How to Clean Battery Corrosion (Toys, Electronics, Car Batteries)

Learn how to clean battery corrosion in flashlights, remotes, toys and more. Safely clean corroded battery terminals with everyday items like white vinegar.

You know that crusty, white-greenish gunk that's formed a secret alliance with the battery terminal of your favorite electronic gadget? Battery corrosion, the arch-nemesis of all batteries, is an unsightly mess and a potential danger to your electronics.

In this article, we guide you on how to clean battery corrosion in toys, flashlights, television remotes, home electronics, and even car batteries. Let’s get started!

What you’ll need

  • Safety glasses
  • Gloves
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • A small bowl
  • A cotton swab, an old toothbrush, or a small brush
  • A clean cloth or paper towel
  • Plastic bag (optional)


How to clean battery corrosion in toys, flashlights, and electronics

To clean battery corrosion, always wear gloves and glasses and work in a ventilated area. Remove the batteries and inspect for damage. Mix equal parts vinegar and water, then apply with a cotton swab and scrub the corroded areas. Clean and dry. Reassemble the electronic and dispose of batteries properly.

Step 1: Safety first

First things first, make sure you're safe while handling battery corrosion. Pop on some gloves and safety glasses to keep your skin and eyes protected. Find a workspace with good airflow to keep any fumes at bay, and grab a clean cloth or paper towel to clean up any spills along the way.

Step 2: Remove the batteries

Carefully open the battery compartment and remove the batteries, making sure not to touch the corroded parts directly. Then put the corroded batteries in a plastic bag. (More on this later).

Step 3: Inspect for any damage

Take a close look at the toy or flashlight battery compartment and contacts. If the corrosion is severe and has caused visible damage, it may be time to replace the device. But if the damage is minimal, you can move forward with cleaning.

Step 4: Mix your cleaning solution

Mix either distilled white vinegar or fresh lemon juice with an equal part of water in a small bowl. The acid in the vinegar or lemon juice will react with the corrosion and help break it down, making it easier to remove.

Step 5: Apply the cleaning solution

Dip a cotton swab, toothbrush, or small brush into the cleaning solution and gently scrub the corroded areas. Once you've loosened the corrosion, use a clean cloth or paper towel to carefully wipe it away. If necessary, use a dry cotton swab or toothbrush to get into any tight spots. 

Make sure you don’t soak the area with the cleaning solution, as excess liquid can damage electronics.

Step 6: Dry the battery compartment

After you've removed as much corrosion as possible, use a paper towel to dry the battery compartment thoroughly. This is super important – you don't want any moisture lingering in your device.

Step 7: Double-check and reassemble

Double-check for any remaining corrosion or damage. If all looks good, go ahead and reassemble your device. Pop in some fresh batteries, and you are good to go.

For the corroded batteries you put in a plastic bag in step 2, dispose of them properly according to local regulations. Many communities have specific guidelines for battery disposal.

How to clean car battery corrosion

To clean car battery corrosion, mix 2T baking soda and 1T water in a bowl. Apply the solution to the corroded terminals and scrub with an old toothbrush. Next, rinse with clean water and dry with a cloth. Apply petroleum jelly or grease to prevent future corrosion, then reattach the battery cables. 

What you’ll need

  • Safety glasses
  • Gloves
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • A small bowl
  • An old toothbrush or small brush
  • A clean cloth or paper towel
  • Petroleum jelly or battery terminal grease

Steps to clean

  • Safety first: Start by putting on your safety glasses and gloves.
  • Turn car off: Make sure your car is turned off and the battery terminals are cool to the touch.
  • Mix cleaning solution: Combine 2T baking soda with 1T water in a small bowl.
  • Apply solution: Apply the cleaning solution to the corroded battery terminals with a toothbrush or small brush.
  • Scrub gently: Give the terminals a gentle scrub to remove the corrosion.
  • Rinse: Rinse the terminals with water to remove the cleaning solution and corrosion, but be careful not to let it get into the battery cells. 
  • Dry well: Dry the terminals with a clean cloth or paper towel. 
  • Apply battery terminal grease: Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly or battery terminal grease to help prevent future corrosion.
  • Reattach battery cables: Finally, reattach the battery cables and make sure they're securely connected.

FAQs on how to clean off battery corrosion

At-a-glance answers to your questions about cleaning battery corrosion.

How do you clean battery corrosion off electronics?

To clean battery corrosion off electronics, use white vinegar or lemon juice. Start by wearing gloves and glasses for safety. Then remove the batteries and inspect for damage. Apply chosen cleaning solution and scrub corroded areas. Wipe with a clean cloth and dry. Lastly, dispose of batteries properly.

What is the best cleaner for battery corrosion?

White vinegar or lemon juice are the best cleaners for battery corrosion. Their acidity and the fact that batteries used in household electronics are mostly alkaline make them effective in neutralizing battery discharge. Plus, they're affordable, easy to get, and won't harm your electronics or the environment.

Can I use rubbing alcohol to clean battery corrosion?

Yes, you can use rubbing alcohol to clean battery corrosion. Apply on a cotton swab, gently scrub corroded areas, and let it evaporate. While it's safe for cleaning electronics since it leaves no residue behind, it's less effective at neutralizing alkaline battery discharge compared to white vinegar or lemon juice.

Does white vinegar clean battery corrosion?

White vinegar cleans battery corrosion due to its acidic nature, which neutralizes alkaline battery discharge. To clean, mix equal parts vinegar and water, apply on a cotton swab, gently scrub corroded areas, and wipe clean. Bonus points because it’s affordable for removing corrosion without damage to the battery.

Does Coca Cola clean battery corrosion?

Yes, you can use Coca-Cola to clean battery corrosion due to its acidic content. To clean, pour a small amount of Coca-Cola on the corroded area, let it sit for a few minutes, and scrub gently with a brush. Rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth. 

Clean battery corrosion from all electronics

From children’s toys and small electronics to car batteries, you can use a variety of household items to clean and neutralize battery discharge, including white vinegar, lemon juice, and even Coca-Cola. 

Make a habit of checking your electronics regularly and removing batteries when they're not in use for extended periods. This can help to prevent corrosion and keep your electronics in good working condition. In addition, always use high-quality batteries and replace them before they're fully depleted.

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