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You’ve Spilled Your Coffee on Your Laptop Keyboard, Now What?

My blogs are frequently about trends that we are seeing in the Computer Corner service department. Over the past few months, we’ve seen dozens of laptops come in to our shop with a variety of liquids spilled on their keyboards.

Obviously, your desktop keyboard is not as big an issue, because desktop keyboards are typically inexpensive and easy to replace, unless you have a fancy gaming or ergonomic keyboard. So, I’m going to focus on what you should do if you spill anything on your laptop keyboard.

If treated properly and quickly, you have a good chance of saving your laptop a caffeine-related demon, however we’ve seen a consistent theme of how people tend to react after a spill, and, inevitably, they’re at our service counter is because whatever they tried did NOT work.

In almost every situation the individual has tried to power on their laptop after merely towel drying the outside of the system. This is probably the worst thing you can do – your system must be completely dry inside and out before you attempt to power up again.

In fact, if you have gotten liquids inside your laptop, it may actually take several days to dry, not just overnight, so you’ll not only need to follow these steps but also be patient.

Many of the people we’ve seen recently with dead laptops started out down the right track but didn’t let their system dry thoroughly inside before they powered on again and that’s what ultimate damaged or even destroyed their laptops.

Here’s what you should do If you spill liquids in your laptop:

  • Immediately turn it off and disconnect it from any other device, especially the power adapter and even any USB drive or drives that are connected.
  • Depending upon how much you spilled, drain the liquid by turning the unit upside down, towel dry what you can on the outside and remove the battery. DO NOT use a hair dryer, it may result in a static electricity issue. Do Not use canned or compressed air to try to dry it out because you could be forcing the liquid into other parts of the laptop like the motherboard. ((Many online recommendations will tell you to use canned air to dry your laptop – do not do this).
  • Remove other components such as the battery and memory, if you have easy access to them, emphasis on “easy” – do not start taking your laptop apart with a screwdriver unless you really know what you’re doing.
  • Turn your laptop over and let it drain and dry out as much as possible. That may take days not hours – patience here is indeed a virtue.

Or you can bring your laptop into a qualified service center, where trained and experienced staff will disassemble your laptop and dry it fully before attempting to power it on.

Unfortunately, if you have spilled a soda beverage in your laptop, the likelihood of it surviving is small…. After all, you can use some sodas to tenderize meat and clean that porcelain convenience in your home, if you get my drift…

Any and all other sweetened beverages are also not as easy to clean as plain water, black coffee and unsweetened tea, and if you’ve unlucky enough to have doused your laptop with a Piña Colada, you probably should just make yourself another one and think of happier times.