Basic flashlight care & maintenance

Charlie Cooper / Updated: Apr 1st 2020 / Flashlights

Flashlights are handy tools that we use in a variety of situations. Whether it’s a dark crawlspace or a campsite your flashlight is going to be exposed to rugged conditions. Knowing the proper steps to take to keep it clean and cared for will extend its life and ensure that when you needed it’ll work for you properly. It’s possible to get maintenance kits from the manufacturer of your flashlight, but it’s not necessary. All you really need to clean your flashlight is some rubbing alcohol, clean cloths and Q-Tips and a little bit of lubrication. A small brush for the loose dirt can come in handy as well. Below are the steps you need to take for basic flashlight maintenance & care.

How often you clean your flashlight depends on how dirty the conditions are that you use them in. If it’s used for the occasional power outage only then it’s sufficient to give it a good once over once or twice a year. However, if you’re constantly exposing your flashlight to the elements or gritty, dirty, oily substances then it’s a good idea to do some basic maintenance once a month.

The first step you want to take is to inspect your flashlight from the outside. Brush away any dirt and once the visible dirt is gone you should take some alcohol and a cloth and wipe down the outside, including the lenses. Once you’ve cleaned the outside thoroughly it’s time to take it apart and clean the interior. This involves similar steps to cleaning the outside. Blow out any loose dirt and disassemble the flashlight into all of its separate parts. You’re going to want to clean the threads and make sure there’s no oil or dirt anywhere. This is also a good time to look at the contacts for the batteries to make sure there isn’t any rust or corrosion. Pay special attention to little replaceable parts like the O-Rings. You should inspect your O-Ring for splits or damage. The O-Ring is what keeps the water out of your flashlight and this little part could be the piece that makes or breaks the proper operation of your tool. Because the inside of the flashlight is harder to reach it’s a good idea to use a Q-Tip with your alcohol to get the interior clean.

A step that is often overlooked is lubrication. Applying lubrication to the threads and O-Rings allows these parts to last longer and operate with less friction while staying waterproof. While you have the O-Ring removed you can apply a thin layer of lubricant around the entire ring and place it back in the flashlight. You can then move on to the threads and apply a thin layer of lubrication there. Re-connect the parts of your flashlight tightening and un-tightening a few times so that the lubrication is spread evenly. Once you have it re-assembled it’s time to test it out to make sure it works.

Completing the above steps will allow you to depend on your flashlight working each and every time that you need it.