Please help me minimize the damage from a macbook/orange juice incident.
March 22, 2009 4:29 AM   Subscribe

I just spilled about 3 tablespoons of an orange juice/perrier mix on my macbook. I vacuumed up the liquid immediately and compressed-aired the bejeezus out of it. What other things should I be doing to prevent a total breakdown?

I spilled the orange juice on the keyboard, but some got into the screen as well. All the keys seem to be working, and I've rebooted with no problem. There's a fist-sized patch on the screen that soaked up some liquid and is noticeably lighter but seems to be drying slowly.


I'll be spending the day backing things up and praying because I know that orange juice can't be good--but is there anything in particular I should do?
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I would leave it turned off until I was sure that it had dried out. Works for phones :)
posted by devnull at 4:39 AM on March 22, 2009


Yeah, I've always heard that the best thing to do is turn the laptop off, take the battery out, and leave it opened and upside down so the liquid can drain out. Don't turn it on until you're absolutely sure everything's completely dry, or you could risk short-circuiting something.

Be aware that Apple's warranty will very probably not cover any issues arising from accidental damage like this, so unless you have private insurance (and even then maybe not) you'll have to pay for any repairs yourself.

A full backup (and preferably a bootable clone of the hard drive, for convenience) is an excellent plan once it's all dried out, even if it seems to be working.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for your poor macbook!
posted by badmoonrising at 5:17 AM on March 22, 2009


I'd be careful about turning it upside down. I turned a keyboard upside down once when I'd dropped soup into it; it got ten times worse. I think this is because the top part of the keys (the flat bit your finger taps) connected to the post thingy it's mounted on connects together up the top, right under the flat part of the mechanism, so it's safer for liquid to be a-swishing around further down where there's no electronic contact-y bits for it to get into and screw up.

This wasn't a Mac keyboard I had this experience on, though; and even if it wasn't, it may be different: I wouldn't expect keyboard to all be the same. If it's still working, I'd just let it dry out without moving it.
posted by springbound at 5:53 AM on March 22, 2009


Ten times worse, btw, meant rather than two keys producing an odd sequence of characters, which is what the initial problem was, so many keys began to spit out unpredictable character sequences that I had to chuck the thing out and replace it. I think I recall it actually getting worse again when I hairdryed it, too; so if that winds up in your plans... maybe avoid that too. ;)
posted by springbound at 5:58 AM on March 22, 2009


AskMe needs a huge banner posted on the front page:

"IF YOU HAVE SPILLED ANY FLUIDS ON YOUR LAPTOP, TURN IT OFF AND DO NOT POST TO ASKME UNTIL YOU AREA ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN THAT IT HAS DRIED OUT. MEANING: DO NOT TURN IT ON FOR AT LEAST 2 DAYS"

This would eliminate about a third of AskMe's volume.
posted by zerokey at 6:15 AM on March 22, 2009


Yes, turn it off and let it dry. I spilled a teensy bit of tea on my Macbook screen a few weeks ago. The certified Mac repair place in town recommended doing that, and, though there are a few pinhead size bright spots in a corner now, it's mostly fine.
posted by bibliophibianj at 6:46 AM on March 22, 2009


springbound writes "I'd be careful about turning it upside down. I turned a keyboard upside down once when I'd dropped soup into it; it got ten times worse. I think this is because the top part of the keys (the flat bit your finger taps) connected to the post thingy it's mounted on connects together up the top, right under the flat part of the mechanism, so it's safer for liquid to be a-swishing around further down where there's no electronic contact-y bits for it to get into and screw up."

The problem is that further down is stuff like your CPU. A keyboard is the cheapest (and often easiest) thing to replace on a laptop.
posted by Mitheral at 7:00 AM on March 22, 2009


After you let it all dry out, the keys are going to be sticky. Here are two guides to cleaning keys: a series on flickr and from macrumors. Popping them off and cleaning the undersides and those little plastic hinges is a pain in the ass. Don't use q-tips - the fuzz gets everywhere. You'll need bamboo skewers or toothpicks. But it does work.
posted by barnone at 7:31 AM on March 22, 2009


Turn it off and put the laptop in the fridge, NOT THE FREEZER. Leave it in there for at least a day. The cool, circulating, dry air should help it out.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:32 AM on March 22, 2009


Refrigerators often house more moisture than you probably realize. Best advice is just not to do any fancy tricks like putting it in a fridge or anything. Leave it with all power sources disconnected/removed in a cool, dry room for 72 or more hours.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:56 AM on March 22, 2009


I'd just like to chime in and say that compressed air is a good way of spreading that OJ into areas that it never would have reached otherwise. Not a very good idea.
posted by furtive at 9:18 AM on March 22, 2009


Don't put it in the fridge. When you take it out water will condense on it just like on the outside of a glass. (And they're horribly humid as mentioned.)

Open it and either put it in a warm place, like in the sun, or put it on a towel on the top-most rack in your oven, set the over to "warm" and prop the over door open a few inches.

Or if you happen to have 10 pounds or more of rice lying around the house, bury it in that, the rice will pull out the moisture.

And do not touch it or apply electricity to it for at least two days. Yeah, I know, you'll see it setting there and be curious about how it's going.... But don't do it. Virtually all damage caused by wet electronics is from electricity passing through the liquid and ending up somewhere it shouldn't be. So don't apply electricity at all until you've given it a through dry out.
posted by Ookseer at 12:05 PM on March 22, 2009


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