If you are unfortunate enough to spill on your laptop keyboard, there may be a solution.

Our first marital laptop was lost to a major wine spill and I wasn’t around so I have no idea what my husband did to clean it. When we lived in a hotel, my laptop lived on a bedside table, usually next to a glass of water. And, I’m a little bit clumsy in general.

The laptop I’m using now has had 100 lives, because I’ve used this method to save it. I spilled wine on it again the other day, so thought I would share my strategy.

We have yet to spill soda or anything too sticky (knock on wood)–just wine and water. A big spill may not be recoverable, but here’s what we do:

1. Unplug and power down. I admit, last time I forgot to power down and it was fine.

2. Blot up excess water on and around the laptop.  Don’t move the laptop, unless you have to clean liquid underneath or around it. Use paper towels on the surface of the laptop if you can, as they absorb faster than a towel. If you only have a few left on the roll, save them for step 3.

3. Grab  a roll of paper towels.

4. Slide a paper towel between the keys and let the paper towel wick water up until it’s dry.  If it’s a big spill, arc the paper towel to simultaneously use both ends. Once saturated, repeat with new paper towel or the wicking action of the prior towel slows. This may take a long time. Be diligent and take as much time as it needs.

How to Clean Wine Spills From Laptop

Other Laptop Spill Remedies

I read that you’re supposed to turn the laptop upside down and let the water drip out. I’m not so sure about that. If you’re tech savvy, you may try to remove the keyboard to dry it. 

The article I found that makes the most sense is by PC World. Their advice is to make sure the water leaves the same way it enters, if you tip the laptop.

Or, another article recommends that you pick off the keys. The same article references that regular desktop keyboards can be run through the dishwasher if the liquid is sticky. Also, never use a hairdryer to dry liquid in your keyboard as static damage can result.

If you have a Dell laptop, the keyboards are very fussy. My daughter picked a key off of our prior Dell laptop. We were told by tech support that once something like that happens, it leads to the whole computer slowly failing. Ours sure did.

No guarantees here, obviously. I suppose abstinence around your laptop is the best policy.

Photo credit: istockphoto/RAW_group

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. I just read that you can save a cell phone that accidentally gets wet by putting it inside a bag of (dry, uncooked) rice. I wonder if this would work with a laptop. Apparently the rice absorbs the water. It would take a lot of rice, but if you knew it would definitely work, it would be worth it.

    Happy New Year!

  2. I spilled beer on my last laptop. Totally fried it. There was no saving it. I will try the paper towel trick next time. Now you have me worried about my Dell. I picked a key off the other day….