We have seen many keyboards will spill damage lately. The most popular liquids appear to be soda (Coke is number one), wine and water. Coffee seems to rarely get spilled into laptops – go figure! Some models that we have seen frequently lately (and fixed) with liquid spill damage on their keyboard include HP DV7, HP 6910, Sony Vaio, Apple Macbook, and many many HP Mini 110 laptops. If you spill liquid of any kind on your laptop – the first thing to do is to turn it upside down and dump out as much of the liquid as possible. Then dry off what you can with a towel. If the DVD player or other components can be removed – take them out and dry them off. Power off your laptop immediately and remove the battery. Do not put your entire laptop in a bag of rice.
Note that if you have a Lenovo (formerly IBM) Thinkpad – DO NOT TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN. The Thinkpads are unique in having a gutter system under the keyboard to drain the liquid down through drain holes in the bottom of the laptop. So if you spill a glass of wine in your Apple or Dell – your lap may stay dry but your motherboard is sitting in a puddle of wine. The Thinkpad will allow the liquid to flow through channels and out the bottom of your laptop – giving you a wet lap but better protecting your laptop.
After it has completed dried out, re-install the battery and power up your laptop. Does it function as before? Some keys on the keyboard may not work – the fix for this is usually to merely replace the keyboard which is an inexpensive repair. If the liquid was allowed to stay inside the laptop for some time, your motherboard may have been damaged. The first solution is to clean the motherboard to see if this solves the problem. Once cleaned and working, you should run the machine for a few days before declaring success – sometimes after cleaning, the board can again fail. Of the above list of machines, only the Apple Mac needed its motherboard replaced.
One question we get asked frequently is if the person has lost their data on their hard drive. Almost never is the hard drive damaged with a liquid spill and so your data is perfectly safe.