Laptops and Water, What to do Next!
Whether you are using your laptop for leisure at home or busily typing up notes on the train the chances are that at some point you have come close to spilling a drink (or maybe a vase of flower water) on your laptop. The confluence of liquids and electrical goods is never a sign for celebration but if the worst should happen what should you do next?
This article outlines some tips and advice for minimising the damage that a spillage on your laptop might cause.
It is important to move fast and get your laptop away from the spillage. Leaving the laptop in the liquid whilst you attempt to wipe of the surface might be a knee-jerk reaction but it could be worsening the problem as liquid seeps into other areas of the device. Time is of the essence so move it first and clean it later...but not that much later.
It should go without saying that the combination of electricity and water is not a good one. If the laptop is plugged into a charger then make sure that this is disconnected before you attempt any further clean up. If the device is not plugged in then the next thing you should do is to turn the power off. A short circuit could cause additional damage to the laptop so it is important to minimise that risk, firstly by turning the device off and secondly by removing the battery. Turn the laptop over and locate the sliding battery panel.
You should have already turned the laptop over by this stage so the next thing you have to do is to leave it upturned. This will allow fluid to drain out from the device and is best done with the screen extended so that it makes a V shape.
Using a an absorbent towel that does not leave particles of fabric you should then clean the laptop and dry as much of the liquid as possible. Do not be tempted to use the nearest form of absorbent material. In the short term you might be tempted to pick up the conveniently placed toilet roll of kitchen towel but particles of fabric left on the device could cause further electrical problems down the line and actually decrease the amount of moisture that you can get rid of.
There are some products available to aid in the laptop cleanup and these can be particularly useful and worthwhile if the liquid in question has stubborn qualities. Many soft drinks with a high sugar content fall under this category and will require some extra chemical aid to be removed. Beware that using washing upliquid or soap is likely to lead to additional problems down the line as residues build up that will themselves need removal. Screen wipes are an obvious choice but if in doubt get the laptop to a professional who will be able to advise.
Many recommend a period of between 24-48 hours to fully dry a laptop. In practice these guidelines are likely to be little more than a guess at the average time. It all depends on how bad the spill was and how quickly you acted to remove the liquid. One thing that people agree on is that you should NOT TURN IT ON as it dries. It is far better to err on the side of caution and wait longer to turn on the device than it is to turn it on early and risk shorting it out.
If your battery becomes noticeably wet then it is recommended that you dry this out too. It will not respond to the same draining process as the laptop itself so it may be necessary to place it in some form of absorbent material. Many recommend using dry rice in a container but there are also manufactured products designed specifically to draw out moisture.
So remember: remove from the source of liquid with speed, power down, flip it into a V before you clean it and dry it. Exercise patience and common sense and don’t be afraid to ask for professional advice.