What to Do if You Spill on Your Computer

It happens. You sit down at the computer with your tea to catch up with friends. You reach for a pen to write something down. Bonk. You knock your teacup over and it spills across the computer. Now what?

Laptop Spill

First, pull the power. It’s not the tea that damages electronics. It’s the electricity that goes through the tea. When electricity goes between circuits that it shouldn’t, that’s a short-circuit. Short-circuits can only happen when there is electricity.

For a desktop computer, it’s easy. Pull the plug. For a laptop, it takes a bit more. Pull the plug and remove the battery. Leave the battery out. If you’ve never removed the battery before, take some time now to figure out how that’s done.

Second, clean up the spill. Now that the power is gone, it’s safer to do that. You won’t get a shock. Use something very absorbent. Paper towel works very well. A clean, dry dishcloth will do as well.

What you do now depends on where you spilled. If you just spilled on a removable keyboard, you might consider just getting another keyboard. But if you spilled on a laptop or on a computer case, you need to think a bit further.

If you want to be sure your computer is fine, take it to your computer shop. You might think you let it sit long enough for everything to evaporate, but you might miss something.

Ever spill a pop and it left sticky goop? Same thing can happen if you take milk or sugar in your tea. That goop will still short-circuit. Cleaning that goop from the insides is a delicate matter. It’s better to leave that to the pros.

They will clean the inside with the right tools to ensure there is no residue. They will examine and test the computer to ensure there is no permanent damage. If repairs are needed, they’ll talk to you about that.

Be aware, even after all those detailed steps, there’s no guarantee that your computer will start. At that point, your computer shop should contact you and let you know your options.

Of course, the easiest thing to do is to not drink around your computer.  Happy Computing!

First Published: The Guysborough Journal, Vol . 21, No. 35, September 2, 2015

Image Credit: Pixabay.com

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