Dell latitude laptop with drops of water on keyboard

How to save your laptop after spilling liquid on it

You spill water on your brand new Dell XPS laptop or HP laptop.
What happens? Sparks fly from the computer?
Computer dies? No!
Well at least not all the time. Now don’t go about experimenting to find out.

If you travel around a lot during the rainy season you need to invest in one of these
waterproof laptop backpacks or laptop cases.

Also accidentally spilling coffee or some liquid on laptops occurs frequently and the damage differs depending on many variables like time of exposure, type of liquid, how you react and so on.
There are a couple of things to do if you spill coffee, water or any liquid on your laptop to minimize damage

First lets look at what not to do:

  • What not to do when you liquid spills on laptop.
  • Don’t panic even though you need to act fast (you mind end up causing more harm.)
  • Don’t exert pressure where the liquid spill occurred by wiping, this further pushes the liquid and spreads it deeper.
  • If you dry using a blow dryer don’t use it on a hot high setting.

Now this is what you do

What to do after liquid spill on laptop.

First I would recommend you go to a repair shop if you are not tech savvy and there is one nearby.
If there isn’t one nearby and you want to dry the laptop spill yourself, power down the computer if its still on. Then disconnect power supply and remove battery.

Most laptop batteries can be easily removed, on my inspiron I just turn it over locate the latches, then slide the latches in opposite directions simultaneously sliding the battery from the laptop. Less than 2 seconds done. You can do almost the same actions on most laptops with the exception of some like the Inspiron 15 (7537) 7000 which will need a bit of screw driver action .

This is race against time. The faster you act the more likely there will be minimal damage.

Your instinct would be to wipe the liquid of from your computer but this can cause more damage. For instance, say the spill is on the laptop keyboard, if you attempt to wipe the liquid you exert pressure on the keyboard. Pressing the keyboard keys as you wipe will increase the spread of the liquid.

Tilt the laptop the direction the liquid came from.
Ideally a micro-fiber cleaning cloth would be handy but you can try to use any cloth that will absorb the liquid with the least amount of pressure.

Using rice to dry laptop

Weird as it may sound rice is very efficient when it comes to drying your computer after a spill. I have seen it work on 2 Dell laptops. A latitude laptop and an Inspiron. Though the Dell Inspiron had sticky keyboard issues afterwards probably cause of the sticky sugar in the coffee. The Dell Inspiron keyboard ended up being replaced.

Basically after you get rid of as much spill as possible, get a bag of rice. Enough to cover your laptop, the more the better. Put the laptop in the rice. The rice will slowly absorb the moisture from the computer. Leave it in the rice bag as much as you can bear.

I would suggest 24hrs but I don’t have any technical or scientific reason for that time. You can leave it in the bag of rice for more than that.

With the Dell latitude laptop the rice absorbed the water and there were no problems afterwards. It turned on fine. Booted into windows and I was paid for the repair. Easy buck made.

Hopeful everything works fine afters

This also works on phones, I mistakenly washed my phone for a couple of minutes. Luckily, I realized quickly enough removed the battery and stuck it in rice.The next morning the phone turned on fine.

Absorb moisture using silica gel packets

If you think putting your laptop in rice is crazy, there is another alternative, which is silica gel packets. Usually a lot of people do not have silica gel packets around but if you do you can use it instead of the rice. Just put them on your computer.

The main point is to efficiently absorb the liquid and moisture fast so your laptop components dry faster reducing the potential damage

Using a blow dryer to dry the computer.

I haven’t used this method on drying the computer but a number of users have used it. So use it at your own risk.

Tilt the computer so the liquid drip out of the computer. Use a blow dryer on the lowest setting. You can also use a can of compressed air if available. Blow the laptop slowly. Even if it looks dry don’t turn it on. Leave it off for a couple of hours just in case there is moisture.

Keyboard not working after spill on Laptop.

First connect an external USB keyboard to determine if the laptop keyboard is the one which is faulty. If the external keyboard works fine then take a look at the laptop keyboard.

Usually spills on computers mostly affect the keyboard, which is slightly better as its replaceable. Unlike say a the motherboard or hard drive which might cause data loss or your computer not to turn on.

If keyboard is not working you may need to check for any residue underneath. Usually with water you don’t face this problem it just evaporates with no residue. Most laptop keyboards can be easily removed by prying off the cover between the screen and the keyboard.

You need to be gently as you might damage the data cable connecting the keyboard and the motherboard.

Clean it up and put it back as it was.

Hopeful if you ever have a laptop liquid spill situation you will be ready.


  1. My laptop fell in water and I put it in 20Kg of rice. How long do I leave it before its safe to take it out and turn it on? Is it going to work normal after?

    1. The idea is just to absorb as much moisture from the laptop as possible at a fast rate with causing chemical reactions that might damage it even more. Rice is easily found at homes hence comes handy. You can keep it as long as you can a day or more should do.

Leave a Reply