Cleaning and Maintaining Battery-Operated Toys and Games

Battery-operated toys and games come in a wide variety of types and styles, providing entertainment and fun for people of all ages. The variety and innovation in this category continue to grow, offering a diverse range of options for children and adults alike.

Like any other piece of electronics, if you want to enjoy all of the features and have the product last for its full expected life-span, then regular maintenance is critical!  

Common types of electronic amusement devices are as follows:

RC Cars, Trucks, Boats, Plans and Drones

Robotics, Electronic Pets and Action Figures

Electronic Board and Hand-Held Games

Educational Toys that teach various skills, such as language, music, math, or science.

Light-Up Toys: Toys that feature LED lights or other forms of illumination for visual effects.

Bubble Machines: Battery-operated machines that create a continuous stream of bubbles.

Walkie-Talkies and Laser Tag Guns.

Gaming Consoles and Hand-Held/Portable Gaming

Racing and Train Tracks and Cars/Vehicles

These are just a few examples of the many battery-operated toys and games available on the market.  One thing they have in common is that a very little maintenance will go a long way to increasing the enjoyment received from these devices.  

These toys and games are often handled roughly or placed into what would be a less than ideal environment for electronics.  Many electronic toys are not built well enough to withstand the rigors of children’s play.  Accordingly, anything you can do to increase their possibly limited life-span is a good thing.  

Rough play, accidental spills and drops, and bad environments can lead to all types of failures and other problems.  These challenges include: loss of power due to corrosion; high consumption of power either through batteries or recharging is an ongoing expense and limits play time; wear and tear of physical components; corrosion or other contaminants in moving parts; and glitches due to poor electronic connectivity that can render the toy or game non-functional.

Most of us have seen something like this image to the left.  Not only is unsightly, it can lead to a complete failure of the device these batteries were intended to power.  

This is a problem that can occur in any device but seems to really excel at ruining electronic toys and game.  Luckily, it is easily avoided.  

Here are some simple, best practices to implement to make sure electronic devices for amusement:

*** Prior to beginning any cleaning, make sure the toy is turned off, and if possible, remove the batteries. This prevents accidental activation during the cleaning process. ***

*** Always consult the Manufacturer’s Instructions for specific cleaning recommendations. Some toys may have specific cleaning requirements or restrictions. ***

The materials used for this critical maintenance should be safe for both the toy and the people who will be handling it. CAIG Laboratories offers all of the needed products for this maintenance. Generally, you should use five different types of products: (1) lint-free cloths and swabs; (2) DeoxIT® to clean and maintain connections and switches; (3) Screen Cleaner for any displays; (4) Equipment Cleaner for general cleaning (a light mix of dish soap and water can also be used for this purpose); and (5) a lubricant (either oil or grease). Importantly, all of these cleaning solutions are non-abrasive and non-corrosive.

One set of cleaning instructions does not cover the myriad of electronic toys and games.  The following are general guidelines and suggestions for performing maintenance on these devices.

Cleaning Electronics – Battery cases, connections and switches

The electronic areas that should be maintained on these types of games are the battery cases and connections, other connectivity points such as the gold fingers on gaming cartridges, audio and antenna connections, external power supply connections, data and communication connections, and switches.  All of these places will benefit from the application of DeoxIT® D-Series Products.  

You can spray, wipe or brush the DeoxIT® on to the metal surfaces to be treated.  It is up to you as to the best way to apply the product.  You can see all of the applicator choices here: DeoxIT D-Series page with shop | CAIG

If there is an excessive amount of dirt and debris in addition to corrosion, then either use a spray like DeoxIT D5 (D5S-6), or pre-clean with a lint-free cloth or air duster to remove loose dirt and debris cloth use a spray and then apply the DeoxIT liquid via a brush, wipe, pen, or swab.  After application of the DeoxIT D Series product, wipe away the excess with a lint free cloth and you are finished.  

It is that easy and the application of DeoxIT will provide many benefits.  It will remove oxidation, protect the metal preventing future corrosion and lubricate the switch or connection which will increase the life of the device by reducing friction wear and fretting of the metal surfaces.  Most importantly, the DeoxIT will maximize the conductivity of the metal giving you the fastest data rates, cleanest audio, clearest video and the ideal power flow so your device operates as intended for the longest operating time and life span possible.  

General Cleaning Surfaces

Many modern electronic games and toys incorporate display screens and/or touch screens.  These screens are made of plastics and you should avoid using products that contain either ammonia or alcohol to clean the same otherwise you risk dulling the finish and making your clear screen hazy.  Instead, use a purpose made Screen Cleaner and a microfiber cloth.  CAIG sells these items together in a kit.  We offer a 2 oz size and a larger 22 oz size.  See Screen Cleaning Kit, #CCS-502 | CAIG  and See Screen Cleaning Kit, #CCS-503 (22 oz Spray) | CAIG 

In addition to screens, other areas of electronic toys and games that may need some general cleaning are the housings/outer coverings of these devices.  These include the actual surfaces of the toy or game such as panels, polished surfaces and wood surfaces.  This would be more “cosmetic” cleaning but can also lead to longer life of the device as it will be less impacted by contaminants that could eat at theses surfaces and finishes.  

For these general surfaces, use a mild Equipment Cleaner with a microfiber cloth.  CAIG makes the GX3 Equipment Cleaner and includes our optical grade ultra soft micro-fiber cloth.  Using this product will leave the surfaces clean, protected and static-free.  See Equipment Cleaner & Conditioner, #CL-ECP-08 | CAIG

Alternatively, mix a small amount of dish soap with water.  Dampen a microfiber cloth or sponge with the solution and gently wipe the surfaces.  Make sure not to soak the toy, especially around any openings or buttons.  Likewise, avoid any Immersion( unless the toy is specifically designed to be waterproof and the manufacturer instructions recommend immersion.) 

Cleaning Small Parts: If your toy has small detachable parts, clean them separately. You can use a cotton swab or a small brush to clean hard-to-reach areas and crevices.

Drying: After cleaning, allow the toy to air dry completely. Ensure there is no moisture remaining inside or around battery compartments before reinstalling batteries or turning the toy on.

Lubricating Key Parts

Again, it is always important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for lubrication. Regular maintenance and proper lubrication will help ensure the longevity and optimal performance of your device.

Ball Bearings: Ball bearings are used in various parts.  These include parts of a remote-control vehicle, such as the wheel hubs and drivetrain components.  Use grease to lubricate these components.  DeoxIT® L260D Greases are perfect for this job – DeoxIT Grease With Shop | CAIG

Universal Joints (U-Joints) and Driveshafts on remote-control vehicles. Lubricate the universal joints and driveshafts with grease to reduce friction and prevent wear.  Again, DeoxIT® L260D Greases are perfect for this job – DeoxIT Grease With Shop | CAIG

Axle Carriers and Hub Carriers: Use a light oil for lubricating hinge pins and moving parts in axle carriers and hub carriers. Silicone-based lubricants are suitable for these components. CAIG’s X-10S Oil is ideal for this application. See DeoxIT® X10S, #X10S-P (Pen) | CAIG

Suspension Components: Hinge pins, kingpins, and other suspension components may require lubrication to reduce friction and ensure smooth movement. Again, use a light oil and CAIG’s X-10S is ideal. See DeoxIT® X10S, #X10S-P (Pen) | CAIG

Servo Gears: The gears inside the servo that control various functions should be periodically lubricated with servo-specific grease to maintain smooth and precise operation.  CAIG’s SM-22 Grease is a great option here. See  DeoxIT Grease With Shop | CAIG

Linkage Pivot Points: Lubricate the pivot points of various linkages and control arms in your RC vehicle to reduce friction and prevent binding. Use a light oil like CAIG’s X-10S Oil for this lubrication. See DeoxIT® X10S, #X10S-P (Pen) | CAIG


Perform regular check-ups to ensure electronic toys and games remain in good working order.  Depending upon use, this should be done annually or more often for toys that are regularly used.  After cleaning, store the toy in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. This will help prolong the life of the toy and its batteries.

Remember, always prioritize safety when cleaning battery-operated toys. If you have any doubts or concerns, contact the manufacturer or a professional for guidance on cleaning and maintenance.

Good luck and happy gaming!