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Saving a wet laptop (or other tech)

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Over the last few weeks this has come up at my work a few times and I’ve just been watching The Gadget Show on Five when they came up a segment on this exact topic.  I figure it’s all too coincidental to not blog about it.

computer_splashcomputer_stopThis won’t work every time, but from my own experiences it has worked each time.  I’ve never personally filled a laptop with liquid or sunk a mobile phone (either I’m just more careful or really lucky), but I know a number of people that have done this.  So here is the advice I’ve given in all the cases an d it’s managed to work.  You must follow the advice closely and NOT try and rush the process!!!  I can’t say that enough, DO NOT RUSH THE PROCESS!!!

Here it goes.

The most important thing to be done when water or other liquid comes in contact with your tech toys, REMOVE ALL POWER SOURCES!!!  Forget what you were doing on the laptop DO NOT try and save your work, you’ll only increase the risk of damage.  Unplug the power cord and remove the battery (or just the battery if it’s a phone, unless you’re unlucky enough to own an iPhone, you can thank Steve Jobs for the inability to pull the battery out).  The killer of wet devices is power, plain and simple.


Next, for laptops, once you’ve removed all the power sources take out anything else that can be removed, such as the CD/DVD drives if they can be taken out.  Get the laptop turned up on it’s end towards which ever side has the cooling vents on it and give the laptop a gentle shake downwards to get the liquid to come out of vents.   Don’t shake to too hard as you don’t want to damage the hard drive by the excess force.  Water will generally move quite easily assuming your location is under the normal laws of gravity.


Get a small screw driver and take all the covers off the bottom of the machine, normally there are a couple, they usually cover the RAM DIMMS, hard drive, and other bits.  Getting these off will help to get some circulation through the machine and may even help to allow any trapped liquid to escape from the machine.


You’ll need to get the machine warm, I suggest using an airing closet or if you haven’t got one then somewhere else that’s quite warm.  This shouldn’t exceed about 40-45C to you’ll risk more damage from the heat.  If you haven’t got that then get a fan and place the fan so it’s blowing into the keyboard and/or the open panels on the bottom.  If you’ve only got the one fan then alternate it blowing on each side.  All the time your laptop should try to remain on it’s end so water can run out of the machine, it can’t run out of the machine if it’s flat on it’s base, well not easily.


In case you somehow managed to miss my warnings DO NOT RUSH THE PROCESS!!! you should read my posting again. 

You should NOT attempt to reapply power or insert the battery for at least 12 hours.  After the 12 hours examine the machine as best you can for any signs of moisture, shake the machine gently again to see if there’s any more liquid coming out, if nothing then turn the machine around and turn it over to try and shake lose any liquid that’s still lurking inside.  If your not 100% sure if the liquid has been completely removed then return it to the drying process in front of the fan or in the airing closet for another 6-8 hours and check it again.

Only once you are 100% sure all of the liquid has been removed should you risk applying power to the device again.  Start with the battery first then mains power.  If the liquid was anything other then water it’s possible keys on the keyboard may be sticky.  This too can generally be fixed by removing the keyboard from the laptop and washing it in a bit of water (I know it sounds strange, but as it’s been removed from the device the risk of further damage is quite low.

I hope you find this helpful.   If you’ve had experiences of this and were able to salvage your equipment either by the method I’ve outlined or by some other method please feel free to post some comments about it.  I’d like to hear some other ways people have managed to save their gear after coming in contact with some liquid.

1 thought on “Saving a wet laptop (or other tech)”

  1. If you’ve accidentally dropped your phone in the drink, take off whatever covers you can, remove your battery (if you’re using anything other than an Apple product) and stuff the whole thing into a bucket of plain old starchy white rice for as long as you can, but at least 12 hours. This’ll suck all the moisture out of your device. It would also work to help with your laptop with a big enough bucket and enough rice. Then again, what’s 20 bucks if it’ll save your device?

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