Water can destroy electronics quickly, but if you act fast, your Mac laptop, be it a MacBook, MacBook Air, or Macbook Pro, may be salvageable. Whatever you do, don’t open it, don’t plug it back in, and don’t boot it up. It’s electronic, so it’s the last thing you want to do when it’s wet.
The bad news is if a lot of water spilled on the MacBook, you should expect more than a messed up keyboard because the damage would spread to the battery, connectors, and circuit boards, costing you in the long run.
If it’s just a little water that spilled on the keyboard and the water went straight for the keys only, you’re out of danger. The keyboard on your MacBook has an air-tight mechanism that ordinarily encases debris and water. So there’s a chance you may have dodged a bullet. However, you may expect to get a keyboard replacement, or top case replacement service for your MacBook.
The good news, however, is that there are crucial steps you can take to resolve the problem before it gets worse or you lose your device altogether.
What follows is a guide on what to do and what not to do immediately after water spills on your MacBook.
What to do right now
Don’t panic. Unplug! If it isn’t plugged to power, skip this step.
Remove the battery and unplug any peripherals connected If you can remove the battery, do so. Disconnect any dongles or peripherals like mouse, printer, iPod, camera, or scanner from the laptop.
Shut down the laptop. To do this, whether yours is a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, hold down the power button for five to seven seconds. There’s no time to think about any unsaved work at this point.
Flip you MacBook into a tent position to drain. This allows gravity to pull the water back toward the keyboard, away from the delicate parts inside, and out of the laptop.
Leave it off for 48 straight hours. Do not be tempted to turn it back on before this time lapses. This lessens the impact of water damage because there’s no current within that’s being transferred from component to component. Turn the machine over, and let it rest on a pillow, while still off, for the water to get pulled out completely.
The longer you can let it sit, the better.
Visit an Apple Service center or specialist. Once completely dry, try to power on your MacBook and see if it works. If it does, test your trackpad, all your keys, Wi-Fi, and other normal processes you go through.
You can now go to a specialist who will assess your laptop for any damages on your logic board. If your warranty is still applicable, take advantage of it at this point.
A good repair shop will use ultrasonic cleaning machines or powerful solvents to clean the components thoroughly.
What not to do
Do not turn it back on. As noted earlier, when water and electrical currents within your MacBook meet, they can be destructive. Keep the laptop off until it’s dry.
Do not shake the MacBook. Doing this will only spread the water around, and it may get to the delicate parts and cause corrosion or damage.
Forget the hair dryer. The little devil on your shoulder may be whispering to you to get a hair dryer and hasten the drying process. But this will only cause static problems so let it air-dry for forty-eight hours in a warm, dry area.
Ignore the old urban legend of using rice. While it might work for your phone, rice cannot dry out your laptop’s system. There’s a widely held assumption that rice will pull out moisture from devices, but it isn’t true – sadly.
Instead, you’ll have more work trying to clean out the rice, and you may end up popping some components.
How to safeguard your MacBook in the future
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.
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 was to apply an equalizer in macOS for audio enthusiasts.