Spilled Coffee on Your Laptop? Here’s What to Do

You sat down for your morning cup of coffee and thought you’d get a little work done (or Netflix — no judgment here), and then it happened: coffee everywhere, including on your laptop.
Unfortunately, if you spill coffee on your laptop (or other valuable electronics), it can do a lot of damage. But if you act quickly, you might get lucky and save your laptop (or at least its contents).
Here’s what to do if you spilled coffee on your laptop.

1. Power Off Completely, Right Away

If your laptop is still functioning, you need to power it off immediately. Unplug the power cable and hold down the power button for five seconds or more. On most laptops, this will trigger a hard shutdown rather than just putting the laptop to sleep.
The greatest danger, according to HowToGeek, of spilling liquid into your laptop is the risk of a short circuit. Electricity and water don’t mix, and if they do, you might not be able to save the laptop. By powering down and unplugging, you eliminate (most of) the risk of a short.

2. Remove the Battery (If Possible)

Once your laptop is powered down, next, you want to remove the battery (if it’s user-removable). Just don’t make the situation worse in the process. If there’s standing liquid under the laptop, don’t set your device back down into that liquid after removing the battery. Make sure everything in the vicinity is dry.
Don’t remove the battery if doing so would actually allow more liquid to penetrate further into the laptop. This isn’t a concern in most cases, but it’s worth mentioning since laptops vary widely (as do spill scenarios).
Also, if the battery itself is wet when you remove it, dry it off carefully and set it aside (somewhere dry).

3. Dry the Laptop

The next step is to dry off the laptop as best you can. Get some towels or paper towels and dab dry if possible. For lighter spills or splashes, this may be all you need to do.
However, you may have liquid trapped in the keyboard tray. If so, quickly but carefully turn the laptop upside down so that the keyboard is facing downward (over a towel, ideally) and give it a gentle shake. You may see a lot of liquid drip out, or you may only get a few drops. Either way is a good thing: the more liquid you get out quickly, the better the chances of saving your laptop.
Getting liquid out of the keyboard tray is important, but the damage may already have set in.
Some laptops have important components just under the keyboard tray, and many don’t use a sealed keyboard tray in the first place. The keys themselves (and the membrane under them that registers inputs) may also get gummed up, especially if your coffee was loaded up with cream and sugar.
Depending on your model and your level of comfort, you might try using some compressed air to further dry your machine. Use caution, though, as this technique could push moisture deeper into your machine.
Once you’ve dried the laptop as thoroughly as possible, it’s time to set it aside and let it dry fully.

4. Evaluate Your Warranty Options

The next step is to evaluate your warranty options. An in-warranty machine typically isn’t protected against liquid damage, unfortunately. Luckily, some warranties, like Upsie’s laptop extended warranties, cover this kind of a spill.
If you are covered, it’s time to call your warranty company. But don’t proceed before doing so. If you aren’t covered, or your warranty company gives you the OK, there are a few more things you can try — but these get even riskier.

5. (Risky) Open the Chassis to Look for More Moisture

Again, only do this if you have no warranty, but with some laptops, you can open the chassis yourself. (Check repairability scores on iFixit to find out whether this will be possible for your model.) With the chassis open, you can dry up any liquid you find.

6. (Risky) Rice, Fans, Set Out to Dry

The last step is to make sure your device is completely dry before trying to power back on. With phones, a bag of rice is a common trick. This is harder with a laptop both because of size and because pieces of rice can get stuck in places they shouldn’t.
A better approach is to use gentle fans over several days. After several days, your laptop should be as dry as it’s going to get. At that point, you can try powering back on.

An Upsie Extended Warranty Will Save You Next Time

In the future, you can avoid the frustration and panic of spilling coffee on your laptop by purchasing an Upsie warranty within 60 days of buying your laptop. Upsie protects your laptops from accidental damage, including drops and spills. If repairing your laptop doesn’t make sense, Upsie will replace the laptop for you.
You can purchase two-year and three-year warranty options that come with access to 24/7 claims services. In addition, you can make unlimited claims up to the purchase price of the device.
When you purchase a new laptop, make sure to protect it with Upsie.

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