Spilled Water on MacBook: How to Recover?

Spilling water or any other liquid on your Mac can be a nightmare. But you can turn things around and save your computer from being dead by the spill.

The first step is turning your Mac off, disconnecting it from power, and following the instructions we’re about to discuss. The more you take time to take action, the more chance you have for deeper damage.

Whether you’re a novice computer user or a tech-savvy Mac smasher, there are solutions for a liquid spill on your Mac.

Let’s discuss both DIY and Professional methods to keep your Mac in good shape after a spillage.

What Happens After You Spill Water on Your Mac?

Let’s face it, your Mac runs on electric components; practically thousands of them. Each component requires current flow, meaning that a liquid spillage is no good news for the Mac.

Spilled Water on MacBook

However, you have a top compartment on your Mac that houses the keyboard. There’s a good chance the water didn’t make it through the logic board. But if the water does make its way to the electric components on the logic board, you get a spark inside.

You may not see it from the outside, but the components get hit massively. Your Mac may keep working for a few moments, or even days, before breaking on you. The worst news would be if the internal components keep corroding with the power from an outlet, or the battery.

The only way out is to stop the corrosion process by stopping power delivery. How? By disconnecting the battery!

Spilled Water on MacBook: Immediate Action And DIY Solution

Nobody wants to end up with a liquid spillage on their MacBook. If you do end up in such a dire situation, here is your best course of action.

Taking these immediate actions after a liquid spillage on your Mac will help you prevent further damage. Also, if the water content isn’t too much, you’ll have yourself a good solution after this.

Here you go:

Step 1: Unplug and Turn off Your Mac Immediately

Shut down your MacBook as quickly as possible. If it’s still on, turn it off by holding down the power button until it shuts down completely.

Disconnect any power source and remove any connected peripherals. The longer you keep your Mac powered on, the more danger you’re putting your computer into.

Step 2: Remove all plugged-in devices

Disconnect all external devices, including USB drives, external hard drives, and accessories that are connected to your Mac.

Also, remove any cables or connectors from the MacBook, such as HDMI, display cable, or Thunderbolt cables.

Step 3: Flip the MacBook Upside Down

Turn the MacBook upside down to let the water drain out. This can help prevent water from seeping further into the internal components.

Water is the most dangerous if it can make its way into the logic board. Don’t let gravity work against you; you’re already in trouble.

Step 4: Wipe Excess Water

Gently blot the exterior of the MacBook with a dry, lint-free cloth to absorb as much surface water as possible.

Dab from the back of your Mac, keeping the lid open. Also, turn it on its side to allow any trapped water to escape.

Step 5: Use Silica Gel (Desiccants)

This is only if you didn’t spill too much liquid on the Mac:

If you’re sure that the water didn’t get into the internals, place it in a bag with silica gel. Silica gel is good at absorbing moisture.

Caution: Do not let the gel come into direct contact with the MacBook. You can use Rice only if you don’t have silica gel on you, but don’t let rice get into your Mac.

Step 6: Disconnect the Battery

This is if you’ve spilled too much liquid on the Mac:

If the water gets into the internals, disconnect the battery to prevent further damage. Seek professional help if you’re not okay with getting into your Mac using a screwdriver.

Step 7: Air Dry The MacBook

Place the MacBook in an open, dry area and let it dry naturally. This may take 48 to 72 hours or longer. Patience is crucial.

Caution: Never put your MacBook under the sun and never use a hair dryer to dry your MacBook. Excessive heat might cause damage to the internal components.

Spilled Water on MacBook: Advance Recovery

If the above methods are not enough due to the amount of water or other liquid being too much, there’s still hope.

You have to clean and dry the Mac from the inside to ensure it has no trace of water. Here’s a step-by-step guide to follow before you boot up your Mac next time:

Do a Thorough Diagnostic

Before you get your hands dirty and open up your MacBook, see if you still have water inside. One obvious way to tell is if you have spilled too much water. Another way to tell is if the Mac spills out water droplets when you flip it.

Either way, if you think you have liquid left inside, you must get it opened and dry the Mac from the inside. Plus, one particular necessity of opening it up is to disconnect the battery.

Apple doesn’t allow users to disconnect the battery from the outside. Opening your Mac’s back shell is the only way to do that.

The Preparation

Opening up your MacBook is a straightforward process if you have the right tools and a bit of courage.

Prep the Surface:

Place your MacBook on a clean and static-free surface. The best option is placing it on a piece of microfiber towel. That way, you won’t end up scratching the front of your Mac while working on the back.

Get the Right Tools:

You might need a set of precision screwdrivers, such as Phillips or Torx, depending on your MacBook model.

Apple Pentalobe Screwdriver Size Guide:

  • MacBook Pro (2009-2012): T4 Torx Screwdriver
  • MacBook Air (2010-present): P5 (1.2mm) Pentalobe Screwdriver
  • MacBook Pro (2012-present): P5 (1.2mm) Pentalobe Screwdriver

Other tools you’ll need are:

  • Tweezers to loosen the lid after opening the screws
  • Spudgers and Pry Tools to pry open the back shell easily
  • Magnetic Project Mat to keep the screws organized as you open them
  • Electrostatic discharge (ESD) safe wrist strap to keep your Mac safe

Remove The Back Cover Of Your Mac

Once you have everything in hand, make sure it’s still turned off and disconnected from the outlet. Now, here’s how you remove the back cover of your MacBook.

Remove the screws

Use the right screwdriver to remove the screws on the back cover. The location and type of screws can vary, so refer to your MacBook’s manual for specific instructions.

Prying Open

Once the screws are removed, use the plastic prying tool to gently separate the back cover from the body of the MacBook. Be cautious not to force it, and work your way around the edges.

Locate and Disconnect The Battery

Once the back cover is off, you can access internal components such as the battery, hard drive, or RAM. Disconnect the battery first. You don’t want the components of your Mac to get power after a water spillage.

Wipe Off Water Residue

Wipe off all the water residue that is visible to your eyes. Reach into the tight spaces using cotton swabs and tissue paper. You can also blow mild air to push off the water trapped inside. However, avoid using hot air as it can damage delegate internals.

Important Notes:

If you are unsure or uncomfortable with any step, seek professional help to avoid damaging your MacBook.

Delayed Repair Can Cause Deeper Damage

One thing never to do after a water or liquid spillage on your MacBook is not to delay with action. Beware of deeper damages like,


Water can cause corrosion on the internal components of your Mac. The longer the internals are exposed to moisture, the more they compromise the conductivity of electrical connections. This will lead to malfunctions or complete failure of your machine.

Short Circuits

Water can create short circuits by bridging connections between different circuits on the logic board. Initially, the device might seem functional, but over time, these short circuits can damage sensitive components, resulting in permanent failure.

Battery Damage

If water reaches the Mac’s battery, it can lead to a decrease in battery performance. In extreme cases, a damaged battery can pose a safety risk, including swelling or even explosion.

Data Loss

The damage can affect the storage components of a MacBook, such as the SSD or even the unified Chip. This can lead to data loss, or even a complete device failure. Retrieving data from a water-damaged storage in a Mac can be utterly expensive, sometimes  impossible.

Mold Growth

Moisture provides an ideal environment for mold growth if not treated promptly. Mold can eat up the internal components of the MacBook, causing further damage and potentially creating health hazards.

Increased Repair Costs

The longer you wait to address water damage, the more extensive the repair may become. What could have been a relatively simple fix may escalate into a more complex and expensive repair.

When To Seek Professional Help For Water Spillage on Mac?

It’s not always when you can take advanced actions to address a water spillage on your Mac. Here are when you should seek professional help:

  • DIY Attempts Failed: If none of the above methods work, or you’re not comfortable with any DIY solutions.
  • Unknown Extent of Damage: If you cannot determine the extent of the water damage or if the liquid reached critical components.
  • Visible Signs of Damage: Obvious signs of damage, such as water seeping into the ports, unusual sounds, or visible corrosion on the exterior.
  • Unresponsive or Erratic Behavior: If your Mac is behaving erratically, random shutdowns, or not responding to commands, indicating internal damage.
  • Concerns about Data Loss: If you have important data on your Mac and are concerned about potential data loss.
  • Insurance Coverage: If your MacBook is covered by insurance, it’s essential to involve professionals in the assessment and repair process.

What Not To Do When You Spill Water On Your Mac?

You now know what to do and how to get your Mac back on track after a water spillage. Now here are the things you must NOT DO after such an incident:

Don’t Assume Immediate Safety

Even if your MacBook seems to be working initially after a spill, water damage might not show up immediately. Monitor its behavior and be prepared for potential issues.

Don’t Shake The Mac

Most people start shaking after they have a water spillage to get the water out of the device. But this can pose a threat opposite to what you intended.

You may end up spreading water to other internal components, where it’s even more dangerous. Don’t shake, especially when you still have the battery connected.

No Heat: Only Air Dry

Avoid using a hairdryer or any direct heat sources to dry the MacBook. Heat can cause more damage.

Allow the MacBook to dry completely before attempting to turn it back on. This may take at least 48 to 72 hours.

Don’t Use Rice

Rice is a good substitute for Silica gel if you can’t find any other desiccants. However, if you have to use rice, don’t just put your Mac inside a bucket of rice. Instead, pack the rice and use that like a pack of silica gel.

This way, you can avoid rice getting into the ports and small openings of the Mac, posing further damage.

Don’t Use the MacBook

Avoid the temptation to turn on the MacBook immediately. Operating it while wet can cause short circuits and further damage. Wait for at least 48 hours, even if you think the Mac is free from water.

Don’t Press Buttons

Avoid pressing any buttons, especially the power button, repeatedly in an attempt to turn on the MacBook. Wait until it’s safe to use.

Don’t Charge The Mac

Never attempt to charge a MacBook after a water damage until you are certain it is completely dry. Charging a wet device can lead to short circuits, or even explosions.

Don’t Disassemble Without Knowledge

Avoid attempting to disassemble the MacBook if you’re not familiar with its internal components. This could void your warranty or cause further damage.

If you’re okay with a disassembly, follow the instructions above.

Don’t Use Compressed Air

Compressed air to drying the MacBook can drive water deeper into the device and potentially cause more damage.

Keep The Type of Liquid In Mind

Not every type of liquid poses the same level of danger to your MacBook once spilled. Here are the common liquid types and what you have to know about them:

  • Regular water: Drinkable tap or bottled mineral water can induce corrosion through electrolysis if they keep getting power from the battery.
  • Saltwater: Seawater and brackish river water can induce the most danger to your MacBook, especially if they keep getting power.
  • Tea or coffee: Like regular water, they’re not acidic and tend to be the easiest and quickest to repair and restore.
  • Juices and soft drinks: Milk products and wine can induce more danger as they have more acidity, sugars, etc.
  • Rain water: Rain can carry chemicals which can lead to damage from acids to smoke solids that it collects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I use a hairdryer or heat to dry my Mac?

Do not use heat sources like hairdryers or heaters as they can cause damage. Instead, use a lint-free cloth to gently pat dry the exterior.

Can I use rice to absorb the moisture?

While it’s a popular belief, using rice can lead to further damage if gains make their way into the cavities. It’s better to leave your Mac to air-dry in a dry environment.

How long should I wait before trying to turn on my Mac again?

Ideally, wait at least 72 hours to ensure that all moisture has evaporated. Rushing to power it on may cause permanent damage.

Are there any signs that my Mac has been damaged internally?

Look for unusual sounds, odd behavior, or a burning smell. These could be indicators of internal damage.

What precautions can I take to prevent water spills on my MacBook?

Use spill-resistant accessories and keep liquids away from your Mac. Consider a keyboard cover and be mindful of your surroundings when using your laptop.

Final Advice

Water damage can be damaging. And when it happens with an expensive machine like the MacBook, you need to be mindful of your course of action. Hopefully, now that you know all things water pilled on MacBook, you should be in good shape handling hte issue.

Remember to seek professional help if you’re unsure about the extent of the damage or how to proceed with the advance recovery process. Use protective accessories to prevent future catastrophes and may your MacBook keep serving after this one.

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