How to Clean Alkaline Battery Corrosion
At some point in time alkaline batteries will leak and corrode in one of your electronic devices
These simple tips can save or bring your battery operated electronic gear back to life
Most all of us have lots of devices that run on alkaline batteries. Battery technology, even though it has become better over the years is still far from perfect. At some point in time, you will reach for your favorite battery operated electronic gadget and find it unresponsive.
No problem, pop in a couple of new batteries and your back in business until you open the battery compartment and are faced with a yucky ugly mess. When alkaline batteries discharge over time they will build up pressure and this causes them to leak if they rupture. Then alkaline batteries emit a corrosive white powdery substance which begins eating away at contacts, circuit traces and wires. Corrosion is a byproduct of this chemical reaction to the metal and potassium hydroxide leaking from the batteries. If the batteries were left leaking in your device a long time, this can even cause permanent damage.
Cleaning the Alkaline Battery Corrosion
Cleaning off this corrosion is easy enough to do and can often save your electronic device. While this is not always guaranteed, we have rescued and brought back quite a few devices that went on to last many more years.
Because potassium hydroxide is a skin an eye irritant be sure to wear disposable rubber gloves and eye protection.
Items Needed to Clean Alkaline Battery Corrosion
Lemon Juice or Vinegar
Cotton Swabs (Q-Tips)
An Old Toothbrush
Pencil with Eraser
Alcohol (Rubbing Alcohol not Jack Daniels)
1. Start by swabbing the corrosion with lemon juice from a cotton swab or tooth brush. Lemon juice is slightly more acidic than Vinegar so it may work a little faster.
2. If battery contacts are severely corroded you may have to gently scrape the battery contacts with a metal nail file to break the corrosion loose. Be gentle and don't break any wires or scratch the contacts.
3. Let lemon juice or vinegar sit for a few minutes. Then use a clean cotton swab and try to remove as much corrosion as possible. Follow up with a little baking soda on a damp toothbrush. This will help to gently scrub away any remain corrosion. Rinse your toothbrush and keep removing any traces of the alkaline corrosion.
4. Follow up by cleaning the battery contacts with a damp cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
5. Be sure to let it completely dry before inserting new, fresh high-quality batteries.
Tips to Prevent Alkaline Battery Corrosion
- Always use high-quality name brand batteries and observe their shelf life has not expired before using. Most all batteries have an expiration date written directly on the battery.
- Store your batteries at room temp and keep them from extreme hot or cold which can shorten their lifespan.
- When inserting batteries makes sure the device contacts are clean, clean with a pencil eraser if necessary. - Remove batteries from your device if being stored for an extended period of time, or using a wall power adapter at the same time.
If your Device Can't Be Fixed
Tried everything to get your favorite electronic toy working and still no joy? Often manufacturer will guarantee their batteries from leaking and will even replace your device should it be damaged. So before you toss it in the trash you may want to get in touch with them and see if they can help.
Here is Contact Information for Popular Battery Manufactures to help you reach out and get the process started:
Best Batteries to Buy
During some testing performed by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) along with independent reviews Rayovac came in first, and beat both Duracell Coppertop which was in second place followed by Energizer Max for lasting the longest.
Unfortunately, alkaline batteries are far more prone to leaking. There are better alternatives like NiMH rechargeable or Lithium batteries which are less susceptible to leaking.