Computer keyboards have taken all manner of abuse for years, with spills leading the way. When most keyboards were not attached, cleaning up after you spilled your mocha on it was fairly simple — and in a worst case scenario, you just replaced the keyboard. While external keyboards are easy to clean and/or replace, laptop keyboards are another story.
Laptop keyboards are connected to the device’s motherboard by very thin ribbon cables. Since liquid is an excellent conductor, spills on any keyboard can short circuit the keyboard, causing some of the keys to stop working.
Simply drying off the device and keyboard is a start, but it’s only the beginning. Even if you thoroughly wipe the keyboard off, stick it in big box of rice, or use a hairdryer on it (be careful not to melt the keys!), the keys may have sticky residue from the spill inside the tiny cracks and crevasses, gumming up the works. (In my job as a Repair Agent for Geek Squad, I have had clients bring in keyboards with mold, mildew, or rust caused by spilled liquids such as pop, milk, tea, or other fluids. I’ve even seen insects nesting inside laptops, attracted there by sweet residues from pop, juice or beer.)
The worst part? A laptop keyboard spill can cause much deeper damage than just the keyboard — much deeper. Sometimes, liquid spills can seep down through the keyboard and below, damaging the parts underneath it – including the touchpad, memory, processor, and even the motherboard. It’s a silent killer of electronics as well because it sometimes takes it time: liquid spilled today may take days, weeks, or months for the damage to work its “magic”. finally shorting the device out.
Want a quick, easy fix for this? Sorry, there isn’t one. Your best bet is a proactive one: don’t set your cappuccino anywhere near your laptop. (I have a personal rule that all drinks must be kept a full arms-length away from my computing devices.) If you do have a liquid spill, try to dry it as best as you can — but if it is anything more than distilled or tap water, your best bet is to take it to an authorized service / repair provider and ask them to look at it. If the keyboard needs to be replaced, it is best to have a professional handle the work. Any reputable service provider will provide you with an estimate before replacing it.