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How to Deal with Spills and Stains on Electronic Products

Dealing with spills on electronic products in the right way can save them from the scrapheap. Read on to find useful tips!


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If you’ve managed to spill something on your laptop, PC, or smartphone, time is of the essence! The majority of liquids are ‘conductive’ and will seriously damage circuit boards and processor chips, completely ruining electronic devices. You must act quickly to overcome permanent damage. Be prepared to follow the advice below:

If you’ve spilled water on your phone, turn it off immediately and place it in a bowl of dry rice or silica gel – you want to get rid of as much moisture as quickly as possible!

You’ll need:

  • Microfibre cloths

  • Dry rice or silica gel

  • Distilled water

  • Screwdrivers or disassembly tools

  • Electronic circuit cleaner (available from most retailers)


  1. If the device is freestanding – like a laptop or phone – turn it off and remove the battery, the plug, and any peripherals. This will hopefully prevent the spilled liquid from short-circuiting something important.

  2. Turn the device upside down and give it a gentle shake. This will allow most of the liquid to run out.

  3. If you have them to hand, use appropriate tools to begin disassembling the device, separating out wet from dry components.

  4. Put the wet components in bowls of dry rice or place packs of silica gel on top. These will help quickly wick up the moisture. For a smartphone or other device that is difficult or impossible to disassemble, place the whole item in the bowl of dry rice or silica gel.

  5. Once you are absolutely sure all the components are dry, wipe them off gently with a microfibre cloth moistened with some electronic circuit cleaner. This will remove stains, and will not adversely affect the components. Alternatively, use distilled water, but use nothing else on internal parts.

  6. When everything is completely clean and dry, reassemble.

The whole process may take as much as two days, especially for severe spills. However, it’s worth giving it a go, if only to try to save an expensive device from the scrapheap. More general surface spills can be wiped gently with a microfibre cloth lightly moistened with distilled water and left to air dry.


  • If in doubt, first seek out professional help.

  • Be aware that you may invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty if you dismantle your device.

  • Never dismantle an electrical device with the power connected.

  • Never use a hairdryer or any other devices to speed up the drying process. This could result in warped or damaged components and is potentially dangerous.

  • Swift action is key to recovering your electronic device.

  • Be patience and allow the item at least a day to dry out.

  • Do not use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process.

Originally published