How to Clean Battery Corrosion

If you have a battery-powered tool, flashlight, or kid’s toy that doesn’t work even after changing the batteries, chances are it’s the result of corrosion. Fortunately, there are easy ways to clean this gunky build-up and get your item working again.

To remove the corrosion, start by setting up a safe workspace and covering your work area with newspaper. You may also want to wear rubber gloves for added protection. Once your work surface is covered, turn off the item you’re cleaning and remove the old batteries. Be sure to dispose of these properly to avoid environmental hazards.

Next, pour some vinegar into a small bowl and dip a cotton swab or an old toothbrush in the acidic liquid. Then, saturate the corroded areas of the battery case and terminal clamps. Let the acidic solution sit for a minute or so, and then start to scrub away at the corrosion with your cotton swab or toothbrush. Depending on the level of corrosion, you may need to scrub the area several times in order to remove it completely.

After scrubbing the area, wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove any remaining vinegar or baking soda. Be sure to dry the battery compartment before using it again. If you’d like, apply some lubrication to the terminals and clamps to prevent future corrosion.

Another good option for cleaning battery corrosion is rubbing alcohol. Just like vinegar, this liquid can clean corrosion and oxidation from the outside of the battery, but it won’t harm the sensitive internal components.

If you’d rather not use rubbing alcohol, you can use a little bit of baking soda instead. This mild base can neutralize the acid that causes battery corrosion and keep it from forming again. Just sprinkle some baking soda onto the corroded area and use a damp rag to wipe it down.

You can also try a household cleaner that contains an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice or white vinegar. As the acidic substance interacts with the corroded area, it should fizz and loosen the corrosion. However, it is important to note that these solutions should not be used in conjunction with alkaline batteries, as they can corrode the battery’s metal parts.

When using vinegar or lemon juice, be careful not to oversaturate the area you’re trying to clean. Oversaturation can cause the acid to leak out of the battery and damage the internal components, significantly reducing the lifespan of your device or toy.

For more serious instances of corrosion, you can try using a strong acid such as acetone. This solvent can be more effective than some other acids in breaking down the corrosive build-up and leaving it easier to wipe off. Just be sure to use it carefully, as acetone can be quite damaging to the plastic and metal components of your device or toy. Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling this chemical. You should also be careful not to let the acetone seep into the battery compartment, as it can lead to an electrochemical reaction that could short out the internal circuits and make your device or toy inoperable.