Whether it’s for Christmas or a big birthday, a battery-operated toy could make a wonderful gift. From remote-controlled cars to superheroes, there’s a toy for almost every type of hobby.
However, as much as toys might just be intended for fun, it’s still possible for things to go wrong.
It’s estimated that nearly 14 young children are treated in emergency departments every day after swallowing or inhaling toys or parts of toys. Add batteries to the mix and the risks become even greater: if a battery is faulty or starts to break down, it could expose your kids to dangerously corrosive battery acid.
If you’ve bought an expensive toy for your child, replacing it might not be an option after the batteries fail. Luckily, you might be able to save it by knowing how to clean away the battery acid safely.
Cleaning battery acid: Things you’ll need
The method for cleaning battery acid involves neutralizing it with an alkaline product or solution. This might sound complicated, but something as simple as a baking soda and vinegar could help to effectively deal with the problem.
To remove corrosion from within the battery compartment, you’ll need white vinegar or lemon juice and baking soda to act as your cleaning solution. You should also grab some cotton swabs or a toothbrush to make sure you can thoroughly clean the battery holders and any affected surfaces on the toy.
How to clean battery acid safely
Battery acid is corrosive, which means it could degrade any surface or device that it leaks onto. If it reaches your backyard or any other natural environment, it could also contaminate the soil and harm wildlife.
You should take particular care to make sure that the battery acid doesn’t get into your eyes or onto your skin. You can do this by wearing protective goggles and covering your hands and wrists with long plastic gloves.
Cleaning battery acid away safely: Step-by-step process
As well as your goggles and gloves, you should also wear a facemask while exposed to battery acid. The type of chemical burns caused by battery acid are known as caustic, which means they could corrode your skin – essentially, the tissues in your body could start to break down.
Remove the old batteries
Next, you should carefully remove and dispose of the old battery and any other batteries in the compartment. Place it in sand within a sealable plastic bag, using a separate bag for each battery. After that, you’ll need to contact your authority’s hazardous waste officer to learn how to dispose of it.
Never place the used or damaged batteries with your usual household garbage. These could not only be hazardous within landfill but could cause local environmental damage too.
Neutralize the acid
The final – and most important step – is neutralizing the battery acid to make the toy safe again. Dip a cotton swab or spare toothbrush in either vinegar or lemon juice until it’s saturated, then dab it over the baking soda.
After it fizzes for a couple minutes, scrub away at the corrosion and then clear it away with a clean, damp cloth or cotton swabs soaked in water. Let the battery compartment totally dry before putting new batteries in and keep the toy away from your child while you make it safe again.
Teaching your kids to use toys safely
Even though it’s impossible to know when a battery might fail, you can still help your kids know how to play safely with their toys. Always supervise very young children, and once they’re old enough to notice when something’s not right, make sure you’re checking in with them.