Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

HELP-spilled tea on laptop

somemomsomemom Registered User Posts: 10,509 Senior Member
edited May 2007 in Parent Cafe
Okay, so stupidity rules and working from WiFi coffee shops led to 16 oz of hot tea hitting my laptop keyboard in slow motion.

Obviously I turned it off and I tipped it up to allow drainage, I know to leave it off 24 hours to let all parts dry.

What else can I or should I do? Besides check my extended warranty rules!

Should I some how "rinse" the tea w/water to get rid of residual stickiness?

i recall a lifetime ago working in a restaurant where we would take out the circuit boards of the fancy cash registers to wash the grease off them, but how/what should I do to try to save my laptop :(

Thanks for any help...I'll checking later from some one else's computer, if any oen will trust me to touch theirs!
Post edited by somemom on

Replies to: HELP-spilled tea on laptop

  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    if it had sugar in it- you may be SOL

    can you take out the keyboard to allow more air to get in?

    (I have spilled many things on my laptop-)

    I know that electronics are generally very hardy- also depending on design of laptop, the most that may happen is that you have to replace the keyboard.

    Working on airplanes, in cars and trains can be hazardous to your laptop's safety. You may be faced with a mobile professional's worst fear - spilling a liquid on your laptop. It's a wise idea to keep a soft cloth in your laptop bag just in case. Follow these steps to clean up the spill and protect your laptop from further damage.
    Difficulty: Average
    Time Required: Varies
    Here's How:

    1. Turn it off. If need be, do a hard shutdown.
    2. Blot up excess liquid with a soft cloth. Don't use a wiping motion, that just pushes the liquid around.
    3. Remove any cables, external drives, removable bays and external Network Cards.
    4. Blot up the liquid that may have gotten on the removable media.
    5. Do not take apart the casing. This can void your warranty and you could damage internal components.
    6. Tilt the laptop from side to side to allow the liquid to drain out. Do this gently and do not shake the laptop.
    7. Place upside down so that any excess liquid that you couldn't reach will drain out.
    8. Use a blow dryer if you have one and set it on the coolest setting. Carefully dry the laptop, paying attention to the keyboard and the parts you removed. Keep the blow dryer moving over all parts.
    9. The minimum recommended drying time is one hour but it leaving the laptop to dry for at least 24 hours is preferred.
    10. Once your laptop has had time to dry, reattach the removable components and start up the laptop. If it starts up with no problems, then run some programs and try using the external media.
    11. If the laptop does not start up or there are other problems, it is time to take your laptop to a certified repair service. If your laptop is still under Warranty - follow those procedures.


    1. Water is the easiest liquid to clean up on a laptop. It is a case of moving quickly to ensure water doens't get into the internal casing.
    2. Other liquids, especially those that are sugar based will makes things sticky and is harder to clean up. Use a slightly damp warm cloth to clean up sugar based liquids.

    What You Need:

    * Clean soft cloth.
    * Blow dryer
    * Time - to let the laptop dry out.
  • soozievtsoozievt Registered User, ! Posts: 31,314 Senior Member
    I am smiling, though I am sure you don't want me to be smiling about now! Sorry but as soon as I saw the subject heading, I called upstairs to my D who is not only unpacking tons of stuff from college but cleaning out cartons and cartons of old stuff from her bedroom (would I ever see this day finally???). I told her of your subject heading because....

    Two months ago, at college, a book fell off her bookshelf above her desk and knocked over a large sized hot tea all over her keyboard and immediately shut down the laptop and it would not work. This was after midnight as she was putting the finishing touches on a paper due the next day!

    You are right to keep it turned off and unplug all connections and tip it for drainage and let it dry out. However, that likely won't be enough, sorry to say, or wasn't in her case anyway, not with that quantity of tea.

    She took hers the next day to the Apple Store in Manhattan. They said they don't know if they could ever fix it to work but would try to the tune of $1200 and one week's time. We have computer insurance but they told her it would not be able to apply (this was NOT true we learned). She opted to not leave it with them due to cost and the time involved. She did get them to document that her laptop would not work so she had some proof to show the professor that afternoon as to why her paper was printed out to hand in (the modern version of "my dog ate my homework"!). All worked out with that, by the way.

    We talked to our local Mac repair person who felt certain he could fix it. She Fed Exed it to him here overnight. Right away, he was able to get the data off her computer (and sent her her paper in an email) and within two days, he fixed it. It cost $500. Unfortunately our deductible is also $500 so it was still costly but at least not the $1200 Apple quoted. I forget exactly what he did to it and replaced but I sure it was cleaned out inside.

    Also, if you research this online, I recall several websites that had some helpful strategies in such a situation. But I would get it to a repair person, and at the least, get the data off the computer right away, as our guy did.

    Good luck.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    good reminder to back up!

    Portable drives are so cheap nowdays and although I realize- this is a case of Do as I say! not as I do!

    ( I do have a portable drive- but I haven't backed up anything for several months)

    It will give you motivation to back up as soon as you dry it out.

    Am I understanding you right and the whole teacup went into your laptop?

    I have just had splashes for the most part- and those were fairly uneventful- I have heard of people dropping cell phones in toilets and drying them out completely before they were turned back on and they worked fine.
    But computers are a little more complicated and fragile.

    ( I assume you also took out the battery?)

    It often happens at the most inopportune moment too :(
  • soozievtsoozievt Registered User, ! Posts: 31,314 Senior Member
    We do have external back up drives. For my child who had this happen with a container of tea...we had backed up all her data three months prior but not since then. For my other daughter, we bought her her own back up external hard drive as she has had computers die twice and has had to get expensive repairs and retrievals done to her laptops at school. In fact, we were dealing with that about a week apart from other D's laptop spill. Fun times. Expensive times.
  • WashDadWashDad Registered User Posts: 2,695 Senior Member
    If the tea had sugar and/or milk in it you might be doomed.

    Fly, do not walk, to a PC repair shop and have them strip it and dry it. The sooner the better. This should take less than an hour. If it works when it's dry, congratulations. If not, they might have to replace the mother board, keyboard, or whatever else makes sense. By the way, soozievt was hosed with a $1,200 quote without diagnostics. That's probably the price for labor and a new motherboard. For that much money, I'd order a new computer and get a shop (I would do it myself, but most people don't have the resources) to move the data over from the old hard disk, which is probably unaffected by the tea.

    A cow orker dumped a cup of black coffee into my Dell D610 during a meeting. I walked it straight to our PC support folks who field stripped the machine down to its component parts, patted it dry with paper towels and reassembled it. It worked great, but he did say that it usually didn't with sugar or cream.
  • sunnyfloridasunnyflorida Registered User Posts: 4,790 Senior Member
    Totally off subject, but DH had Orange County Choppers on, the show on TLC. They were buidling a custom bike for one of the big computer companies--HP maybe? Dell? Dad and the two sons were at company headquarters. They were acting silly at times, playing around in a rather large campus on Segways, and racing down hallways. At one point dad was in a room with laptops and company executives, and he got angry and lost --threw a laptop down and jumped on it and pieces went flying. It truely looked like a lost cause. He caught the executives rather off guard. Their immediate response was what the....? One company rep nonchalantly opened it up and turned it on, and the thing powered up. Some of the "shirts" in the room were nonplussed, some relieved. It looked unscripted.

    Not your problem, but get it to someone who can safely open it up and help it to dry out.
  • pjp1116pjp1116 Registered User Posts: 260 Junior Member
    Somemom, Are you Dr. Laura???

    Was listening to her show the yesterday, she spilled tea into her puter also.
  • somemomsomemom Registered User Posts: 10,509 Senior Member
    nope I am not Dr Laura, but I wish I had her staff to fix my laptop. I followed the drain it & wait directions I found online, by the time I checked this site again and got the advice to take it right to a tech it was after business hours, so I have talked to a tech and he says wait 48 hours if I can. The fact that there was no sugar and the milk was non-fat are both good, but who knows about the nano-capacity of tea residue to fry electronics.

    The tech I spoke with said give it a try tomorrow, so I have opened it up...saw no tea inside the innards and am hopeful tomorrow will bring good news. Otherwise, I will be making an insurance claim! I added computer coverage to my homeowners when one of my college kids had her laptop stolen and we had to start from scratch. Apparently my computer coverage offers full replacement for a comparably priced machine now- so a new $1500 machine and includes the cost to move the data from teh hard drive. It is a major relieft to know it won't cost me $2000 out of pocket for replacing a 1 year old machine, if worst comes to worst!
  • AnyMom99AnyMom99 Registered User Posts: 99 New Member
    I spilt tea in my PC laptop recently, but I was impatient and didn't wait 24 hours to turn it on. It made funny noises and wouldn't boot. I stopped by the store on my way home and bought a can of air to dry it - the techies there told me that I probably fried it and would have to replace it.

    My husband took it apart, dried it off and started debugging it. Determined that the disk was fine, since it worked in another computer. However, it looked like the memory was ruined, since it's where the tea settled. I bought a new memory card for $75 and replaced it and it works just like new. Guess I was lucky - Those guys at Staples sure wanted to sell me a new machine.
This discussion has been closed.