Discharge Cleanup, The Safe Way To Clean Up An Alkaline Battery Leak

Author xlxmarketing 11.3.2009. | 14:32

The inner workings of your average alkaline battery


Have you ever opened up the back of an old but trusty remote, camera or RC toy to find a mess of melted plastic and fused wires?

Congratulations, you might have got yourself a new paperweight.

Alkaline leakage can destroy your electronic devices. Many of us have opened the back of our remotes and other electronic devices, and found that the alkaline battery has leaked.

The sad truth is that, depending on the amount of liquid spilt and the length of time it has been leaking alkaline battery leakage can be almost impossible to clean up.

In fact, many users of older gadgets are often asking “How do I clean up after alkaline battery leaks?” in the hope that they can salvage a much-loved gadget after a spill.

This is what your average alkaline battery leak might look like (Source SomeToast on Flikr)


The first thing for you to do is to get in contact with the battery’s manufacturer.

Some manufacturers offer free cleaning service of electronic devices damaged by their leaking batteries. If the battery leaked when being used ‘as directed’ the manufacturers might even replace your damaged item.

However, if your battery manufacturer isn’t playing ball then you will have to tackle the job yourself.

The four keys to cleaning an alkaline spill


    • Safety First


    • Don’t clean with water


    • Neutralise the alkaline


  • Dry the gadget thoroughly before using it again



As with anything involving a highly toxic and very corrosive liquid, safety should be your first concern.

You must avoid eye and skin contact, when cleaning a spill because alkaline batteries contain potassium hydroxide which can cause respiratory and eye damage as well as skin irritation.

Wearing household gloves, glasses and work in a well-ventilated area when cleaning a battery spill from a gadget is the best way to keep safe.

The next thing to remember is not to use water. One of the general rules of electronic devices is that water and the internal workings of an electrical device usually don’t mix and cleaning up an alkaline spill is not an exception to this rule.

Instead, you should use some household materials to neutralize the alkaline. This is where those high school science lessons came in handy as most mild-strength acid-based materials will neutralize an alkaline and a mild-strength alkaline will neutralise an acid.

In order to neutralize the leaked alkaline, you will need a household acid like vinegar or lemon juice.

You can clean acid-based batteries with baking soda (an alkaline).

To neutralize the leakage you will just need to brush the neutralizing agent onto the electrical contacts covered in leaked battery acid/alkaline with an old tooth brush.

Prevention is always better than cure, and the steps you can take to avoid a battery leaking in the future include:

  • Avoid mixing and matching different battery brands in the same electronic device
  • Removing the batteries from the devices being it is stored
  • Ensuring electronic devices are dry before inserting new batteries after cleaning electronic devices.

However, if your gadget has genuinely given up the ghost you might want to check out these AA battery-powered gadgets to see if you can’t find a replacement.

Author xlxmarketing 11.3.2009. | 14:32
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  1. Bob July 26, 16:26

    You suggest not using water, and yet vinegar and lemon juice are ok? Would it surprise you to learn that those two substances are >90% water?

  2. xlxmarketing Author July 28, 10:06

    The dilute acetic acid and the dilute citric acid inside them will halt further corrosion of the electronic components.

  3. elisaloboneese December 8, 11:11

    It worked really well!!! Thanks for the tip Ali!!

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