Image Credit: University of Massachusetts Amherst (2017)
Computer Water Damage
You poured yourself a cold refreshing glass of lemonade and placed your
glass on your desk near your laptop, and you go to pick up a book, and
before you know it, you accidentally knocked your glass over on top of your
laptop. Perhaps you were cleaning your laptop and you accidentally spilled
liquid cleaner on your laptop keyboard or down into your desktop tower. Now
Computer water damage can be serious, depending on the quantity of liquid
that was spilled, whether your laptop or desktop was powered on, and the
time that the liquid was left on your laptop or desktop before it was
soaked up and left to dry. However, don’t panic, I will give you some tips
about the next steps to take to best prevent any damage to your computer.
Prevention Is Always Best, but Not Always Possible
Prevention is always preferred to reaction, and this is especially true
with computer water damage. One thing to give you consolation, however, is
that water, in its pure form, such as distilled or deionized, is not
generally capable of holding adequate conductive properties, and this is
because of the makeup of water, itself. Though non-distilled water or
liquids containing non-distilled water (e.g., from your tap) do contain
adequate dissolved ions, and as such, are quite capable of causing damage
to electrical components (Pbuteau, 2017). In acting to prevent computer
water damage or liquid damage from occurring in the first place, it is
important to take some precautionary steps.
Do not keep open beverages near or on your workspace or in your lap, where
they can be knocked over (GW Information Technology, 2018). Rather, keep a
secured lid on your beverages, though, if you must use an open container,
keep the container far enough away from your laptop that if it were to
spill, you would have plenty of time to avoid the liquid coming into
contact with your computer.
Secondly, if you use a laptop carry-on bag, do not put liquid containers in
the same bag (GW Information Technology, 2018), to help avoid the risk of
the lid coming loose and leaking liquid onto/into your laptop. We also
recommend that you obtain an additional insulated laptop cover to keep your
laptop in, alongside the protection that a carry-on laptop bag offers.
If your laptop or desktop does suffer water damage, and there is no hope of
repair, it is important to understand the importance of data recovery. Some
steps that you should take as an insurance option is to back up your data
on separate physical medium devices, such as flash drives or an external
hard drive. Secondly, backing up your data to a cloud storage system is
also highly recommended, as that way, you have two backup methods in the
event that your computer becomes inoperable following water damage, so that
when you receive repairs or complete repairs yourself, you can simply
download or transfer your data back into your computer.
Immediate Steps to Take & Looking Forward
Immediately following liquid contact with your laptop, be sure to
immediately power down your computer, unplug the computer from the AC wall
outlet (if it is plugged in), and remove any peripheral devices such as
flash drives or USB devices (such as a wireless mouse dongle). If using a
laptop, remove the battery if you can (GW Information Technology, 2018).
One very important thing to keep in mind is do not, under any
circumstances, attempt to power your laptop back on to see if it works.
Time is of the essence in this situation, and the faster you power down
your laptop, the less of a chance that the liquid will cause irreversible
damage, and this is especially true if you remove the battery (Pbuteau,
Next, using an absorbent cloth such as a microfiber cloth, wipe down your
laptop or desktop computer, taking care to insert the cloth into crevices
to soak up any liquid. If you removed the battery, you should also soak up
any liquid that managed to get beneath the battery. Once you have taken the
initial step of wiping your computer down and soaking up excess liquid, if
it is a laptop, flip the computer upside down (this will help to prevent
gravity from drawing the water further down into the components). Finally,
allow your laptop or desktop computer to completely dry for three days
before attempting to power it back on; again, during this time, make sure
the laptop is upside down. Following a three-day period, check once more to
see if any liquid remains before attempting to power your computer back on
(GW Information Technology, 2018).
Avoiding Water Damage & When Cleaning
Like most things, they require cleaning from time to time. Here are some
tips to avoid liquid damage when cleaning your laptop or desktop.
For desktops, one of the first things you might clean is the keyboard. Make
sure your computer is powered down, and unplug your keyboard (if a wired
USB or PS/2 connection), then flip the keyboard upside down and gently
shake it to loosen up any debris like crumbs that may have fallen in
between the key spaces. Next, use compressed air and gently use a
left-to-right motion while aiming the nozzle in between the keys to
dislodge any debris that was not removed during the initial shaking step.
If you need to clean your keyboard, whether a laptop or desktop keyboard of
grime or residue, do not pour or spray liquid cleaner directly on the
keyboard. Instead, lightly moisten a paper towel with isopropyl alcohol
(the higher percentage of alcohol, the better, because of a faster
evaporation time), and proceed to gently wipe down the keyboard. Once the
keyboard is completely dry, you may reconnect it (if a desktop) before
powering your computer back on.
If you need to wipe down your computer monitor, whether a laptop or desktop
computer, first, turn off your computer. Following, moisten a disposable
microfiber cloth (decreases the likelihood of micro scratches in the
screen) with a glass cleaner and proceed to gently wipe the screen from a
left-to-right motion, or an up-and-down motion, until the monitor is clean.
Again, allow the monitor to completely dry before powering your computer
When you need aid with computer water damage, here at Desert Computer
Agents, we have Agents on staff that are CompTIA A+ and Network+ certified
for all your computer repair needs, and this includes physical repairs! We
are capable of replacing affected hardware components of your computer if
they are beyond repair so that we can get you back up and running. Just
give us a call at (760) 760-4096.
GCFGlobal.org. (n.d.). Computer basics: Keeping your computer clean.
Retrieved October 20, 2022, from
GW Information Technology. (2018). Laptop liquid damage: Best practices.
Retrieved October 20, 2022, from
Pbuteau. (2017). Water damage: How to prevent it, and what to do if it
happens. Retrieved October 20, 2022, from