How to Clean a Spilt Drink on a Laptop Keyboard

By Rebecca O'Brien

Even if you're the most careful laptop owner, you can accidentally spill a drink on your keyboard. Since liquid can cause an electrical short in the boards, the most important factor in cleaning a spilt drink on your laptop keyboard is time. Not all laptops can be saved, but the sooner you address the spill, the better chance you have of saving your computer.

Things You'll Need

  • Napkins or paper towels
  • Phillip's screw driver
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Electronics cleaner (or rubbing alcohol)

Step 1

Cut the power. As soon as you've spilled the drink, shut down the computer, unplug it and remove the battery. Keeping more electricity from running through the computer may help prevent further damage.

Step 2

Clean the outside. Soak up any liquid on the outside of the keyboard or in between the keys with napkins. If you spilled water, skip to Step 6.

Step 3

Take off the keyboard. Reference your laptop's owner's manual for the procedure. Laptop cases are typically secured with 6 or more Phillip's-head screws and several internal clips.

Step 4

Dry the boards. Use a microfiber (or lint-free) cloth to soak up any liquid that dripped between the keys.

Step 5

Clean the boards. Use an electronics cleaner. Alternately, rubbing alcohol will work. If your cleaner doesn't have a brush, or you're using alcohol, dampen the edge of a clean, dry microfiber cloth and wipe down the boards to remove any drink residue.

Step 6

Let your laptop dry. Do not attempt to turn on the computer for at least 72 hours. Let it sit in a cool, dry place. If you disassembled the laptop, reassemble it after 72 hours have passed.

Step 7

Turn on your laptop. Replace the battery and hit the power button. If this doesn't work, remove the battery, plug in the power cord and try again. If the spill caused no damage to your laptop, it will successfully power on.

Tips & Warnings

  • Corrosive drinks, such as colas, should be cleaned as soon as possible to prevent them from eating into circuit boards.Disassembly is not needed for water, as it will evaporate cleanly. However, if you're concerned about the amount spilled, you can disassemble the laptop to soak up any standing water inside.
  • Do not attempt to disassemble your laptop if you are uncomfortable doing so. Contact a local computer repair center for immediate service.Never use any kind of cloth that will leave lint or fibers on the circuit boards.Never pour liquid cleaner or alcohol directly on the boards.Rubbing alcohol can leave a residue on circuit boards. Electronics cleaner is best, but if you're cleaning a corrosive liquid, use alcohol initially and clean it again with electronics cleaner to remove the residue.