As weird as it seems, people keep spilling liquids like tea, water, milk, coffee and juices often on their laptops accidentally. And liquid, in any kind, can cause serious damage to your laptop if appropriate steps are not taken at the right time. These spills can kill the laptop immediately due to the damage it causes to the circuits by forming a natural bridge among them. Your laptop may not boot, become unresponsive, may not display anything or make different noises, depending on where the spill has leaked to. Even if it boots up, liquid caused damage can take some time to show it’s signs. So if you’ve spilled something on the laptop, whether in small quantity or massive, make sure the laptop is powered off immediately to avoid the bridge from damaging anything.
If you have spilled liquid on your laptop, don’t wait to check if your laptop still works. Immediately remove the AC adapter and the Battery connected to your laptop to stop the current from flowing into the circuits. Remove the battery, which is usually held by locks at the bottom of your laptop, and all the peripherals attached with your laptop. If the battery is not user-removable, then check the manual to see how to remove it and in worst case scenario, if you’re unable to take the battery out for any reason; then keep the laptop off.
As a first approach, turn your laptop upside down in such a way that it enforces the maximum spill to drip out. Make sure all the water pours out of it. Leave it in that position until the water stops draining out, 8 to 12 hours would be good. Don’t use a hair dryer or a microwave as it can drive the moisture deeper into your laptop and cause static damage. After 8 to 12 hours, take a soft paper towel or cloth (lint free) to dry all the liquid you can see. Thoroughly dry the parts currently accessible as soon as possible to avoid any corrosion damage and short circuit as it can kill the laptop by damaging small chips on it and if that happens, then you’re going to need a replacement motherboard which in my opinion isn’t worth the cost. The reason why is that the cost of the board usually exceeds the cost of a new laptop, and with a new laptop you get the warranty covering all parts in it.
Once this is done, you will need to disassemble your laptop. Since there are thousands of models, and all models differ it is not possible to include a manual but the term to use when searching for manual is “the service manual”. You can search on Google for the service manual of your laptop or try searching on YouTube.com for how to open/disassemble your laptop. Be careful with this, and don’t forget what you took from where, it’ll be a good idea to take pictures along with the steps you perform or note them down so that you can re-assemble without problems.
If you cannot find a manual, or if you’re not comfortable with it then don’t proceed with it, instead take the laptop to a repair shop or service center. BUT if you were successful in opening it, then look for the components where the the liquid spilled to and Dry those parts and any portion you have access to on the motherboard. Eliminate all visible moisture with a lint free cloth and use compressed air if available to dry out the inside of the laptop. If you have a low-intensity vacuum cleaner; then use it. If there is some sticky residue, then use isopropyl alcohol dipped cotton swabs to remove them. Make sure there is no residue on any part of the motherboard.
Keep all the parts and the laptop itself in open air so that air can move around and the moisture gets evaporated entirely. Remember to keep the laptop upside down. If not, water will start corroding the parts dissolved in it. Let all the parts dry, including your laptop for 24 to 42 hours minimum in a place with lots of air. Keep it like that for a few days if you still suspect it’s wet. The more time you give it to dry, the better.
If you have spilled anything that is not water, you may have to clean parts through rinsing. If the spilled liquid is water soluble, then use water to rinse it clean. Otherwise use over-the-counter alcohol to rinse the residue off.
Before reassembling the parts, make sure all the parts are completely dry. While powering it on for the first time, you don’t need to attach the hard drive or the battery as you just want to check if it powers on or not. If it does so normally, attach them both and use it like you used to do.
If your laptop still doesn’t turns on, unplug the adapter, remove the battery and press the power button for 30 seconds.
How to protect your laptop from liquid spills
Fixing a problem before it happens can save you much trouble. You should try to keep all kinds of liquids and eatables away from laptop as most of the laptop keyboards are not spill proof and much of the damage is caused by water that seeps through the gaps between keys into the motherboard. Keep a lid on liquid containers and keep their distance from your laptop. You can also buy membrane skins and protective keyboard covers for your laptop keyboards easily available from e-bay or other such online stores to shield your keyboard from dust and spills. There are many such products available in the market.