Spilled Water on Your Macbook? Here’s How to Avoid Water Damage

Spilled Water Macbook

Is there anything more heart-stopping than the moment you knock a glass of water over and watch it spill all over your MacBook? If you accidentally spill a drink over your shiny MacBook, all may not be lost. By acting fast and following the advice in this article, you may be able to salvage your laptop, or at the very least limit the damage so the inevitable repairs won’t be quite so expensive.

In this article we show you how to fix a water-damaged Macbook.

So, you’ve just spilled water on your MacBook

Water and electricity are never a good mix and could even be dangerous. If your Mac is currently connected to a power source, you should unplug it immediately. Don’t turn your laptop on, boot it up, or attach it to any power source while it’s still wet.

If you just splashed a little water directly onto the keyboard, you may be in luck. The MacBook’s built-in keyboard has an air-right mechanism that should help prevent (a small amount of) water from spreading to important components. You’ll still need to replace your keyboard and perhaps take your Mac in for service, but you may have dodged a bullet.

However, even if you’ve only lightly splashed the keyboard, you’ll still need to act fast to resolve the problem before it spreads, or you may lose your device altogether.

What to do right now

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Have you remembered to unplug? This is your final reminder that it isn’t safe to interact with a wet MacBook that’s still attached to any kind of power source.

Remove the battery and unplug any peripherals. If you can remove the battery, this is also a good idea. You should also disconnect any peripherals that are attached to your MacBook, such as a printer, camera, scanner, or wired mouse.

Power down your laptop. There’s no time to worry about losing unsaved work, so press and hold your Mac’s power button. If you have something non-conductive close at hand, such as a pencil, you may want to use this to press the power button. You don’t want to risk getting a nasty shock!

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Flip your MacBook into a tent position to drain. This will pull the water back into the keyboard, and away from your Mac’s core components.

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Wipe your Mac carefully. If the exterior of your Mac is visibly wet, it may help to wipe it with a clean, dry cloth. You can also try drying any ports or vents using a non-conductive instrument such as a cotton bud.

Wait for 48 hours. This step may be painful, but leaving your Mac in the tent position for a few days lessens the impact of any potential water damage. While it’s tempting to turn your Mac back on to assess the damage, this can result in a current being transferred through damp components. This may cause more damage to your Mac. Leave your Mac for as long as possible to give the liquid a chance to drain away completely.

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The longer you can let your Mac sit, the better, but 48 hours is the absolute minimum. To help the drying process, you may want to place your Mac somewhere warm, such as an airing cupboard, or near a source of heat, such as a radiator. If you own a fan, it may help to move it nearer to your laptop, as increasing the air flow can encourage any remaining liquid to evaporate.

Test your Mac. Once your Mac has completely dried, it’s time for the moment of truth! Try to power your MacBook back on and see if it works. If it does power up, then test your trackpad, all of the keys, Internet and Bluetooth connectivity, plus any other features you use on a regular basis. Fingers crossed that your quick thinking has saved your MacBook, or at least limited the damage!

Give your Mac a clean. If you’ve managed to recover your Mac, now’s the perfect time to give it a good clean. This is particularly important if the spilled beverage was anything other than water. For example, soda is going to make your MacBook seriously sticky, and soda residue may damage your MacBook over time. A clean, dry microfiber cloth is great for cleaning your Mac’s exterior casing. You may also want to carefully clean your MacBook’s vents and ports using a non-conductive instrument, such as a cotton bud or wooden toothpick.

Visit an Apple Service center or specialist. Even if your Mac seems to be functioning as normal, it’s still a good idea to book an appointment with your local Apple store or MacBook specialist. They should be able to assess your laptop for any damages to your logic board. If your warranty is still applicable, now’s the time to take advantage of it!

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A good repair shop will use ultrasonic cleaning machines or powerful solvents to clean the components thoroughly. Even if your laptop appears to be functioning correctly now, this can help you avoid issues further down the line.

What not to do

Now that we’ve looked at steps that can help you limit water damage, let’s look at some things you definitely shouldn’t do:

  • Do not turn your Mac back on. Chances are you’re in panic mode and desperate to find out whether your MacBook is toast. However, trying to power up your Mac is the worst thing you can do at this point. Electricity can cause more damage and may even be dangerous. It’s not easy, but it’s vital that you avoid the temptation to power up your MacBook until it’s completely dry.
  • Do not shake your MacBook. You may be frustrated, but shaking your laptop will only spread the liquid around. It may even force the water into more delicate areas of your MacBook, causing more corrosion and damage.
  • Forget the hair dryer. While this may seem like a great way to hasten the drying process, in reality it has little real impact, and direct heat may even damage your Mac’s sensitive components.
  • Ignore the old urban legend of using rice. There’s a widely held assumption that rice will draw moisture from devices. While this may work for your phone, applying a coating of rice to your Mac isn’t going to pull moisture from core components such as the battery and circuit board. If only fixing a waterlogged Mac was that easy!

How to safeguard your MacBook in the future

Spilling liquid on your laptop is a serious accident. Even if you do manage to recover your laptop, you’ll want to ensure it never happens again!

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To help safeguard your MacBook, we recommend investing in a waterproof laptop skin with ventilation holes for both halves of the case, a clear plastic or silicone keyboard cover, and a waterproof screen protector.

Hopefully, the above methods can help you fix your water-damaged Macbook. If you’re looking to bolster your Macbook setup, then see our list of the best docking stations for the Macbook and Macbook Pro. We also have a list of ways to apply an equalizer in macOS for audio enthusiasts.

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Jessica Thornsby Jessica Thornsby

Jessica Thornsby is a technical writer based in Derbyshire, UK. When she isn’t obsessing over all things tech, she enjoys researching her family tree, and spending far too much time with her house rabbits.

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