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Remove batteries from Christmas decorations before storing to prevent corrosion

Typically used only one month out of each year, Christmas decorations spend a lot of time in storage. Remove the batteries before storing decorations to keep them around longer.

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In a few weeks, all those decorations you spent the entire weekend after Thanksgiving putting up will have to be taken down, "neatly" packed into boxes and shoved into the bottom of a closet, not to be touched again until the end of 2016.

Before you pack away all your holiday decorations, should you remove all the batteries from the decor? Does it really matter? Yes and yes.

Discover why removing batteries from electronics before long-term storage can save you tons of frustration and money down the road.

Why remove the batteries?

If you were going to pull the decorations back out again in a matter of weeks or a couple months, leaving the batteries in wouldn't be much of an issue.

Over time, all batteries will slowly discharge on their own. If they're installed in an electronic device, even if it's powered off, the rate of discharge will likely be much higher. Over the course of a few weeks or months, the amount of charge removable batteries will lose is probably negligible.

However, over the course of 11 months or an entire year, batteries can easily become fully depleted. Pressure builds as a battery discharges, and once fully depleted, alkaline batteries are susceptible to corrosion -- or leaking damaging deposits of potassium carbonate, which can ruin small electronics.

If you opted to spend a little more and installed lithium batteries in your Christmas decor, the chances of corrosion are next to none. Even if they are not prone to leaking, lithium batteries will also continue to discharge at a higher rate if left inside a device for long-term storage.

As a general rule of thumb, whether to avoid corrosion or prematurely draining more expensive batteries, it's best practice to remove all batteries from decorations before long-term storage.

Organizing all those batteries

With a house full of holiday decorations, it's easy to imagine how tons of partially used batteries can pile up pretty quickly. You definitely don't want to just toss all your batteries into a container. Not only is it a fire hazard, it can completely negate the effort of removing the batteries in the first place.

So what should you do with all of those batteries? Fortunately, there is no shortage of options:

  • Tape the batteries, especially button-style batteries, to the packaging or to the decoration itself with a piece of masking or scotch tape. This will remove the guesswork when decorating again next year.
  • Simply place the batteries back in their original packaging and use a piece of tape to secure them in place.
  • For batteries like 9 volt, AA or AAA, cover the conductive terminals with a piece of masking tape, then group all the batteries from one device together with another wrap of tape. Use a marker to label what device those batteries go to, and store them in a box with the rest of your stored batteries.
  • Purchase a battery caddy or battery cases, designed specifically for long-term storage of batteries.

While it's rather time-consuming and tedious, going through the steps of removing batteries from all your decorations and properly storing them will ensure that most, if not all, your batteries and decorations will still work a year later. And it all but avoids the frustration of opening your favorite piece to find it dead and with corroded terminals.

Whatever storage method you choose, you should store your batteries at room temperature with moderate humidity.