Spilling a drink on your laptop doesn’t have to be a kiss of death and a ticket to a replacement — if you know what to do and act quickly. Liquid can destroy electronics quickly, but your computer may be salvageable if you act fast.
Turn it off right away
The first thing to do is actually unplug the power cable, then hold down the power button for five to seven seconds until it’s totally off. Don’t waste the time properly shutting down. If the computer is left on, even for a few extra moments, you could cause a short circuit, leaving the components inside with permanent damage. The quicker you can turn off the machine, the better chance you have of saving the computer. If you can easily remove the battery, that should be your next step. Some laptops still have batteries that come out with a simple latch, while others make you unscrew the entire backplate to access the battery.
Turn it upside down and let it drain
Take a dry cloth and wipe up any excess liquid from the surface of the laptop — especially near the keyboard, vents or ports — and open the lid as far back as it will go. Turn the laptop upside down, put it over a towel or something absorbent, and let the water drain out of it. You don’t have to open the laptop if you aren’t comfortable doing so, but if you are, remove the backplate and wipe off the components with a lint-free cloth before letting it sit to drain.
Take it to a repair shop
At this point, you could plug the laptop back in and turn it on. In many cases, it should boot back up again. But if nothing happens, you should probably take it to a professional repair shop, just in case. Just because something works after you dried it out doesn’t mean it’s fixed. Once the fluid intrudes, even after it’s dried, it can leave behind minerals that carry electricity where it doesn’t belong — causing increased corrosion damage over time. This is especially crucial if you spilled something other than water — like soda or coffee — since those will undoubtedly leave damaging residue behind. A good repair shop will clean the components with powerful solvents or ultrasonic cleaning machines that do a very thorough job.