7 Things to Do If You Spilled Water on Your MacBook Featured Image

7 Things to Do If You Spilled Water on Your MacBook

Quick steps to save your MacBook from water damage.

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Last updated: December 26, 2023

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If you’ve spilled water on your MacBook, follow these steps:

  1. Unplug the charger from your MacBook and the power outlet.
  2. Shut down your MacBook and disconnect all peripherals.
  3. Move your MacBook to a dry area and blot away visible moisture with a microfiber cloth.
  4. If your MacBook has a removable battery, take it out.
  5. Air dry your Mac for 48-72 hours to let internal components dry completely​​​​​​.
  6. Back up your data to iCloud when your Mac turns on.
  7. Check for hardware damage by running Apple Diagnostics.

Accidents happen, but spilling water on your MacBook can be a nerve-wracking experience. However, taking immediate action can save your Mac from severe damage. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the steps to take if you have spilled water on your MacBook, discuss the potential consequences of liquid damage, and provide some Mac maintenance tips. Let’s get started!

What to Do When You’ve Spilled Water on Your MacBook

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If you’ve accidentally spilled water on your MacBook, follow the steps I mentioned below in particular order. Acting quickly can prevent long-term damage to your Mac.

1. Unplug Your MacBook’s Charger

If your MacBook charger was plugged in when the spill occurred, unplug it immediately. Active circuits during a spill can cause significant damage to your device. So, disconnect the charger right away to cut off power to your Mac’s charging circuit.

unplug your macbooks charger

However, if your device was charging when you spilled water on your MacBook, unplug the charger from the wall first, then from your Mac. Also, if the spill occurs close to the A/C outlet, be cautious when removing the charger from the wall.

To ensure your safety, consider using rubber gloves when unplugging the charger from the A/C outlets.

2. Turn Off Your MacBook and Disconnect All Accessories

After unplugging, the next step is to shut down your Mac and disconnect all accessories. This is crucial because it reduces the risk of electrical damage and short circuits. It also prevents potential data loss or corruption.

Follow these steps to power down your system and unplug all peripherals after you spilled water on your MacBook:

  1. Hold down the Power button until the MacBook turns off.
turn off your macbook
  1. Unplug external devices like the keyboard, mouse, USB drives, or other peripherals.
  2. Move the MacBook to a dry space, away from the spill, and dry off the peripherals if wet.

3. Move Your Mac Away From the Spill and Dry It Off

Once your Mac is turned off and all peripherals are disconnected, it’s safe to move it away from the spill. Carefully lift your Mac and place it on a dry towel in a moisture-free area.

While you move your Mac to a dry location, keep it upright and avoid shaking or tilting it. Don’t try to drain water from your device, or you’ll do more damage than good.

Next, remove as much liquid as possible. Depending on the spill’s severity, this can make a significant difference. Follow these steps to remove as much liquid as possible:

  1. Gently blot visible moisture using a paper towel, cotton, or microfiber cloth. Avoid rubbing; just dab lightly to absorb the moisture.
  2. Wipe the screen, keyboard, and trackpad using a soft cloth, covering all the corners and edges.
  3. To help drain excess liquid, turn your MacBook upside down and position it in a V shape.
  4. Prop your MacBook open in a V shape with the keyboard down to let the liquid flow out, reducing internal damage risk.

This method carries the risk that the distributed water from the bottom edge of the laptop may get into the optical (reflective) film inside the screen.

watermark on screen
  1. Gently hold your MacBook in an upright position to prevent liquid from seeping further into the device.
  2. Insert a dry cotton bud into each port and twist it to absorb moisture. Repeat until the bud comes out dry.

Avoid using hairdryers or heaters, as they can cause further damage to your MacBook’s components.

4. Turn on Your Mac After Water Damage

After you spilled water on your MacBook, let it dry completely before turning it on. I recommend leaving it to dry for 48-72 hours. Because even if it seems fine, there could still be liquid inside that might cause damage when you turn it on.

It’s better to wait until it’s totally dry. When you’re sure it’s dry, turn it on and see if it works normally. If it does, that’s great, but remember, you still need to follow the next step.

5. Backup Your Data on Mac

As soon as your MacBook powers on after a water spill incident, the first and most crucial step is to back up your data. This is important because there might still be hidden damage from the water. Backing up saves all your important files and photos, so you won’t lose them if problems pop up later.

To back up your Mac data on iCloud, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure your Mac is connected to a Wi-Fi network.
  2. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Select your Apple ID and click iCloud.
click your apple id and select icloud
  1. Choose iCloud Drive.
click icloud drive in icloud
  1. Click Apps syncing to iCloud Drive.
click apps syncing to icloud drive
  1. You’ll see a list of apps. Toggle in the switches to the apps you want to enable syncing to iCloud Drive, and click Done.
select the apps you want to sync to icloud

Your Mac will now automatically back up your selected data to iCloud on a regular basis. You can also manually initiate a backup anytime by clicking Back Up Now in the iCloud Settings window.

6. Run Hardware Diagnostics

Next, after backing up your data, it’s a good idea to run a hardware diagnostic on your MacBook. This step is important to check if the water spill has caused any unseen damage to the internal components. The diagnostic can help identify any issues with your Mac’s hardware, ensuring everything is working as it should.

To ensure all components are functioning correctly after a spill, here’s how to run Apple’s Diagnostics test on Mac:

On Apple Silicon Mac

  1. Disconnect all peripherals devices except the keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, display, and power cable.
  2. Power off your Mac.
  3. Power on your Mac and continue holding the Power button until you see the startup options screen with the Options icon.
startup options screen
  1. Press the Command ⌘ + D keys.
macbook air command d keys

On Intel-Based Mac

  1. Disconnect all external devices except the keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, display, and power cable.
  2. Shut down your Mac from the Apple menu.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Press the power button and immediately press and hold the D key until you see a list of languages.
macbook air power d keys
  1. Select a language to start Apple Diagnostics.
select a language from the list
  1. Once the checking process is completed, you’ll see a report listing the detected issues. If you see an error message or reference code, note it and contact Apple Support or an authorized Apple service provider for further assistance.
apple diagnostics result

7. AppleCare+ Claims and Authorized Repair Centers

The next step is to consider AppleCare+ claims and seek help from authorized repair centers, especially if you find any issues. If you have AppleCare+ for Mac, you might be eligible for repairs or replacements.

AppleCare+ is a special support plan for your MacBook that helps with accidents, including liquid damage. But how much it covers for water spills depends on the exact AppleCare+ plan you’ve got.

If your AppleCare+ plan covers liquid damage for your MacBook, you can file a claim to seek assistance. Here’s how:

  1. Check your AppleCare+ plan to ensure liquid damage is covered under your specific agreement.
  2. Gather all necessary documentation, including your MacBook’s serial number, date of purchase, and AppleCare+ plan details.
  3. Visit the Apple Support website or call Apple Support to initiate the claim process.
  4. Provide the requested information and follow the instructions given by the Apple Support representative.

You may need to pay a service fee for the repair, depending on the terms of your AppleCare+ plan.

If AppleCare+ doesn’t cover your MacBook, you can seek professional help from an authorized repair center. These centers are certified by Apple to repair their products, ensuring your device is in capable hands.

To find an authorized repair center:

  1. Visit the Apple Support website and verify if your provider has access to Apple genuine parts.
  2. Enter your provider’s name, your country, and city.
  3. Confirm your provider’s status and contact them to schedule an appointment or discuss your issue.

What Not to Do When You’ve Spilled Water on Your Mac

When you’ve spilled water on your MacBook, it is crucial to avoid actions that could further damage it or decrease the chances of recovery.

Here’s a list of what not to do when you’ve spilled water on your MacBook:

  • ⚠️ Do Not Keep the Mac Turned On: Continuing to use your Mac after a spill can lead to electrical shorts and further damage. Turn it off immediately.
  • 🚫 Avoid Pressing Keys or Clicking the Trackpad: Applying pressure on the keys or trackpad could push the liquid further into the device, increasing the risk of damage.
  • 🔥 Do Not Attempt to Dry the Mac Using Heat: Using a hairdryer, heater, or any other source of heat can warp or melt internal components, causing more damage.
  • 🌊 Avoid Shaking or Tilting the Mac Forcefully: Doing so can cause the liquid to spread to other areas, increasing the risk of damage to other components.
  • ⏳ Do Not Turn On the Mac Too Soon: Let the Mac dry out completely before turning it on, as powering it up while still wet can cause more damage. Wait at least 48 hours before turning the Mac back on.
  • 🔧 Avoid Disassembling the Mac If You’re Inexperienced: While disassembling the Mac can help with drying, it can also void your warranty or cause additional damage if done improperly.
  • 🧪 Do Not Use Abrasive or Harsh Chemicals to Clean the Mac: Stick to using isopropyl alcohol (preferably 99%) and a soft, lint-free cloth for cleaning any affected areas. Harsh chemicals can damage the device further.

Moving Forward From Spilled Water on Your MacBook

Spilling water on your MacBook can be a stressful experience, but taking quick and appropriate action can save your device. Keep the following tips in mind in such a situation:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is a MacBook waterproof?

    No, MacBooks are not waterproof. While they may have some level of resistance to small amounts of liquid, they are not designed to withstand full immersion in water or exposure to large amounts of liquid. It is essential to take precautions to prevent liquid damage and follow appropriate steps if a spill occurs.

  2. What should I do immediately after spilling liquid on my MacBook?

    After spilling liquid on your MacBook, you should immediately turn it off, unplug it, and disconnect all peripherals. Then, wipe off visible liquid using a dry, lint-free cloth. Next, turn the MacBook upside down to prevent the liquid from seeping further into the device and let it dry for at least 48 hours before turning it on.

  3. Does it matter what type of liquid spilled on my MacBook?

    Yes, the type of liquid spilled on your MacBook can impact the extent of the damage. Water is generally less harmful than other liquids, such as sugary drinks, coffee, or alcohol, which can leave behind residue and cause corrosion or short circuits.

  4. Can I use a hairdryer or other heating devices to dry my MacBook after a spill?

    No, you should not use a hairdryer or other heating devices to dry your MacBook after a spill. Excessive heat can damage the internal components and may worsen the situation. Instead, allow your MacBook to air-dry in a well-ventilated area for at least 48 hours before turning it on.

  5. Can rice fix a water-damaged MacBook?

    No, rice cannot fix a water-damaged MacBook. While rice can absorb some moisture, it may not be sufficient to remove all the moisture trapped inside your MacBook. Additionally, rice particles can enter the device’s ports and vents, causing further damage.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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