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 be able to fix a water-damaged MacBook, or at least salvage your laptop, even if it’s just limiting the damage so the inevitable repairs won’t be quite so expensive.
So, you’ve just spilled water on your MacBook
Water and electricity are never a good mix and could even be dangerous. If your MacBook is currently connected to a power source, you should unplug it immediately. While it’s tempting to try to fix a water-damaged MacBook yourself, 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 MacBook 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
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 MacBook’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!
Flip your MacBook into a tent position to drain. This will pull the water back into the keyboard and away from your MacBook’s core components.
Wipe your MacBook carefully. If the exterior of your MacBook 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 swab.
Wait for 48 hours. This step may be painful, but leaving your MacBook in the tent position for a few days lessens the impact of any potential water damage. While it’s tempting to turn your MacBook back on to assess the damage, this can result in a current being transferred through damp components. This may cause more damage to your MacBook. Leave your Mac for as long as possible to give the liquid a chance to drain away completely.
The longer you can let your MacBook sit, the better, but 48 hours is the absolute minimum. To help the drying process, you may want to place your MacBook 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 airflow can encourage any remaining liquid to evaporate.
Test your MacBook. Once your MacBook 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 MacBook a clean. If you’ve managed to recover your MacBook, 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 MacBook’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 swab or wooden toothpick.
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 which may eliminate any chance you have to fix your water-damaged MacBook.
- Do not turn your MacBook back on. Chances are you’re in panic mode and desperate to find out whether your MacBook is toast. However, trying to power up too early is the worst thing you can do. 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 MacBooks’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 MacBook isn’t going to pull moisture from core components, such as the battery and circuit board. If only fixing a waterlogged MacBook was that easy!
Would AppleCare Help?
Okay, so you have tried all of the steps above and there is just no other option – you need to replace something internally. As one might suspect, liquid damage is not covered under your general Apple MacBook warranty.
In this case, “AppleCare” is the limited warranty you receive for up to one year of purchase. That includes 90 days of complimentary technical support but only extends to hardware defects such as mechanical or electrical and will not help you fix your water-damaged MacBook.
On the other hand, AppleCare+ is also offered and does cover liquid damage. Available for $99 every 12 months, AppleCare+ ensures that you are covered for up to two incidents within those 12 months. Those two incidents are not just specific to liquid but can also extend to drops, bad battery, breaks, cracked screens, etc.
When you have a liquid-damaged computer, Apple will require a $299 service fee for repair. Turnaround time for repair is frequently dependent on the specific Apple store’s backlog and the same goes for mailing a computer directly to Apple.
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!
To help safeguard your MacBook, we recommend not only getting AppleCare+ but 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 or at least save 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.