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Top Spills That Damage Laptops

Posted on July 22, 2019

Top Spills That Damage Laptops

We’ve all had those mornings, where it seems like nothing is going right, we don’t have enough time, and we’re moving too quickly. It’s these types of mornings when we’re more likely to spill something on our laptops. A small amount of liquid might be ok, but when a whole cup of coffee is dumped on the keyboard and gets into the internal components of the computer, it’s bad news.

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Most Common Spills That Damage Laptops

Common Spills That Damage Laptops

Nail Polish Remover

Anyone who has used nail polish remover will recognize the intense smell and understand that the liquid contains some very harsh chemicals. The active ingredient in this liquid is often acetone, a solvent that can disintegrate plastic. In non-acetone removers, ethyl acetate is used, which is a flammable chemical. If nail polish remover is spilled on your laptop, it can very quickly dissolve internal components. So when you’re home removing your old nail polish, it’s best to keep your computer in another area.


If you had a hard day at work and want to unwind with a stiff drink, that’s great! Go for it. Just remember to keep your computer stored away for the night. While any drink will be really bad for your computer if it’s spilled, it’s actually the sugar in cocktails that can be so harmful to your computer. When the sugar dries, it can form a bridge across circuits, which can cause a short circuit.


Tannins, or tannic acid, can be found in a variety of drinks, including wine and coffee. Tannins give these drinks a slightly bitter taste. Because tannic acid is a conductor, when tea lands on your computer, it can lead to short circuits and burnt out components. Unless you have a rugged laptop that is water resistant or waterproof, try to avoid drinking tea at your computer.

Sea Water

Whether you’re on vacation or if you work on a boat in the ocean, you’ll want to avoid getting salt water on your computer. Salt is a great conductor and can be extremely corrosive, which is why metals that come in contact with salt can rust. Sodium chloride works to break down surfaces and any liquid will seep into your computer, causing all sorts of problems.


Even though most beers don’t actually taste sweet, sugar is an essential ingredient in beer. Sugar aids in the fermentation process, giving beer its alcohol content. So just like sugary cocktails, drinking beer should only be for times when you are not working on your computer.


A glass of wine and browsing the internet sounds like a relaxing idea, until you reach over and tip the glass onto your laptop’s keyboard. Because of certain ingredients, wine can be especially dangerous for laptops. Wine contains sugar, ethyl alcohol, yeast, sulfite preservatives, grape parts, and acetaldehyde, which is what gives wine its aroma. The combination of these ingredients, mixed with your laptop, is a recipe for disaster. If you have to drink wine while working on your laptop, try to stick with whites, as they tend to cause slightly less damage.


Softdrinks, whether they’re diet or regular, are very corrosive liquids. These drinks contain sugar and acids, making them very dangerous for your laptop. If you need a boost of energy and want to get in some caffeine, take a break and put away your laptop first.


On its own, water isn’t the most dangerous for laptops, it’s the minerals that can be found in water that cause the damage. We’re not sure why anyone would drink distilled water, but the distilling process removes minerals from the water, making it less harmful to your laptop. Regular tap water and bottled water, however, do contain minerals and some salt that can be corrosive to laptops.


Not surprisingly, the most common spill that damages or kills laptops entirely is coffee. Coffee contains a variety of ingredients that can be harmful to your laptop, including caffeine, cafestol, caffeic acid, and a variety of additives, such as creams and sugars. If you do have to drink coffee while working, make sure there is as little sugar as possible.

What to Do if You Spill Liquid on Your Laptop

Act Quickly

The faster you can remove any liquid from the laptop, the better. So when you spill on your computer, don’t run and get towels to clean up the spill. Your first course of action is to try to protect your laptop.

Turn it Off

The very first thing you want to do is turn the computer off. If there is a document open that needs to be saved, try to do that as quickly as possible. If it’s a bad spill and the program has an auto-save feature, it’s best to leave it and simply turn off the computer right away. Simply hold the power button until the laptop is fully off. After the laptop is powered down, if it’s plugged into a wall outlet, remove the power cord from the outlet.

Turn it Upside Down

You’ll want to make sure that as much water as possible can drip out of the laptop. This will prevent the liquid from seeping further into the internal components of the laptop. Keep the laptop open and let it rest in an upside-down V position.

Remove the Battery

When the laptop power is turned off and the cord to the outlet has been removed, it’s safe to remove the battery from the laptop. Doing this can prevent liquid from reaching the unit and causing an electrical problem.

Remove Other Devices

If a USB or SD card is in the laptop, remove these as well. If it’s possible to remove the keyboard from the laptop, remove it, and dry it as best as possible. More modern laptops can be difficult to remove any internal components, and it can be even more challenging putting it all back together. However, if it’s possible, try to remove the hard drive and RAM to prevent water damage to these components.

Purchase a Rugged Laptop With a Water Resistant Feature

A water resistant laptop can be incredibly beneficial when you’re working anywhere near water. However, it’s still incredibly important that if there are chemicals, sugars, or acids around, that you take extra precaution to protect your laptop.

OC Rugged has a wide collection of Toughbooks, Panasonic Toughbooks, vehicle mounts, and more. If your job requires a rugged laptop that can withstand a variety of elements, shop our collection today. The OC Rugged team is passionate about providing high-quality equipment that you can rely on. Whether you need a water resistant laptop, pressure resistant, temperature resistant, or drop and shock resistant, we have what you need to get your job done without worrying about your laptop.

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