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How to: Clean Alkaline Battery Acid From Electronics

Power - by Joe Weber - updated on 4/19/2024

alkaline batteries in a device with corrosion

It happens to the best of us. We go to replace the batteries in the remote and you find that the current batteries have leaked everywhere. There's dried, crusty battery acid all over the battery compartment.

Do you leave it alone? Do you clean it? Cleaning is the best option, but how? Learn the best way to clean out any battery acid from your electronics with items you probably already have in your cupboard.

What Is Battery Acid?

Battery acid, or battery leakage from alkaline batteries is some pretty corrosive stuff. It can contaminate soil, ruin electronics and even burn your skin. Alkaline batteries get their name because they have an alkaline electrolyte of potassium hydroxide (KOH), also known to many as Lye.

Tools Needed

To properly clean up your electronics and neutralize any battery acid that may be present you need a few things.

  • A mild acid like white vinegar or lemon juice
  • Cotton swabs or Q-tips
  • Toothbrush
  • In extreme cases: a file or sandpaper
  • Old towel or rag
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses

Step One: Prepare Your Space

Once you've collected the necessary items, place a towel or rag down on the table so you don't let any of the corrosion or leaking acid drip onto anything.

Step Two: Safety First

Alkaline battery acid is very corrosive. Wear safety glasses and rubber gloves to protect your skin and eyes from any projectile acid.

Step Three: Remove The Batteries

You can't clean the corrosion and acid with the batteries still installed. Remove them and properly dispose of them.


Make sure to follow all state and local recycling laws when disposing of batteries. Not sure what you can recycle? Bring your old batteries into your local Batteries Plus for us to safely dispose of. We recycle more than just batteries, check out how we can help you with all of your recycling needs!

Step Four: Start Cleaning

  1. Put a little of the lemon juice or vinegar in a dish so it's easier to access.
  2. Using your mild acid of choice (either white vinegar or lemon juice) dab a Q-tip or cotton ball in the liquid. It doesn't need to be soaked, a little goes a long way.
    1. After you apply the vinegar or lemon juice you should start to hear fizzing, that's how you know it's working. The mild acid will neutralize any harmful battery acid and corrosion.
    2. If you have a really bad case, you may need to dip a toothbrush in the dish of vinegar or lemon juice and scrub as best you can.
  3. Once the area has been cleaned and dried. Carefully scrape away any crusted acid that wasn't removed with the cleaning using a small file or sandpaper.
  4. After you've cleared away any corrosive material left over, you can polish the battery contacts in the device with an eraser to ensure good contact with the new batteries.

Step Five: Insert New Batteries

After letting the device sit for a few minutes to completely dry, you can then insert new batteries and put your device back together. Don't insert new batteries while the device is still wet.

How Do You Prevent Corrosion?

In your home electronics, the best thing you can do to prevent corrosion is to remove batteries from devices that are not going to be used for a while.

Heat and moisture greatly affect how quickly corrosion begins to form. Try to keep devices with alkaline batteries in them in cooler, dryer places and not sitting directly in sunlight or areas with a lot of moisture.

Does Corrosion Damage Electronics?

Corrosion in your electronic devices doesn't immediately mean your kid's favorite toy, the remote or the computer mouse is ruined. If you catch corrosion early and clean the device using the steps above, you can get many more years of use out of your electronics.

If you ignore corrosion and just let it get worse and worse then, yes, your device will fail earlier than expected.

Pick Up New Alkaline Batteries at Batteries Plus

Batteries Plus is your home for new alkaline batteries. With batteries from brands like Duracell, Nuon, Rayovac and our premium Batteries Plus batteries, we have all of the batteries you need for your devices. From TV remotes, toys, cameras, and more, we've got you covered.

Learn more about the advantages of alkaline batteries to see why alkaline batteries are the most commonly used household batteries. Thinking about upgrading to lithium? Read all about the differences between alkaline and lithium in "What are the Differences Between Lithium and Alkaline Batteries?".

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