How to Clean Spills on your laptop

Cost: R62
Time: About 2 hours (followed by sufficient drying time)
Materials: Towel, screwdriver, compressed air—and hope

Why is it that when there’s a glass of water or coffee to be spilled, a notebook is generally there? Call it Murphy’s Law of Mobility, but we’ve seen several notebooks die because of spills.

If you spill a soda, water, or another liquid on your laptop while it’s running—immediately kill power to it. If you know how to remove the power cord and battery quickly—do that. If you managed to pull the plug before your laptop shut off on its own, you can probably save it. Liquids and electronic components are fine—liquids and electricity are not. If the computer shut off on its down, you’re probably out of luck. But try this anyway.

Caveat: Just to be clear—remove the battery and the power cord before attempting to clean or dry your laptop.

How you take care of a doused laptop depends on what was spilled. If it was sticky or had anything acidic in it (e.g., Coca Cola) then you need to clean it off as soon as possible. This is best done by completely disassembling the laptop and cleaning each component separately—after having waited ten minutes to make sure the stored electricity in capacitors, etc. has bled off. If you have a can of electronics parts cleaner handy, use that. If not, though it may seem counterintuitive, you can use soap and hot water. Use as little as necessary, but to be honest, we’ve washed PC cards under the tap. After cleaning, dry as described below.

Carefully tilt the laptop on its side to help the water drain out. Use compressed air to help dry the insides.

If you’re not up for the drudgery of disassembly, don’t know how, or don’t think you can manage, you can leave the laptop intact. Indeed, if all you spilled was water, only drying is required. If the spill did involve a liquid the leaves residue, you can try flushing the main body of the laptop with water. Yes, you heard correctly. Do not do this with the display, as you’ll never get the water out if it leaks.

The hotter the water, the more effectively it will remove gunk and the quicker it will dry. However, don’t make it hot enough to be dangerous. Around the temperature that you can stand from the tap is about right.

You can dry your laptop using compressed air, a blow dryer on low, setting it in front of a fan, or better yet, a combination of those. But whichever methods you use—be patient. If any liquid remains when you start up the laptop, it will quite likely kill it. We recommend at least 24 hours, but 48 or even 72 is better. Hopefully, you have computing alternatives. Even if you don’t, don’t rush it.

Tilt the system on its side to help drain the water out. Do yourself a favor and put a towel underneath. Try to keep the liquid away from the display as you’re removing parts and draining the system.

Gently shake the system to get liquid out of the many nooks and crannies inside. The air vents generally act as water canals. Next, use a can of compressed air, a reversed vacuum, or blow dryer on low to blow the inside of the case as dry as possible.

It’s a good idea to let the machine sit near a fan, heating or cooling air vent overnight—or longer if you can stand the suspense—to fully dry it out.

When you’re sure the system has dried out, put it back together (if you disassembled it), start it up and hope for the best. If it starts, it’s okay to let out a sigh of relief. If it doesn’t start up, just say to yourself “Well, it was time to upgrade anyway.” Hopefully, the laptop wasn’t brand-new. Sigh.

Credit: Pc World.

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