How to Clean Leaking AA Batteries

cleaning with vinegar

People that have a lot of battery powered electronics should know how to clean leaking AA batteries. If a battery gets too hot or it gets punctured, it can leak what is commonly referred to as battery acid on any surface that it touches. AA refers to the size of the battery, not the type. The cleaning method will differ depending on if the batteries are alkaline, lithium or nickel cadmium.

Alkaline Batteries

Alkaline batteries can leak aqueous potassium hydroxide, which is a basic solution. The best way to clean up the leak is with an acidic liquid.

  1. Pour a half teaspoon of either white vinegar or lemon juice into a bowl.
  2. Mix in one and a half teaspoons of water.
  3. Dip the end of a cotton swab into the solution until it is saturated.
  4. Rub the swab on the surface of the stain.

If the stain is fairly large, an old toothbrush can be used. A soft-bristled one is best since it is the most flexible. Since most stained surfaces will be electronics, let them air dry, but do not rinse.

Nickel Cadmium Batteries

Nickel cadmium batteries are acid-based, containing cadmium and nickel oxide hydroxide. This makes their leakage easiest to clean up using baking soda, a common base. Plan to wear rubber gloves and a rubber apron to protect yourself from the highly corrosive fluid.

  1. Put a half teaspoon of baking soda in a shallow dish.
  2. Add enough water to make a paste the consistency of toothpaste.
  3. Apply this mixture to stained areas.
  4. Wipe off the paste with a damp cloth.
  5. Dry the area with a microfiber cloth.

Lithium Batteries

Lithium batteries, such as many cell phone batteries, rarely leak. But when they do, it can be a dangerous occurrence. Clean lithium leaks with water only using a cotton rag. Dispose of the battery itself before doing so, since faulty lithium batteries can burn your skin or even explode. Do not use any type of alcohol to clean up lithium as it can be highly combustible.

Note that you may not be able to save electronics with leakage from a lithium battery inside them. Using them again could expose you to fire risk, even with diligent cleanup. Water should take care of leakage onto your skin or clothing sufficiently.

How to Clean Leaking AA Batteries

Clean with Vinegar

If batteries are leaking, it is likely that they are no longer functional. If they are still working, it can be dangerous to use them - for both you and your electronic devices. However, if you still want to clean the batteries, you can wipe the terminals of both alkaline and nickel cadmium batteries using the methods above to remove some of the corrosion. Don't try to clean lithium batteries.

A Word of Advice

If you find that a piece of electronics is ruined due to a leaking AA battery and you used the battery in its normal fashion, contact the battery's manufacturer. Sometimes a representative will offer to repair or replace your electronics item. The company may also be able to provide you with special cleaning instructions and could issue a recall of a faulty battery batch.

Disposing of Leaking Batteries

Since batteries can leak toxic substances into the ground if not disposed of properly, it is best to place them in hazardous waste receptacles instead of just throwing them in with your regular garbage. Many landfills have battery disposable bins, as do some electronics stores.

Stay Safe

After learning how to clean leaking AA batteries, you may be anxious to get started. Before you do so, put on appropriate safety gear. This includes gloves and safety goggles. If you get a rash on your skin or you feel a burning sensation in your nose or eyes, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

How to Clean Leaking AA Batteries