How to Clean Up Battery Corrosion

posted by Andrea | 12/19/2017
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If you have children or grandchildren, chances are you go through lots and lots of batteries!

And no, you don’t have to give your children techy toys to need lots and lots of batteries. Some of our kids’ most favorite “toys” are flashlights (which they always seem to leave on), walkie-talkies, their kiddie pianos, Catch Phrase, and their rocking horse — all of which require batteries.

Thankfully, I got smart a few years ago and asked for batteries as part of our Christmas gift!  🙂

My parents literally gave us over 100 batteries they had gotten free, or almost free, after rebate!

Since we often give our children used toys as birthday and Christmas gifts, and since I regularly buy kid’s items on Craigslist, it is not uncommon for me to come across a fair amount of battery corrosion (especially from thrift stores).

I used to shy away from buying anything with battery corrosion, but a few years ago, I learned how to quickly and easily clean most mild to moderate cases of battery corrosion… and as a result, we’ve been enjoying even more second hand bargains!

If you have any corroded toys or electronics lying around your house (or if you like to buy second hand items like I do), I think today’s post will be helpful for you.

How to Quickly Clean Up Battery Corrosion:

STEP 1: Remove and discard old batteries. 

In almost all cases of battery corrosion, you’ll need to dispose of the old batteries. In my experience, it’s fairly easy to clean the corrosion off the toy or other electronic, but you can’t really “clean” it off the batteries.

STEP 2: Wipe out any loose chunks. 

Sometimes you won’t need to do this, but if there are any loose chunks of corrosion, I try to wipe those out with a damp paper towel (or just shake them out).

STEP 3: Make a paste of baking soda and water. 

You’ll only need a teaspoon or so of baking soda and just a few drops of water. I use a Q-tip and a small bowl to mix it into a paste.

STEP 4: Rub the paste onto the corroded areas. 

Using the same Q-tip, simply rub a small amount of the baking soda paste on and around the corroded area until the corrosion starts to rub off. Use new Q-tips as necessary.

STEP 5: Wipe out excess with a paper towel.

Once you have it mostly cleaned out, use a damp (almost dry) paper towel to wipe out the area. Then let it air dry before putting new batteries in.

STEP 6: Test it with new batteries. 

There have been a couple of times when this cleaning method has not worked for me — and it turned out there were bigger issues than just a corroded battery compartment. But for the most part, once I put new batteries in, the item works just like new again!

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I can’t even begin to add up how much money I’ve saved buying used toys, electronics, games, and other battery-powered items over the years — especially once I learned this quick cleaning tip!

I know it won’t work every single time, but considering it only takes a few minutes and a tiny bit of baking soda, it definitely can’t hurt to give it a try.

Oh, and if you’re giving a gift that requires batteries this Christmas… include a pack of extra batteries!

I know it will be appreciated 🙂

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Filed under: LifeChildrenCraftsFrugal Living

 
 

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16 comments

  1. Tina

    12/20/2017

    Thank you for this timely blog post! I thought I had removed all of the batteries from ALL of the musical Christmas things last year, but overlooked my son’s “favorite” musical snowman. I almost threw it out, but thought I’d Google to see if it could be saved. And then I read this title! You just saved Christmas! Lol

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh good — glad I could “save Christmas”! haha!!!

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  2. Karlyn Nance

    12/19/2017

    This is a great tip that I will try, but my comment is a safety tip regarding storing those 100 batteries! The picture of the batteries in the cardboard boxes caught my eye, and I wanted to share my experience. Like you, I use repurposed cardboard boxes for storing almost everything! After sorting & placing my batteries in their boxes and then in my desk drawer, I started noticing a hot smell coming from the drawer. Upon closer examination, I found that one of the batteries felt quite hot to touch. Then I noticed it had been placed in a cardboard jewelry box that had a metallic lining, and the terminals were in contact with this lining! It was probably only a few minutes away from igniting this cardboard box or possibly exploding! Lesson learned: do not store batteries where the terminals can contact any conductive material, including metallic linings, metal containers, metal objects in the same container, coins, or the terminals of other batteries.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    thanks for the tip — no metal in our box!

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    Linda Reply:

    The way you store your batteries is great because all the contacts are facing up. If they come in contact with each other…especially stronger batteries like Ds…that there can be a problem. At least that is what our Fire Chief told us when he gave a talk to our neighborhood.

    Merry Christmas!

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  3. pw

    12/19/2017

    this works on car batteries also, and a good time to check them is now.you can mix paste of baking soda and water and use old toothbrush to scrub the battery then if outside just poor clean water over it, you don’t want that on your garage floor. Then take Vaseline and rub it on the battery connections I use cotton swab or paper towel. Don’t need a lot. Provides very good connection for winter.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good to know! I was actually wondering if it would on car batteries!

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  4. Liane

    12/19/2017

    This good advice applies to car battery terminals as well. Check them when you check your oil and steering fluid.

    Since we have a motorhome as well as a house both replete with flashlights, remotes, more remotes and other devices that use batteries like my LED candles, I always remember to take all them out after we park for the winter. Here in California where we live it only rains, and that seems to not be happening this year, but we have to drive through snow to go anywhere north or east. That’s scary so we stay home and park her. Last year one candle was overlooked and the battery leaked. It needed to be discarded but also the corrosion on the metal battery holders was pretty bad. I used a piece of emery cloth to polish the contacts.

    I had to buy new nickel metal hydride batteries the other day to replace old nickel cadmium ones. I was curious about the difference and I found this site which I saved because it’s really informative. Knowledge is power.

    https://sciencing.com/difference-between-alkaline-nonalkaline-batteries-8297163.html

    Li

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    Jenny Reply:

    That was interesting but still a little over my head. And he says table salt is potassium, where I always thought it was sodium, so now I’m wondering.

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    Liane Reply:

    Jenny you are correct. I wonder if that was an editing error. I have a degree in biochemistry which should have enabled me to catch that. I just skimmed over that paragraph. My bad.

    Coincidentally potassium chloride is that horrible tasting stuff in low sodium food. It’s also given as an oral medication to people who take certain diuretics that cause them to lose potassium.

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  5. Holli

    12/19/2017

    Most batteries are alkaline (basic) batteries, so I have used vinegar (acid) on a q-tip with much success. Keep this in mind if the baking soda trick doesn’t work. Best save was a second hand Loving Family doll house that was no longer lighting up or playing the sounds. The house is well loved in our house now!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good tip… thanks Holli!

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  6. Jen

    12/19/2017

    My kids are grown now but we still use lots of batteries! The cheapest place to buy them, HANDS DOWN, is Sam’s, Costco, BJs, etc. I always buy the store brand to save money, but even the name brands (Energizer, Duracell etc) are SO MUCH CHEAPER!

    Merry Christmas!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yup, we get lots of batteries from Costco. Also, Menards almost always had some type of rebate on AA and AAA that makes them almost free. However, that doesn’t work on 9V, C, or D batteries

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  7. Ann

    12/19/2017

    O bummer! I found the perfect (used) Christmas gift but when I got home, it was corroded and I couldn’t get it to work. I returned it and they threw it away. I wish I had tried this as it is EXACTLY what I wanted to give and I haven’t found another!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    booo… that stinks! Sorry you missed out on your perfect gift. You’ll know now for next time!

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