Dear Lifehacker, I dumped a glass of iced tea all over my laptop. Is it completely hosed, or can I save my computer from becoming a paperweight?
Signed, Tearfully Teed Off
Photo by ryaninc.
Dear Tearfully, Oh, no! First of all, stop what you're doing and immediately power down your laptop if it's still on. Next, remove the battery and stick it in a bag of rice (or just set it somewhere warm and dry), then turn over the laptop and drain out as much of the tea as possible.
Here's where you'll need to be patient. Depending on how much liquid seeped in, your computer will likely need several days to thoroughly dry out — though you can speed up the process by waving a hair dryer over it until your arms are ready to fall off. You might try leaving it over a heat vent and let warm air blow over it for a while, but use caution, because some vents can get mighty warm up close.
There's generally no need to complete disassemble the laptop because they're designed with an eye toward ventilation. Make sure to keep the its lid open as it dries out, though, so air can circulate around the keyboard.
Some websites recommend blowing compressed air into your laptop or dousing it with a solution of distilled water and rubbing alcohol. You're normally going to be better off, though, just letting time do its thing and giving your computer a chance to dry out on its own.
After 3-5 days — depending on how much liquid was spilled — put the battery back in, fire up the laptop, and see what happens. Odds are, your computer will work just fine but if it doesn't, check into whether your existing warranty or home/rental insurance covers accidental damage. Your laptop might not be covered, but it never hurts to check.