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Batteries 101: Everything You Need to Know About Expired Batteries

Power - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 1/19/2021

18 Batteries facing toward the screen

Alkaline batteries provide power for an enormous range of applications. Over time though, even the longest-lasting brands will eventually expire. Keep reading for answers to your top questions regarding how to store batteries, how to test them and what to do when you encounter a leaking battery.

How long do batteries last in storage?

Most brands of alkaline batteries have a guaranteed shelf life of 10 years, although some, like Rayovac® Fusion, can last even longer.

Do rechargeable batteries expire?

Yes, even rechargeable batteries expire. Typically, a rechargeable battery should last around 5 years.

Can you test an alkaline battery?

Yes, Batteries Plus offers several alkaline battery testers that enable you to test the viability of any 1.5 volt AA, AAA, C or D size battery. These devices test the voltage of your battery and assign it a rating on a scale of "Good" to "Bad."

How should you store batteries?

Always remove batteries from any application that isn't used on a regular basis as this will help prevent them from leaking. Store your batteries in a cool, dry place between the temperatures of 30° and 70° F. Be sure to avoid temperatures over 85° F as this can shorten your battery's life cycle. Freezing temperatures should also be avoided since they can decrease a battery's overall power.

There is a popular myth that storing batteries in your refrigerator helps prolong their life. This isn't true. Refrigerating alkaline batteries offers no additional benefits over the storage methods mentioned above.

What does it mean if a battery is leaking?

Leaving batteries inside equipment that isn't being used causes them to discharge over time. As this happens, the build-up of internal gases can seep out through the vents and cause potassium hydroxide leaks, more commonly known as battery acid. This acid can damage the device the battery is being stored in and cause burns if it comes into contact with your skin.

How should you clean up and dispose of a leaking battery?

Wipe up any battery acid with a wet rag. Be careful to avoid any contact with your eyes or skin. The leaking battery can be recycled the same as a non-leaking one but be sure to bag it first.

How long can a battery remain idle in a device before it will leak?

The draw on the battery will vary depending on the device it's being stored in, so there's no set amount of time. A good rule of thumb is to remove the battery from any device that is being stored for more than a few months.

How to recycle old batteries

You should always recycle spent batteries. Not only does this allow valuable materials to be reused, it also helps keep hazardous chemicals out of landfills where they can seep into the ground and contaminate groundwater.

At Batteries Plus, we make it easy to dispose of your spent batteries. Simply bring them in to any one of our 700+ stores and we'll make sure they're recycled properly. Note that fees may apply and will vary by location.

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