Get Household Batteries for Free




About: I tinker and make geeky things.

This short instructable will show you how a person can get free usable batteries, possibly delivered right to them.  

Not only can free batteries be had, but the environment can be helped as well.  This is especially useful for charities and non-profits, which can go through a lot of batteries through their course of operations.

There is some time and work involved, so although the batteries are free, an investment of time and sweat can easily give them value.  

For some people, the amount of work and the time involved may not seem worth it.  Those who feel this way should go ahead and purchase batteries as they have been doing.  However, I would encourage people to purchase rechargeable batteries and a charger instead of the single use ones. Everyone should read through this short instructable, however.  Money can be saved by eliminating the tossing out of good batteries or wasting time while attempting to use dead batteries in a device.  

Everyone should recycle all household batteries instead of throwing them into the trash, where they will end up in landfill.  Most batteries contain heavy metals and other materials that can be recycled.  When thrown away, they can pose a risk to the environment and our health if allowed to break down and leak out into the ground.

Step 1: Purchase a Battery Tester

I purchased the battery tester below for about $3 from an online source.  At the time of this writing this type of battery tester was available on for about that price.  Search for SE Battery Tester in order to locate one online.

This type of battery tester is good for checking small household batteries, like AA, AAA, C, D, 9V, button, etc. Household batteries that are called heavy duty, alkaline and so forth are good for this test, but lead-acid batteries should not be tested this way.

Alternatively, if you own a multi-meter, you can use it to test most household batteries as well, but the battery tester makes it much faster and easier.

Step 2: Locate a Recycling Business Near You That Will Accept Household Batteries.

Locate a recycling business nearby that will accept household batteries.

The website:  is a wonderful place to start.  Simply choose what sort of recycling you are wanting to do, which in this case is batteries.  Then input your city and your state, then press Search. When you find a recycling center near to you, it might be a good idea to call them and ask if they accept mixed household batteries.  You may also wish to ask them what other types of batteries and goods they might recycle, such as cell phone batteries, rechargeable batteries, compact discs, or even electronic devices.   When you are going there to drop off the dead batteries, you might discover other things at your home or office that you can recycle at the same location, on the same trip.


Step 3: Get the Word Out!

Tell everyone that you are recycling batteries.

Use FaceBook, Twitter, and word of mouth to tell all of your friends, neighbors, and relatives that you are recycling batteries.  If you work in an office, tell your co-workers.  You can check with businesses in your area and see if they will collect batteries for you as well.  

At my office, I suggested that my company collect batteries to recycling as part of our company's "greening effort".  The office manager has allowed me to place bins in our break rooms for employees to bring batteries from home.  More recently, this has been expanded to include the whole 11 story building that I work in.  After getting permission, I have placed a bin in the lobby to collect the batteries in as well.  

If you are a student, you could collect batteries at your school, church, or at the work places of your parents, grandparents, or neighbors. Just be sure that they do not mind bringing the batteries to you at home.  

Step 4: Find a Clean, Dry Container to Store the Batteries In.

1)  Find a clean, dry container to store the batteries in.  I repurposed a 5 gallon bucket that I had purchased cat litter in, but any dry bucket with a lid will work.  Plan on storing it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight, furnace vents, stoves, and fireplaces.  I do not let mine get completely full before I recycle the batteries, or it can be very heavy to lift into the car.

2)  Recycle smaller plastic containers that can be left at a location to collect batteries.  Be sure to ask for permission to do so wherever you are placing them.  A small sign or card explaining what the container is for will ensure that it will stay where you leave it longer and so people will know what it is for.  Placing your phone number on the side makes it easier for them to contact you if it is full and you have forgotten to collect them.

3)  At any location where you have placed a bin, be sure to check it regularly for batteries.  

Step 5: Use the Battery Tester From Step #1.

Once you have a few batteries collected, start using the battery tester from step #1.

You may want to have a towel handy to wipe off grime and residue from the batteries. If the batteries you have collected are especially dirty or leaking, you may wish to wear thick rubber gloves to avoid getting the debris on you. Any obviously damage or leaking batteries (usually a white residue) should be handled carefully and placed into the recycling bin immediately. There is no reason to test them. 

Check the batteries by inserting them into the tester per the instructions.  Pay close attention to the where the positive and negative terminals of the battery are placed on the tester.  The meter on the tester will tell you if the battery is dead or still good.  Sort the batteries by size and then by how well they tested.

Completely dead or low batteries should be placed into your large recycle bin that you found in step #4 and taken to the recycling location you found in step #2 when nearly full.

Good batteries should be wiped clean of debris and kept in a cool dry location for use.  I keep mine in a former gift box near where I store my rechargeable batteries.  I also keep a few good ones in a desk drawer in my office in case they are needed.

Batteries that barely rate on the "good" or "green" side of the meter are a little low, but shouldn't be counted out.  They can be used to power items such as remote controls, game controllers, and  wireless mice or keyboards until they are completely drained.

You can also check some batteries for the date they are proposed to be good by.  If this date is long passed, yet the batter still checks out as good, exercise caution while using this battery as it could end up leaking if left in a device for too long of a period.  

At no point should you use a re-purposed battery with some energy left in it for any purpose where somebody's life could depend upon it.  Always use a fresh set of batteries or even better freshly recharged rechargeable batteries for such a purpose. 

Step 6: Enjoy Your Savings!

I have only purchased batteries once since starting this process nearly a year ago.  My remotes, game controllers, digital camera, etc. do not cost me an extra expense of batteries for them.  Plus, I know that I am intercepting many batteries from heading to a landfill to pollute the earth.  I have also been able to donate some "barely used" batteries to a non-profit that needs them.

When I do take the expended batteries in to be recycled every few months or so, I also end up taking in other other electronic items that the same location will accept.  When I have told my neighbors, friends, and relatives when I am planning to go, I also ask them to bring me any other items with me that are accepted as well.  This way, I do not feel as though i am wasting the trip.

Enjoy your savings and your free batteries!



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    8 Discussions

    Seth C

    3 years ago on Introduction

    I have an L.E.D. torch that uses AA batteries, awhile back after putting new batteries in my dim torch I checked the old ones with a multi-meter and they were still showing some voltage. I've since found that the batteries I thought were "dead" will go into a battery clock and last for quite few months longer, same goes with the "dead" batteries from my TV remote! Following your tip though and slowly changing them all out to rechargables.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Really nice idea!

    You can also recharge Alkalines to a certain extent with low, about 50mA, IF they are not too low before. Just treat them like RAM.


    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction


    Thanks! I should re-write or update this Instructable. If I do, I'll include your tip!


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Don´t get me wrong, you cannot refresh them to new quality.
    Just make some own tests, you can push them a little higher than they were before. It is just a myth that alkalines would explode being recharged, if they are too old or too deep discharged before then they might show some leakage, that´s all.


    4 years ago on Step 5

    Don't forget to store batteries in non-metal containers. Also check to make sure the positive and negative sides are stored in such a way to avoid batteries from heating up and starting a fire. I recently saw a video on someone recycling 9 volts and how they just tossed them into a box in the laundry room. The batteries fell into a position that caused the terminals to touch and it started a fire that almost burned their whole house down.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    You can pick up free AA batteries out of disposable cameras--check out places that develop film.

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Step 6

    Great post. So simple and yet something I haven't thought of doing. I think sometimes we forget that just because a battery doesn't have enough juice for its original purpose doesn't mean it can't power something with less power needs. Green isn't any good if its not practical, this is practical and save green too! Thanks.