What to do when an alkaline battery explodes

Updated February 21, 2017

Alkaline batteries contain powerful and toxic chemicals that may seep out or leak if the battery explodes. The exposed chemicals pose significant threats to your health and safety, and should be cleaned up as soon as possible.

Potassium Hydroxide

When an alkaline battery leaks, a base known as potassium hydroxide seeps out of the battery. As long as it is inside the battery, the substance remains in a wet paste form, but it solidifies and hardens when it seeps out. This hardened substance may form deposits on electronic components, causing them to malfunction. You should use an acidic solution to clean potassium hydroxide deposits.

Vinegar and Lemon

A mixture of vinegar, lemon and water works well for cleaning up battery leaks. For best results, use a cotton swab; this will prevent excessive amounts of water from diluting the solution, and also allow you to apply the solution evenly. Since potassium hydroxide can irritate and burn the skin, you should wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning up.


When cleaning up a battery leak, try to avoid contact with skin and eyes. Wear latex gloves and safety goggles, and work in a well-lit and well-ventilated area. Refer to your battery manufacturer's website for tips on safe usage and leak prevention.

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About the Author

Shoaib Khan began writing in 2006, while working as an advertising professional. His work has appeared in marketing and business communication materials, including print advertisements, billboards and product brochures. Khan completed his Master of Accounting degree at the University of New Mexico.