How to Clean Corroded Battery Contacts in Toys

Image of boy and train

Battery-powered toys are great due to many reasons, but they also tend to be a nuisance sometimes, especially if you don’t devote a bit of time to maintenance. It’s all fine and dandy while the toy works as intended, but the situation can turn south quite quickly because of corroded battery contacts.

Corrosion is a natural process that causes refined metals to take a more chemically-stable form. In other words, it’s a rather slow and gradual process of destruction of metal caused by chemical reactions with the environment.  This might sound a bit too technical for some people, but it’s rather simple – metals will corrode if left unattended.

If you’re struggling to maintain your kid’s toys in good condition, here are some methods on how to clean battery corrosion:

What Causes Battery Corrosion?

Before we dive into the methods of cleaning corroded leads, we must first identify the causes. Some of the most frequent reasons include:

  • Exposure to extreme temperatures (cold or heat)
  • Keeping the toy in a humid place
  • Not removing batteries when storing for extended periods of time
  • Recharging disposable batteries
  • Leaking batteries

The abovementioned causes are usually what renders your child’s toy useless. Therefore, make sure to avoid falling into any of the aforementioned categories, and keep checking the battery contact at least once every few months.

How to Clean Battery Corrosion in Toys

There are several useful methods available at your disposal; we will focus on the one that is simple and easy to execute.

Using Baking Soda or Vinegar

This particular method is one of the more affordable when it comes to the components you’ll need. They are as follows:

  • Vinegar (or baking soda)
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Cotton swabs
  • Toothbrush
  • Wire brush
  • Protective gloves

Once you have the necessary components, the first thing you should do is remove the batteries from the plastic cradle. If you can’t remove the batteries (for whatever reason) try prying them out with a screwdriver, or ultimately – pour some Coca Cola on the terminal. Bear in mind, the amount of Coca Cola is measured in drops, don’t overdo it.

When you have removed the batteries, apply some vinegar (or baking soda) to the corroded terminal with a toothbrush. Use a paper towel to get rid of any debris and rust.

You will most likely hear some fizzing, but that’s just the chemical reaction between the solution and corrosion. Leave it for a couple of minutes, and pick up the leftover debris with a cotton swab. If you run into any issues, use the wire brush to rub the stubborn corroded leads.

Allow it to air-dry, and then put a pair of new batteries in.

You’re done!

Image of yellow toy car

Other Variations of the Same Method

The principle is usually the same across the vast majority of cleaning methods, but the components aren’t. For example, if you’re cleaning a toy that utilizes alkaline batteries, you ought to use vinegar or lemon juice. However, if the toy runs on acidic batteries, using baking soda and water is a safer bet.

Depending on the severity of the corrosion, you can use less aggressive solutions like rubbing alcohol for example. If the leads are just starting to corrode and the damage is relatively mild, rubbing alcohol should suffice. However, this is only applicable if you catch it during the early stages, which is why it’s important to check your kid’s toys every now and then.

Other Useful Tips and Tricks You Should Consider Applying

The number-one enemy of your child’s battery-powered toys is humid spaces. Whenever there is potential for condensation, there is potential for corrosion. On top of that, one of the frequent causes of corroded terminals is low-quality batteries. While it might seem like an unnecessary investment, you should always aim to invest in grade-A batteries or else you might kill the toy before you even put the batteries in (by making the wrong choice of buying cheap batteries).

Always get rid of the old batteries. It doesn’t matter how undamaged or healthy they look; it’s never good practice to reuse batteries that have already been utilized with corroded leads. If one battery leaks over another, dispose of them both, it’s simply not worth taking the gamble.

Even though finding the answer to the question of how to clean corroded battery contacts in toys seems rather challenging, it’s not nearly as complex as it looks. The most important thing you should remember is to check your kid’s toys for corrosion every few months so that you can prevent it from forming in the first place.

However, in case it’s already too late for that, the above mentioned method with vinegar or baking soda should offer an easy way out of that particular predicament.

Author: Jonathan M. Ward
Author: Jonathan M. Ward

Himself a father of two, John is obsessed with getting the most out of every children’s product on the market, finding value wherever it can be found. His years of study in developmental psychology coupled with his passion for parenting make him an invaluable asset to our team.

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