It is a sad fact that the easiest, and probably most common, method of destroying a laptop is to spill a drink on it. The fact that I’ve avoided this fate myself is really only down to the fact that I tend to only drink water the vast majority of the time, and water spills are relatively easy to rescue equipment from if acted upon early. In the office, I operate a strict ‘closed container only’ policy.

A few years ago I was alerted by email to a spillage onto a laptop that was not so simple. Worse still, the user had waited several days before contacting me. They had vainly attempted to drain the laptop by simply lying it keyboard-down on a towel, and only sought help when that failed.

The beverage in question was a mug of Baileys and hot chocolate. A large mug. The entirety of a large mug.

I didn’t hold out much hope.

Recovering from a laptop spillage is a relatively simple procedure involving four steps:

  1. Stripping the laptop down to its component parts.
  2. Thoroughly drying said components.
  3. Re-assembling.
  4. Praying really hard.

The first thing that struck me when I began dismantling the laptop in question was the stench of rotten milk the moment I lifted the keyboard, a vicious assault on the nostrils the likes of which I had been unprepared. Even if the hot chocolate had been black, connoisseurs of Baileys liqueur will know that it contains cream. It also contains sugar (both in pure and caramelised form) and alcohol, none of which are particularly healthy for electronics. It took me an hour and a half to painstakingly clean the sugar/milk residue from the inside of the laptop, but the damage was done. It never booted again. The laptop was expensive, less than 6 months old, and the purchaser had declined insurance against spillage.

Remember, dear friends; alcohol is hazardous to your laptop’s health. Please compute responsibly.

About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

3 responses to “Milk”

  1. Dale says :

    It makes my stories of cleaning cigarette ash and dandruff out of keyboards, pale in comparsion.

    The worse spill I’ve seen, is a glass of red wine over (and in) the keyboard of an expensive Sony Vaio laptop. We saved the laptop, but the keyboard needed replacement.

    • AngryTechnician says :

      Last wine spill I dealt with was at my previous school, and needed a new keyboard, RAM, and wireless module, because the scumbag teacher left it soaking for 4 days before owning up. Why, you may ask? Because the laptop wasn’t one he should have ever taken off site.

      He doesn’t work for the school any more. Everyone was so fed up with him even the HT lied on his reference to get rid of him. His previous school must have done the same to us. We found a profile on with the comment “excellent typist”. He would basically spend all lesson doing his online banking and checking his personal email, instead of actually teaching.

  2. Wallace says :

    Half-a-pint of Red Bull was funny, only because it wasn’t a school laptop!

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