How to Clean a Laptop After a Spill

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Updated August 16, 2022

Liquid spills are notorious for turning the best keyboards into rubbish. However, knowing how to clean a laptop after a spill can save your device from severe damage if dealt with quickly. So, if you have a habit of toppling beverages, read on as we share the simple yet life-saving tricks.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Laptop keypads require immediate attention after a liquid spill to avoid permanent damage.
  • After powering off the keyboard and unplugging all cables, flip it over and allow the fluid to drain.
  • Remove and rinse the keyboard cover and keycaps, wipe down the switches with rubbing alcohol, and let the computer air out until dry.

Additionally, owners of older MacBook models need to be extra cautious because of the weak switch design, leaving electronics exposed to debris and liquid. You can read our article explaining what butterfly keyboards are to learn more about this.

Insider Tip

A laptop cover will help protect your computer from spills.

How to Clean a Laptop Keyboard After a Spill

While most understand how to clean a laptop with compressed air, knowing how to protect internal components from excess liquid takes a bit more savvy. However, as soon as you understand how the process is straightforward. Another great article for anyone dealing with a liquid spill mishap is our resource explaining how to clean a sticky keyboard.

Finally, knowing your laptop’s switch mechanisms is essential to address several problems, including spills. For more on this, you can find our resource that explains what a scissor-switch keyboard is.

STEP 1

Immediately turn off your laptop computer. If you have a removable battery pack, take it out. Additionally, disconnect any other devices and the power cable running from your computer.

STEP 2

Turn the laptop upside down, creating an inverted “V” shape. As you do this, tilt the computer at various angles so the liquid can drain.

STEP 3

Use paper towels, napkins, dry cloth, or any other absorption tool and gently blot the liquid from the keys. Additionally, wipe the bottom of the keyboard with a damp cloth to remove any liquid.

Warning

Ensure that your laptop is turned off as soon as the spill occurs to reduce the likelihood of electric shock and prevent more severe damage to your device.

STEP 4

Leave the laptop upturned and spray with a can of compressed air. If you have no compressed air, you can use a hair dryer on the cool setting.

STEP 5

For those who spilled something other than water that left a residue, you must remove the casing and keycaps to wipe down as many of the internal components as possible. To do this, use a microfiber cloth damp with isopropyl alcohol.

STEP 6

Finish the drying process by letting the upturned keyboard rest on a flat surface for a day. Then test to see if the keyboard is working. If it’s not, take it to a repair shop.

STAT: Replacing a keyboard costs, on average, $50-$200. (source)

How to Clean a Laptop After a Spill FAQs

Does the rice trick help the keyboard dry out?

Unfortunately, the rice trick doesn't relieve liquid damage. It only risks your computer further by allowing grains to get in your charging and flash drive ports.

Do I have to take the keyboard apart after a spill?

Taking the casing and keycaps off may not be necessary for minor water spills. However, with a substance that leaves a sticky residue, you'll likely have to take the keycaps off and clean the switches with isopropyl alcohol.

What is a spill-proof keyboard?

Spill-proof keyboards feature a lining underneath the keys to block any moisture from getting into the electronics.
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