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I have just dropped a half full latté on my company laptop and am not sure what to do.

Is there a way I can make sure that my laptop is usable again?

What steps must I go through to improve it's chances of survival?

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Go and get another coffee? – Jon Hopkins Jul 24 '09 at 9:07
If you are a programmer, get another coffee, quick! – splattne Jul 24 '09 at 10:20
Ahhh, a classic computer dilemma. – barfoon Jul 24 '09 at 13:11
What's the problem? That is how I overclocked my processor,. – JohnFx Jul 24 '09 at 21:02
up vote 17 down vote accepted

Best bet would probably be to turn it off and stand it up on it's side (like a book). So that all the excess fluids come out. Also Remove the battery.

Leave it for at least a day and then inspect the keyboard and see if it's dried up.

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Putting it on it's side means the coffee will potentially flow to parts of the laptop it hasn't yet reached. Better to try and get it to flow out back the way it came in. – LachlanG Jul 24 '09 at 9:14
True, but i found this helped a lot when i spilled coke on a previous laptop of mine. Ended up with most "goo" under my keys, which was washable, also this way it doesn't get any liquid into the screen. – pavsaund Jul 24 '09 at 9:27
+1 for removing the battery – Kevin M Jul 24 '09 at 13:42

Slightly more serious than my other answer.

The fact that it's a company laptop means that you should call the helpdesk (or whoever) and let them tell you what to do. Ignore the slight embarrassment you might feel, it's their laptop, you need to give them the chance to sort it out.

Chances are they'll be reasonable about the fact that accidents happen but if you do something that makes it worse they're likely to be more upset.

Reminds me slightly of one place I worked where a partner turned up one morning saying his laptop had just "stopped working" and he had no idea why. The helpdesk guys opened it up and dirty water started pouring out. At that point he admitted that carrying it home while drunk he'd fallen in a canal...

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+1 Good point. the company laptop thing really does simplify matters. Basicly "not my problem" and give it to the IT-guys. – pavsaund Jul 24 '09 at 10:53
I was thinking less "not my problem" and more "better quit while I'm not too far behind" rather than doing something well meaning but which ultimately made the problem worse. – Jon Hopkins Jul 24 '09 at 11:27
@pavsaund: That attitude will get you no help from IT / tech support afterwards. You screwed up with company property, try to be respectful of that fact. Stories like BOFH started with users with this attitude. – Adriano Varoli Piazza Jul 24 '09 at 11:55
"Remember that one time we were real drunk in Amsterdam?" – nhinkle Jan 1 '12 at 0:10

Unplug it, take the battery out, turn it upside down and let the coffee drain out back the way it got in.

If you know how you could also take the hard drive out while it's upside down.

Leave it for at least 24 hours, then turn it on and cross your fingers.

If it does come back on the keyboard is either going to be pretty sticky or perhaps some keys won't work at all. A new keyboard is probably your best bet in those circumstances, they're not too expensive.

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I'd take it to your company's IT department for them to turn on - they're better equipped to deal with this sort of thing. – ChrisF Jul 24 '09 at 9:35

My other half did this and the result was terminal - we ended up buying another laptop. You should at least take the disk out and make a backup of it before you try to restart the computer. If you can get the computer working, fine. However, prepare for the possibility it won't and make sure you can recover the data.

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Remove the power (AC, battery, etc.) first, even before attempting to drain. Drainig risks shorting out undamaged circuitry.

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From the pocket computer world, which has a lot more accidents like this, the key is if it was dropped in clean water, dirty or salt. Salt water is the worst. Clean water most likely to recover. Coffee probably isn't too bad.

The other key is keep the power off while it is drying. And some batteries don't like the water.

Non-laptop keyboards sometimes are sturdy enough to survive a dishwasher if you let them dry out long enough before plugging them back in.

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Do not turn it on. Keep it off.

Since its a company laptop, send it to the IT department. Probably should include some donuts as a thank you/apology as well.

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I read this post awhile ago, and fortunately so, since I spilled some coffee on my Aluminium MacBook yesterday.

Fortunately, not all of the coffee spilled, but it spilled mostly over the right side of the keyboard. I turned the MacBook off immediately and removed the battery, and dabbed (not rubbed) the coffee off the keyboard area with the nearest towel I could find. I also got a hairdryer and put it on the lowest setting from a height of about 20cm, constantly moving it around for a few minutes or so.

Then I placed the laptop upside down, open, with the lid hanging over the back of the desk (the back so the whole thing didn't slide off) with a book placed on the bottom (which was now facing upwards) of the MacBook for further support, and a towel underneath between the MacBook and the desk, and left it to dry out for 24 hours.

Turned it on and there is no apparent damage – all the keys on the right hand side still work. I guess it was fortunate that the spillage didn't occur over more of the MacBook, but I think the actions taken above helped the situation.

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