I know something happend to my laptop but my sister doesn’t tell me. I remember the laptop was in the kitchen last time it worked well so I will asume it’s something related to liquids.
    I don’t think it was a lot of liquid but the speaker doesn’t work and with headphones yes. After 20 minutes is turnd on it starts doing a noise like frying? Plase help on this matter. Also sorry about my bad english.


  15. Hi Heather, unfortunately on some laptops, especially the smaller ones / sub-laptops the hard disk is not easily accessible. If the laptop is beyond repair you can try searching the Internet for instructions and opening it yourself. You will need a good set of small screwdrivers and a bit of patience, but its not as hard as it seems.

  16. I have Sony Vaio and this is exactly what happened to me. I wish I knew about this web site earlier. Now it is not turning on and the repair will cost over $900!! You say that I can take the hard drive out and put it in usb enclosure to get my files, and it will work. But I don’t see where it is. Its definitely not “held in place by 1-2 screws”. Any help will be appreciated.

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