Batteries: Can you go a day without their help? They power our smoke detectors, remote controls, laptops, and even our cars! That’s why learning how to store batteries long-term is so useful—it’ll save you money and keep your devices working well.
Not to mention, batteries can be hazardous when they’re not stored and cared for correctly. Long-term battery storage requires specific considerations to ensure the battery won’t leak, explode, or ruin other batteries. You can also do things to prolong the life of commonly used batteries.
We’ve put together a straightforward guide that discusses how to store batteries long-term, as well as how to care for batteries while in use. We’ll explain how to dispose of batteries safely, the best place to put them, and some other factors that might be new to you.
Types of Household Batteries
There are many different types of household batteries. However, let’s cover some of the more common ones that you can find in your household.
Alkaline batteries operate many of your household items such as your television remote, children’s toys, and smoke detectors. You can easily purchase these batteries when one of your devices stops working.
Lithium batteries are more powerful than alkaline batteries and are used to power your digital devices. These include your digital camera, smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. These batteries are generally more costly, however, they do last longer than your typical alkaline battery.
Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries
Nickel-metal hydride batteries are rechargeable and more eco-friendly than alkaline batteries, which are disposable after one-time use. These batteries can be found in gaming controllers and toys that are remote-controlled.
How to Store Batteries Long-Term
- Take batteries out of their devices before storing them unused. If you’re leaving a device in storage for a few months, battery manufacturers recommend removing the batteries from their device. Why? Anytime you leave a battery inside a device—even if you’re not using it—the device is still drawing power from the battery, and over a long period, this could lead to leakage and corrosion. And no one wants that!
- Choose the optimal environment. Store batteries in a dry environment at room temperature or slightly cooler. Avoid storing batteries in extreme temperatures that range from hot to below freezing.
How hot is too hot? According to battery manufacturers Rajovac, “Heat over 85 degrees Fahrenheit can shorten battery life and power delivery. So, you might want to avoid storing them in an attic, especially if you live in a warm climate.
Can you put batteries in the fridge?
No, you should not put batteries in the fridge. If you’ve Googled how to store batteries long-term, you’ve probably seen the myth that putting batteries in the refrigerator will help them last longer, but that isn’t true. While the cooler temperature might lengthen the battery life, the moisture inside the refrigerator could damage the battery in other ways. Most battery manufacturers do not recommend storing batteries in the fridge.
Tips for Storing Household Batteries
- Store one-time-use batteries in their original packaging so they are not in contact with other batteries.
- If the original packaging is missing, line up the batteries in a container with all the positive ends facing in the same direction.
- Do not store batteries with the opposing ends touching one another.
- Avoid storing household batteries with other metal objects like desk staples or house change.
- Contact with metal can cause the battery to short circuit, which could then cause the battery to leak.
- Keep batteries of the same type and age stored together. Avoid mixing different types of batteries with varying levels of power. The older batteries can drain energy from the newer batteries.
- Do not remove the plastic cap from 9V batteries until they are in use.
- Make sure the batteries won’t be punctured or crushed while they are in storage. Keep them inside a container that cannot be smashed or otherwise damaged. This is especially important when traveling with batteries.
Tips For Storing Rechargeable Batteries
- Rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries are used in many devices, from cell phones to power tools. Store these batteries at 40% capacity to keep them in good condition. Avoid depleting the battery entirely before storage.
- Charge the battery to 100% before use.
- Remove a fully charged battery from a charger as soon as possible. Do not leave your cellphones, laptops, or other devices plugged in indefinitely, as this can shorten the battery’s lifespan.
Tips for Storing Vehicle and Car Batteries
- The best way to preserve a car battery is to use it. When storing a car temporarily, take the car for a spin every few weeks to charge the battery. If you’re storing a car you can’t drive for over a few months, consider removing the battery completely.
- To remove a car battery, turn off the vehicle. Next, disconnect by first removing the black cable and then the red cable.
- Clean the car battery to remove any corrosion, then store the car battery in a dry location that is cool but will not reach freezing temperatures.
- Consider hooking up the car battery to a trickle charger to preserve the life of the battery while it’s in storage.
- Read the battery manual for more specific instructions.
Basic Battery Care Tips
It’s important to care for batteries when they aren’t in storage. Batteries that are currently in use are subject to improper handling and can leak, become corroded, or otherwise become defective if not properly taken care of. Keep these things in mind when using batteries:
- Keep batteries away from children. Coin-shaped lithium batteries are especially hazardous because they are a choking risk.
- Keep all batteries away from warm or hot temperatures. The heat can cause the battery to explode, leak, or become damaged.
- Dispose of used batteries immediately after they stop working. Keeping depleted batteries inside a device can lead to unwanted damage.
- Remove batteries from any device that you are putting into storage and won’t be using for an extended period.
- Remove all batteries once the device stops working. Avoid mixing and matching batteries with different manufacture dates inside a device.
- Never try to recharge a battery unless it is labeled “rechargeable.” Also, only recharge batteries on their designed chargers.
How Long Do Batteries Last?
The longevity of new batteries varies depending on the manufacturers, when they were made, and their contents.
That said, the lifespan of household batteries in their original packaging can range from 5 to 20 years in storage. On average, a car battery will last about four years under normal conditions.
Some car batteries may last several years beyond that. Most unused alkaline batteries will last between 5 and 10 years, while NiMH batteries have a shelf life of 3 to 5 years of non-use. Lithium-ion batteries, which power devices like cell phones, have a low self-discharge rate and could keep a partial charge for up to four years before being depleted.
If your battery has an expiration date, the manufacturer typically guarantees that the battery will hold its full charge until that time. Most expiration dates are conservative, so most likely your expired batteries will still have a charge for some time after, if they are stored in the correct condition.
Frequently Asked Questions About How To Store Batteries Long Term
What Is the Best Thing to Store Batteries In?
Battery manufacturers recommend storing batteries in their original packaging. Hopefully, you didn’t throw the packaging away as soon as you got the batteries. But don’t worry, even if you did, the next best thing to store batteries in, is a container where you can prevent the batteries from touching each other. Loose batteries rolling around in a junk drawer could potentially touch terminals or other metal objects, which might cause them to short circuit or leak.
And one thing for sure. As mentioned earlier, definitely don’t store batteries inside of electronic devices. Take them out beforehand.
Can I Store Batteries In a Ziploc Bag?
This isn’t a good idea because you don’t want batteries touching each other in storage. If it’s just one battery in the bag, or if you find a way to store multiple batteries tightly enough that they don’t roll around and touch terminals, that should be fine.
Can I Store Batteries In a Plastic Container?
Yes, storing your batteries in a plastic container is fine as long as they can’t move around and the terminals can’t accidentally touch each other. Consider investing in a plastic container designed specifically for storing batteries.
How Do You Properly Dispose Of Batteries?
- Contact your local municipality for instructions on how to dispose of household batteries. You can usually dispose of single-use batteries in the trash, but most areas encourage you to recycle them. In some jurisdictions, recycling may be a requirement.
- For AA, AAA, and other standard size batteries, you may want to wait until local hazardous materials recycling dates or check with local home improvement stores. Home Depot, for example, offers a battery recycling program that will put your old batteries to good use.
- If a battery explodes, do not touch the battery or acid with bare hands. Instead, put on a pair of latex gloves and carefully remove the battery from the device. Make sure not to touch any skin in the process. Next, dispose of the battery according to local guidelines. Again, some jurisdictions allow you to dispose of alkaline batteries in the trash, while others require you to recycle them at a local recycling center.
By the way, you can easily clean the device itself with vinegar or lemon juice.
- Larger batteries like car batteries and lithium-ion batteries should be recycled and never thrown in the trash. For car batteries, contact a local mechanic, parts store, or retailer to dispose of them properly. Contact your local landfill for a battery recycling drop-off point for lithium-ion batteries.
Store Batteries Wisely: Your Devices and Wallet Will Thank You
Batteries are expensive, and we need them to power so many devices we use daily. For peace of mind (and wallet), you’ll want to keep those batteries in tip-top shape. We hope these battery storage tips help you extend the life of all your batteries.