How To Deal With Spilled Coffee or Coke on Your Macbook

coffee desktop   How To Deal With Spilled Coffee or Coke on Your MacbookI recently had a spine-chilling, blood-curdling experience. I accidentally spilled a whole cup of hot, steaming coffee on my MacBook. I’ve always been the cautious type, taking very good care of my electronics and everything else in general. When I read about other Mac users spilling coffee on macbook, I wonder – how can people be so careless? Now, I know. Sometimes, shit happens.

For your information, the terms and conditions of Apple’s warranty excludes damages due to liquid spills, among other things. This means that you will have to bear the repair costs. This also means that if you’ve had a spill accident in the past, even if your Mac is working perfectly fine after the spill but has to be repaired for some other reason later on down the line – Apple has the right to refuse warranty.

apple support macbook service faq   How To Deal With Spilled Coffee or Coke on Your Macbook

What makes matters worse, even if you are willing to fork out the money to pay for the repairs, Apple says that if your Mac has to be dismantled into multiple parts to be repaired – it is not eligible for service. Wait, it gets better. Apple recently implemented spill detection into the unibody MacBooks and MacBook Pros. These ‘Liquid Submersion Detectors’ are small sensors located under the keyboard close to the trackpad and change color if they come into contact with liquid.

Does this mean that it’s the end of the line for your Mac if it suffers from a spill accident? No. There are a lot of things you can do, assuming that the logic board isn’t fried from the spill.

If the liquid gets into the keyboard, there is a very high chance that it may penetrate through the gaps into the guts of your Mac. The very first thing you should do is shut it down (press and hold the power button) and pull the power cable and other attachments out.

The next part of the article was written based on the early 2008 MacBook, not the unibody model. Video guides for dismantling unibody 13″ MacBooks can be found here.

Here is a list of things you will need to dry your Mac:

  • A hairdryer
  • A very small Philips-head screwdriver
  • A coin
  • Clean cloth and cotton buds
  • Tweezers
  • A spare computer connected to the internet
  • A heart full of courage

I’m serious about that last point. Your Mac isn’t eligible for warranty. So if you have spilled coffee or coke on your Macbook the best you can do for it is be courageous.

My aim was to take my Mac apart to dry it out. I followed the instructions from ifixit to slowly dismantle everything up to the upper panel holding the keyboard, exposing the logic board. Their dismantling guide is pretty easy to follow.

The next thing I did was remove the battery. Use the coin to rotate the battery lock to the unlocked position and take out the battery. Wipe it down and place it somewhere safe. Use the Philips-head screwdriver to remove the screws holding the L-shaped memory cover in place. After removing it, release the 2 sticks of memory from their slots and carefully place them in anti-static bags, if you have any.

Once the memory sticks are out from their slots, you sort of have an air vent to the internal compartment of your Mac. I stuck a hairdryer close to the memory slots and directed the hot air into them for about 5 to 10 minutes. I left the LCD lid open so that the air flowed into the internal compartment through the gaps in the keyboard and out again. Try to keep your Mac level so that the liquid doesn’t pool into a corner.

After I felt that the insides were drier, I proceeded to dismantle it. Follow the instructions from ifixit. Tip: keep the screws in the order which you removed them. That way, you can just reverse the order when putting it back together.

The tweezers come in handy when some screws get stuck in the case; and to remove the keyboard cable from its connector.

spill coffee macbook 1   How To Deal With Spilled Coffee or Coke on Your Macbook

Once the logic board was exposed, I used cotton buds to dab any drops of liquid (in my case, coffee) I saw. Most parts were dry and left coffee stains all over so I got a damp cotton bud, wet that stain a little and quickly wiped it up. Slowly, I got most of the stains off.

spilled coffee mac laptop 2   How To Deal With Spilled Coffee or Coke on Your Macbook

After I was satisfied that everything was nice and dry, I used the hairdryer one more time to dry up anything which may have eluded me.

Next, I proceeded to clean my keyboard. Most Mac users have complained that their keys felt sticky after a spill. Especially, if it was a sugary drink like juice or soda. I pressed some of my keys and they indeed were sticky and didn’t have that elastic feeling. So I removed the keycaps from the keyboard. The thing about the keys are that they are latched on and oriented differently.

spilled coke macbook 3   How To Deal With Spilled Coffee or Coke on Your Macbook

There is a specific way of removing the keycaps and their plastic scissors mechanism but I felt comfortable just using my fingernails to lift up a side of the keycaps and snapping them off leaving the scissors mechanism intact. The whole process took 3 minutes tops. Like I said, the keys are latched on differently. Try pulling up the right edge, if that doesn’t work, then pull the top.

spilled coffee macbook 4   How To Deal With Spilled Coffee or Coke on Your Macbook

Dump the keycaps into a container with warm, soapy water and give them a good rub to remove any crusted sugar patches. Dry them with a cloth then reattach them. Tip: take a photograph of your keyboard to remember the layout of the keys.

Right, now is the moment of truth. Make sure everything is nice and dry and put your Mac back together by going through the dismantling instructions in reverse. Hopefully, it will turn on. Mine did.

Personally, I find that exposing the guts and using a hairdryer is far better than letting it dry out naturally. I’ve read that some people even put their MacBooks in a bag of rice to absorb the moisture. What a plather.

I wrote this article because I tried searching for what others did for their spill accidents but unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything substantial. I hope this will help spill-sufferers in the future. Feel free to ask questions in the comments area.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

38 Comments -

Lyndon

Great post, Jackson. I’d like to add a couple of things:

First, after the spill, don’t panic and pick up the computer, keeping it level. That way it doesn’t slosh around and possibly make matters worse.

Secondly, make sure you discharge any static electricity from your body, otherwise there’s a chance (slight, but still there) that you could fry the motherboard.

Jackson Chung

Thanks, Lyndon. I totally agree about keeping it level although I didn’t state it because it would contradict with taking it apart since one would have to turn it upside down to get to the screws at the bottom :)

Good note about the static. Always ground yourself before touching even a screw on the case.

Felipe

“What makes matters worse, even if you are willing to fork out the money to pay for the repairs, Apple says that if your Mac has to be dismantled into multiple parts to be repaired – it is not eligible for service.”

Read it again. What it says is that if your laptop is dropped hard enough to where it breaks into multiple pieces FROM THE FALL, THEN you’re not eligible.

Jackson Chung

Hmm. Sounded to me like it HAD to be DISASSEMBLED, not broken into multiple pieces. Anyways, in both cases liquid spills aren’t eligible for warranty.

David Collins

You were misreading it. The breaking into multiple pieces only refers to damage from an impact. It doesn’t refer to what the service technician will have to do while repairing your laptop. Most laptop repairs require the system to be taken apart into multiple pieces.

It’s a minor mistake, though, since extensive liquid damage almost always ends up costing more to repair than the computer is worth. Better to do it yourself like you did.

Lyndon

“I totally agree about keeping it level although I didn√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘt state it because it would contradict with taking it apart since one would have to turn it upside down to get to the screws at the bottom”
[slaps forehead] Yep, that would make sense.

mike

I’ve got an unibody the day it came out and accidentally pushed a cup of water on the keyboard after 1 week, I was so mad

it was still running after the spill, i shut it and flipped it over, most of the water came onto my external keyboard which was dead after i ripped it into its elements, or maybe i didn’t assemble it properly, anyways wasted 1 hour already, might get a new one.

back to the unibody, it was still working and nothing inside was wet, even under the keys the water stay there.

looks like the new built of the keyboard is sealed

lucky me, not so lucky when i wash my 2 weeks old sony ericsson t610 when it first came out.

james

ill buy your unibody, i broke my screen.
13 inch unibody
macbook pro

Felipe

Hi…on a related issue…perhaphs someone could comment on a predicament we have here (perhaps diagnosing a problem)…a friend of mine just fried the screen of his iBook G4. He spilt a little wine on the screen itself; thankfully for him, he had a spare LCD monitor around and surprisingly, upon connecting it to the laptop, he’s getting video out just fine…so apparently the issue is the laptop’s screen. Now here’s the catch: we are expats posted in India. We don’t even want to bother checking with Apple India since they’ll charge an arm and a leg to fix the problem. I spent a little time on Ebay and we stumbled upon all these people selling parts out of Hong Kong. We would appreciate if someone could comment on what parts we might want to order/replace. Thanks!!

Gabrielle Ferrari

What if your computer has dried out for a few days and all appears to be working?
mine is except to left and right arrow keys don’t work. Should I still disassemble and try to clean it up?
The coffee will have dried by now, but is it worth it to go in anyway?

Jackson Chung

If it is working, then I don’t see any reason to disassemble it, apart from cleaning any crusts of sugar that may be coating the components — which may cause your laptop to heat up because the heat dissipation will be screwed up.

Regarding your keyboard, try removing and cleaning the keys in warm, soapy water.

nik

just spilled half cup of coffee to my macbook, dry it out with hairdryer, and now it seems working, however seems like the battery is not recognized. there is x black symbol and and @about this mac there is no battery recognized by system, im afaid to burn the logic board….any suggestions?

Jackson Chung

I highly suggest that you send it to an Apple Store. Spillages are never covered by warranty so you may have to fork out a reasonable sum of money to get it repaired. But at least you have an option. Sounds like the PMU is fried.

PIF

On a related note, today I managed to accidently spill a small amount of vinegar on my keyboard (MacBook Pro 15 inch).

All seems well in terms of function, but what alarms me is that now the presumed affected keys (specifically f,b,v,r) are visibly brighter, more radiant, even, than the rest of the keys.

Is this the spill sensor? Is there a way to make this even…turn off the brightness???

Furthermore, it seems ironic that the affected keys would be brighter and essentially better suited for low-lit environments than the others. :/

pdave

The same thing just happened to me (with water though), and now my keys are lit up the same way, in that V shaped position. Have you figured anything out? I am trying to decide whether I should take it to the Apple Store, because I am under Apple Care, but I am afraid I’ll get denied because of the submersion detectors. I’d love to hear what you did.

Eric

Hey Nik,
I had a similar problem: a small coffee spill on the left side of my macbook keyboard led to my battery not being recognized. I have since gotten it working again, and though I can’t guarantee it will work for you, it’s worth a shot. This is what I did:
1. I turned the machine upside down, let the coffee drain out.
—-after letting it dry for a day, I powered it up. It worked fine with the a/c adapter, but couldn’t recognize the battery—-
2. I opened the computer up. I realize now that there was no need to let it dry out, because any liquid on the board will lead to corrosion. It needs to be cleaned out first!
3. I noticed that I didn’t have any coffee on the logic board itself, since no dust was disturbed on it. But I found a crust on the battery connector, where it connects to the logic board.
4. I unscrewed and unplugged the battery connector, and removed it from the logic board. Then, with an old toothbrush and some 91% isopropyl alcohol, I scrubbed off the crust on all the pieces. This corrosive crust was probably causing a short, and thus preventing the macbook from recognizing the battery.
5. After cleaning the keyboard as best as I could, I reassembled it. Voila! The macbook once again recognized the battery!

This website provides a step-by-step guide to accessing and removing the battery connector. You can also buy a replacement battery connector if yours is no longer functioning.
http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Repair/MacBook-Core-2-Duo-Battery-Connector/525/5

ken

I had the same incident as my 100plus spilled into my macbook. After removal of my battery, I found that there was some burn mark and some sort of green stuff stick with the battery connector of macbook. Is the burn mark and green stuff cause by the water spilled? or possibly overheat of macbook before the water spilled incident.

BRah

I just accidentally spilled my coffee on my MacBook but I believe I was lucky because the spill partially occurred on the right as it wasn’t a full spill. After it spilled I grabbed my shirt on the ground soaking up the coffee right away then grabbed a hair dryer and drying it on a cool setting. After I took a small flash light for a closer inspection and it seems the coffee never had a chance to leak under the keyboard into the motherboard.

I was able to tell this because of the dust between the keys was untouched, so I believe I was very lucky with a lesson learned..

Brah

I’m not sure if this would make a difference but I had cream in my coffee with made it thick and possibly why it was easier to soak up, time will tell..

Kaitlyn

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I am a 20 year old girl with absolutely no clue about things when my computer acts up. I googled “coffee macbook spill” as soon as i spilled coffee all over my keyboard. this was the third option that showed up, and it completely worked!!! i went from tears to smiles. i can’t believe i was able to fix it myself. thannnnkyouuuuu!!!

Jackson Chung

Hi Kaitlyn,

No worries, I’m glad that you fixed your Mac :)

Tyler

I had the exact same issue, with spilt coffee. All I did was semi close the book till it looked like a V then turned it upside down and let the liquid run out. The keys are a little sticky but it works fine!

Jasmine

I’VE GOT WATER INTO MY MONITOR – basically my macbook pro was submerged in some water in my bag for around 30 seconds before I even realized. It’s good that I had at least a plastic cover on and the battery was removed, or else it would have been fried immediately. I removed the plastic covers, wiped it down, and because I wasn’t really using my head, I switched it on real quick to see if there’s anything wrong with it (after putting the battery in) and I see these HUGE WATER MARKS inside my monitor. The lights of the monitors kept on flashing. The water is INSIDE my screen. However for the few seconds it was on it seemed that the hardware itself isn’t affected since there was no freezing or anything. Right now i’m just letting it dry by itself after aiming the hairdryer at it for around five hours. Should I turn on to check again tomorrow or bring it directly to Apple after Columbus Day?

Mark

I spilt some cola in the top right corner of my unibody macbook. It’s still working but the eject, delete and “\” keys are all pretty sticky. I tried to search around for what to do and everything I saw online said to take the keys off. I tried and unfortunately, even though I carefully watched 2 or 3 tutorials on how to remove the keys properly, the first time I tried I broke my “\” key. A little piece of plastic flew off which came from the scissor mechanism under the key itself and after replacing the key back into the topcase it’s quite wobbly and unsturdy, not to mention still sticky. I really don’t want to fork over the money to have it fixed, I thought that I could do it myself and be able to laugh in Apple’s money covered face, but now I don’t know what to do. Any ideas?

Jackson Chung

Yikes, DIY repairs are not for the faint-hearted and a lot of research is required before attempting to disassemble your Mac. If you’re not up for it then I suggest getting it professionally repaired. HOWEVER, if you’re still up for it, then a little isopropyl will get the cola right off.

Kate

Hi,

24 hours ago I spilled a giant mug of delicious sweet coffee right into my brand new 13 inch MacBook which I am using right now. It was so bad coffee was coming out of the back vents. I turned it off, took the battery out and tried to drain it, before taking it to the London Regeants St Apple store who said I could have an appointment at the Genius Bar in 4 days and it would likely take 2-3 weeks for repair, if possible. I work from home and realised that it needed to be looked at straight away to avoid more damage so rang an independent repairer who allowed me to drop it off at his home after hours so he could start drying it straight away. I picked it up at 11am the today, clean as a whistle and working perfectly. The guy said the longer I had waited the more damage would have happened. The repair cost me √ā¬£199 (as there were small parts which needed replacing) but was definitely worth it as he said there was even coffee behind the screen (and I will get the money back from insurance). The best thing I can suggest is just take it somewhere ASAP and leave it in more capable hands than your own. Cheers!

frank

hi Kate

I’ve just had an incident with a glass of cranberry juice and my MacBook – I don’t suppose you have that guys number please?

frank (almost in tears)

Jackson Chung

All the best, Frank. Hope you’ll manage to fix it…

Ray Butarbutar

Hi Jackson! Thank you so much for your website.
I did these things intuitively (thank god!) and visited your site after the fact. Being a VERY clumsy person, i spilled wine on my laptop. But then right away i disconnected the power and started to dab & dry with a blow drier. I managed to get everything working as usual (Whew)…but there is a few hiccups here and there. #1) my screen wouldn’t adjust brightness even though the transparent box shows up when i press the F1/F2 keys (it tells me that i’m adjusting the brightness, but nothing is actually happening) and #2) when starting up or when i wake it up from sleep, there are these lumpy gray areas on the bottom of my screen…but oddly it disappears after 1-2 seconds. Do you have advice to fix these problems.
Thank you so much!!

Ale√Ö¬°

I have the same problem… did you find a way to fix those problems? i would be very thankful for any answer…

Ling

I spilled a bit of water on my macbook pro 15″ 2 hrs ago but it was maximum 3 DROPS!!! as it was just a case of wet hands after washing them.

My clicker became a bit dodgy whilst typing up and assignment but I could still right click. After about 5 mins the clicker didn’t work anymore. HELP??

There’s an Apple centre just down the road from me so I’m thinking of bringing it there tmr. Just wondering if little drops could tell technicians there was a minor MINOR spill?

:(

Anders Frost

Having spilled coffee twice in my MBP unibody and working as a technician I speak of experience.

I’m sorry I have not read all of the reply’s. But the way it have been descriped here sounds like it is importent to work slow. That is not the case.

The proces has to be.
Shut it down, pull the plug, turn it around, with the keybord facing directly downwords. Take out the battery. Do it fast!
Open the casing an find a cloth and use Cuisine alcohol to clean it. Unlike water it evaporates and therefore do not damage electronics.

This should hopefully make sure, that you stop the liquid, before it get’s to deep into the computer, so you’ll be able to skip most of above suggestions for repair

Anders Frost

If your computer dies and it is filled with various liquids, then pour Cuisine alcohol through it. It cleans it and then evaporates. Tracks from the accident have been removed.
Then go to the store and complain and try to get it replaced ;-)

It worked for one of my friends

Ling

Thanks so much for the comments. What I did was go to the Apple store anyway, sent my macbook pro in for a repair without saying why or how my trackpad stopped working. And of course, prayed HARD.

THEY WERE AMAZING ABOUT IT!

I got my laptop back a few days later, with a new trackpad, i think they replaced my keyboard as well (because there were a few tiny blobs of superglue on 2 or 3 keys, also they replaced my on/off button because there was a tiny dent there before.

Good on Apple for picking out the smallest details! I didn’t even realise it was back in perfect condition until 2 days after I had my mac back safe with me :)

josh

i kinda spilt a a few drops of beer on the lower right of the trackpad of my mbp 2.26. i cleaned it with a cloth immediately. it was fine for about half an hour. then slowly the right click stopped responding. now clicking (anywhere) does not work at all. however tapping and cursor works perfect. so what the hell do i do? i suppose the damage is pretty permanent. so i’ll have to get a new trackpad? do you think it will magically start working again after a few days? help.
ps. i swear it was only a few drops. you know i was just tossing the finished can into the dustbin and the last few drops just had to land on the mac.

josh

WOW!!!! Its been exactly a week and Miraculously its working again!!! I just hope its stays this way. I guess the beer dried up and the trackpad fixed itself. Gud luck to all of you who are a little less fortunate. I guess it literally ‘magically started working again after a few days’!!!! Im so happy!!!!!!!!!!

Veronica

today a friend of mine spilled some coke on my macbook. he immediately flipped it upside down to pour all the coke out. it didn’t shut down and was in fact still working. a few hours later, i left it on for a while, like maybe 30 minutes, and it shut down. at first i thought it just went to sleep, but when i took it to use it again, it shut down. i brushed it away and turned it on, but after five minutes, it shut down again. now i knew something was wrong. i turned it back on to get some files i needed and it seemed to be working fine then. a friend of mine told me to just shut it down and wait and use a different computer.

what do you suggest doing?

Gökhan

I lost my F6 key of my unibody mac pro after coffee spillage. :/
There was no sugar in the coffee. How ever there is a remnant of coffee which results the F6 key not functioning condition.

How should i clean it. Is using a hypo and some alcohol applicable?