It’s happened to the best of us. The glass of water or a cup of coffee security sitting beside our laptop is knocked over and the contents goes everywhere. If you are really unlucky that may be the end of the road for your Mac. But if you are prepared and know what to do to minimise the damage, you might manage to avoid the death of your Mac.

Your chance of success depends greatly on the liquid spilled. A glass of water and you might be lucky. If it was a glass or baileys you’d probably be better off downing the bottle.

Don’t be a fire starter

It’s important that you stop anything worse than spilling your drink on your laptop from happening. Make sure that you aren’t about to burn the house down. Stop the spillage and disconnect the laptop from power - carefully. You don’t want to get an electric shock - wet hands, and a wet plug don’t mix.

Next press and hold the power button - again, be careful to avoid getting an electric shock. If you have something like a pencil handy we suggest you use this to press the power button as it won’t conduct electricity.

If there are already flames obviously you need to raise the alarm! If you have a fire extinguisher designed to put out electrical fires, and know how to use it, you could attempt to put out the fire. But don’t take any risks! And definitely don’t pour more water on it…

How to save a soaked laptop

Once the risk of fire has been addressed, you can work on saving your laptop... Follow these steps, and good luck!

  1. Having stopped the spillage and cut the power the next step is to turn the laptop over in a bid to drain the liquid out.
  2. The next step is to remove the battery, if you can. Chances are this isn’t an option though as most Macs bought in the last decade will have built in batteries that can’t easily be removed.
  3. Once the water has drained off grab some absorbent cloth and use it to dab the exterior of your Mac dry. You can also try using a cotton bud to dry any ports and vents.
  4. If you have the necessary tools and knowhow, you could open your Mac up and attempt to dry the insides. This will of course void your warranty, but since you already did that when you drowned your Mac, that’s hardly relevant anymore. This step is really only for the experts though. If you are able to, then remove the battery, memory, and so on, and attempt to expose the logic board so that you can dry it.
  5. You may benefit from removing and cleaning the keys - especially if the drink is likely to make things a bit sticky. You can follow our advice for removing your keyboard keys here.
  6. To help your Mac dry out you could turn on the central heating, or grab a hair dryer, but use a low heat setting and don’t put it too close to your Mac or you may do further damage. Whatever you do, don’t try putting your laptop in the oven.
  7. Another option is to sit your laptop near a fan. Just increasing the flow of air will help evaporate the water.
  8. You can also try the rice trick (often recommended for drying out wet iPhones) You need to transfer your damp Mac into a big bowl of uncooked rice and cover it completely. Leave it like that for about 48 hours. Apparently the rice will absorb the moisture. But beware, you may end up with rice residue in the ports.
  9. Alternatively you could get your hands on a bunch of silica packets (the kind you get in new leather bags), empty the contents into a bowl and add your Mac to that. You are likely to need a lot of silica for this to work though.
  10. Once you are happy that your Mac has dried out, you can attempt to turn it on again. If you are very lucky you may find it powers up again and springs into life. If it does we recommend immediately making a back up if you didn't already have one.

If your Mac doesn’t work then unfortunately it is probably a lost cause. Hopefully you have a back up and won’t have lost your data. If you need to buy a new Mac read this article for advice on the best cheap Mac to buy.

We also have advice on how to buy a cheap Mac from the refurbished store, and if you are looking for a bargain check out our Apple Deals section.