How to Clean Out Corroded Batteries


Maria asked: How do I clean corroded batteries from a remote control? My surround system does not work due to corroded batteries. I have not used my surround system for quite awhile, so my remote control with batteries was just sitting inside the box in my storage. When I was about to use it, I found that there were corroded batteries inside the remote control. It suddenly stops working. Is there a way to clean it?

When batteries corrode, the exterior is damaged and the acid begins to seep out into the battery compartment. If not removed, it inhibits the batteries ability to make proper contact with the terminals so the power can be transferred into the device. The acid can also damage anything it comes into contact with (including you!) Removing this corrosion is easy and safe to do.

You Will Need:

  • Soft cloths
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Cotton balls or cotton swabs

Steps to Remove the Corrosion:

  1. Begin by removing the damaged batteries.
  2. It may be necessary to pry them out with a screwdriver or dull knife. Use caution not to damage the already weak exterior of the battery any further.
  3. Once the batteries are removed, dispose of them properly and wash your hands well.
  4. Wearing protective gloves, use a soft cloth or paper towel to gently wipe off as much of the dry acid as possible. It is best to place this directly into a trash can or onto an old cloth that will not be damaged by the acid.
  5. Moisten a soft cloth with vinegar. A mixture of water and baking soda can also be used.
  6. Rub the cloth over the affected areas. Fizzing is normal. It is the reaction between the baking soda and the acid from the battery.
  7. If the areas are small or hard to reach, a cotton swab can be used to reach them more easily. Be careful not to allow any drips to enter your device.
  8. When the acid is removed, wipe the area with a clean cloth moistened with water.
  9. Dry the compartment with a soft cloth and allow it to air dry completely before use.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Acid can damage skin. Wear protective gloves to keep your hands and skin safe.


  1. Music Gal says:

    This worked for me. Thanks!

  2. Sandy says:

    I was given a home theater surround sound system that had belonged to my uncle. There were features only accessible using the remote, but the batteries were so corroded that I had to pry them out (who knows how long they’d been in there–way too long–that’s a fact). I thought for sure the remote was “history.” After trying to clean the battery compartment out myself, and putting fresh batteries in (only to find the remote still wouldn’t work), I found your website and followed the steps above. Once the remote was dry, I put the batteries in and it worked! Thank you so very much! :)

  3. Fred says:

    This article was incredibly helpful in cleaning the battery compartment of my speakers. Thank you for all of the helpful advice and for making my speakers work again.

  4. Fredd says:

    I Used your suggestion of a Q-tip dipped in white vinegar to clean the spring and contacts of my TV remote. It worked out beautifully and I am using the remote again. Thanks for your advice.

  5. Amy says:

    I have had this same problem with my Wii board, except that the batteries have melted the metal and now the battery will not sit in it – it just falls out. Can I do anything to get this fixed or replaced or is it history?

  6. RD says:

    Thank you very much – will do!

  7. Paul says:

    Battery “acid” is acidic. Vinegar is an acid. Baking soda is a base. To neutralize the acid, simply use baking soda and water. Use an old toothbrush if necessary. Don’t use vinegar; it is an acid and is not effective in the way that baking soda is.

  8. Snowman says:

    Paul is correct if you have an acidic base battery. They are the low cost standard AAA through D cells used most commonly in flashlights. Most electronics today use and recommend an alkaline battery, which is just the opposite of an acidic battery so you should use vinegar (or lemon juice) in that case.

  9. RW says:

    Thank you for the informative article on cleaning batteries. We have an elliptical machine with a screen attached that requires batteries. The coil for the batteries got pulled out, as a result of age. Is there any way to replace the coil for the batteries to make the screen work again?

  10. Janet says:

    I have a Sleep Number Bed. I use it every night. How the batteries went bad is anyone’s guess. But, thanks to these instructions, using vinegar did the trick. Thank you so much!

  11. Jenna says:

    My remote works again! Thank you!!!

  12. Vicente says:

    Thanks a lot! It worked!

  13. C. Ibarra says:

    It worked! Thanks so much!!!

  14. Randy says:

    I cleaned the battery box with vinegar, then installed new batteries. One week later, the device stopped working again and on checking the battery box, the corrosion is back. How can I stop it from returning?


  15. Melanie says:

    First, use new batteries after cleaning. If you clean off the corroded batteries and try to use them again, they will just leak more acid.
    If you did use new batteries (and are going to use new batteries again this time), you can prevent the new batteries from corroding with the method used on car battery terminals: rub some petroleum jelly on them. You don’t need much petroleum jelly, just a thin layer should do the trick.
    Source: – How to Clean Car Battery Terminals

  16. Elisabeth says:

    I discovered that if the corroded wires are broken off, ball up small pieces of tinfoil in its place worked like a charm.

  17. Amy says:

    About how long does this process take?

  18. Soren says:

    Old article, but it saved me approx. 2.500 USD, so I am really happy.

    Thanks for the advice! 😉

  19. Bod says:

    Baking soda is useless on alkaline batteries, like most non-rechargeable household batteries are today (D, C, AA, AAA, 9-volt, etc). You must use an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice; distilled white vinegar is best. Baking soda is good to use during clean up to ensure no vinegar has been left on the parts as baking soda will neutralize the vinegar and yet become stable when it dries.

    If you’re dealing with lead-acid batteries, which are rare in modern household devices, but common in automotive batteries, baking soda is the correct cleaner. However, these are far more dangerous to deal with; the acid in a lead-acid battery is H2S04 (Sulfuric Acid) and it can eat through your clothing and skin very quickly, it also releases noxious S02 (Sulfur Dioxide) and, frequently, extremely flammable H2 (Hydrogen) gas. You should only attempt to clean these in a well ventilated area with proper protective equipment.

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