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A Guide To Cleaning a Battery Leaking Acid

December 03, 2019


If you’ve ever opened up an old flashlight and found a white substance on the batteries, you know about leaking battery acid. And if, after touching the batteries to remove them, you noticed a tingling in your hands and fingers, you also have an idea of how dangerous battery acid can be. It can cause skin burns, contaminate soil and corrode metal.

The acid in the household batteries used in flashlights and appliances is actually alkaline, which contains potassium hydroxide. The lead-acid batteries in cars produce sulfuric acid, which is removed differently than how you remove alkaline.

4 Steps to Clean a Battery Leaking Acid 

Make sure you clean the alkaline from batteries in a well-ventilated area and avoid having your skin come in contact with the alkaline.

1. Wear Protective Safety Equipment – Use rubber or latex gloves to keep your hands protected. Wear safety goggles. Use long sleeve shirts with the sleeves secure and not dangling.

2. Remove the Batteries – Remove the batteries from the device and place them into a plastic bag, like a ziploc bag, and label the bag “leaking batteries” before sending them to the proper recycling centre.

3. Neutralize the Alkaline – To properly clean the appliance, you need to neutralize the alkaline with an acid. Fortunately, doing so is way easier than it sounds – all you need is white vinegar or lemon juice!

Sparingly put a few drops of either one on the contaminated areas of the appliance’s battery compartment and give it time to work. It may start to fizz, which is just a normal chemical reaction. Wait for the fizzing to slow down and stop, then wipe the areas clean with a cloth. 

If the acid is stubborn, you can add the drops of lemon juice or vinegar to an old toothbrush and scrub the contaminated areas with it

4. Clean the Contaminated Areas of the Appliance – Once the fizzing has subsided, wipe the area clean with a cloth, making sure it is completely dry. If there is no remaining acid, you can polish the metal part with a pencil eraser before putting new batteries into the appliance. 

It’s important to keep alkaline out of the environment, so recycling your old batteries is crucial. In addition to our paper shredding and document storage services, Papersavers offers additional recycling services to help you institute an office battery recycling program and pick up all your old batteries for proper recycling. Best of all, you can take advantage of our 30-day Free Trial to see it the program is a fit for your workplace.

If you enjoyed this post, check out our recent article “5 Tips for a More Eco-Friendly Office”.

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