What to Do If You Spill Liquid on Your Keyboard

There is nothing worse than when you’re working hard on a project and you accidentally knock over and cause a spilled drink on your keyboard! This is one of the most common computer problems that people experience every day. But, is there anything you can do to fix your damaged keyboard?

Luckily, you likely won’t have to go out and buy a brand-new keyboard if you’ve spilled water or some other liquid on it. But, you will need to act fast and follow these steps to get it back to working condition.

If you’ve knocked over a drink at your computer, there are slightly different steps to take to save it for external keyboards and laptop keyboards.

Read on to learn the steps to prevent a damaged keyboard, both laptop and external, and the things to avoid doing that won’t help it get back to normal.

Step 1: Disconnect to Prevent Further Computer Problems

The first step to do when you have accidentally spilled liquid on your external keyboard is to disconnect it from power sources. If you have a wired keyboard, carefully unplug the USB connection. If your keyboard is wireless, open the back and take out the batteries.

If the spilled drink landed on your laptop, this adds more urgency to the situation! Number one, don’t panic.

Unplug the power cord (if it’s plugged in) and hold the power button down to trigger a shut down on your laptop. Don’t bother with a proper shutdown, because every second counts to avoid causing a short circuit and a permanently damaged laptop.

Next, if you still have a removable battery for your laptop, you should take it out. Some laptops have a latch for easy removal, while others require a screwdriver to access the battery pack. If you don’t feel comfortable removing the battery, make sure any external devices are unplugged, such as USB drives, so you aren’t drawing any power from the battery.

Most modern laptops have built-in batteries. Following the next steps is crucial for them to stay dry and work functionally.

Don’t: Put It in Rice

The old story of putting a wet phone in rice to draw the liquid out doesn’t work with keyboards, especially laptop keyboards. Adding food to a wet electronic will only introduce particles such as dust and starch that don’t belong there. That could make for larger computer problems in the long run.

Rather than hoping dry food will absorb the liquid on your electronics, taking the steps to ensure it is dry will be more effective and faster!

Step 2: Turn It Over and Towel It Off

To stop the liquid from seeping down lower into the body of the keyboard, turn it over as soon as you’ve disconnected it from its power source. This will allow gravity to pull the liquid out of the keyboard and stop it from making further damage. Keep your laptop in an open position, like an upside-down V.

While the keyboard or laptop is turned upside down, gently towel it off with a lint-free cloth, like a microfiber towel. They work the best for absorbing liquid and are lint-free. If microfiber towels aren’t available to you, a sturdy towel will work well.

After you have dried the surface liquid, keep the keyboard or laptop upside down for 24 hours. If you prop it on a dish rack with a towel underneath, this will allow air to circulate and absorb any liquid that drips out away from the keyboard.

Don’t: Use Paper Towel

Avoid using paper towel or other paper tissues to dry your keyboard or laptop. Paper will leave lint and dust throughout the keys. Dust and lint cause more computer problems than just a wet keyboard!

It is also important not to rush the drying process. It is tempting to panic and try to turn your laptop back on too soon or plug in your keyboard. Give it enough time for all hidden liquid to drip out or evaporate.

Step 3: Clean Under the Keys

After the liquid of your spilled drink has dried, it is time to clean the keys of the keyboard. If you have a silicone membrane, gently lift this up to wipe any residue remaining. If your keyboard has mechanical keys, you can gently remove each key and clean where they attach.

Using a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol to clean a laptop or a keyboard’s small areas. Rubbing alcohol will break down any sticky residue that remains.

Wireless Mac keyboards are more difficult to clean on your own. Due to their slim design, any tiny amount of dust or sticky residue under the keys may cause working issues. This blog post from SetApp provides detailed steps on how to fix a damaged Mac keyboard:

Don’t: Hurry the Cleaning

Taking the time to fully clean the keyboard after drying it will prevent the from keys not working at a later date. Allow the keyboard and its parts, like the silicone membrane or mechanical key pieces, to fully dry for another 24 hours before you reassemble it.

Step 4: Put It Back Together

Now that you have taken the time to clean the spilled drink from your damaged keyboard, the next step is to put all the components back together. If you took your keyboard apart, the first step is to reassemble it. Next, if you previously removed the wireless keyboard’s battery, you can put this back together.

Take a vacuum and gently clean the keyboard or laptop after you reassemble it to remove any dry dust or particles left. Turn on your laptop or connect the keyboard back to the computer and turn it on.

You should be able to power up and use your keyboard as if nothing happened. If you notice your keyboard is not responding as it should, or there are problems with your laptop, it is best to contact your computer repair shop.

A Damaged Keyboard Is a Common Problem

Spilled water or a spilled drink on your laptop or computer keyboard is a common accident that happens to the best of us. Hopefully, with these easy four steps, you’ll be able to get your device working like new in no time! There are also many waterproofing options available to prevent a damaged laptop or damaged keyboard in the future.

If this article helped you deal with your computer problems, please share it with your friends. And, check out more of our useful tutorials and guides to learn more today!

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