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Help! I Spilled Water on my MacBook!

What if I spill liquid on my MacBook?

As you know, liquids and MacBooks do not mix that well. But, if you are reading this article, it probably means that you have spilled something on your MacBook. Don’t panic. This is a common occurrence that happens more often than you think. With everyone working from home and going to school at home, it’s inevitable that liquid damage will occur at some point. Just take a deep breath and follow our instructions. This repair advice applies to liquid damaged MacBooks, liquid damaged MacBook Airs or liquid damaged MacBook Pros.

It's only a matter of time until you spill something on your macbook or powerbook. When water damage happens, don't fret: bring it to LaptopMD+!

Power Down the MacBook

First and foremost, immediately shut down the machine and remove ALL power, this includes the battery if removable. The chances of a short occurring as the liquid continues to travel within your machine are greatly reduced by removing the power quickly. Additionally, the MacBook is a complicated piece of electronic equipment – the chances of injury are present if the electrical components are both powered up and wet.

Unplug ALL external devices such as hard drives, keyboards, speakers, printers, additional monitors, etc. This will remove any chance of ancillary damage to your external devices.

Dry Off all Visible Liquid with an Absorbent Towel.

Grab an absorbent towel and begin the process of trying up any visible liquids. If the water/coffee/liquid was primarily on the keyboard, flip the machine over and rest the keyboard face down on a towel. This can prevent the liquid from seeping further into the machine and causing damage to major components such as the main logic board and the motherboard. If these components are damaged, the repair process is significantly more complex. We want to minimize the chances of this happening as much as possible.

Allow the MacBook to Dry Naturally

Allow the machine to dry out for a significant period of time. We would recommend at least 96 hours but longer may be necessary depending upon the environment. Storing the machine in a warm, dry place such as an airing cupboard will help with the drying process.

Do Not Use Dry Rice!

A tip that you may have heard online is that storing your MacBook in dry rice can assist in the drying process. While this is true, WE DO NOT RECOMMEND USING RICE TO DRY YOUR DEVICE. Simply put, it can cause more problems. Whilst it may enhance the drying process, grains of rice will get into the keyboard and ports and can be difficult to extract without causing further damage. It’s much easier to fix a water-damaged screen than having to replace your entire motherboard due to rice damage.

Once Your Laptop is Dry, Attempt to Turn It Back On.

Only after you are certain that your laptop is totally dry should you attempt to turn it on. At this point, if your MacBook turns on, perform an inspection of your programs and software to ensure nothing was corrupted.

Fix Any Sticky Keys

If you spilled soda or something that can cause sticky keys, there’s an easy way to fix that. The best fix for sticky keys is to clean the individual key switches. On some laptops, you can pop the keycaps off easily to get to the mechanism beneath. You can use some isopropyl alcohol spray and a cotton ball to remove even the most stuck-on gunk. The alcohol will quickly evaporate.

Before you try this, make sure your laptop is turned off, unplugged, and that any batteries are removed, if possible.

Spray or drop some isopropyl alcohol on the affected keys, and then press each key repeatedly to work the alcohol into the mechanism. The more you press it, the looser the key should become. Don’t use too much alcohol, though, or you might wash the gunk farther into your laptop. Repeat this process until the keys aren’t as sticky. You can use this same technique to fix any sticky buttons on a game controller. It should improve the feel of any affected keys, but keep in mind, it’s not a complete fix, as it won’t remove the sticky residue entirely.

Avoiding Spills in Future

The best way to avoid a soggy laptop is to never have it near food and drink. Another option is to use a keyboard cover, which acts as a waterproof membrane to stop liquids from passing through. They are not infallible, though, since vents still need to breathe. They will also negatively affect your typing experience. However, if you have spilled liquids on multiple MacBooks, you might want to give a keyboard cover a shot.

Another option is to put your laptop on a riser and use an external keyboard and mouse. This offers the additional benefit of improving your posture because you won’t have to angle your head downward to see the screen. Unfortunately, this advice is only applicable for home and office use.

What You Should NOT Do After Spilling Liquid on Your MacBook

Do not try to turn your device on until it is completely dry. As mentioned above, the MacBook is an extremely complex piece of electrical technology. If you attempt to power up your MacBook before it’s fully dry, you risk not only personal electrocution, but further damage to your device that could potentially be catastrophic.

Do not try to shake the liquid out. We, unfortunately, see this often. While the intentions are good (forcing the water out of the MacBook), this will only spread the liquid around the device and into the deep hard-to-get-to electrical areas.

Do not use a hair dryer, heat gun, or any other heating component to dry the device! This will damage sensitive components and melt rubbers or plastics. Just be patient and let the MacBook rest for 92 hours.

Do not open up your MacBook and try to dry the components yourself! MacBooks are notoriously difficult to open and were designed to keep people from tinkering with the internal hardware. Apple does this for a reason – if you open up your MacBook, you can damage things beyond repair on accident. Not to mention, opening up your MacBook will certainly void any factory warranty that may exist.

What to Do If Your MacBook Will Stops Working After It’s Dried

Once MacBook water damage has occurred, the liquid will likely make its way to the logic board and other components. The liquid’s minerals and salts immediately begin to eat away at the metal, silicone and fiberglass components. It may be the case where your MacBook will work for a few days after the spill, and then completely stop working. This is due to the metals oxidizing and slowly corroding. If there is a power source available, such as a battery, which is supplying power to the system (even if the computer is off), the electric current will interact with the liquid and accelerate this corrosion process. This causes the copper and other metals to migrate across the board.

If your MacBook won’t turn on after it has dried, if the files are corrupted/are inaccessible, or if the MacBook shuts down after working for a few days, there has unfortunately been a major system failure that requires work beyond DIY solutions.

Send Your MacBook In for a Qualified Repair

If you have experienced this, do not stress too much, and don’t panic. At LaptopMD, our experienced engineers are able to quickly survey the extent of your MacBook’s liquid damage. After all, we are experts at fixing Macbooks. After analyzing the component affected, we will then resolve to solder or replace the source of the damage. If a replacement is necessary, you will be immediately informed of the cost and the time needed to replace the component. If you have any specific repair and worry about the price tag, just visit us or call us and ask for a free estimate. Our Apple engineers are qualified to analyze the extent of your MacBook’s damage and give you an instant free estimate. We are open seven days a week, and even offer mail-in service! Simply send us your MacBook and we will thoroughly diagnose the issues and will call you ASAP with a free estimate.

LaptopMD For On-Site IT Needs

LaptopMD is a staple of the New York technology community and offers mail-in service nationwide. We have been in business since 1999, reverently covered in outlets such as Wall Street Journal, CNN, CBS, and Inc. magazine.

Along with faster, more customer-oriented service with free estimates, we are simply more qualified. Our engineers can perform the repairs other services simply cannot. We are one of the few local businesses in the tri-state area with the know-how to fix internal device components. Have any specific questions about price, turnaround time, or working hours? Ask us via Live Chat.